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Black in Response

1303_Cover_RaceFirst let me start off by saying that I am 100% proud to be a black man. And I joke a lot about white people but the truth of the matter is that I realized a long time ago that not every white person is out to get you and not every black person will have your back. And yes, I do see race and I do see color but most importantly I see the heart. And once you’ve proven to me that you have a good heart, then I fuck with you.

I don’t care what color your skin is.

Now that that’s out of the way, it’s time to get into this Being White in Philly article (which, in my opinion, isn’t even that well written. I thought Philadelphia Magazine was supposed to be a reputable source of information for Philadelphians? Shame on you for printing such garbage)

According to this article, white people are the real victims of racism because they’re being punished for the crimes of their ancestors.

And it’s just not fair!

Which is why when they see a group of black people walking towards them they cross the street for fear of being attacked. Women hold their purses just a little bit closer when they see a big black man coming towards them because in the back of her mind she knows that her Marc Fake-obs bag would go so much better with what he’s wearing, and of course he’s going to steal it from her.

 Question: Do black people commit crimes?

Answer: Of course we do!

But white people shoot up schools and movie theaters.

They like to inappropriately touch little kids and turn a blind eye to what’s been going on.

The bottom line is that our country is fucked up, regardless of race. But in the two aforementioned examples the perception of a crime happening is based on the time-honored tradition of WHITE FEAR.

From the beginning of the article white fear is struck into the hearts of its readers by transporting them into the heart of North Philly, then dangling the ‘Cop Approved’ fear in front of their face as if to say ‘Yup, we knew we had no business down there, and the cop just confirmed it for us!’

Then, we’re treated to a lovely story about how the author, Robert Huber, feels as if he should deliberately speak and hold open doors for black people at his neighborhood Wawa as an attempt towards ‘Race Relations’.

Let me just tell you that speaking to me and holding a door for me doesn’t have anything to do with race relations. It has everything to do with you being raised with manners, which transcends race.

It was around this point in the article where I realized that I couldn’t truly convey what I feel without some key moments to refer back to.

Here are a few of my favorites:

 Of course, it is black people who have faced generations of discrimination and who deal with it still. But our public discourse ignores the fact that race—particularly in a place like Philadelphia—is also an issue for white people. Though white people never talk about it. –Huber

 

First and foremost, Race is never an issue for white people because theirs is the most admired race. Think of the fair-skinned blacks that used to pass for white back during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Or think of people with different ethnic backgrounds who pay ridiculous amounts of money for straight hair, different colored eyes or to lighten their complexion and it becomes evident that race and racial identity has never been an issue for white people.

 

Whiteness is heralded as the pinnacle of perfection. But in all honesty, whiteness is one of the biggest misconceptions of life because it is nothing more than a construct.

It is a basic ideal that most aspire towards, especially white people themselves. Whiteness is the encapsulation of good hair, good homes, good credit and nothing but good times and success.

 

Unfortunately, it’s a fraudulent perception of superiority because even the ones who achieve Whiteness have inner conflict and personal struggles like addiction, depression and broken families. And it also has its own division within itself when you think of wealthy white people who look down on the less fortunate, as well as the ancestors of immigrants like the Italians, the Irish and anyone else who came over here after the Mayflower (allegedly)

Whiteness is a myth that belongs to everyone yet no one can ever really claim it.

-Their stories bring home just how complicated white people’s negotiation with race and class is in this city, and how varied: Everyone does have a race story, it turns out, and every story is utterly unique.

– Huber

 

Once again, when it comes to race and class White people have the upper hand. They don’t have to make any concessions that won’t infringe upon their inherent white privilege, and ultimately anything they have to offer to a conversation about race is null unless they can approach it intelligently with an understanding of;

a)   Why race is such a huge problem in this country?

b)   In what ways do we allow the cycle to continue?

c)   How does our society perpetuate the issue?

