philadelphia

Philadelphia Magazine published a story called “Being White in Philly,” in which writer Robert Huber attempts to capture the angst of race relations in the city from the perspective of whites. He claims that the objective of his article is to invite an honest conversation about race, writing:

“What gets examined publicly about race is generally one-dimensional, looked at almost exclusively from the perspective of people of color. 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.

Everyone might have a race story, but few Whites risk the third-rail danger of speaking publicly about race, given the long, troubled history of race relations in this country and even more so in this city. Race is only talked about in a sanitized form, when it’s talked about at all, with actual thoughts and feelings buried, which only ups the ante. Race remains the elephant in the room, even on the absurd level of who holds the door to enter a convenience store.”

According to Huber, today’s political correct culture discourages whites from speaking up about how hard it is to mesh with people of color. He paints himself as courageous for publishing the “things that never get said.”

But those things are deplorably racist.

Huber’s interviews with anonymous sources paint blacks as criminals, thieves and drug dealers who are predisposed to violence and general bad behavior. The interviewees, who are all white, tell their sad tale of being victimized by the black people in their neighborhood. The only trait connecting the criminals the interviewees describe is the fact that they’re all black, which suggests that race is the reason they behave as badly as they do.

And that’s not all. Huber points out that blacks disproportionately populate the prison system, drop out of school and live in poverty, but never addresses the systematic racism behind it.

He fails to consider factors like class; though he briefly mentions there’s a black middle class, the article only addresses the behavior of black people who “live below the poverty line.” He never even acknowledges the obvious truth that actions of one, or even a group of black people, don’t represent the entire race.

Instead, he interviews several people who recount unfavorable experiences with blacks. Some describe being robbed while others lament giving black kids candy on Halloween when they didn’t even have the decency to dress up. Huber’s anecdotes communicate one strong message: how very hard it is for good-natured whites to live among blacks in Philadelphia.

Huber even interviews a law school student “Anna,” who 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?”

There is no rebuttal to her obviously racist and offensive statement, nothing to contest the egregious claim that melanin alone might cause someone to spend all day smoking pot, having babies and failing to become a contributing member of society.

In fact, Huber appears to tip his hat to her, saying that her international background and absence of a “historical filter” informs her honesty or “raw view,” as he puts it. To make it plain, Anna has the balls to say what white people think about lazy, entitled, drug-abusing blacks because she doesn’t have to grapple with the guilt of slavery, which was a really long time ago by the way.

Huber might not call black people the “N-word” or rally against them with KKK supporters in the deep South, but he is just as racist. What’s scary and unsettling about Huber’s kind of racism is that it isn’t overt. The black people who Huber so selflessly held the door for at Wawa have no idea how he truly feels about their kind. His is the type of racism that might cause a person to follow accomplished actor Forest Whitaker through a deli, frisk him and accuse him of shoplifting, the kind that might lead a neighborhood watch volunteer to shoot and kill a teenager in a hoodie who had nothing more than candy and tea in his pockets.

Instead of coming from a place of openness and understanding, Huber was driven by fear and ignorance. In “Being White in Philly,” he tried to force a discussion about race relations by blaming black people; he implied that we’re the reason why white people can’t talk about race and why they can’t even feel safe in their gentrified city neighborhoods. If Huber’s race conversation will only consist of white people pointing the finger at us, excuse me if I sit this one out.

What do you think of Robert Huber’s article “Being White in Philly,” Clutchettes?

  • omfg

    i can only laugh at this idea that the author of the pm article thinks he’s shedding light on white attitudes towards blacks. – as if we don’t already know what many of them think of us. lmao. redic…

  • lex

    as i began to read this article i was filled with the thought that the title was a bit misleading, after reading his interviews and his thoughts on it, he is truly a dangerous man. how can you pigeon hole a race for being lazy, welfare loving thiefs! some of the people who he described are nothing more than victims of white supremacy and a corrupt system.

