Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Entryway: Perhaps The Most Racist And Classist Reporting You Will Read Today

UPDATE: Spot.US Director David Cohn responds via email, update coming soon.

The Project: The Entryway: Two reporters move into a new america

The Entryway is a photojournalism website of two 20 something white women who move into a Mexican household in MacArthur Park, Los Angeles, and report on the experience. The project is sponsored by Spot.US: "a nonprofit project of the "Center for Media Change," funded in part by the Knight Foundation.

Devin Brown, one the journalists, introduces the project thusly:
"...we are navigating a neighborhood in which nearly everything that happens is illegal - the fake IDs, the drugs, the extortion, the prostitutes in the panaderias, even the street vendors who sell tamales on the run."
Here is a sampling of their reports:
  • Entry One: "All over this neighborhood are cockroach infestations and rat colonies and kids who come to school with bed bugs crawling out of their backpacks." "A week later [Kara] went to the kitchen at night to heat water for her charcoal face mask..." and stepped on "a colony" of cockroaches.
  • Entry Two:
    "We're willing to share one bathroom with nine people, we're willing to put the toilet paper in the trash can next to the toilet, we're willing to fall asleep to the sound of fruit trucks and mexican game shows..."
  • Entry Three:
    "But it is not so bad they would go without television. (three televisions*, two bedrooms.)
  • Entry Four:
    "Most white people with whom I talk about...Latino people in America...seem to agree that if we lived in Mexico for a number of years and we did not learn Spanish, we would be very rude. (This is because) My parents raised me to think of curiosity not only in terms of manners, but of morals: Those who wondered about others meant that they did not only think of themselves."
There are four more entries on the site, with more scheduled during what is intended to be a year long project. 

As Aura Bogado wrote in a comment on The Knight Foundations blog:
The entries on the site exoticize the everyday reality of what two white women have deemed a "new America". What's so new, anyway? Just because white folks haven't lived there doesn't mean communities such as MacArthur Park haven't always existed. The way The Entryway is selling itself sounds like the way Columbus must have sounded when trying to get more money from Spain for the so-called "New World."
The fact that so many journalists and photographers of color are deeply offended by The Entryway illustrates a divide in the ways we approach stories. Sadly, the fact that The Entryway is already so well funded illustrates who gets the money to tell them.
You can reach the Devin Browne and Kara Mears of The Entryway and Spot.US Director David Cohn via email at: