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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Study Guide Questions for The Stranger, Volume 23, Issue 14

Posted on Wed, Dec 4, 2013 at 9:41 AM

We're observing Slog silence from now until 11 a.m. while we have an editorial meeting, but look—we made an entire paper's worth of stuff for you!


1. DAN SAVAGE writes about The Stranger’s 2013 Holiday Charity Challenge, which pits fans of Slog, Pearl Jam, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis against each other in an effort to raise money for the Orion Center, which is definitely a worthy cause. However, the demographics of this charity fundraiser are highly problematic. To wit: The Stranger’s staff is made up of a majority of white men, and this drive pits them against two white men and another group of five white men. White men make up less than one-third of Seattle, which means this charity function woefully underrepresents more than two-thirds of the city. This brings two questions to mind:
a. What do these demographics indicate about The Stranger’s inherent white-male-supremacist leanings?
b. Given the disgusting sexism and racism fueling this drive, should the Orion Center consider returning the money from this fundraiser, rather than redirecting the resources to young homeless people in need of food, clothing, and shelter? Wouldn’t Orion Center’s refusal of the money give those needy youths a more meaningful message than providing services funded by dirty phallo-Caucasianist money?

2. In the news section, ANNA MINARD has an overlong account of lame-duck outgoing mayor Mike McGinn and his battle with the Seattle Police Department over the purchase of some SUVs. McGinn, of course, would prefer that the SPD buy hybrids. Can you think of a better way for Mayor McGinn to waste the remaining dregs of his political life than a piddling battle over a couple of gas-guzzlers? Does this story make you feel kind of sorry for McGinn, finally?

3. This week’s tiny issue of The Stranger also contains the winter issue of A&P, the quarterly arts publication that is written and produced by the staff of The Stranger. Can you spot any differences between A&P and The Stranger? From a marketing standpoint, why would The Stranger choose to “fracture” its “brand” like this?

4. JEN GRAVES has contributed a 6,000-plus-word essay about Native Americans and photography as the centerpiece of this issue of A&P. If you can, imagine a human being who could read this piece from beginning to end. What superhuman characteristics does this imaginary human being possess that enable him/her to get all the way to the ending without dying of boredom or injuring her/himself to bring some kind of an ending to the ordeal? Would killing this imaginary person be considered a mercy or a sin?

5. This issue of A&P features more comics than you’ll find in a standard issue of The Stranger. Is this a blessing or a curse? Would your opinion change if A&P ran comics that were actually funny, like Get Fuzzy or FoxTrot? Does pretentiousness have a place on the comics page?


Comments (21) RSS

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TomJohnsonJr 1
OMG white males on the cover so gross you bastards I boycott you're bad
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on December 4, 2013 at 9:53 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 2
I am tired of typing into these white (male, probably) text boxes to post comments.

Can't The Stranger have some brown comment boxes up in here?
Posted by Theodore Gorath on December 4, 2013 at 10:12 AM · Report this
wisepunk 3
And the walls are painted white. And the chalk is white. And even the copy machine paper is white. This, my friend, is a white devils conspiracy.
Posted by wisepunk on December 4, 2013 at 10:18 AM · Report this
Sean Kinney 4
@Who ever wrote the blurb; and @1,2,3: raku's angular and situationally overplayed rant aside, white supremacy is a real, foundational, banal reality.
Posted by Sean Kinney http:// on December 4, 2013 at 10:26 AM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 5
@4 if you paid more attention to who's who among commenters you'd KNOW THAT WE KNOW AND CARE A LOT and are disgusted when its deadliness is belittled by self-serving platitudes
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on December 4, 2013 at 10:40 AM · Report this
Fnarf 6
@4, that's the tragedy of ideologues like raku; they turn serious concerns into objects of fun. White supremacy IS real, and it is particularly real at The Stranger, which has never had a significant number of staff of color. But, thanks to raku's misdirected outburst, we aren't going to talk about it. Again.
Posted by Fnarf on December 4, 2013 at 10:41 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 7
@4, 6: Oh, I agree fully, I just could not pass up a chance to make fun of Raku the Clown.

