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March 18th, 2013
07:18 PM ET

Backlash against 'Being White in Philly'

Philadelphia Magazine is under fire after publishing a controversial article titled 'Being White in Philly' that discusses bridging the racial gap. Mayor Michael Nutter is considering asking a city panel to formally rebuke the magazine. Brooke talks with a panel about the magazine’s choice to publish the article.

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Filed under: #Trending • Brooke Baldwin
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  1. William

    I have actually lived in Philadelphia and read the entire article. Here are my thoughts:

    The author of the story was writing it mainly from the point of a view of a parent. His child goes to Temple and lives surrounded by horrible neighborhoods. I have been to the Temple campus a few times. Some of the areas are pretty bad and that's mainly what the author of the story was trying to bring attention to, the poverty. He happens to mention race because the bad neighborhoods, according to his perspective as in overwhelmingly black neighborhoods.

    While I was living in Philadelphia I was also disappointed by how barren and abandoned the city was. Yes, it did have pockets where the city was just as any other metropolis, but it was more than anything very run down.

    I remember reading a story once about how a student was walking to UPenn's dental school at 8:00 AM and was stabbed. The people I was telling this story to responded, "What do you expect? This is Philadelphia". It was as if they had come to expect that type of behavior from their native city.

    What the mayor and other committees should focus on is finding solutions to poverty and crime. By focusing on labeling the magazine or author as racist, they will not solve anything.

    In fact the final parts of the paper show the relationships between blacks and whites in Philadelphia in a positive light. I really doubt that people upset by this article actually read it beginning to end. The message of the article was not doom and gloom, nor did it show African Americans in a bad spotlight.

    Did it criticize the poor high school graduation rates of the city? Sure. Did it criticize the horrible housing conditions? Yes. The author is trying to start a dialogue. Rather than crucify him, let's try to find ways to fix the issues rather than ignore them and criticize the next Caucasian who will bring this back into the mainstream.

    March 18, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
  2. Andy Dufrane

    Who are the white people buying into this white-guilt narrative? The entire premise of the media driven conversation about this article is, "is it racist?" The premise behind that question is tired and people are sick of it. The new generation of white people has never had any hand in racist happenings. Therefore, the narrative of white guilt does not apply. The other half of the narrative led by media propagandist at CNN is this black victimization theme. It is pathetic. The Philly mayor is pathetic. And any black person who says that article is racist is pathetic. CNN, nobody takes your network seriously for a reason. Guess what it is.

    March 18, 2013 at 11:58 pm |
  3. James Lee

    If Mayor Michael Nutter is considering asking a city panel to formally rebuke the magazine, I would ask him to rebuke Being Black in America that CNN aired as well. And if not please ask him to come on CNN to explain the deffrence.

    March 19, 2013 at 12:17 am |
  4. J.Malone

    As an African American, I do agree that we should stop using race as an excuse. This preoccupation that everybody is out to get us must stop!! Its restraining us from being a productive agent in society, but saying that African Americans as a race are nothing but weed smoking lazy baby producing scum is not only repugnant but shows the modern narrow-minded stereotype that rampant sectarians have of blacks as a whole. When it comes down to it everybody is their own individual and perform how they want, that should not establish your notion of an entire race.

    March 19, 2013 at 12:50 am |
  5. Sonya M

    To whom it ma concern
    Philly is not the only place where there is poverty with black people. It's not a racial issue at hand - its a mentality issue. White people also in substandard neighborhoods who choose not to work, have children and do drugs. Philly is one of the MOST segregated communities – but it is not the ONLY segregated community.
    I am outraged that you are pointing the finger at African Americans for not 'stepping up to the plate' in society. There are SO many white people that do the EXACT same thing.
    I am not one of those people that does not contribute to society and will not reveal my race because quite frankly it is not relevant. There are SO many black people that get up every day and go to school and/or work.
    I would like to remind the media to include that there is currently a black president in office – and find it extremely prejudicial and upsetting to hear the debates/arguments made on air.
    It's not a race issue – it's a mentality issue!!!

    March 19, 2013 at 2:52 am |

    Why can't a white guy voice his opinion on the city he lives in. While i have not read the entire article, i certainly welcome open dialogue as it pertains to race. I am a Black male and i am not offended by open dialogue, in fact i think it's healthy. And as for the mayor of the city of Phila, why don't you concentrate on runninng a city that has been in need of help since i was there in the 70's. Relax black america and understand that this is a free country.

