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The Single Story of Camden

Lisa Marie's picture

Like many of my classmates, I was also taken aback by the Apocalypse, New Jersey: A Dispatch From America’s Most Desperate Town article written by Matt Taibbi. Taibbi painted an extremely dark and negative picture of Camden through his writing, describing the city as "an un-fantasy Island of extreme poverty and violence where the police just a few years ago essentially surrendered the city of 77,000". Taibbi continually others Camden, comparing its violence and crime rates to places like Somalia, Honduras, and Iraq. While he incorporates some of the obstacles the city has had to face such as detrimental budget cuts, which were especially to the police force, he fails to address many of the issues Camden faces that we have learned about from visiting the city and hearing more about its history from Michael. This is an incredible example of how powerful and problematic the single story is. As I was reading this essay, I kept thinking about my friends who had been surprised that the 360 was visiting Camden. "Isn't it too dangerous to be there? why would you go there?" many of them had asked me. If any of my friends who asked me these questions had read this article, the image and stereotype of the city would only be reaffirmed. Luckily, this whole 360 class has had positive, enlightening, and fun experiences in Camden, which keep us from supporting the assumptions that Taibbi puts forth, but there are many who haven't had such experiences.