  • http://ourdiversityatwork.com/ Stéphanie Dauphin

    How disturbing it is to read such an article in 2013!

    Our community still struggles for many reasons such as lower educational attainment, lack of network, discrimination and location like Philly from what I have just read!

    If Huber really wanted to be courageous and to bring something new to the table I think He should have talked about what can be done to improve race relation in Philly!

    Our Diversity at Work.

  • http://fromthoughtsintowords.blogspot.com/ rkahendi

    I didn’t bother reading the article. It sounds like one of those pieces that don’t broaden the mind, but that people defend in the name of “freedom of speech.”

  • The Artist

    Sadly, we’re not only battling the overtly racists but also the low key racists, these are often the worst kind.

  • LKJ

    I feel that our society only associates racism with the KKK-hooded, cross burning, lynch mobs that existed from this country’s founding until the mid 20th century.
    Modern racists don’t realize that they are indeed racists, or at least behaving like racists, because they aren’t card carrying members of the KKK.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/07/opinion/coates-the-good-racist-people.html?src=me&ref=general&_r=0

    Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote a great op-ed in the NY Times on this very subject. He doesn’t address the “White in Philly” article but he does discuss the Forest Whittaker incident.

  • P

    Yea, I’m sure this will help race relations in Philly SMH.

    One thing I learned about Philly people is that they are very serious about their community and proud of where they’re from. Now the random white “hipsters” are moving in, biking down the street in their neighborhoods. This article will not go over well.

  • http://www.myblackfriendsays.com myblackfriendsays

    I don’t like to give candy to kids that don’t dress up on Halloween. I do it, but I don’t like it.

    It’s interesting that he says that whites don’t want to talk about these things for fear of being called racist. But then he does it, and what happens? He’s called racist.

    So this is the way that he and the people that he interviewed feel–so now what? If they are ridiculed every time they say these things, then they just stop saying them and that gets us right back to where we are. Which is not much of anywhere.

    I think that the author of the Clutch piece made some assumptions that I did not get from the quoted material. The people in the article make these negative comments about black people and then the author infers that they are tying together these negative personality traits and black skin. That was not my takeaway. Based on their experiences, these are the stories that they have to tell. I’m willing to bet that Robert Huber and the people he interviewed voted for Barack Obama and have a sprinkling of black peers in their offices, so of course they know that all black people aren’t “like that.”

    Look, I’ll be the first to talk about the effects of systemic racism and how it may contribute to the maladaptive behavior that people display. I also think that the people in the article probably have a very limited understanding of systemic racism and its effects. But I don’t think there is anything wrong with saying you don’t want to pay to support people who don’t work, smoke pot and have babies…regardless of what race they are.

  • http://tontonmichel.tumblr.com/ Tonton Michel

    This dude has an issue with crime and poverty and decided to mask it as a race issue. That is racism.

  • http://twitter.com/Cognorati001 Colette Marcheline (@Cognorati001)

    I’ve read the article. I will get thumbed down, of course, but I don’t think it’s racist.

    What the article boils down to is this: there is something wrong in the inner-city, Black American communities. He’s not stating anything that Black people do not know. Anyone who’s claiming there’s nothing wrong after considering the net worth of single mothers, AIDS rates, rates of incarceration, the state of Black schools, and lack of educational attainment, foreclosure rates, unemployment rates, etcetera is lying.

    Irrespective of what one believes caused it (White Supremacy vs. Black “moral poverty”) any honest person should admit that something is wrong.

    I’m not sure that any person, Black or White, considers the inner city ideal places to live. In my city there’s a neighborhood that has one of the highest murder rates in the country. No, I don’t feel safe there. Yes, I’ve witnessed crime there. Yes, it is predominantly Black.

    He seems to be stating that the conspiracy of silence and fear is allowing White people to treat Black issues as though they’re invisible. I would agree that it’s actually furthering the lack of comprehension of racism among Whites because the silence and segregation makes it so that White people don’t even hear about the experiences of Black or comprehend the complexity of issues. No one is coming up with solutions.