    March 19, 2013 at 2:54 am |

    When are we going to stop being so PC about everything! I applaud any white guy who has the stones to talk about race because most white people are just plain uncomfortable with the topic. I have been black all my life and yet there are neighborhoods i dont want to go into, and i don't care what color the people are. As black folks we need to man up and stop being so sensitive about everything; man up! The first time there is an issue that is valid and truly full of racism no one will want to listen.

    March 19, 2013 at 3:07 am |
  8. duane - st.pete FL

    it's funny how blacks and the liberals squirm when someone brings this topic up....blacks don’t like it because they know it's true and they don’t know how to react when they are the ones being shown to be racist...and the liberals don’t like it because that uncomfortable fact that blacks are and have been in a cycle of failure both with academics as well as just living within in males make up 6% of the entire population yet are responsible for well over 50% of all murders.....

    March 19, 2013 at 9:25 am |
  9. Will

    Wow CNN, all it took was 30 seconds before the first panelist said he didn't read the article. Nice journalism.

    March 19, 2013 at 10:11 am |
  10. Karen - Millburn, NJ

    I was surprised to see CNN featuring this article as an issue when CNN keeps running these Soledad O'Brien shows about Being Black in America. I've heard plenty on CNN itself about what black people think and it never seems to hit the mark for explaining the extreme dysfunction and violence that has destroyed major cities when black people became the majority. Nor do these pandering-to-black-specialness shows and articles deal with the rioting that everyone knows drove white people out of those cities. The upper echelon of black people are living well off black victimization so they are never going to address black racism towards white people. But white people all understand that black hatred of whites is a force and it is scary.

    March 19, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
  11. Prop NYC

    Free speech is free speech. If we are encouraging the journalism in this article we also have to encourage the rebuttal. Instead we tend to share a subjective point of view which fails to bring any understanding. Instead of telling people how to view something try helping them understand the context. Racism is still alive in this country but in a slightly different form; prejudice.

    March 19, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
  12. windwhisperer

    Why can't a white guy voice his opinion on the city he lives in.

    March 19, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
  13. Michele (from Philadelphia)

    I grew up in Nicetown from '67-79, then Olney having gone to LaSalle and moved on to Fox Chase. I currently live in Bucks County and wouldn't have it any other way. The stereotypes of a race, group or gender is perpetuated because the majority of people one meets in that category may fit the 'list'. Even I fit someone's pre-conceived sterotype - we are human, and we do all have these thoughts. I can relate to the article, growing up in an area that was economically declining. The experiences I had are forever etched in my memory. Taunted while playing outside, harassed walking to school, confronted by groups kids because I was white, rocks thrown at me which caused injury, the list goes on, and the majority of these things were done by black kids/adults but also by white kids/adults when I see people of any color / race/ standing on a street corner dealing drugs, harassing passerbys, etc. it echoes back to my past experiences and I feel sad about what the city has become and what it represents and it's regardless of their color. Racism in Philly is a crutch everyone needs to stop leaning on and just get real with the facts. I'm a Philadelphian -I'm proud of where I grew up, even though we were poor. But I had a goal, I went to school (paying for it too) and I worked hard to achieve my goals. There are many people in Philly who have no goals and no work ethics; that character flaw is color blind. It's time to say it's not because of race but it's because they don't care about themselves and the people / environment around them. Who wants to step up and change Philadelphia instead of continuing to 'talk' about race relations.

    March 19, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
  14. Bryan

    I live in Detroit. We have had the same issues and failures as most major cities. It is NOT the blacks that are the problem, but
    the willingness of whites to abandon areas of the city because of misinformation. Humans all want the same things in life,
    security, a lively hood, association with humanity, and hope for a brighter future. Whites control the assets for these conditions and we have thus far kept these assets to a minimum in regards to blacks. Shame on us. Yet blacks need to
    understand the only color that matters in this world is GREEN.