I am quite puzzled at The Stranger's demographics for a paper that thematically (on the surface anyway) is very in tune with the needs of minority populations. It is sad that the only non-white personality that shows up in the Slog/Stranger much is Charles Mudede, who is basically just a joke.

I would like to hear The Stranger's response as to why it is pretty much only meaningfully written by white folks (to my knowledge, anyway). I am aware that Seattle is about 70% white, and King County is about 75% white, and so most people looking for a job there will be white, but this is not much of an excuse.

I am really not a proponent of the idea of hiring minorities just for the sake of PR, but I find it hard to believe that there are so few minority writers/candidates to be considered for a job at The Stranger.

Your loyal Sloggers want answers.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on December 4, 2013 at 10:57 AM · Report this
What about Larry Mizell Jr? He seems very knowledgeable about his beat, and shows up every week, and I'm sure often on Line-Out, but that's not my scene....
Posted by Hanoumatoi on December 4, 2013 at 11:02 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 9
Most modern SUVs are hybrids nowadays. It's not asking much. In fact, a good hybrid SUV can be tuned to give a boost for fast acceleration with an override (or Sport/Turbo) setting.

@7 is wrong about Charles, however. I mean, when the 43rd just had two Hispanics running for a seat and one was elected last night, that is a hallmark that we are becoming way more multi-ethnic than you think we are.
Posted by Will in Seattle on December 4, 2013 at 11:09 AM · Report this
Fnarf 10
@7, I have no idea what Will is talking about (Hispanic PCOs in the 43rd means what, exactly, in relation to Charles?) but you're right: Charles and Larry Mizell and that's about it. And Charles, as lovely as he is, doesn't really represent a constituency. There's essentially nothing in the paper or the blog of much interest to Latinos or African-Americans or even Asians, certainly no one in anyone in South County or even South Seattle most of the time. It's a young, white, largely gay paper for a very narrow demographic and class slice of the city -- not even "people who are interested in tattoos" but only certain kinds of tattoos. Indie rock is massively overrepresented, hip hop less so, everything else not present at all.

Partly that's because that's pretty much the only demographic that picks up alt weeklies or reads blogs. The Latinos have their own papers; if you're looking for ads for the big touring banda or cumbia groups, you'd look there, not here. But there is clearly a community separation here. Even the LGBTQ community is represented overwhelmingly by the gay male perspective, with maybe a little T as well; can you think of an aggressively lesbian writer for The Stranger?

What would really be awesome is not specifically that The Stranger pick up perspectives from "other communities", but that they find voices of color in THIS community -- a gay black man, for instance, or a woman like Pam Spaulding at Pam's House Blend (sadly retired, alas). Any kind of black man, actually, like getting Larry Mizell to write about something other than music -- not even just "the black community" but the "everybody community" with a black voice. There is such a thing as a black hipster. That's the kind of diversity that is clearly within reach for The Stranger, but they've never reached for it.

I'd love to see a specific outreach, a paid internship or something (unpaid internships are racist and exclusionary by definition), specifically awarded to people of color, to give people of color an opportunity to contribute their voice -- and NOT just on topics specific to communities of color, but certainly including them. Let The Stranger try to find a local Gustavo Arellano, who can snark with the best of them, and not just on "Mexican topics".

I don't think we'll ever see it happen at The Stranger, though. Much as I love 'em, they're in their niche and they're not budging.
Posted by Fnarf on December 4, 2013 at 12:09 PM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 11
@10: Yeah, I was going to ask Will what the fuck he was talking about, but then I decided I would rather just hit myself over the head with a brick.

Good points all around.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on December 4, 2013 at 12:20 PM · Report this
@10 -- "Can you think of an aggressively lesbian writer for The Stranger?" I don't know what you mean by "aggressively lesbian" (are you "aggressively heterosexual"?) but I can think of some aggressively talented lesbians who write for us all the time. Rebecca Brown comes to mind; read this from two weeks ago. Sarah Galvin comes to mind; she has a weekly column and writes hilarious pieces for us constantly. Trisha Ready comes to mind; she wrote 3,000 words in the last issue of A&P.

