It’s not a newsflash to state that race relations in the United States are stressful; or at least that they are more tense than they should, or need to be. Without going into a history of racism in this country, suffice it to say that 50 years after the Civil Rights movement, we still can’t sit down and have an honest, from the heart, discussion about the topic.
Nowhere has that been more evident than the insanity surrounding a recent article by Robert Huber in Philadelphia magazine, entitled “Being White In Philly.” In the article, the author attempts to provide some honest perspectives by white people about race relations in the city:
I’ve shared my view of North Broad Street with people—white friends and colleagues—who see something else there: New buildings. Progress. Gentrification. They’re sunny about the area around Temple. I think they’re blind, that they’ve stopped looking. Indeed, I’ve begun to think that most white people stopped looking around at large segments of our city, at our poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods, a long time ago. One of the reasons, plainly put, is queasiness over race. Many of those neighborhoods are predominantly African-American. And if you’re white, you don’t merely avoid them—you do your best to erase them from your thoughts.
At the same time, white Philadelphians think a great deal about race. Begin to talk to people, and it’s clear it’s a dominant motif in and around our city. Everyone seems to have a story, often an uncomfortable story, about how white and black people relate.
If you haven’t read the article yet, take a moment to follow the link above. It might give you an idea why the article is causing the sky to fall for leftists; or actually, maybe not. I read the article, and didn’t see anything that would cause the mass hysteria that is currently leading the mayor of Philadelphia (the aptly named Michael Nutter) to suggest the contents of the article should not be protected by the First Amendment:
While I fully recognize that constitutional protections afforded the press are intended to protect the media from censorship by the government, the First Amendment, like other constitutional rights, is not an unfettered right, and notwithstanding the First Amendment, a publisher has a duty to the public to exercise its role in a responsible way. I ask the Commission to evaluate whether the “speech” employed in this essay is not the reckless equivalent of “shouting ‘fire!’ in a crowded theater,” its prejudiced, fact-challenged generalizations an incitement to extreme reaction.
That almost predictable response isn’t what prompted me to write this post. Rather, I happened to be clicking some of the articles linking to Huber’s piece, when I cam across one by Jamila Lemieux called “Being White (And Racist) In Philly.” Now, I’ve never heard of Ms. Lemieux, but she has succeeded in crafting one of the most tragically ironic screeds on racism to which I have ever been exposed. A sample:
For those of us who live in largely liberal, Northern areas, it’s often easy to dismiss blatant racism as a Southern problem. We know it’s lurking rural Mississippi (where the trees still have “blood at the leaves, blood at the root”), marching with the KKK in Memphis and informing the “papers, please” policies of Arizona. We may acknowledge the local police departments as being populated by bigots, but for some reason many of us seem to think that the folks who hold the door for us at local convenience stores (seriously, Robert?) are somehow above it all.
You see, she just knows about all the racism that exists among those ignorant rednecks in the South and Southwest (irony alert!). Apparently Ms. Lemieux also knows that racists are lurking behind every door, and around every corner. In fact, if you’re a white person, you’re a racist, even if you didn’t know it:
Huber isn’t a KKK-sympathizer in the deep South, but his essay deeply reflects the “real American” panic that comes from deeply-engrained notions of White supremacy that are frustrated when one becomes a minority. It’s all well and fine to move to that hip “new” emergent urban community, with the relatively affordable rents, trendy organic markets and yoga studios… until you gotta deal with the Black and poor people who still live there.
You get the idea. The real problem in dealing with race relations honestly, are racists like Ms. Lemieux who see everything through the lens of race, and who will try to shout down any white person (read: racist) who wishes to talk honestly about the subject…unless of course, they are the type of white person that agrees with her about white people being inherently racists…or something. Those people, Ms. Lemieux will acknowledge, but only insofar as it is one “whitey” refuting another.
In the meantime, I hope he’s read the words of his White brethren who have dragged his work for the filth that it is across a number of local-based websites, including two responses on Philadelphia’s own blog (here and here) and a great takedown by the Philadelphia City Paper. All were written by White dudes, so I’m hoping that Huber can hear what they had to say.