 

One of the main reasons is that people tend to believe that there isn’t a race problem anymore. But it’s completely asinine to deny racial tension or displacement in a country where the original inhabitants now live in pockets sprawled out across a land that was once theirs. The history of Whiteness will show you how the English left one country to “start another one” in a society that was already civilized and operational. THEN, they began importing new people to “help” them build a new civilization. A race of people whose efforts laid the foundation for this country, yet their blood, tears and contributions would simply be reduced to a reminder in February about how black people were once subservient to whites.

 

 

I buttonhole a woman I’ll call Anna, a tall, slim, dark-haired beauty from Moscow getting out of her BMW on an alley just south of Girard College. Anna goes to a local law school, works downtown at a law firm, and proceeds to let me have it when we start talking about race in her neighborhood. “I’ve been here for two years, I’m almost done,” she says. “Blacks use skin color as an excuse. Discrimination is an excuse, instead of moving forward. … It’s a shame—you pay taxes, they’re not doing anything except sitting on porches smoking pot … Why do you support them when they won’t work, just make babies and smoking pot? I walk to work in Center City, black guys make compliments, ‘Hey beautiful. Hey sweetie.’ White people look but don’t make comments. … ”

- Huber

You know what Svetlana; I will give you that one. A lot of black people do use the discrimination we face as a crutch to hold us back from advancing.

It is, much like white privilege, one of the most horrific innate traits we inherit and keep with us almost all of our lives. Mainly, because when some people look at us, regardless of whether we’ve got advanced degrees from the best schools in the world, or come from morally upstanding homes, all they see is a pot smoking porch monkey who does nothing but live off the government and make babies every year.

Darling, had you done your research before you emigrated here (yes, I used the word emigrated. I learned it while I was in between smoking pot and fucking) maybe you would have come to an understanding of the psychology behind American racism. It is like no other entity in the world. It’s comprised of equal parts contempt, bitterness and centuries of unresolved feelings between the races.  And that’s not a black thing or a white thing.

That’s an American thing.

You could live here for the rest of your life and never understand it so just make sure you keep your doors locked while you drive your Beemer through North Philly. Because whether you choose to call it Fairmount, Mount Airy or Brewerytown….it’s all North Philly.

-One early evening, just as light is fading, I chat for half an hour with a short, middle-aged woman named Claire who’s walking two terri-poos at 26th and Poplar. She’s a blunt-speaking widow who’s lived a couple blocks south for 30 years. I ask Claire if racial dynamics have changed over time. “It’s mostly white people,” she says, “so there’s no dynamic to change.” I motion Claire down 26th a few doors, out of earshot of a black guy standing at the corner, to ask:

“Do you find that you need to treat African-Americans any differently, to tread lightly, to worry about what you might say?”

“No,” she says. “There’s no need to be careful if you treat people as human beings.” A black woman comes out of the rowhouse behind us, and Claire adds, certainly loud enough for the woman to hear, and probably the guy on the corner, too, “As long as you don’t have a gun in your hand, I’m okay with you.”

- Huber

I don’t even know where to start.

There’s so much wrong with this that it may take me a while to convey what it is I’m truly feeling.

I guess I’ll start with the fact that you’re speaking to a woman who, in almost the same breath, says something very profound and then something very accusatory with her statement about treating people like human beings and then elevating her voice to make sure the black people within close proximity can hear her state “As long as you don’t have a gun in your hand, I’m okay with you.”

For this to be a private moment between two white Philadelphians, one that was facilitated by Huber whisking his new friend and her two pretentious little dogs away from the ears of a nearby black guy, what was the need for her to make sure her black neighbors heard her?

She negates any validity she has towards understanding race by making the last statement. And in that instance is she making the statement to expose her conversation with Huber to make him look like more of an asshole or is she doing it in a tone of mockery that cements white solidarity with Huber?

