Shooting in North- Diversity Blog
Once again there's been a shooting in North Minneapolis. It happened at a birthday party for a 21-year-old. An 18-year-old was killed and another man was injured. It's a shame and tragedy. (I'm guessing that Nick Coleman is going to write a story about it.) The Star Tribune covered it like it was an action film. The Pi Press gave it a brief mention, merely numbers of dead and wounded from the police report.
Although Minneapolitans might congratulate themselves on how progressive they are, the fact is that much like there are two Americas, North and South (and Texas), there are two Minneapolis' (and Minneapolis, Kansas). It's commonly listed in the top five most segregated cities in the country, people in South might not see evidence of this, but, North is the reason.
I used to live in North Minneapolis. Albeit in the only house of white people on the block, but it was a whole different world as far as infrastructure that exists (no grocery stores, no clubs, no bars, etc.). There are some youth centers and some highly-trafficked liquor stores. But, all in all, there's nothing to do. In my limited experience I would think that if there was something to do, you wouldn't so often get these kids killing each other or bystanders. In this case it was an 18-year-old and a 21-year-old. But this observation isn't usually reflected in city policy which, apart from some limited economic development, mostly ignores North. And the stories that cover crime never touch on it.
I looked into the racial disparity in the newsrooms of the local papers, from 2002 stats it looks like they've almost doubled in the previous ten years. Respectively, from 7% to 14% and 12% to 18%. I think in this case though it's less of an easy subject to slide into the generic "people of color" label. That, obviously, reflects many different ethnicities and experiences, including, the very valid one of economy and education. Obviously there's little to do about the education, someone without a high school diploma probably can't write up to level for a metropolitan newspaper. But, something I've spoken with my roommate about, who is a producer at MPR, is that so many people in the media come down the same career path. Pretty nice high school and privileged background, to a nice college, maybe grad school, and then straight into the media world of internships and careers. Not to say that it's an easy path necessarily. But how does it skew the perceptions of the reporters?
Sometimes from this crime in North articles I get the feeling that I'm reading the same story time and again. When crime happens in other areas, more context is provided, more sympathy is shown to the victims and their families. Is this relevant to the background of the reporters and editors?
This isn't only relevant to crime in high-poverty areas.How does someone in a skilled white collar career like journalism relate to no-collar or blue-collar workers in a labor dispute? How does someone who never interacts with illegal immigrants cover their stories? Or minimum-wage workers for people who've never struggled except with student loans? Barbara Ehrenriech addressed some of these issues years back, but it was controversial in educated circles who said she was just playing and not really living the true situation of working-class in America. So are those the options, go live forever as a working-class person, or just give up (and maybe pretend that working people don't really exist?)? Obviously not. But, there's no easy answer, just a dialog.