  • J

    As a true Philadelphian (who’s black, works, pays taxes and gives back to the community who raised me) I totally concur

  • Sweetles

    Sensationalism. The issues being spoken of in this article is that of class, not race. And I love how the article makes no mention of the poor white neighborhoods in Philadelphia and the things that go on there. I was a little humored by the pathetic article until I realized how dangerous it is. But those of us from Philly already know how these people feel about blacks….all blacks, even the ones in his middle class neighborhood. SMH

  • stef

    I have a hard time calling the man racist. That gives him way too much power . Racist no, Prejudice yes

  • stef

    one thing that irks the hell out of me. is when i hear people say ” i cant believe that happens in this day and age ” or “How disturbing it is to read such an article in 2013″ REALLY!!!!, the more things change the more things say the same

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    it saddens me to see black people agreeing with racists…

  • Fiore Scott

    The comments on that article are some crazy stuff. Not surprising, unfortunately, but jeez.

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    i live in philadelphia. there are poor white people who live here. they behave EXACTLY the same way as do poor black people. it shows that it is as much a matter of class as race.

    the difference is no one is writing articles about the poor whites.

  • Kay

    I’ve met tons of so-called well-meaning Whites who don’t want to acknowledge their own racism. In fact, some of them will whine and complain that they have nothing in common with Blacks and have a hard time relating to them, when in reality they shun relationships with Black colleagues or others working in the same industry or reject genuine offers of friendship by some of these same colleagues, neighbors, service persons, etc. I can have all the same interests, same values as some of these undercover racists and they will still claim we have nothing in common with each other. In fact, in a GRADUATE level course, I had a young White woman tell me that Black people and White people have nothing in common really. I’m like “We’re all sitting in the same freakin’ classroom at the SAME university! Have the same major!! Speaking the same language! How is it we don’t have anything AT ALL in common?!!” Bottom line is, they don’t WANT to have anything in common with anyone of color because they don’t see them as being the same.

    And I wonder how hard some of these interviewees worked to ingratiate themselves with the people they claim wanted nothing to do with them. Perhaps some of the Black people they interacted with didn’t appreciate being some kind of pet project or the recipient of some “Oh you poor Black person who is so downtrodden! You should be grateful that I am coming to save you!” b.s. Or maybe they tried to talk to them as if they were one-dimensional people, you know the old, “You people dance/sing/play ball so well!” kind of ish. Perhaps by talking to people of color like–I don’t know–they’re fellow HUMAN BEINGS maybe these racist douches would get a better response. This kind of racism is based on some patronizing kind of thinking that isn’t really that different from the KKK kind. Basically, they think that Black people are inferior. The only difference is that undercover racists feel that they have a duty to try to “uplift,” Blacks from their inferior status all the while never really thinking that said Black people are really and truly human.

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    i really HATE those passive/aggressive white people….

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    Bingo! Not surprised, there are plenty “functioning” racists/prejudice people among us and some don’t even know it. I can deal with a person who is a flat out racist or know they hold prejudices tendencies because at least their honest but the ones who grin and pretend are the worst kind of people to deal with because you can’t really have an “honest conversation about race relations” when they don’t want to show their hand and own their view point. But these are usually the same people who cry “reverse racism/discrimination”…insert article… But honestly, I’ am not surprised, again people show you who they are and how they view you the first time. But um…I’ am lost at what giving a kid candy who is not even in costume (regardless of said kid’s race) during Halloween have to do with this issue….

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    will somebody please tell me how i can sit around and smoke pot and make babies all day? i’d really like t get one of those gigs. most of my black friends would to.