All of the moments I’ve listed never angered me. At certain points they made me chuckle. At other points the words caused my mouth to drop and my eyebrow to rise. However, nothing could compare to the part of the article that was the most predictable.

When Huber interviewed an old white man named John.

 

That’s when blacks from the South, with chips on their shoulders, John says, moved North. They moved into great brownstones above Girard and trashed them, using banisters and doors to stoke their furnaces instead of buying coal. Before long, it looked like Berlin after the war. Whites moved out.

-Huber

 

Do you see them? Loud, brash and bestial, ripping apart their homes while exhibiting primal behavior? Causing white fear and resentment in a neighborhood that was once so homogenously covered in alabaster?

John paints a very vivid picture of a time when the blacks moved in and the whites moved out.

What John will fail to inform you is that during the great migration after the war, when many blacks were coming to live in the North, there were very few job opportunities for them amidst their new surroundings, and I’m just all too certain that John and his fellow good Christian white neighbors weren’t necessarily jumping at the chance to help them out.

Also, don’t even believe for one moment that these people were offered first placement in beautiful homes and apartments. More than likely they were granted access to shitty buildings with appendages that were falling apart and dilapidated.

Plus, they had no jobs.

You say banister? I say FIREWOOD.

You say door? I say FIREWOOD.

How else are you supposed to keep your family warm when you can’t afford coal and no one wants to hire you? When it comes to the black experience, we will always find a way to make it work because we’re not afforded the opportunity to throw our hands up and whine when things become difficult. We have to keep it pushing.

And if you want an inside glimpse into the subtlety of white fear and white privilege, read between the lines of old man John’s words.

 

That’s when blacks from the South, with chips on their shoulders, John says, moved North

 

What exactly is the chip on their shoulder, John? That they had the audacity to attempt to diversify your lily-white neighborhood? That they would even assume they could infringe upon your dream at a good life by living amongst you and trying to provide for their families the best way they could, just like you?

When people say that racism isn’t alive in this country I have to laugh at them because it’s still very much alive. Especially when you take into account that slavery ended almost a hundred and fifty years ago and the advent of the Civil Rights movement was just over fifty years ago.  The remnants of that era lie within the men and women who were raised or raised children during that time. As long as they continue the cycle of what they’ve been taught race will always be an issue in this country.

 

Last summer he was sitting on his stoop in a lounge chair and went in to use the bathroom, and when he returned, there was no chair—a neighbor watched a black kid on a bike zero in to lift it.

-Huber

 

This is pretty fucked up. No one should have to worry about someone stealing their property regardless of the neighborhood they live in. But in this scenario, I’m thinking that John should question the character of his neighbor, who just sat there and watched while somebody stole his chair. Granted, the neighbor could have allowed the white fear to kick into his brain and remain silent because he didn’t want to get shot, which is understandable because some people are crazy and will resort to such behavior.

Still, in my honest opinion, this whole scenario is probably a lie.

 

Given the monumental changes he’s seen and his declining health, John no longer risks venturing alone beyond his block. There is a monumental spread, too, in his thinking, when he considers the range of black people who have entered his neighborhood.

He tells me about the time, a Saturday afternoon more than 10 years ago, when he came downstairs to his living room to find a stranger had come in through his front door—“It was a nigger boy, a big tall kid. He wanted money.”

It’s a strange moment, not only because of the ugly word, but because of John’s calm in delivering it, as if it is merely fact, one that explains the vast changes in his world.

-Huber

Robert……you’re speaking to an old white man, who has already given you every clue that you need to realize he’s not a champion for race relations, and you’re shocked by him using the word nigger?

Please.

I believe that you intended for someone to use this word at some point. I don’t for one moment believe that you found the moment strange at all. I think you needed this old white man to be in your article because older Americans, both black and white, still hold onto an antiquated view towards race, homosexuals and women in this country and most elderly people have no filter. They’ve lived long enough to say what they want and usually get away with it. I’m sure John reminded Huber of someone from his youth who held onto the same views, whether they were expressed in a similar vernacular or not. This moment was written in to create shock value for whites and anger for blacks.

