‘Being White in Philly’ Philadelphia Magazine Cover is Just Hype and Stereotype

Race is the one issue that will never truly be put to be bed. It will always linger in the air like a bad smell. There have been many people with good intentions and even those with lesser intent who have tried to close the lights. The ascension of President Barack Obama was trumpeted as Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream being realized but five years after the president’s historic win, we are no more in a post racial America than in 1950.

The issue of race is still very much the monster that keeps many of us up at night and it’s not even hiding underneath the bed. In fact, race is the boogeyman that is being wooed to come out and play. Philadelphia Magazine is the latest culprit with their cover story “Being White in Philly”.

Robert Huber wrote the ode that many of the Caucasian persuasion are afraid to discuss the issue of race in the predominately Black Philadelphia. These anonymous sources don’t want to be called racist but choose to only speak freely off the record about their concerns. One is horrified at the thought of a loved one living near Temple University because of its North Philadelphia location. As a proud Owl who is proud from where she graduated from, I can attest to still having all my limbs and vital organs intact. It’s breaking news to me that I went to school in a war zone comparable to Iraq but the ballad of fear obscures logic that crime is prevalent in all parts of the city in favor of stereotype.

“…driving up Broad Street as I head home to Mount Airy, I stop at a light just north of Lycoming and look over at some rowhouses. One has a padlocked front door. A torn sheet covering the window in that door looks like it might be stained with sewage. I imagine not a crackhouse, but a child, maybe several children, living on the other side of that stained sheet. Plenty of children in Philadelphia live in places like that. Plenty live on Diamond, where my son rents, where there always seem to be a lot of men milling around doing absolutely nothing, where it’s clearly not a safe place to be,” Huber detailed, sharing a story told to him.

The litany of offenses against those profiled continue for many more paragraphs in which blacks are too sensitive, criminals and the reason for the greatest threat to mankind: reverse discrimination.  It’s a therapy session worthy of Dr. Phil. Relax, relate and release but do not mask your intentions as genuine. There is brutal honesty which makes us all pause and think; the truth can set one free and offer a constructive conversation, but this sonnet of self pity is not the catalyst. It is more of a hatchet job against African-Americans using every prejudice available when a scalpel is needed to carve out a meaningful difference on the matter.

The push back to this story was immediate with many taking exception, including Michael Coard, a contributor to one of the magazine’s blogs, The Philly Post.  His opinion was in sharp contrast to Huber’s and the staff which does not have a person of color in its editorial section.

“Philadelphia magazine and Huber missed a golden opportunity to make some headway on race relations. They should have factored in history. And—concerning alleged criminality and laziness and shiftlessness—instead of focusing exclusively on black, they should have considered green, or the lack thereof. In that regard, it’s class, not race. Otherwise, you white folks got a lotta splainin to do about Kensington and Fishtown,” Coard wrote.

The endless blind swing into the hornet’s nest seems designed more to move copy, revenue and page views.  A hot button issue never fails, but this story was a failure. As Daryl Gale, city editor of The Philadelphia Tribune simply put it, “Don’t believe the Hype-it’s a stunt”.

Follow Stephanie Guerilus @qsteph and Parle Magazine @parlemag

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