by Latoya Peterson
Reader Alicia brought to our attention the controversy brewing around a project called The Entryway. At the LA Times Comment Blog, Gerrick D. Kennedy frames the debate through the lens of race, saying:
Can journalists only report about the issues of their own race?
That’s the question being debated about two white journalists who decided to embed themselves in a home in the MacArthur Park neighborhood with at least seven undocumented Mexicans to “learn Spanish so that we can better report our native city.” […]
In their posts they muse extensively about the discomfort of two American girls, “maybe the whitest people we know,” they admit. One post mentions confronting an infestation of cockroaches, a police raid on suspected gang members one night that led to their walking out of the house with their hands up (the host family, out of fear of deportation, stayed inside) and of course the customs of the bathroom: Toilet paper goes into a trash can next to the toilet, as opposed to down the drain.
While they say the blog is a personal narrative and not journalism, the criticisms remain heavy.
However, Kennedy is asking the wrong question. This isn’t about the race of the actual reporters in question (see my response to Jeff Jacoby’s misguided op-ed for a broader explanation) but rather the perpetuation of the racist, othering gaze in reporting, one that purports to be journalism, but instead reveals its own bias. Luckily, friend of the blog Daniel Hernandez is on the case. Read the Post Racism and “New Journalism”: The Politics of the Entryway