It did nothing for me but make me laugh.

There’s more to the article but it’s all the same hackneyed rhetoric you can expect from a piece designed to incite white fear:

– A young mother who does the right thing and places her children in a diversified school, all while aiding other mothers to do the same, though they’re reticent to do so because they don’t know who else goes there.

– A tough, ex-pat New Yorker who encountered black goons and drug dealers next door to his business that threatened to kill him, but he was victorious when the head goon was shipped to prison in a prescription drugs bust

– A couple speaking ill about the unfortunate children from the other side of Girard Avenue whose Halloween costumes lacked the same flair as their own kids

This article is trash. Robert Huber paints a portrait of white people who live their lives with the knowledge that black people are around somewhere, but nowhere near enough for them to ever engage with. And when they do engage with them it’s a negative, unpleasant experience.

Ironically, the call to action at the end of the article was for white people to actually engage with blacks. I understand what he’s trying to say, but it comes across like every white person is Dian Fossey and the surrounding blacks are the gorillas in the mist of North Philly. This revelation is condescending yet boldly indicative of just how oblivious some white people are in regards to stepping out of their own bubble and engaging with the rest of the world as a whole.

And the fact that Philadelphia magazine would stoop so low as to even write something this basic and predictable shows how much they value trash over content.

I believe that the only way a true dialogue about race can be achieved is through black people not viewing every white person as their oppressors and white people not “engaging” with black people solely as a weak attempt at correcting race relations.

The only thing that makes us different is the color of our skin.

That’s it.

We, as AMERICANS, allow the chains of race to hold us back from achieving common ground with one another, and until we break those chains we will always have to be faced with race, race relations and misunderstanding.

And on a final note, to Robert Huber, you wrote an entire one-sided article about what it’s like to be White in Philly. When I have to read offerings such as this, which add no solution to the issues we face with race in our city except to cause panic and anger, it makes it just a little bit harder to be Black in Philly.

Or anywhere else in this country for that matter.

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Comments

  1. Ben,

    I admire the way you anaylzed and dissected this article.

    I grew up in the Deep South and after living in the North for the last 30 years, I can attest to the fact that strained race relations is not exclusively a “Southern” problem or dillema.

    The part of the article that riled me the most was when the Russian, “Anna” made these ridiculous comments. The fact that she hails from a country that is not only guilty of overt racism, but has an inherent hatered and mistreatment of people fom the African continent, especially sub-Saharan Africa. There are many documented (and unrecorded) brutal attacks on people of color in her country and other acts of discrimination and injustice. I’m comfortable saying that she already had some ingrained prejuices before she even set foot on American soil.

    The fact that she is set to become a counselor and steward of the law frightens me, especially in a city that is mostly African American. If indeed she is put in a prosecutorial capacity, I HOPE she at least engages in an impartial and transparent manner and dispenses fair and impartial justice. If she does ever represent African American clients, I hope she defends them without regard to the color of their skin. Then again, I highly doubt it.

    In all honesty, this article need to be written and the issues addressed. However, not in a magazine that caters to the City’s mostly elite and white readership and definitlely not with one sided journalism and intent.

    • I didn’t even think about that point! She is going into law and already has such a negative and biased outlook on the black community in Philadelphia. God forbid she hold onto that mentality at all, but what if she continues with those racist thoughts as she continues through her career? It could prove detrimental for any black clients she secures.
      This article could have gone in so many different directions but the fact that it’s recycled rhetoric disheartens me. I think that anyone with a brain can tell that this article is geared towards a specific kind of White Person in Philly because the ones I know don;t co-sign this mess.
      Thank You sooo much for commenting :)

  2. Ben,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond to a very potentially controversial artical. However, your blog isn’t without controversy itself. “First and foremost, Race is never an issue for white people because theirs is the most admired race.” Wow… Seriously? That’s like saying a pit bull is never beaten because he was bred for defense. Race is most definitely an issue for whites… Just try being a white kid growing up in a black community… Yup, I’m sure you can think of more than just a few racial slurs that one might be called. Try being a white kid applying for a black scholarship, or even a black college for that matter. It is offensive that one would even think such a thing… Just because your skin color is _________ you have no problems. Racism does NOT go one way and you are errant to think so. It just goes to show that we can be all be stuck in our facade of reality. You are definitely stuck in yours.