  • Kay

    Well it’s one thing to correlate criminal behavior to a circumstance that can change (i.e. poverty) it’s another to relate it race. That’s the dangerous thing the article does it to infer that Blacks are inherently criminal without addressing all the issues that surround the Black community in equal parts. That said, people SHOULD talk about race. I was okay with him saying that he felt that we ignored the racial goings on in the U.S. However, by not introducing radical kinds of strategies he wasn’t saying anything different than what most White politicians back in the 1800′s and 1900′s about Black morality. People forget that this not a new discussion. Hell, even some of the Talented Tenth activists back in the day used to bemoan the fact that Blacks would not “work hard,” and just had to get off the government’s teat and not act so darned “Black,

    And did the author of this article then try to partner with organizational leaders of color (I know they’re out there) and try to help keep people from sitting on porches smoking pot? Mentoring some kids? Critically analyzing why some people do the things they do? Something? No? Probably not. You said no one is coming up with solutions. Well, sitting around and saying, “But they don’t want to work hard and do anything!!” is not going to help either.

  • tina

    I think this is the stupidest article I have ever read about Philadelphia and I’ve been here for 30 years. It could be mind blowingly offensive if the author wasn’t so clueless and pathetic.

  • Emy

    There’s a Chinese girl who came up to me and asked how the economy is doing in Africa and why we’re still underdeveloped. She said she was discussing the topic with her boyfriend and he said “Black people are lazy blah blah blah”. I told her to her face that her boyfriend was ignorant and he doesn’t get to judge a continent he’s never been to. The worst part is he said to her that “Chinese people are lazy too” and I asked her if she gets upset when he says that. And she was like “no, he says that about everybody.” I didn’t say it out loud but I was wondering how she can stay with his racist ass.

  • http://drshocks.wordpress.com drshocks

    James, you are right about that. I too live in Philly, West Philly. I know a few poor white people. This article pissed me off royally with it’s abundance of flaws.

  • Apple

    Oh white people. You never learn

  • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com Val

    In general I really don’t give a darn what the average White person thinks about Black people. But, when that average White person is a doctor in the ER or a police officer pulling me over or someone who works in HR and is interviewing me, then I care. And, that is the problem with this article, these people aren’t Klansmen or members of some other racist organization, they are indistinguishable from non-racists. And that makes them a million times more dangerous than the KKK. They do their dirt undercover.

  • Starla

    I am going into the other realm here. The truth is everybody responds to telepathic signals. Black people are being bombarded telepathically daily by everybody. EVERY single group have something negative to say about us. For us to rise up over the physical obstacles and psychic obstacles that are put in our way is herculean.

    Many Blacks are also psychically bombarding their own with negativity daily. People pick up these telepathic signals and act them out. Black people, especially Black children must be fed uplifting and empowering thoughts and words to go up against the mental bombing they take from all over the globe. Exalt the divine spirit in each other, say uplifting things about yourself, and each other always.

    Our greatest enemy are the ones we cannot see. This man has written his thoughts in the article and we read it and get upset, something we shouldn’t do, because getting angry only give life to his words (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Futility,_or_the_Wreck_of_the_Titan). But imagine walking pass him on the street and he sends his negative thoughts about you out there, and you walk pass 300 people on the street and they all send hundreds and thousands of negative thought impulses out to you. Compound all those mental negativity sent your way day in, day out and the effect they have in the long run. Compound that with your own negative self-imagine, depression, unhappiness and you are doomed to failure in all your doings. Things happen in your life you can’t explain, you make strange choices that cause destruction, your entire home/family is a ruin.

    Protect yourselves! practice meditation, prayer, positive affirmation, loving yourself and your fellow black people. Every time you see a black person surround them in a protective shield of love. We are all we have in this world.

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    this is only true if one is unaware.

    i read ra un nefer amen and i meditate. i don’t give a hoot what white people emanate.

    hotep

  • Tara

    That’s right. They are more dangerous….

  • Tara

    And the same day that I read that article, a white couple stole two cop cars out of Camden and drove over to Philly very recklessly injuring people. It was crazy and a hot news item that day. The news reporter reported that it was an african american woman but then we realized it was a white couple but before they stole the cop cars they tried to car jack another white couple.