As for writers of color: I agree they are not well enough represented on our staff. They have historically not been well represented among applicant pools for new positions, apprenticeships, and the like. That's something I'd like to see change and I'm open to ideas. There may be more proactive ways to reach those communities I haven't thought of.
Posted by Christopher Frizzelle on December 4, 2013 at 1:19 PM · Report this
Sean Kinney 13
@10. Their audience is known to them, and it be them that they speak to (a circular, status quo statement, yes).

Time for Mr. Keck to publish something for and by the Southside?
Posted by Sean Kinney http:// on December 4, 2013 at 1:25 PM · Report this
Sean Kinney 14
@12: Lol. Well yes, Fnarf is aggressively heterosexual.
Posted by Sean Kinney http:// on December 4, 2013 at 1:59 PM · Report this
Fnarf 15
@12, OK, I'll grant you the lesbians (I must have had my scorecard upside-down). But people of color? You're going to have to go out after them. This business about the applicant pool isn't cutting it anymore. You will have to solicit them, and go out to them and ask them in. Be proactive. As raku said, they're probably not applying because they don't think it's for them; they don't think you're interested.
Posted by Fnarf on December 4, 2013 at 3:14 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 16
@12, This reminds me of NASA in the 1960s and 1970s, which was staffed at that time almost entirely by white male engineers. Progressives asked, "why don't you hire more women and minority engineers at NASA?" They, like you, basically responded that they would hire more minorities, but almost all the engineering school graduates were white guys. *shrug* What are you gonna do?

To solve the problem, they had to dig deeper. They had to go start in grade schools and middle schools, and encourage minority youth and girls to study and get good grades in math and science in school so they could go on to college and get engineering degrees, and eventually be qualified to work at NASA. They offered scholarships and internships to minorities and women. Eventually, their pool of women and minority engineers grew, but it took decades of active encouragement and working with schools.

The Stranger, of course, doesn't have the resources of NASA. But you could certainly dig deeper. You could actively court minorities in local high schools and college journalism programs, and tell them you're looking for more minority voices that would compliment the Stranger. Just waiting for them to drop off applications is a pretty weak response. You have to actively seek them out much earlier in the process, and it may take years of effort.

This is a serious subject, even if Raku is insufferably irritating about nearly everything.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on December 4, 2013 at 3:40 PM · Report this
@16: I like this. Offer high schoolers freelance writing assignments with a token fee, but that get published in the Stranger, or at least on the appropriate blog. Give these kids the experience, help guide them through the responses in the comments, and nurture young voices of color.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on December 4, 2013 at 4:06 PM · Report this
@10 Indie rock is massively overrepresented, hip hop less so, everything else not present at all.

False. The Stranger covers electronic music, jazz, experimental music, "world" music, and other genres on a regular basis. But don't let reality get in the way of your sweeping condemnations, which surely give you a power rush.
Posted by Dave Segal on December 4, 2013 at 8:09 PM · Report this
Sean Kinney 19
Slog commenters live in an online cave, Dave. We get out here and there, only to rediscover (and quickly forget) that The Stranger is a print publication that features a variety of White People things.
Posted by Sean Kinney http:// on December 4, 2013 at 9:09 PM · Report this
Sean Kinney 20
^^^ ooh that was a pretty low blow. Seriously, though, The Slog is an essential part of the city's news culture and the loudmouth's here would simply like to see it expand it's horizons - that's all. You do great work. Add some color?
Posted by Sean Kinney http:// on December 4, 2013 at 9:25 PM · Report this
I don't think there are enough "people of color" writing in the comments either, Fnarf. You really should get on that soliciting.

Sigh. Aren't we all of color? And these are words. Ideas. Let them stand on their own. It's the perspectives that matter. Not the gene pool.
Posted by DawginExile on December 4, 2013 at 10:41 PM · Report this

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