    • TJ, Thank You for your comment. I appreciate any feedback, whether it reflects my own views or not.
      First, I’d like to know the name of the scholarship you applied for? Also, which HBCU were you trying to get into?
      The origin of the HBCU’s hails primarily from a time, not too long ago, when African American’s weren’t allowed access into schools like Harvard or Yale. They were designed to offer an opportunity for African American’s to receive the same type of education as their white counterparts so that they too could go out and make a difference in their communities and the world. I’m amazed that you had a hard time getting into one of them, as they welcome students from different ethnic backgrounds.
      I commend you for sharing your experience with race growing up in a predominantly black neighborhood. What were some of the names you were called? What kind of interactions did you have with your neighbors? Do you still live in that neighborhood?
      I ask all of these questions because you’ve offered blanket statements about race and anyone who has ever truly dealt with real racism can tell you that the word ‘vague’ doesn’t give those incidents justice.
      For example;
      One time while I was walking around Ibiza, Spain a man walked up to me and said, quite plainly ‘You nigga, I nigga too!’
      Once while I was partying in Melbourne, Australia during a New Year’s Day celebration one of the guys I had been traveling with that year pulled me close and said ‘Ben….it is my dream for you to one day call me Nigga’
      When I was in Russia AND Poland the people looked at me like I was some type of alien because of my dark skin and big lips. I’ve never been stared at so hard before in my life.
      I bring all of these examples out, and this is just a few, to drive home my original point. Race is never an issue for whites because no one is going to walk up to a white person and say ‘Hey cracka!’. Mainly because Cracka is an American euphemism that hasn’t been exported to every corner of the world like nigga, which apparently is everywhere.
      I don’t relay my experiences from just being black in Philly. I relay my experiences from being black in the world, because I have literally been around the world. And when it comes to race Whiteness is heralded as the pinnacle of beauty and success. When I was in Thailand I saw a skin whitening cream that’s manufactured by Ponds. There are also surgeries that can transform their Asian features to resemble Caucasians. When I was in Tokyo there were so many Japanese girls strutting around with blond hair and blue colored contacts.
      The article is an egregious misrepresentation of how all white people feel about race, I know this, but that doesn’t mean a large majority of them don’t reflect the views of the participants.
      The reality I present in my blog is not a facade. The perception that you know what it truly means to be discriminated against everywhere is the real facade. That doesn’t take away from your experience at all, but it also doesn’t give you enough teeth to attack all the meat on this bone.

  3. Ben,

    Two words: Thank you. Thank you for so eloquently expressing the thoughts of so many African Americans. I consider myself an adequate writer, but I could not have been as clear and concise as you were. I would have become lost in my emotions and become frustrated, and as a result I would not have submitted a comment to Huber’s article at all. Alas, I did not leave a comment, but you said it all and you said it well. And, for the record, I concur.

    I am also very glad to have learned of your blog. I will read it and share it with others.

    Again, thank you.
    ~Fran

    • Fran, I appreciate your feedback. What I wrote here is actually the cleaned up version of what I originally wrote lol.
      I had to read the article a few times before I could really put everything together on paper and gather my thoughts.
      I’m glad you enjoyed it. Thanks again for the comment.

