Why it’s a problem: On the surface, this NPR piece, part of a new series called “The Unmarked Grave,” seems like a sympathetic and “humanizing” portrait of Neil Harris Jr, an unhoused person with apparent mental illness who died in 2017. However, the story, written in True Crime fashion, is actually more about centering the people whose lives were peripheral to Neil’s, and continues a long tradition of harmful media coverage of marginalized people that “gives voice” only after they die. I use the term “giving voice” here loosely since, as Arundhati Roy has famously observed, “There’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless.’ There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.”


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