One of the after-dinner mints that we enjoy in the print media are the letters and comments we receive from readers. We get a few raves, we get our share of boos (usually pointing out a bone-headed mistake or an incorrect assumption that is painfully obvious), and we occasionally get letters that force us to take a second look at a story or a part of the story that we hadn’t fully appreciated before.
So it was with last week’s cover story on wedding planners, tied to the April 29 royal wedding. A day or so after the paper was distributed, we received a letter that raised some important questions about what we do and why we do it.
“When I saw your cover, I winced,” said this reader, referring to the cover photograph of four working women in the U.S. 1 circulation area who had fit themselves back into their wedding dresses to represent the interest in the William-Kate wedding.
“Here we are in a so-called multicultural collection of communities, and yet white is surely dominant,” wrote this reader, who asked that her name not be revealed. “I thoroughly enjoy reading each issue of the U.S. 1 newspaper, but in some ways a few of the stories reflect our collective lack of mixing. When your staff ‘crashes’ parties, I see about 99 percent white. Presumably the money is only in those pockets. But is it really?
“I realize this topic is not your problem, but I do wish you (or perhaps all of us) could come up with some way to promote inclusion in our local communities.”
Interesting comment, in several ways. First, while the subject of our April 27 cover story was indeed lily white — as in wedding dresses — the women on our cover are not. In fact, one is black. We did not “cast” the cover women by the color of their skin — instead, they represent a cross-section of professions, the editorial focus of this newspaper.
Also of note: of the three wedding planners profiled in our story inside the paper, only one is white; the other two are black and Haitian. But again, they were not chosen for the color of their skin; they were chosen because they are the leading wedding planners in the Princeton area. In fact, Marie Danielle Vil-Young, one of the wedding planners, made a point to describe the challenges — and successes — she has had planning Indian weddings, which are, we learned, quite complex.
As for our recurring feature, U.S. 1 Crashes a Party, editor Jamie Saxon and our roving photographer always try to get a mix of partygoers. In March they covered an art opening at the Trenton City Museum, where guests included Asian and black partygoers galore. A quick peek at our 2011 wall calendar, which features crash photos, reveals Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, and black guests, including the Brodsky Center gala, the National Junior Tennis League of Trenton gala; the Epicurean Palette at Grounds For Sculpture, the Crisis Ministry of Princeton and Trenton gala, the Patrons Party; of the Westminster College of the Arts, and the Palmer Square Fashion Show.
Trust us, after so many cookie-cutter galas, we live for eclectic. Know a good party, diverse or otherwise, for us to crash? E-mail Saxon at firstname.lastname@example.org.