Daisy Hernandez edition: In our view, that Oxford conference on procrastination was a genuine pip.
It’s also something to be truly angry about; we’ll likely return to that foppish event before the week is done. For today, let’s consider the most intriguing thing we read this unusual weekend.
We refer to this lengthy post by Daisy Hernandez at the new Salon. Basically, it’s an edited version of one of the later chapters in A Cup of Tea Under My Bed, Hernandez’s new short book.
Hernandez is a 39-year-old writer. In the edited version of her chapter, she takes us back to 2001 and 2002, when she landed a couple of jobs at the New York Times.
Salon’s post created anger and animosity in comments. Much of the commentary starts with a rather implausible claim Hernandez makes early on.
Just to set the scene, the chapter starts with Hernandez, then 25, getting approached for a possible job. The implausible claim will come a wee bit later:
HERNANDEZ (page 149): I didn’t think white people got jobs the way Latinos did, just by talking to each other. But they do, and that’s how it happens for me. My first big job as a writer.In that passage, Hernandez says, without explanation, that she doesn’t consider herself “smart.” She also drops the first of the many sweeping racial assessments which produced criticism from quite a few commenters at Salon.
It’s the end of a graduate journalism class at New York University. The room fills with the familiar cacophony of a class ending: chairs scraping floors, students unzipping bags, murmurs about lunch and papers due. The professor, a thin, white woman, fastens her eyes on me.
“An editor at the New York Times is looking for a researcher for a book she’s doing on women’s history,” she says, matter-of-fact. “I thought of you. You write about feminism.”
I smile politely, uncomfortably. I’m twenty-five and writing for Ms. magazine, but I don’t consider myself someone who writes about feminism. That sounds like work other people do, people who are rich or famous or smart. I’m not a boba though. I have spent enough time around white women to know it’s better to not argue with them.
In the spring of 2001, Hernandez was 25. In her story, she has just completed a master’s degree in journalism at NYU.
She takes the job doing research—for Gail Collins, as it turns out—and one thing quickly leads to another. In this passage, she makes the claim which seems highly implausible:
HERNANDEZ: Months later, I e-mail Gail an opinion piece I wrote for an online wire service and she shoots back: “Oye, you should apply for this internship here in the editorial department.”In this story from 2001, Hernandez is 25. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from NYU.
She doesn’t write “oye,” but she might as well have, because the way she e-mails with such ease is how a woman on the bus tells my mother, “Oye, there’s this factory down on Hudson Avenue that’s hiring.”
Oye, and just like that I send my resume, which now includes research on indigenous maxi pads, to the editor at the Times hiring interns, even though I have no idea what an editorial is. That’s right. I am twenty-five, I am writing for a national magazine, I have been in journalism school, and I do not know what an editorial is.
I want to say that it’s never come up, that no one has ever talked to me about editorials. But they probably did, and I didn’t know what it was, and as I’ve been doing since I was in kindergarten, I probably acted like I knew what they were talking about and promptly forgot it.
But, according to her story, she didn’t know what an editorial was! In an unflattering way, she speculates about the reason why she didn’t know something so basic:
Someone probably told her about editorials, she speculates, but she probably acted like she knew what they were talking about and promptly forgot it. Just like she had been doing since kindergarten!
Do you believe that story? Do you believe that Daisy Hernandez, age 25, didn’t know what an editorial was? Despite the fact that she held a master’s degree in journalism?
Continuing directly, Hernandez explains what happened next:
HERNANDEZ (continuing directly): Now I walk around the block to the Greek deli. I pass the women and men waiting at the bus stop, buy a copy of the Times and flip over the A section. A friend has told me to look at the left side of the last page, at the short paragraphs stacked like shoe boxes in a closet.Do you think that actually happened? Or is Hernandez pretty much making this stupid shit up?
The writing carries no byline. It’s monotonous, and I realize why I don’t know what an editorial is. I’ve never made it past the second line.
Everything is possible, of course, a point we often make. That said, we seem to encounter more and more claims by striving writers and famous broadcasters which seem to be extremely hard to believe on their face.
According to Hernandez, the New York Times went ahead and hired her for a paid intern post in the editorial department. It sounds like she was asked to outline possible editorials, although her account of what she did is very, very fuzzy.
Even now, at age 39, her writing is very unclear.
Here’s something that isn’t unclear—Hernandez’s piece stirred a great deal of reaction from Salon readers. Our culture’s greatest and dimmest god, Controversy, opened its maw and roared.
People responded in various ways to Hernandez’s sweeping statements about racial groups, which she scatters through her piece like a bridesmaid scattering petals. Others marveled at the idea that Hernandez didn’t know what an editorial was, even as she took a job writing same for our most famous newspaper.
That said, do you believe that claim? Do you believe it at all?
Everything is possible! On balance, we would guess that Hernandez is “getting over,” in the way she seems to say she has done since kindergarten days. But if you feel you're forced to guess, a piece may not be real helpful.
Our culture’s greatest god roared in response to this unhelpful piece, which is often unclear but may seem slickly “provocative.” That said, Hernandez got a lot of attention. Her name got bruited around.
Tomorrow, more on Daisy Hernandez. Plus:
Do you believe this story or claim, Lawrence O’Donnell edition!