The “NYT” Makes Me Cringe

I don’t like the New York Times.  I find a lot of the articles to be cringe worthy.  The NYT caters to a White, affluent, liberal, East coast audience that lacks self awareness.  That’s well and good but I’m not of that demographic so I don’t relate to their stories or understand their tales of woe.  A lot of the stories in the NYT come across as whiny and delusional to me.  I’ve read their stories and sarcastically mouthed the words boo freaking hoo to myself.

Last weekend I ran across an article by a man named Anthony Abraham Jack.  He is a Black man from a poor background that wrote the most cringe worthy article I’ve ever seen in the New York Times.

Mr. Jack is a Harvard Professor now so it’s safe to say he’s made it.  He wrote his article to discuss his experiences as a low income student at Amherst College, a private college in Massachusetts.  He was a poor man surrounded by affluence and privilege.

I have noticed that the American media loves a Black sob story.  They sop it up with buttered biscuits.  Even if a story doesn’t have anything to do with having an under privileged background TV producers and writers work it in to the narrative.

Instead of centering himself, his experiences and his accomplishments in this piece Mr. Jack centered his wealthier classmates by comparing himself to them.  His classmates were irrelevant to his success in school.  He had his own journey and that should have been the story.  That’s it.

I also question Anthony’s choices.  Why did he choose Amherst?  Surely, he could have gone to a state college closer to home in warm sunny Florida.  There must have been something that drew him to Amherst that made the distance from family and expense worthwhile.  He made his choice to go there and he’s a smart man who became success so why make this appeal?  He is complaining about being the underclass of a privileged class.  I don’t feel sorry for him.  Boo freaking hoo!

I would have appreciated this article more if the intended audience was low income college students.  It would be great if someone with Mr. Jack’s accomplishment’s gave helpful advice about navigating their journey to graduation day.  Instead he is making an appeal to the elite to help poor students.  He is empowering those that are already powerful and making low income students charity cases.  He’ encouraging them to walk with their heads lowered and hat in hand.

But that’s how he has been socialized.  Here is the passage in I Was a Low Income College Student.  The Classes Weren’t the Hard Part that made me blow a gasket.

NYT

Good grief, poor kids that want to go to prestigious universities are encouraged by educators to sell themselves as good candidates to schools based on sympathy and sob stories not academic merits.  That’s demeaning and those educators should be completely ashamed of himself.  They should be fired.

These students should let admissions boards know that they are competitive scholars that can win.  If their background is brought up prospective students should let universities know that they are likely to succeed because of their background, not in spite of it.  In fact, they are more likely to achieve than some of their more affluent counterparts because they are resilient and highly motivated by a desire to carve bright futures for themselves.  Perhaps that’s too much of a threat?

I grew up in a single parent home in a working or perhaps middle class neighborhood outside of Detroit, Michigan.  I have three college degrees one of which is a masters degree.  I worked while I was a student all three times I was enrolled in a university.  I didn’t have as much time or financial resources to invest in projects and materials as others may have but I never failed and I always finished what I started.

I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth and my mother struggled financially at times but that gave me a drive and will to succeed.  I never felt sorry for myself.  I never thought I couldn’t win.  There have been many times that I thought I was the one to beat.  And it’s because I haven’t been handed anything and I’ve never seen anyone get handed anything.  I don’t envy or hold anything against people of privileged backgrounds.  I don’t count other people’s money and I make my own way.

I don’t like the New York Times.  They take too much pleasure in Black sob stories like most American media outlets.  It’s not productive or inspiring for Black people and it just gives White people a chance to feel good about themselves (and superior) by joining in on the pity.  Feeling sorry for a man like Anthony Abraham jack is degrading.  He sure doesn’t look helpless to me.  He shouldn’t be encouraging low income students to feel helpless either.  Don’t approach any situation with your head lowered and hat in hand.  If an environment requires that it may not be the right place for you.

False Ideals – Shannon in Kansas City

We are taught to love, uphold and strive for ideals.  The media and the culture at large teach us about ideal beauty.  We should all want to be thin, young, have long hair and be White, or at least the Whitest version of what your ethnic group can provide if you are a non White person.  We are told how an ideal citizen is supposed to behave.  We are all supposed to want to go to school, get married, have a few kids, buy a home, work for forty years and pay taxes.

I don’t think anyone truly benefits from ideal imagery.  Privilege is given to those that match a culture’s ideal imagery but that privilege is based on superficiality and falsehoods.  But they sometimes struggle to maintain their admirable façade and suffer when their reality doesn’t match the image that the world sees.  Those that don’t match what their culture calls ideal can become victims of discrimination and must endure the consequences of unfair treatment.