  4. Ben, thanks for expressing the thoughts of some white people too. Thanks for a very thoughtful, engaging and entertaining reply. If only the author had half your insight let alone sense of humor. Speaking of the Mt. Airy white guys, they aren’t all up tight whiney pussies here…, actually only 98% of them are. Okay, that was a bit of a cheap shot, but I’m a woman dealing with these eunuchs up here and I’m sticking with it. The white guilt is worn as a badge of crunchy hippie honor and every massive problem of society can be solved by applying the latest buzzwords. So race? Well, we have hundreds of years with untold agony, hatred, misunderstanding, ignorance… So, it’s simple. It can be solved by starting “a dialog” or “a conversation.” Now if you make that conversation “sustainable” and “community based” it’s in the bag!

    The last thing anybody in this city needs is a superficial application of crunchy jargon after some sheltered white guy realized his kid is in a rough neighborhood.

    • Hey Lori,
      I’m glad you enjoyed my response. The whole time I was reading Huber’s article I just kept seeing this frightened white guy clutching his pearls and staring blankly at the people he interviewed every time they said something racist or stereotypical. I hope this wasn’t merely a stunt to get people to read their stuffy magazine, but if that was their intention it definitely worked.

      • That’s funny Ben, pearl clutching! I feel a little bad for being kind of snotty in my first message, but the do-gooder white guilt person is like a modern version of the old time white person who says racist things without even knowing it. Like “I have many friends who are black” and that kind of thing. It comes from the same place. Total cluelessness.

        Maybe they should pay YOU to write an article for the magazine? You take care.

  5. Chris Lee says:

    The problem in all major cities is “the element” and the “element” is USUALLY black. To say that offends the middle class blacks who are NOT of the element..of course “the element” isn’t on the internet participating in “civilized” discussion.

    • I wish Huber could see this comment because it relays a very common knowledge within the black community. There is a section of unsavory characters that many frown upon because of their behavior. Yet, if you go through any neighborhood in Philadelphia you will see that same element which you speak of in many shades, including white. While I can’t cosign your comment 100 percent I definitely understand what you’re saying. My issue with this article is that, for Huber and his interviewees, there is no such thing as an element. There are black people and the whites who must tolerate living amongst them.
      I wish more people would pay closer attention to the detrimental depiction this article paints for its readers and get involved with the conversation, because it does take civilized discussion to bring these issues to the foreground. And as I’ve stated before, it’s not even a good article. They should have asked me to do it :)
      I appreciate the comment Chris. Thanks for reading.

  6. Hello. I found this blog while surfing the web on this article, and I thought I would pitch in some thoughts:

    I am a sixteen year old girl who lives in South Jersey. Both of my parents are from Northeast Philly, who grew up in white neighborhoods, but they are now Latino/black neighborhoods.

    I would say my parents have subliminal racism; they deny they are racist, and for the most part they don’t discriminate. But when another story about a black person mugging a white person is on Action 6 news, they say, ‘Well, of course he’s black.’ And for the most part, they are correct with their assumption, as the statistics and common observations show this. As a white person, when I say this, people automatically shout ‘Racist!’, even though there is nothing racist about stating a statistic.

    Now the part when my parents and I disagree is why this statistic rings true. My parents would subliminally say it is because they’re black. But it’s really because of the social injustice that these people received for decades and therefore not able to be socially mobile, and stuck in the ditch they can’t come out of. When one is stuck in eternal poverty, it’s hard to get out. So they commit crimes. If the same happened to white people, well, there would be more whites mugging people.

    As for the Wawa example, I hold the door because that’s polite, not to look good for my race. However, there are times when I speak to blacks with more caution, and I feel it’s good white people PR. I realize this is taking away their dignity as humans as it implies that they need more kindness because they couldn’t handle it otherwise; they don’t need the extra treatment. This is why affirmative action is a bad idea; white people resent blacks for getting in the ‘easy’ way, and black people become uncomfortable with the fact they don’t measure up to people’s expectations and might have gotten in only because of their race. My suggestion is to not even ask the question, “What is your race?” Or, quite frankly, any questions regarding gender, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic that has no effect on their academic achievement. Judge blindly.

