If you’re not familiar with the Metropolitan Diary feature in the New York Times, you really should get familiar. It’s hilarious, usually. Frequently full of bad poetry and the kind of “only in New York” anecdote that would be more suited for a Family Circus cartoon than the paper of record, it’s harmless enough and allows many people to brag to their grandchildren on Facebook that they have a byline in the Times. Sometimes, though, sometimes we read something in this feature that gives us pause because it is so atrocious (in fact, one of our very first blog posts was about just that type of Metropolitan Diary entry!), and such was the case this afternoon.
Tipped off by a tweet from Danielle Tcholakian, we read “Learning to Love Astoria” by Dorothy Howe Kelley and can’t stop shaking our heads in annoyance. Join us, won’t you? You see, Kelley’s daughter announced that she was moving to Astoria, a relocation that caused Kelley to “indulge in a silent scream.” Why would she do that, you wonder? Isn’t Astoria a great albeit pricey neighborhood? Yes! It is! But it also has… PEOPLE WHO AREN’T WHITE. You see, Kelley feels that Astoria’s “growing reputation as one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the country activated the maternal switch in me that wanted to shut this whole thing down.” But Kelley kept her screams silent even as her daughter moved to Queens because “nothing, it seemed, would dampen her love or her spirit for the city I secretly loathed.”
Loathed! LOATHED! Ok. But will anything change Kelley’s mind? Well, yes! A shop owner kindly lends them his electric drill without demanding a background check or collateral item, and suddenly Kelley is an Astoria-loving convert. Lucky Astoria! Kelley even has a special moment after returning the drill when she thanks the shop owner and then “[fights] back the tears for all the faceless people in this city [she] had blindly judged.” So, you see, world, the best way to combat prejudice and hatred from bigoted and fearful people is to just blindly give them your possessions, thus proving that you are not subhuman after all! There! Racism solved.
Seriously, though, does the Times run stuff like this ironically? Why allow Kelley to expose herself as such a bigot in such a public forum? It seems cruel. As for Kelley, congrats on the Times byline. You might not want to read the comments!
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