And the New York Times knows where they are: To state the obvious, so-called race is a major force in all aspects of American life.
This is one of the legacies we’ve all been left by our ancestors. That said, we liberals don’t always do a sensational job picking our way through the mess.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at some of the ways Patricia Arquette got slammed for her Oscar night remarks. Some of the criticisms dealt with the way she discussed race.
For today, consider the way the New York Times tends to talk about race. We were struck by the latest effort on today’s front page.
Monica Davey and Julie Bosman were talking about public school closings in Chicago. These closings have played a role in Rahm Emanuel’s political problems as he seeks a second term as mayor.
Davey and Bosman discussed the school closings. Under a Chicago dateline, this is the way they began:
DAVEY AND BOSMAN (3/4/15): The sky-blue paint has begun to peel on the three-story building that was once Anthony Overton Elementary. Window air-conditioners are speckled with rust. Doors where children used to rush in and out are sealed with plywood.“Many of [the schools which got closed were] in black or Latino neighborhoods?” That is a very strange, yet very familiar framework.
The empty shell of this school on Chicago’s largely black South Side stands as a reminder of one of Rahm Emanuel’s defining acts as mayor: overseeing the closing of nearly 50 public schools deemed underperforming, underutilized or both. It was the largest closing of schools in memory, with many of them in black or Latino neighborhoods.
What makes this familiar framework so strange? Only this—the fact that Chicago’s student population is less than ten percent white.
Chicago’s public schools are overwhelmingly black and Hispanic. Its schools are full of beautiful kids from “black and Latino neighborhoods.” If the city is going to close some schools, it seems obvious that “many” of the schools in question will be in these very neighborhoods.
But there the familiar framework sat, on page one, in paragraph 2 of today’s report. You had to read to paragraph 22 before Davey and Bosman mentioned the demographics of Chicago’s schools.
Was it a good idea to close these schools? People can differ about that. The financial reasons for the closings are detailed in the report.
But again and again, reporters in papers like the Times adopt this peculiar framework in their reports about urban school closings. Apparently, we’re supposed to be surprised—perhaps shocked—by the fact that the sky is blue.
Or are we supposed to be racially angered? The New York Times is in love with race. It likes to fret and fawn about racial matters, often in ways which don’t make much sense. This helps make us, the New York Times readers, feel upright, concerned, meritorious.
Many of the schools in question were in black or Latino neighborhoods! This is the most obvious state of affairs in the world. Why did it drive this report?