    Another observation that would go with this subject is the notion of ‘acting black/white.’ For the most part, blacks are if they act ‘white’, which really means they are educated and articulate, and proper. Acting ‘black’ is being uneducated and crass. The problem with this is that a trend of behavior is being labeled on a race, and that’s a crude assumption. And if more black people act ‘black’, it’s probably because of the lack of social mobility. Many say blacks should be integrated into society by now, but racism still runs deep, and despite the best efforts, it will continue for a while. This would seem to contradict my former point regarding affirmative action, but the difference is college acceptance has been based on merit, while societal acceptance has been based on appearance. Judging by merit is fair; judging by appearance is not.

    Overall, I do understand what the author is saying, and connect to the feeling of wanting to be politically correct as a white person, and how it’s very uncomfortable to talk about race. However, the article is an embarrassment for white people who feel this way; it’s just random, verbose anecdotes of white people with little insight. No statistics, no further research – just vignettes of faceless people. Hopefully my two cents are useful and I don’t look like an ignorant asshole.

    • Hey Kitty,

      Thanks for the comment. You made some very valid points and brought a nice amount of maturity in regards to your views on racism. Honestly, you should have written that article for Philadelphia Magazine instead of Huber.
      Race is never an easy thing to discuss because people like to believe that racism doesn’t exist anymore, which is complete bullshit.
      If it didn’t exist then there wouldn’t be a need to write something like ‘Being White In Philly’. Where we fail as a society is when we don’t address these issues and assume just because someone is white or black they they will act like all of the stereotypes we’ve become accustomed to believing. I don’t have a problem with white people and am not as super militant as I was when I was younger, but I also know that a lot of white people never think about race until they have to. For everyone else there’s always someone out there waiting to judge you by the color of your skin or the neighborhood you live in, and a lot of times those judgments come from the Caucasian community.
      And racism isn’t just a black/white issue because there’s racism within different races as well, but that’s a blog post for another day.
      Please feel free to comment anytime. I hope you like the blog :)

    • I don’t think you’re talking about acting ‘white’ or ‘black’, you’re talking about acting middle class or working (or non-working!) class. America uses race to avoid dealing with our class divide. Keep the proles at each others’ necks and no one will work together to stop being ripped off by the rich.

  7. Thanks for the article.

    Philadelphia Magazine is trash and, no one who has commented (inter!)nationally on the article has mentioned, is written for people who live in the suburbs. The vast majority of actual Philadelphians of any race never touch a copy.

    As a white Philadelphian who grew up here and attended public school here (often as a minority… which was the best thing for my social development), I found the article cringe-making, hateful and embarrassing. I’m amazed you find it funny; good for you to have that in you. Looking at the comments section below the article we can see the suburban neo-Nazi scum worm out of the woodwork.

    My problems with Philadelphia have always been people behaving in a trashy manner regardless of race. We have economic problems that lead to class-based problems. Crap outlets like Philadelphia Rag-azine will print a thousand pieces about race (which sells copies) before printing ONE article about how America’s tax patterns (including funding school districts through local property values, a guarantee of apartheid-like conditions) and economic policies create and maintain a huge underclass.

    Nothing would make me happier than a normal, decent family of any race moving next door to us, displacing the loud, substance-addicted, violent and possibly criminal white trash scum who moved in on one side of our rowhome.

    • Chris,

      You hit the nail right on the head. What I hated the most about the article was that it depicts white Philadelphians as victims awaiting the inevitable Black Revolt. Apparently being White in Philly means you only have to worry about the blacks who destroy the landscape of this pristine city, when the reality is that Philly, itself, is a city of neighborhoods with different attitudes and vibes. And those attitudes and vibes come regardless of race. This is a very diverse city theoretically. Is there a racial divide in some areas? Oh hell yes. But, there’s also inter-cultural racism which permeates throughout communities that are racially homogeneous.
      Racism is and continues to be the subject nobody wants to talk about but is so innately ingrained is us that we don’t even see it around us.
      I appreciate the comment and hope you enjoy the blog.

