Katie Roiphe—writer, daughter of Anne, white female, upper class, Brooklynite, pooh-poohs date rape, hates Gawker, hates your sex life, you know the one—had a very dramatic experience today. Very dramatic. It was... I don't even... just let me gather my nerves for a moment.
Okay. In the course of being a reporter, of being a writer, of being a serious chronicler of our age, as Katie Roiphe is, one is sometimes forced to bear witness to and come to terms with events which more ordinary people would find shocking. Would be unable to cope with. It is good, therefore, that it was not just anyone, but Katie Roiphe, who stumbled upon the breathtaking scene in the streets of the wealthy brownstone Brooklyn neighborhood in which Katie Roiphe lives.
The other day, in my Brooklyn neighborhood, in the middle of the afternoon I suddenly come across an entire block closed off by kids swarming the street, blocking traffic, standing on parked cars, chanting or shouting something I couldn't quite hear. It looks at first like a demonstration, like Tahrir Square or Occupy Wall Street, but it is, in fact, a fight.
It would not be unusual for a sociocultural critic of the caliber of Katie Roiphe to suddenly find herself in Tahrir Square, you see. Magazines pay her to go to places like that, if she wants, btw. But no; this was a fight, with kids, yes, black kids, yes, the blacks, we think, (of course Katie Roiphe is not coarse enough to say this straight out, but we, the Slate readership, are pretty sure they must have been black kids,) standing atop cars, and fighting, violently, presumably with punches and—who knows—even kicks. Kids, fighting. Project kids.
This is the first time I've seen it, but people are saying it happens sometimes. After they get out of school these kids, many from the nearby projects, go down the side streets, side streets with $2 million houses, side streets with coffee shops that sell $4.50 iced lattes made from something called "Intelligentsia coffee," sidestreets with blond 2-year-olds being walked home from their music enrichment classes.
There's something called "Intelligentsia coffee," which Katie Roiphe must put into scare quotes to indicate that, although she is a wealthy white woman who lives in this neighborhood of multimillion-dollar homes, and a woman who makes her living by manipulating the English language, she is unable to comprehend the two words "Intelligentsia" and "coffee" together, in a single phrase. It's not vibrant or real enough for the mind of Katie Roiphe.
But let's not get off topic. There is a fight! In the street! Here, in Katie Roiphe's very neighborhood. A rare occasion, and a perfect opportunity for Katie Roiphe to find meaning in a thing that happens, in the world. And what is the real meaning of this bunch of god damn kids having a fight after school? It is "one of those big signs that should be catching our attention." This neighborhood is full of liberals, you see—but they are displeased when a fight occurs in the street. Oh ho ho! Can anyone with a mind not the same exact size and depth of Katie Roiphe even understand why this means something, some... thing? No, which is why it's great that Katie Roiphe walked by that fight. So that she could report on it, for us. Not simply as a common reporter, but as a true thinker; as that rare breed of cross-cultural interpreter who can tell Slate readers what a bunch of teenagers scrapping after school are really trying to say, when they have a fight, in Katie Roiphe's neighborhood.
I understand why the owners of the $2 million brownstones are shaken up, and I understand why this particular expression of rage or excess energy is not communicating to its viewers as effectively or articulately as those being arrested a little distance away, in downtown Manhattan. But this is still the 99 percent saying something to the 1 percent.
They're saying something. Something, is what they're saying, these teenagers from the projects, who fight, after school, sometimes, in the street. They're saying something. They're not just god damn teenagers fighting in the motherfucking street, as teenagers have been in every god damn neighborhood in Brooklyn and beyond since fucking mankind invented schools; they're saying something. We won't give away what they're saying, though. You'll have to ask Katie Roiphe, for that.