Just so with A New Way to Talk About Poverty in New York.
Slate is a bastion of mostly — but to be fair, not always — unreflective progressivism (which, unfortunately, continues to make the brand-sullying error of publishing Amanda Marcotte).
The point of the piece was to photographically document living in poverty and, ostensibly, provide an opportunity for empathy and sympathy in the viewer. And not black poverty, which is such a lightning rod, but rather white poverty in upstate New York.
To progressives, poverty is an indictment of society and the system and capitalism. Oh, and Reagan.
In contrast, for non-progressives, poverty is often the consequence of self-defeating choices, which should not be subsidized because the inevitable consequence is getting more of what you pay for.
It should come as no surprise, then, that this photo essay serves as a compelling indictment of right-wing capitalism. Here is the author's précis:
Brenda Ann Kenneally takes photographs, but to call her a photographer isn’t quite accurate. She prefers the term “digital folk artist,” and when you hear how she interacts with her subjects—families living below the poverty line in Troy, New York—and tells their stories ...
Kenneally lived in Troy, a city 140 miles north of Manhattan, and surrounding cities on and off as a child and teen. She left for good at the age of 17 after a young pregnancy and abortion, problems with drugs and the legal system, and time living in group homes. After getting sober, she studied photojournalism and sociology at the University of Miami. After graduation, she moved to Brooklyn and began photographing her neighbors’ struggles with poverty and drugs.
No doubt, part of this story is about the consequences of economic change: no one wants to live without it, but, particularly for some, it can be hard to live with, too.
... today, Troy is a city with serious social issues: According to a report released by the New York State Community Action Association in 2010, 21.4 percent of residents in Troy live in poverty, and about 70 percent of poor families are headed by a single mother. “I have dedicated my life to exploring the how and why of class inequity in America. I am concerned with the internalized social messages that will live on for generations after our economic and social policies catch up with the reality of living on the bottom rung of America’s upwardly mobile society,” Kenneally said in a statement about her work. “My project explores the way that money is but a symptom of self-worth and a means by which humans separate from each other. Poverty is an emotional (rather than simply) physical state with layers of marginalization that cements those who live under them into place.”
The rote boilerplate and passive voice is the false flag; the images themselves the operation. It is surprising Slate got taken in so easily. After all, it is clear enough that Kenneally's success came only after stopping make bad choices; or, for you optimists out there, started making good ones.
In this thread are some images that didn't make the cut at Slate — scroll down.