  8. I enjoyed your analysis of that Philly Mag article. When I read that article, I was litterally cringing about some of the attitudes and views presented by the white interviewees. Some background information. I am white, orininally from a small town, working class family in Michigan. I’ve been living in Philly for almost a decade in various neighborhoods (Germantown, Old Kensington, even Fairmount, and now South Philly). I have learned a lot in my time here, made some mistakes, challenged some of my own views and stereotypes born out of my own ignorance, and yet I still feel that I am constantly learning when it comes to issues of race. I am okay with this. I don’t have all of the answers and I am not perfect when it comes to issues of race and class. However, I don’t think that I am entitled to whine about feeling uncomfortable about encounters with other races. I mean, come on. Being white affords me so many privileges, I really can’t complain right! Therefore, I find myself having little sympathy for the people interviewed in this article. So many people put up with so much else in this country, that if all I have to worry about is feeling uncomfortable about going to the Wawa, then I need to think a little more clearly about where I stand in the world and what is going on around me.

    To be honest, some times I am ignorant of the fact that so many whites in the city still cling to some of these views. I am a social worker, and I work in Camden, NJ. So much of my day-to-day business involves dealing with individuals of many races that I forget that many people do not have that same experience. I have made some mistakes and had to eat my own words and humble myself over the years, but I think that is what everyone needs to do. What I see missing from Huber’s piece is the sense of common humanity that exists between people of different backgrounds. I was really frustrated that he only interviewed white individuals, and at that, white middle and upper middle class individuals. Why no black voices from across Girard to discuss how they think and feel about Fairmount? Philly is an incredibly diverse place and there are neighborhoods that contain poor whites living side by side with people who are black, hispanic, or asian (I am thinking of Frankford, Kensington, parts of South Philly). What about these communities, where individuals do not necessarily have the choice to avoid interactions with other races?

    I would have appreciated something from this article other than middle class white people from Fairmount and Mt. Airy complianing about negative encounters with black people, as well as their discomfort with even the most mundane of interactions with black people.

    • Thanks for the comment John.
      As someone who migrated here and has been in so many different parts of the city over the past decade I’m sure you know all too well about the diversity of our city. Neighborhoods are like their own entities with their own flavor and that is one of the best qualities of Philadelphia.
      So for Huber to deliberately segregate it by interviewing people who hold such a homogenous view does a disservice to what Philly truly is. There’s plenty of people who feel the way Huber and his interviewees feel, but what I’ve learned in my discussions with other people in regards to his article is that more people disagree with it. That makes me proud because my entire life I’ve seen the world in black and white. When it comes to race there are no shades of gray for me. I too have been humbled by the responses I’ve gotten from my response to Huber’s article, which I will state again, is terrible.
      I don’t know how they even allowed that mess to be published but what it has done is open up the dialogue about US race relations. We’ve come so far but still have a ways to go, and I sometimes feel like race will always be one of those topics people either agree to disagree on or not ever mention for fear of rocking the boat.
      I say rock the mutha fucka. Because no solution can come from ignoring a problem. So for that, and only that, I’m thankful for him starting the discussion.
      I appreciate your feedback and your honesty man.

  9. Just found this article. Yes, I am white and male. So, I guess I ‘just don’t get it.’ But that attitude pretty much makes me not want to even care anymore. When you lose the white liberal – it does not help at all. I grew up very much at odds with racism and very sympathetic to the cause. But now it really has gotten ridiculous. This guy wrote a pretty solid piece and all you can do is call him names and mock him. Black people ARE screwed but not it’s your own doing. The excuses are over.

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