New York Times op-ed widely mocked for fearing her free little library is contributing to gentrification

Media top headlines December 6

In media news today, a women’s group says ‘good riddance’ to Chris Cuomo after CNN firing, Brooke Baldwin calls on the liberal network to replace Cuomo with a woman, and an MSNBC anchor appears to downplay Bob Dole’s accomplishments because of his support for Trump.

A New York Times opinion piece was widely mocked on Twitter Monday for after the author said she was upset after a White couple browsed her little library and said the incident was contributing to gentrification. 

On Saturday, journalist Erin Aubry Kaplan published an opinion piece titled “Is My Little Library Contributing to the Gentrification of My Black Neighborhood?” In the article, she recounted her decision to build a freestanding library box in front of her lawn, so any neighbors or visitors to take or leave a book on their own discretion. However, one White couple that browsed her library caused Kaplan to rethink her library box and whether it was contributing to gentrification. 


A Little Free Library has been turned into a small pantry with household items like toilet paper and canned foods near Franklin High School during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Seattle, Washington, U.S. March 30, 2020. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

“Then one morning, glancing out my front window, I saw a young white couple stopped at the library. Instantly, I was flooded with emotions — astonishment, and then resentment, and then astonishment at my resentment. It all converged into a silent scream in my head of, Get off my lawn!” Kaplan wrote.

She compared the experience to gentrification and also suggested that the White couple damaged “the integrity of a Black space” by looking at her public library box.

“What I resented was not this specific couple. It was their whiteness, and my feelings of helplessness at not knowing how to maintain the integrity of a Black space that I had created. I was seeing up close how fragile that space can be, how its meaning can be changed in my mind, even by people who have no conscious intention to change it. That library was on my lawn, but for that moment it became theirs. I built it and drove it into the ground because I love books and always have. But I suddenly felt that I could not own even this, something that was clearly and intimately mine,” Kaplan wrote.

The New York Times selectively edited misinformation spread by Civil rights attorney Ben Crump from a report about the fatal police shooting of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant.

Reporters and commentators responded to Kaplan’s piece by calling it a “regressive” and almost satirical take on little free libraries.

“This is one of the most hilarious op-eds I’ve ever read. If you wanted to satirize this mentality, you could not do better,” independent journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted.

Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich wrote, “This woman is very upset white people stopped by her little library.”

“Sometimes a good thing is just a good thing. What have we done to ourselves??,” Pluribus editor Jeryl Bier said. 

“The ongoing struggle to convince the left to stop filtering all existence through the framework of race and instead compel them to filter all existence through the framework of class,” Commentary editor Noah Rothman tweeted. 

The New York Times recently faced similar backlash after it published a guest essay that criticized Justice Amy Coney Barrett for highlighting adoption during a Supreme Court case on abortion. The essay claimed abortion is “often just as traumatic as the right thinks abortion is.”

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