Too Brown for NOW
Originally sent to NOW Magazine June 8, 2008. They published a much edited version in their NXNE Issue.
Now, now, NOW:
What am I going to do with you? You seem to fill a need that this upwardly mobile, young man of colour from well beyond the Don cannot shake – local, alternative media. Your articles on labour and pedestrian rights of way complement the concert listings and music reviews that I cannot find elsewhere. And yet, there’s a serious disconnect between the two of us. As a recently returned-to-the-city graduate student, I was hoping to find that Now’s outlook, like my own, had broadened over the years. Unfortunately, Now seems perfectly content to form the free half of the two holy books of white, yuppiedom (the other being Toronto Life). I cannot help but notice that week after week, almost all of the people featured in the “My Style” story look the same – white hipsters in a mix of vintage and Holt Renfrew – and almost always from around Queen West. I also decided to take a look at the archived covers for the past little while, and found my suspicions confirmed: only four of the past 23 covers featured people of colour.
Occasionally, Now hits the mark with the other half of Toronto (the coloured, inner suburban half) with an article about thriving communities around Jane and Finch or near Scarborough despite the complete absence of infrastructure, funding, or political initiative. Even rarer still are any food reviews of any of the hundreds of fantastic mom-and-pop ethnic joints located beyond the reach of the streetcars. If you would but swing by Chowhound.com, you would find plenty of eating establishments well worth the visit for your food critics. Perhaps you don’t know how to take the bus? Perhaps you’re afraid of food that costs less than 20 dollars per person?
And while we’re on the topic of price, what’s with your pandering to Yorkville-with-a-conscience tastes with your Father’s Day recommendations being all ridiculously over-priced ($65 for a tie-pin, really?). That aspect of your publication, too, hearkens back to my undergrad days of commuting back to Scarborough whilst perusing your Christmas gift recommendations, all of which involved a trip to some outrageously expensive boutique in ______ St. West.
Whatever your reason for merely paying lip-service to Toronto’s ethnic and socio-economic diversity instead of actually embodying that metropolitain quality, this situation leaves me with little choice but to renew my subscription to a non-alternative media, who is more concerned with actually challenging perspectives in their photographic and typed journalism – the Star. That publication has informed me of where I can find the best Chinese seafood (in Scarborough), and which Black man recently joined the TCDSB trustees.
It might be over between us, Now. And that old saying applies – it’s not you, it’s me. I guess I’m just to damned middle-class and brown for you.
but at least you’re free,
[I looked it up and here’s the published version AND a response to your Letter to the Ed. found in the following issue–(alex).]
Too brown for NOW
Oh, NOW. What am I going to do with you? You seem to fill a need for local, alternative media that this upwardly mobile young man of colour from well beyond the Don cannot shake. Your articles on labour and pedestrian rights complement the concert listings and music reviews I cannot find elsewhere. Rarer still are any food reviews.
And yet there’s a serious disconnect between us. As a recently returned-to-the-city graduate student, I cannot help but notice that week after week, almost all the people featured in My Style look the same: white hipsters from Queen West in a mix of vintage and Holt Renfrew.
I decided to take a look at the archived covers for the past little while and found my suspicions confirmed: only four out of the past 23 featured people of colour.
Occasionally, NOW hits the mark with the other half of Toronto. I guess I’m just too damned middle-class and brown for you.
Style to Wild
Once again you have published a letter that is very critical of NOW without finding it necessary to reply. Immanuel F.L. (NOW, June 12-1 complains that the My Style feature has profiled only four people of colour out of the past 23, thus exhibiting what he deems racial bias.
Personally, I find this a perfectly believable ethnic ratio resulting from a search for interesting fashion without concern for race.
Let me add that My Style is guilty of ignoring Hassidic Jews, who have worked so hard to preserve the fashions of 19th-century Poland, which might otherwise have faded into historical obscurity. Such devotion should be recognized.