Critical Eye for the Liberal Gaze

It’s easy to see why The New York Times, The New Yorker and other such publications have earned the label “liberal media.” They frequently report on such exclusively liberal concerns as the lives of poor people. I am repeatedly struck, however, by the subtle alienation from and even contempt for poor people displayed by the tone of articles that ostensiably set out to reveal something about the nature of poverty and the complex systems of political and economic relationships that create and perpetuate it. Observe:

“People here got mad troubles in their life,” said Steven Rocker, 22, who moved to Ocean Village when he was 12. “You don’t want to sit on no beach to relax.” Residents smoke something or drink something for that, he said. “You go through your own personal hell. This place is like something out of Dante.”

Mr. Rocker never traveled to Manhattan until after high school, but now he is an undergraduate at Columbia University on full scholarship. On Thursday, he stood on a sunbaked stoop in O.V. keeping a sharp eye on his younger siblings and nephews. He wore a do-rag under his baseball hat, some jewelry, and expensive sneakers.

These are two paragraphs from today’s Times’ article on the residents of a housing project near the beach in Queens and their varying levels of interest in going to the beach.

My question is: How many articles do you read about young, white, suburban males who attend prestigious universities that mention their do-rag, jewelry and expensive sneakers so pointedly?

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