    Crime among whites is increasing. It is a certain segment of whites. Whites have the luxury of being judged as individuals. Not so much for blacks. He did not isolate the black criminals from decent, hardworking, black people. That is the problem.

    This is the reason why the white crime rate is going to go up like crazy and they wont see it coming cause they are to busy limping good black people with bad.

  • http://www.myblackfriendsays.com myblackfriendsays

    All white people are racist to some extent, because they’ve grown up in a racist society.

  • http://gravatar.com/latinlover Pseudonym

    This writer is dumb and sheltered. Does he not know that middle class black students also attend Temple with his middle class white son? and does he not think that their parents are just as worried about crime in the area (which pretty much plagues all universities in urban areas)? Does he not know that there are more white people receiving welfare for having babies and not working, but they live just outside of Philadelphia or even further into the hillbilly country that is Pennsylvania? Has he ever left Philadelphia? Has he ever spoken to a black person? I just cannot bother with this guy. He’s completely deluded and is trying to use a pity party as a defense mechanism to not get a knot snatched in his behind for promoting racism, prejudice, and demonizing an entire race of people based off what their impoverished counterpart does.

    Can’t.

  • Tara

    Extremely dangerous article. The funny thing is the criminals wont be affected by the article. They dont care. It affects people like you and me.

  • Sweetles

    Exactly…

  • http://gravatar.com/keimia Kam

    For real! They have some real poor White neighborhoods in Philly. I’ve seen fights, poor white kids asking you for change, theft.

  • http://gravatar.com/jamesfrmphilly jamesfrmphilly

    @myblackfriendsays

    “All white people are racist to some extent, because they’ve grown up in a racist society”

    and who do you think CREATED that racist society?

  • http://gravatar.com/ceecollegegal CeeCee

    There are a lot of poor whites and the number is growing; the whole white privilege thing is slowly dying off. Being white is not “enough” to get your foot in the door anymore; now you have to be white, rich, AND with connections; its a scary to a lot of white folks. lol

    Really, ever since a brown family moved into the white house society has become more and more scary for white folks. Sooo its no surprise that this article was released by Philly Magazine. The whole purpose of the article is for whites to remind blacks that they are superior by highlighting the negative aspects of the black community in Philly. Its to direct attention away from the increase in white crime and poverty.

  • http://ourdiversityatwork.com/ Stéphanie Dauphin

    I have lived in other parts of the world and to me America had been often a positive reference, one that made me say “ok, at least race relationship is improving in countries like that. I’m not crazy to expect to be treated fairly because I am Black”.

    It really disturbs me to see that even there we have a long way to go.

    Race relationships have been studied for as long as the 50s. For example, one of the theory who is still supported is the one by Alport (1954), who specified four conditions for optimal intergroup contact: equal group status within the situation, common goals, intergroup contact: equal group status within the situation, common goals, intergroup cooperation and authority support.

    I think that if those conditions were applied in Philly for example, being would be better for all groups.

    The Nature of Prejudice) intergroup contact to
    reduce prejudice.

    Allport GW. 1954.The Nature of Prejudice. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley. 537 pp

    Our Diversity at Work.

  • chike

    thank very much, down here in Russia people accuse me of being unfriendly. walking down the street, those people from Dagistan, Uzbekistan,…and Russians themselves, will be saying hi to u as if it is a favour they are doing u-i neatly snub them. My friends accuse me of high maintenance, but i hate being made feel as if am done a favour, by smiling at me, or making stupid efforts to speak english to me; for all care they can shove it.
    to tell u the truth, most white pips like only black pips they can think they are better than. In class, once they notice you arent as stupid as they once thought, u become an enemy сразу, nothing u do pleases them.

  • chike

    the nerves!

  • chike

    dont sit there and complain, write an article to counter it, this has gone on for too long.