    March 19, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
  15. Elda

    Huber's premise was basically, "I'm afraid of black people and they act horrible". There was no layered, interesting discussion, and any thoughtful person knows that race is complex,–even in its very definition.
    More troubling than the article is the revelation that the magazine has NO people of color on staff –which makes intelligent, decent black people in the city invisible to the magazine readers. They are inundated with images of "scary, horrible" blacks. That's why the mayor was upset.
    Secondly, the article opened a floodgate of comments from white racists– exposing the magazine readership's lack of ability to think and have reasonable discourse. Did that satisfy the author's purpose which was " let me write ignorant, stereotypical things and watch the ignoramuses come out of the woodwork."

    March 20, 2013 at 10:44 am |
  16. manhattanfarmers

    So the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists, an organization that divides humanity according to the artificial construct of "race," demonstrates and advocates for the interests of one race over others and includes or excludes members based on race, is up in arms over the appearance of racism in another organization?

    March 20, 2013 at 11:45 am |
  17. Rick

    Being white in Philly means that you have to be very careful about what neighborhood you find yourself in. At night you have to be even more careful when walking in the city. If you're not paying attetion to where you are you could become a crime victim. Certainly, not all black people are criminals, but the people committing street crimes in Philly are generally black. Everyone who lives here knows this. It's an empirical fact.

    March 20, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
  18. Bill

    The claim the blacks can't be racist because they "have no power" has been one of the worst influences on race relations out there. No one lives in the "big statistical picture" when you are being victimized by racism. When a school kid is being beat up or bullied because he's white in a largely black school who has the power there? Blacks have to except white criticism without being so defensive and turning it back on whites. We all have to listen to each other and have empathy if we ever plan on getting past race. Whites will have to speak up for themselves and their point of view or nothing will ever change.

    March 20, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
  19. Todd

    I can't believe she said, "Give us one more Rocky movie. That will make all the middle-class, white people happy." I am truly, and utterly offended and outraged! I can't believe CNN allowed this racist comment to air. This person should be rebuked. And this EXACTLY what the author was talking about in his article! You can't mention anything about race if you're white though without it being automatically "racist", while other races can say anything, and it's OK. This needs to stop. NOW.

    March 20, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
  20. Ted


    The so-called curent generation of whites "who never had a hand in racist happenings" tend to be the ones who stand around and deny it ever existed or continue to carry on and promote racist stereotypes.

    March 22, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
  21. Ted


    I appreciate your perspective. However, the fact hat this article was written by a magazine with an all-white editorial staff and one that cates to a mostly affluent white demographic, that didn't help matters. In fact, the mere writing and publication of the subject, IMO is not problematic but the fashion and method of delivery that sparked outrage.

    March 22, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
  22. Ted

    J. Malone,

    Your post sums up my feelings. Thank you.

    March 22, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  23. Jordon

    I see nothing wrong with this person's book point of view. I myself consider obama's book "dreams of my father" a racist book. I could also consider chief sitting bull's writings racist. This whole idea to catering to a race is no good. It's not going to put them higher on the throne. In the end, you'll have people hating them even worse. I think white, mexicans, asians, and, native americans should complain. Every time some caters to black this and that. They should pull out their own race card out. You know the same ordeal would happen if it was a black person. We have things like BET tv, black history month. Where is native american tv? Where is asian month? USA is pretty ridiculous. Why do applications for jobs ask for race? If they are american, it should not matter. There is no such thing as african-american. You are either american or not. There is no two categories. If you are in a second category, you are a illegal immigrant. I do not hear on tv saying, well today a scandinavian-american stole a car. Same thing right? Besides people today, do not even know anything about slavery other than books. I have some family history records in a old tattered iron pen diaries, where my great great grandparents had asian slaves in the Usa starting around 1504-civil war (roughly 363 years). They did field work, prostitution, and, opium trade. So blacks were not the only slaves in the USA. I am sure there was native indians as well. So when the media or whoever start saying this race or that. They are just making themselves look idiotic. If it comes to it, I'll start playing the race card as well, two can play that game. Because one, no-one today is guilty of slavery. In fact many people today in the USA, their families came here in 1900's. Two, no one here was a slave. All the slaves have been dead years ago. Do I feel guilty of slavery? No.. I wasn't alive, not my fault. It surely wasn't good thing. But, people need to give up on the race thing and call yourself either a american or a illegal, you choose.

    March 23, 2013 at 1:41 am |
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