I live next to 35W. Often times, when my mind has nothing better to do, the movement of the vehicles becomes enticing. And then it starts; the day dream. Imagining the people in the vehicles and where they are going. One hundred people could go by in a few minutes, and it's impossible to grasp the amount of human interaction I'm missing out on. Who is going by? My family members, future friends, future boss, current acquaintance, the president, the love of my life? The dream can really extend into the fantastic, and it often does. However, not until recently had it drifted into the horrifying. 35W can no longer exist in the blissful haze of fantasy and ignorance.
Our readings on this unit did a wonderful job painting a new shade on the world for me. It is difficult to deal with, this new perspective. The link posted above is a link to a video posted by the local news unit, Kare 11. Although a new shade has revealed itself to my world view, this shade could not darken my beautiful city- my own backyard!
I live not in a shade, but a shadow. The FBI has listed Minneapolis as #13 on their list of cities with the highest concern of human trafficking. Local TV news stations are not really the bulwark of cutting edge journalism and Kare 11 is no exception. However, the nature of this story and overall feeling flowing from the images and the tone of the reporter begged a certain response from the viewer. We are all familiar with the stories that usually run on television; the local fair, a touching story of a caring citizen, a water skiing squirrel, and a shooting or a fire in the bad part of town. What does it mean that a local television station would run a story that challenges the bright and happy conception of the city? I try to disregard the aspirations of the reporter, and try to understand what this story has done to the flow of stories coming from Kare 11.
The answer is not much. It is important to understand the assumed or target audience member that Kare 11 is trying to reach. They are not doing this story for those who live in this reality. They are not trying to change or shift conceptions that already exist about this issue. Instead they paint a picture that is only populated by minorities, perpetuates stigmas about the Minneapolis Somali community, confine the issue to the low income neighborhoods of north Minneapolis, gender the issue to be that of only female distress, perpetuate further a hetero-normative standard for prostitution, and offer no information on how the viewer can engage this problem. To me, the last one is the most important and telling of Kare 11's intentions. The reporter interviews victims who refuse to be on camera, who only talk of the horror, and a heroin who is fighting a losing battle with no examples that challenge this narrative. No success, no way out, and no examples of a struggle- only loss, fear, and darkness.
Those are a few problems, but to only engage this story on the absolute negative level would be to make the mistake that the story itself does. This story does stand out, it begs attention (other than ratings), and demands people step outside of their fantasy world and see it for the shadows it contains. Out of frustration with this story, I found a wonderful site and organization that is based right here in the heart of the problem.
35W may not be as pretty as the lights may attempt to make it late at night, but at least it is more honest. It could be considered one of the few things that can serve with it's integrity intact. All the beauty- architectural, technological, functional- of the 35W is in direct response to a tragedy. To reference the collapse of the bridge is not to talk about the construction of a new bridge, but to talk about the same bridge- the same route- and the same peoples traveling across. Humanity can progress and progress to the point of human ability, but it is my hope that we never trick ourselves into thinking we are above the things that happen in the shadows.