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New EarBurner: A TCU Professor Walks Into a Dallas Bar

TCU professor Jean Marie Brown traveled east to the Old Monk to talk about the language on our November cover.
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Last week, D Magazine editor Tim Rogers wrote a post detailing how someone had complained at a grocery store about the cover of our November issue, causing the magazines to be pulled from racks. The cover bears these words:

“If the poor Negroes in their shacks cannot be seen, all the guilt feelings … will disappear, or at least be removed from primary consideration.”

The quote was taken from a 1966 report commissioned by the State Fair. The report laid out a plan: seize the homes next to Fair Park, about 300 owned by mostly Black residents, pave over the land, and the White fairgoers would not have to see who lived nearby. That’s exactly what happened, as our Zac Crain explains in the cover story.

But back to that grocery store. Tim intimated that it was likely a White customer who complained—the store “happens to be in an affluent, predominantly White part of town,” he wrote—and a lot of the comments under the story and on Facebook fell right in with that assumption.

Out west in Fort Worth, Jean Marie Brown trained a skeptical eye to Tim’s words and wrote him an email. “I was struck by your assumptions, as well as the comments from readers, that the objection came from a white person,” she wrote. “While that’s possible, I would also think it’s possible that the cover language could have been jarring to a black person standing in line.”

Brown is an assistant professor of professional practice and the director of student media at the Bob Schieffer College of Communications at TCU. She noted that her 87-year-old mother “despises the word negro because it was used so pervasively through the late 1960s.”

“There’s a part of Dallas, a part of the U.S., that doesn’t need to be ‘confronted’ with this history because they have lived it,” Brown wrote. “It’s important when trying to heal old wounds, not to inadvertently create new ones.”

Part of the goal of our November issue was to spark a conversation: about race, history, and how our city has treated Black people. But that extends to our own work: the language we use, the audience we target, the editorial decisions made on the cover and inside the pages of the magazine and on this website.

We’ll be recording a few podcasts around Zac’s cover story. But we’re starting with Jean Marie Brown, who graciously drove all the way from Fort Worth to the Old Monk to chat with us. The episode is after the jump.

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