  • Keshia

    +1 You better preach!!

  • tina

    I’m in West Philly too – you know i was thinking about this article and I’ll bet he grew up in Fishtown or Kensington and thinks that by being racist he can pretend his people aren’t the ones whose behavior he’s really talking about…pathetic man.

  • DB

    This is so interesting I’ve seen this particular article going around but I didn’t read it. I wrote a comment on Phila Mag’s website once about this very thing about a year ago except the article I’d responded to was in relation to a white male visiting black neighborhoods in Philly and “reporting the struggle” and from the sounds of what you’ve written here it’s the same article with white people interviewed instead. My comment to them was on the fact that they went to all poor black neighborhoods in Philly, none of the middle class or upper middle class neighborhoods and absolutely didn’t think to consider the upper class black folks in this city. I’m wondering if this is the same guy from that article I’ll have to look into that.

    And the whites in this city aren’t silent at all on the topic. They won’t say anything on a platform that produces change or to your face, but you check out any philly based forum news site etc and they’ll create reasons for being racist towards black people on these websites it’s crazy.

  • http://www.myblackfriendsays.com myblackfriendsays

    @james Um, white people? I don’t get the point you’re trying to make. White people created a racist society, so white all white people are racist, so no black person can ever agree with something a white person says?

  • Chic Noir

    About the kids not dressed up on Halloween…did it ever pop into the lady’s head that maybe those kids were very poor and could not afford a Halloween costume that year.

    You see how some people get so caught up in their privilege.

  • Chic Noir

    The lack of networth is largely tied to home values for most Americans. African- Anericans who have “made it” fall behind because homes in neighborhoods were there are too many of “us” don’t appreciate in value the same way that homes in mostly or all white neighborhoods do.

    There was an excellent spot on NPR morning show a few weeks back about how elderly Blks who own their homes outright have such low networth.

  • Chic Noir

    Very true and I think this recession is really hurting the white poor, working class and lower middle class. They are beginning to feel what Blks have felt for a very long time in this country.

    The large number of new imigrints isn’t helping matters. Like how the media keeps stating after 2050, whites will no longer be the majority in this country anymore. That ish got some White folks running scared.

  • Chic Noir

    I want to read more from you about being Black in Russia. Would you submit a travel or opinion article please.

  • Chic Noir

    What Val said.

    This right here. Just look at those studies about Blk women getting hysterectomies in comparison to White women is just one example.

  • Prince

    When our ancestors was working in the fields, taking care of them when they was sick, taking care of their households, feeding them and their children, etc. whites called lazy blacks lazy. If there was more black people in college than in jail/prison, on the fortune 500 list, speak proper English, marry before having kids etc. they will still speak negatively about us. Look how they treat President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, who are both educated and well spoken black people. It does not matter if black people do good or bad they will always have something negative to say about us. It is time for blacks to stop worrying about what non blacks think about us.

  • http://n/a joi

    I’m a black women in my late 50. Born in raised in Philly. Everything he said was on point. You this.k being white in Philly sucks. Try being Black

  • http://n/a jjudy

    What Mr.Huber wrote is absolute truth. Many neighborhoods throughout Philly have the same problem. Black men and women hanging around,smoking and selling lose cigarettes and drugs. Breaking into homes,businesses,cars ect. Able to work,but not wanting to. Sometimes the truth hurts. Thanks Mr. Huber for speaking truth. By the way..I’m a black woman who would not go no where near these so called neighborhoods

  • Jay from Philly

    Philadelphia Magazine published an article about how white people in Philly are forced to stay quiet on racial matters, and a bunch of racist Blacks didn’t like it so they are demanding that the article be squashed and its author silenced. No surprises there. Why do these same people follow white people wherever they go if white people are evil and destructive? And why is it the neighborhood always go to hell when the white people move out?

  • JB

    This is BS, people saying they are black. Just racist cosigning on this dumb shit.

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