Friday, January 23, 2009

Southwest Journal's "SW Guide" 2008-2009

While I haven't seen the Southwest Journal's 2008-2009 guide in print, you can find it online here: http://www.swjournal.com/publications/southwest/documents/files/SWGuide1008.pdf. Take a look if you have a chance, and bear with me as I make some observations about this representation of our part of the city.

First, does anyone else out there hate the cover as much as I do? It shows a group of youngish-looking white people sitting around a table (Chino Latino, I think) drinking themed tiki drinks and eating some sort of flaming appetizer. One woman appears to be engaged (perhaps to the man sitting next to her), the others single. I know that this is a scene that gets repeated every day - and I, too, have met for drinks with groups of fellow white youngish people - but does that mean we have to embrace this one single vision of Uptown? When I see this the unspoken message is that Uptown is for younger, white, single (or at least without kids) people who have enough money to buy overpriced fruity drinks. Older? Blacker? Have kids at home? Maybe you'd be happier somewhere else.

I don't fault the Southwest Journal for this. They seem to be going for a Sex and the City vibe (but inclusive of straight men) and they can go for whatever look they want. This is only one limited view of Uptown and its options, but unfortunately it's the same one we see the most. After all, it's these young, unencumbered people who have the money to frequent Chino Latino and other area nightspots, remodel their homes, and otherwise spend money in a rough economy. And I do that think that tokenism - the random Asian woman, a single old person, or, for that matter, an ugly young person or simply just someone who is fat or has bad teeth - can get silly. Still, would it hurt to at least TRY to reflect both the actual diversity of our neighborhood, not to mention the diversity that most of us in south Minneapolis wished we had?

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