… trend story about the growth of bubble tea emporiums in New York City.
Bubble tea, invented in Taiwan in the 1980s, is Chinese tea with tapioca or other sweet gelatinous blobs in it. Here is a poster I found on the web explaining it:
The NYT recently ran an SWPL (Stuff White People Like) style piece about how bubble tea is becoming trendier in New York:
Bubble Tea Purveyors Continue to Grow Along With Drink’s Popularity
By JOANNE KAUFMAN AUG. 16, 2017
And then all hell broke loose for the Times, SJW (Social Justice Warrior) style.
The Times had to run an apology and Memory Hole the original article (unfortunately, I can’t find the original on Wayback Machine). Here’s the newspaper’s self-criticism apology:
Our Readers Call Us Out Over Bubble Tea. They Are Right.
AUG. 17, 2017
The Reader Center is a newsroom initiative that is helping The Times build deeper ties with our audience.
Ellen Pollock, our Business editor, has responded to readers who voiced criticism over our recent story on bubble tea.
We published a feature article on Thursday about bubble tea becoming “mainstream,” which drew criticism from readers on two fronts. …
Other readers thought we described the drink, which was created in Taiwan, as strange and alien, and especially took us to task for the use of the word “blobs.”
This is how one reader, Bo Hee Kim, very thoughtfully put it:
The language used in this article, from ‘exotic’ to ‘Far East’ and the unappealing nature of the word ‘blob’ to describe a drink well-known to many Asians and Asian-Americans unintentionally alienates this population from reading this article. It highlights otherness rather than uniqueness, defines familiarity through a nondiverse lens, and for me evokes the unpleasant feelings of being the kid in a nondiverse neighborhood bringing ‘weird’ lunches to school.
You see, Diversity is our greatest strength. The Diverse bring us their vibrant Diverse inventions, such as tea with jello balls in it. But it is Not OK to say that the Diverse aren’t Mainstream. They are totally Mainstream. They built this country.
Thomas Jefferson drank Bubble Tea while writing the Declaration of Independence. Uh-oh, that sounds problematic. … Alexander Hamilton drank Bubble Tea while denouncing the little people. (Whew!)
The reader complaints have merit. In retrospect, we wish we had approached the topic differently (if at all). There may be a story in the expansion of bubble tea businesses in the United States, but there is no denying the drink has been around for quite a while. And we regret the impression left by some of the original language in the article, which we have revised in light of the concerns.
Intrepid SWPLs (Christian Lander’s Stuff White People Like who like trying out exotic food and drink) are so 2000s.
Irate SJWs (Social Justice Warriors) are 2010s.
Here’s the Bubble Tea Struggle Session out back of the Times Building on 8th Avenue: