I am a student who actively reads the MN Daily. The column about the Elliot Twins public housing units being under threat of privatization stuck out to me, as prior to this column I had not heard of this issue. News like this from the Daily keeps me informed of issues that affect members of the community beyond the student body, and I value having the resources to learn about something so relevant (and detrimental) to community members in Minneapolis.
Revoking a topic like this is a statement of the MN Daily’s values and target audience, which is already oriented toward white readers. Journalism is a key piece of activism, and it is so important for news like this to be accessible in order for a movement to begin. Not to mention, the residents of this unit are a vulnerable population. Many are refugees of war, experiencing trauma among the many other challenges that come with being a person of color and an immigrant in the U.S., are not fluent in English, and are already experiencing poverty. The barriers that this community faces go far beyond housing, but at the bare minimum it is our responsibility to protect community members from becoming victims of homelessness due to privatization of public housing.
By cooperating with the threats of the MPHA and whitewashing the original column, the Daily is taking a stance that they would prefer to appease the powerful instead of stand up for the powerless. This stance has direct consequences for this community in that they are at risk of homelessness, and no one will be there to fight for them if no one receives the news that this is happening to begin with.
Journalism is a key aspect of our democracy, and the only way for accountability to exist is for journalists to publicize the human rights violations that public and private actors conduct in our communities. This column is crucial to unifying our community to fight for the protection of these residents, and by choosing to whitewash the original article, you are sending a message that you do not care about the victims of this story, and the reader has no reason to either.
Written by University of Minnesota student Brittany Becker.
This letter to the editor has been lightly edited for style and clarity.