As I was perusing Stereohyped today, I came across a link to a New York Times story about faux gang-banger Margaret Seltzer. The article is from last week, before Seltzer’s tearful confession admitting that she made up her ‘memoir’ “Love and Consequences” about being a white/Native American gang banging Blood in South Central who was raised in a black foster family. In reality, she is a white woman who grew up in a stable two-parent home in a nice suburban Cali neighborhood. All her hood life tales came from working in community centers with actual gang bangers.
Obviously what she did was awful, but after reading her pre-confession interview in the Times, I’m convinced that she really is a horrible person. Check out this exerpt from the article.
“During her senior year of college, one of Ms. Jones’s professors asked her if she would agree to be interviewed by a feminist friend working on a book. Ms. Jones initially said no — ‘I wasn’t interested in the whole South Central as petting zoo thing’ — but then reconsidered. “
Funny how she wasn’t initially interested in the whole “petting zoo” thing, but apparently had no qualms about using people’s real stories to fatten her own bank account. So disingenuous. She reminds me of some of those do-gooders from college who were literally at every friggin’ protest– sweatshops, free Mumia, save that random ugly ass building, affirmative action or whatever. They had basically good intentions, but it was generalized liberalism, full of heart-felt sympathy, but devoid of a deeply rooted connection that would extend such acts beyond graduation or even sophopmore year. Eventually they all got real jobs and to this day they chuckle with their friends about their crazy, idealistic college days. Seltzer’s idealism never really melted away, but instead morphed into some weird fantasy that her relationship with the kids entitled her to their experiences. Perhaps a little white guilt gone awry.
Seltzer didn’t see herself as one of “those people” exploiting these inner-city kids she worked with because she liked them, she laughed with them, she ate lunch with them. But in the end, her betrayal is much much worse than the snub of some stuffy, smooth-talking politician in a cushy office. She allegedly “understood” the streets, yet she, like just about everyone else in these kids’ lives, used them. Shameful. It’s worse than that James Frey crap too because she didn’t just make these things up, she took other people’s stories, cobbled them together, added some stuff and made them her own. Writers often use real life experiences, even other people’s experiences as inspiration and add on a little extra , but the end result is usually called a novel. It seems a lot of people lately are not familiar with this art form.
In the Times piece she went so far as to show the reporter framed photographs of her black foster brothers, inlcuding the one who died. We now know she never had any black foster brothers. Who knows where she got those pictures or whether or not the young man in that photograph actually died. Just awful.
She even throws in some dumb shit about how she had never even seen a white baby until her daughter was born.
“Rya’s father, she said, was ‘the first white guy I ever dated, and she was the first white baby I ever saw. I said, she looks sickly, is there something wrong with her?'”
For real? None of the stay-at-home moms in her cul-de-sac ever popped out a baby, huh? It’s just insulting and stupid. If she was really interested in bringing these kids’ story to light like she said in her little half assed confession, she should have shopped around a book written by them about their lives. How about that? I hope she has to give back every penny of her advance. Love and consequences alright.