Anyone that tries to promote an ideal image is most likely trying to manipulate you for their own benefit.  The cosmetics industry needs to present you with an ideal image so that you will want to buy what they are selling in order to pursue their idea of beauty and desirability.  Weight loss companies sell fat people the idea that an ideal thin figure will lead to happiness.  Dating websites promote that being a part of a couple is the ideal to single people in order to sell their services.  White supremacy has been sold to the world in order to consolidate resources and wealth for certain people and places in the world while others suffer.

The only ideal is Jesus Christ.  Nothing else matches His purity or perfection.  Beware of anything or anyone that tries to sell you an image or idea of perfection other than Christ.  When humans try to convince others that they or something they produce is ideal they are going to try to exploit and take advantage of others.

There are many people that I admire for their abilities, talents or beauty.  But we all have gifts and talent but none of us are perfect.  It does not matter how beautiful, athletic, smart, wealthy and talented an individual is we all need a savior.  There is nothing wrong with striving for beauty, career success or wealth but it is important to remember that none of those things are the end all and be all.  It is easy to create unhealthy idols of our ideals.  Always put God first.

 

Exodus 20: 3-4

3 You must have no other gods  before me.  4 Do not make an idol for yourself-no form whatsoever-of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth.

Romans 3:23

All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, 24 but all are treated as righteous freely by his grace because of a ransom that was paid by Christ Jesus.

Psalm 146:3-4

3 Don’t trust leaders; don’t trust any human being-there’s no saving help with them! 4 Their breath leaves them then they go back to the ground.  On that very same day, their plans die too.

#bodypositivity – Shannon in Kansas City

 

 

#bodyposi is a popular social media hash tag which encourages women to be comfortable with and love their bodies.  The hash tag is often accompanied by a photograph of a nearly naked young woman.  I am completely in favor of women feeling good about themselves regardless of their body shape, height or ethnic background.  There are many types of beauty in the world and that should be appreciated.  However, I think the body positivity movement is misguided.

The confusing thing about #bodyposi is that these women want to put as much flesh on display as they can get away with.  The women in these photographs are typically heavier set and do not have the type of bodies that are commonly featured in fashion magazines.  I’m sure any one of them would look great if they styled themselves and wore flattering clothing.  I’m not exactly sure what these women want.

A lot of thin women look awkward in bikinis as well.  Everyone isn’t going to look great in a bikini or under wear.  That’s why fashion models are well paid for their efforts.  They also work out and follow a health conscious diet.  There is a price to be paid for everything including a fit body.

I’m sure there are some women that are uplifted by the body positivity movement and there is value in that.  But we are probably just changing the beauty standard instead of helping women find real contentment and peace within themselves.  Mattel recently designed Barbie’s that have alternative body shapes.  “Sports Illustrated” is featuring a heavier (size 10) model in their swim suit issue.  Stores are using fuller bodied mannequins.

Standards of beauty have changed throughout history.  Changing the standards may help a few people feel more accepted but then someone else will feel left out.  I think that we shouldn’t give the media, the fashion industry or the entertainment industry such power over our minds that they have the ability to make anyone feel less worthy than someone else.  The power that we have given popular images is idol worship.

I was given a copy of the New Testament to read when I was nineteen.  It made a huge impression on me and I would hate to think what I would be like without God’s word in my life.  If I was not grounded in Christ I would probably be as vulnerable to media images as all the “body positive” women are.

The Bible taught me that I have a savior.  That savior was born to be a living sacrifice to save my soul.  I don’t know how anyone can hate themselves with this type of conviction.  If God loves me that much who am I to doubt myself or my worth as a woman.  The following scriptures can help anyone that is struggling with self image:

1 Samuel 16:7

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Have no regard for his appearance or stature, because I haven’t selected him.  God doesn’t look at things like humans do.  Humans see only what is visible to the eyes, but the lord sees into the heart.”

Try to see people, including yourself the way God sees them.  Focus on the human heart.

James 4:14

You don’t really know about tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for only a short while before it vanishes.

Life is fleeting and so is youth.  Don’t drive yourself crazy over something that is guaranteed to end.

Colossians 3:11

In this image there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all things and in all people.

We’re all the same in God’s eyes.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.

You are a vessel for the Holy Spirit when you accept Christ.

Exodus 20:3

You must have no other gods before me.

Worship our savior, not your body.

I think that people would have a better self image if they learned about the love God has for us and the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for mankind.  People would also be well served to not be so self focused.  Love yourself and treat yourself well but it seems to me that some young women and men are absolutely obsessed with their image.  None of us are perfect and we are not meant to be.  No one is perfect but Christ.

God gives us different gifts.  Some of us are artists, great in math or great singers.  Some of us are blessed with the gift of looking great in a bikini.  We all can’t have the same gifts.  Instead of coveting someone else’s blessing be grateful for your own.

 

Your body will fail you one day.  If you live to be old your youth will become a memory.  Don’t let frivolous things become an idol in your life.  Beauty and image is subjective and is often an illusion.  Focus on serving God.  I’m certain that you will become a happier, satisfied, joyful and content person.