MONDAY, APRIL 18, 2022
"The Trayvon Generation:" Elizabeth Alexander is a well-known poet. She's also a good, decent person.
She was interviewed yesterday in the Washington Post Magazine. At the start of the feature, this is the way she was profiled:
Elizabeth Alexander, 59, is a poet, best-selling author, cultural advocate and president of the Andrew Mellon Foundation. She is a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist in both poetry and biography. Her new book, “The Trayvon Generation,” expands her 2020 New Yorker essay examining this generation’s artistic and cultural responses to racial injustice and anti-Black violence 10 years after the death of Trayvon Martin.
Alexander has published a book called The Trayvon Generation. Who belongs to that generation? Early in the interview, Alexander answered that question as shown:
ALEXANDER (4/17/22): “The Trayvon Generation” started with an essay published in the New Yorker, written in the wake of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd’s police [deaths] and the subsequent movement all around the country. So it was a very intense time, and some of the things I had been thinking about for a very long time came to fruition in that essay. Thinking about what I call the Trayvon Generation, the generation of young people, particularly Black and Brown people who grew up with racial violence, not only preponderant but also watchable on their phones. Videotaped, repeatedly. Seen over and over and over again. Seen out of context. Traumatizing and unavoidable. I had been thinking about the group of young people and how did they metabolize their vulnerability when they were forced to witness it over and over and over again. And what was the cultural expression that they were making to help us understand what they were thinking and how they saw the world? As someone who is the mother of two young men, and also as a professor for decades and an auntie to many, I’m always looking and listening to our young people to know what they are thinking, how they are expressing themselves.
Who belongs to The Trayvon Generation? Alexander says that she's talking about "the generation of young people, particularly Black and Brown people who grew up with racial violence, not only preponderant but also watchable on their phones."
This racial violence has been "videotaped, repeatedly," she says. Members of this generation have "seen it over and over and over again on their phones."
In Alexander's view, the experience has been "traumatizing and unavoidable" for these young people. Alexander says this violence has been "seen out of context" by these young people, though she doesn't explain what she means by that.
It seems to us that Alexander is describing an important generational experience. Quite correctly in our view, she dates it to the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in early 2012.
For the record, Trayvon Martin's shooting death wasn't captured on videotape, Also, of course, it wasn't a "police [death]."
(It seems that the Post chose to edit something Alexander said at that point.)
That said, the shooting death in 2012 did touch off a new generation of mainstream journalism—a new generation of journalistic emphasis and interpretation. It seems likely to us that this new era of journalism has, in fact, created a great deal of trauma. It also seems to us that a great deal of missing context surrounding these events has come to us, and to that generation, through the astounding new practices our mainstream "journalists" have repeatedly brought to their work.
How has mainstream journalism functioned during this era? Repeatedly, inaccurate claims have been adopted as fact, while relevant facts have been suppressed.
Irrelevant facts have been heavily stressed, while speculations have been treated as fact.
Beyond that, the press has been astounding selective in which of our many "police [deaths]" they've chosen to portray. Certain cases gain round the clock coverage. Many decedents need not apply.
Our journalism has thoroughly broken down—and everyone knows this but us. We liberals have tended to believe the novelized portraits our performative tribe's news orgs have concocted.
It seems to us that this has done a great disservice to members of the generation Alexander describes, but also to everyone else.
With that in mind, we plan to discuss a few of The Disappeared this week—a few of the people our press washed away to maintain its preferred Storyline.
Many such people have been disappeared; the press corps' behavior has been astounding over the past ten years. As Stalin once airbrushed his rivals away, our "journalists" have repeatedly sent people and facts straight down the memory hole.
In red tribe haunts, people hear about this behavior. Only we, in our blue cocoon, will be surprised by the mountains of contexts which have been flushed down that memory hole.
We started this site in 1998. At that time, we didn't know that mainstream journalists were capable of this behavior.
We started the site because it seemed to us that mainstream journalism had already gone around the bend. We didn't know, at that point in time, that people who went to the finest schools could be as disordered as this.
In the end, our learning has been anthropological in its nature. Tomorrow, we'll start with some tales—though only a few—of the past decade's disappeared.
A great deal of "context" has been flushed away. Even back then, in the late 1990s, we pretty much couldn't have dreamed it.
Tomorrow: A young woman, disappeared