Being White and Racist in Philly: A Response

Jamilah Lemieux takes on a controversial Philadelphia magazine piece on the plight of the white urban dweller. 

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Philadelphia (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

Jamilah Lemieux takes on a controversial Philadelphia magazine piece on the plight of the white urban dweller.

My first instinct upon reading "White in Philly" was to slam my head against my desk. My second was to fire off a takedown explaining why it was racist and terrible. Alas, I figured that lots of folks would be speaking directly to [writer Robert] Huber in response to his piece and I didn't feel the need to write a piece "to" him for a Black audience. What is the takeaway for me and mine?

In fact, someone is reading this right now and asking why I even acknowledged him and why focus on "negativity" at all. Well, as much as I hated Huber's White guilt/entitlement manifesto, I think it serves as a valuable reminder about the state of race in the country, particularly in urban, segregated-but-gentrifying areas.

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. 

Read Jamilah Lemieux's entire piece at Ebony.

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