Being Black While Reading 'Being White In Philly'


When I got finished reading “Being White In Philly” I was a little taken aback. You see I would expect that an article called being white in Philly would mention the growing wage disparity between Whites and Blacks and how that was a distinct advantage for White People. I would think an article that is on the front cover of Philadelphia Magazine would mention the wealth gap or the sentencing disparity between black and white suspects. But no because in the world of the author, the white bubble that he and his fellow passive aggressive racists with good intentions have created for themselves, those are black issues. And White Privilege doesn’t even exist.

The whole tone of the article is odd to me. It reveals what we Blacks know but most Whites don’t want to admit. Racism isn’t the sole property of the South or the obscenely rich or the extremely poor. Racism truly isn’t the sole property of White people. But we never get a naked look at the mind of someone who doesn’t realize they are a racist. And I applaud Philadelphia Magazine for that. The article focuses almost exclusively on the horrible experiences that the goodly white citizens of Philadelphia have had in their dealings with the unruly, lawless, feisty, uneducated, unsophisticated blacks in the city.

WhiteInPhillyThe author refers to the these as “race stories”. He notes that all of his White friends have them. Because when you have a bad experience with a crook, or an asshole, if they are Black it’s a race story. Indeed this article would lead you to believe that White people never do anything bad to each other. This article treats Whites that live in Black neighborhoods by choice like they are brave pioneers surrounded by hostiles. And while the author does show revolt at the squalor and poverty that some Blacks have to deal with he doesn’t express any empathy for the people who actually have to live in those neighborhoods he drives through unless they happen to be White. He makes it seem as if the black on white crime rate is out of control making no note of the fact that Blacks don’t like being the victims of Black criminals either. The Author implies that bringing up the inner city’s problems with his Black Mt. Airy neighbors is Taboo because he would be accused of being racist. He then goes on to show that he is racist. He does this by interviewing other racists and validating their hate speech by painting them as sympathetic characters.

Let’s see we have the naive Russian transplant with no knowledge or reference point for the cultural battles that shaped our nation’s race relation. She sees the welfare state as proof that blacks are lazy shiftless do-nothings her quote: “I’ve been here for two years, I’m almost done,” she 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?…..”

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Also one of my favorite recurring characters in this type of article is the quaint Archie Bunker-esque old white guy racist. The one who you’re supposed to feel sorry for because the world has changed so much and he’s so old. His antiquated, unsophisticated, views on race and his disgusting use of the word “nigger” is supposed to be able to be excused because he’s old and he’s from another time and he says earlier that he has no problem with “The Blacks”. (And no he doesn’t mean a family with the last name Black).

His presence in this article is clearly meant to show us that the other well meaning Whites in the Article are not racist and are frankly perplexed by all the Blacks they deal with misconstruing their altruistic color blind intentions. I mean of course the lady who sent out a Facebook message asking if her classmates had seen her Blackberry wasn’t being racist. All the white kids in her group simply replied no. But to the Black girl in her class it was a loaded question.

Since this article is called “Being White in Philly” we of course zero in on the perfectly innocent intentions of the main character. The Black girl seems totally ridiculous. “That wasn’t about race, you see that right?” The author seems to say. “That Black girls reaction was totally uncalled for”. But what the author doesn’t say speaks volumes on his understanding of race and his “want” to create a rational dialogue. Never stopping to consider the point of view of someone, who throughout her life despite whatever she may have struggled to achieve, is still viewed as lesser or strange or foreign. Indeed the fact that her story is in an article primarily about whites dealing with the criminal malfeasance of Blacks is itself a pretty good indicator that the kind of racism that primed her response is still in abundance.

The whole point of this article seems to be that Blacks are the ones making it hard for the good non racist White people to create an honest dialogue because we obsessively pull the race card. Whites can’t talk to us about crime because we are all excuse-niks who will shrug off the ills of society and blame racism. And if you truly believe that then you might in fact be a racist.

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“Being White”, was a painful but necessary read for those of us who know people like the author. I could paint a picture of the point of view of the post-racism racist but nobody tells it better than the source of that muted passive-aggressive hatred better than the racist himself. So crime perpetrated by Blacks in the inner city makes it hard for you to talk to your middle class neighbors in Mt. Airy? Why? What do those two groups of people have in common other than the color of their skin?

I don’t live in Mt. Airy but I am nearby in West Oak Lane. I don’t like people who lack ambition either. But I would never chastise someone for being a welfare cheat in a country where the richest 1% willfully manipulate the law and rig the game against them. I don’t like crime either and I want to see criminals brought to justice. But I’m not going to pretend like institutionalized racism and the economic disparity, lack of quality education and lack of opportunities that disproportionately affect my people didn’t cause the conditions that foster criminality.

The author seems to want to have it both ways. He wants to have an open dialogue with Blacks but he doesn’t want us to mention racism. In this piece he spends the majority of his time among whites perpetuating racial scare tactics. I don’t think he’s being maliciously hateful or disingenuous. But what he is doing is expressing a stunning naiveté about the current nadir in race relations among the dwindling middle class.

To end this piece I’ll bring up another loaded term that educated Blacks often struggle with. Oddly it’s a compliment that prominent Blacks often receive. The media will compliment well-spoken Blacks in the spotlight on being articulate. And they don’t just say it in passing they really dwell on it. As if English isn’t our first language. We Blacks don’t particularly care for that compliment. I know for me personally I’m not impressed when someone has a great vocabulary and good grammar. Because I know that the ideas are more important than the words used to articulate them. So I’ll end this by saying the author of “Being White In Philly” Robert Huber is very articulate and well spoken. And hopefully someone forwards this to him and he sees it for the patronizing non-compliment it’s intended to be.

E. Knight lives in Philadelphia. Check out his blog

  • People are purposefully taking that article out of context. All the article was saying was that in some places white people are afraid of becoming victims to black criminals.

    • MiiUziWeighsATon

      Ok, then tell their asses to stop relocating to areas where they can become victims….uhmmmm, hold up, this AMERICA and in AMERICA you can get touched anywhere, by anyone at any time….race doesn’t matter…this country was established by Europes criminals, rapist, murderers, etc….the slave trade is a testament to that

    • EL_BARK

      In some places i scared of being a victim of crime by white people.
      Movie theater, schools, gov building.

    • Sabrina RK

      What is the difference between being a victim to a “black” criminal and being a victim to any other criminal? And you are more likely to be a victim by a person that you KNOW, who is of the same race than that of a different race. Does not matter if it is assault, rape, murder, whatever, it is more likely that it is white on white crime than black on white.

  • Mark Olford

    No comments!?!?! WOW….I guess cause no one died or was robbed no one has anything to say……perhaps maybe the white author of the Philly article has a point…or maybe this subject material is too mature and real for the audience of this site……Oh, wait a minute….aw phukc it….

    • bunzallday

      not many comments cause most posters on here are actually white.. straight frontin’

  • acb87

    good read, white people swear the are Jesus and non whites are lazy and need their help. whites are lucky all the have to be afraid of is being victimizes but they can go home a live. blacks have o be afraid of being locked up in a cell for the rest of their lives for bs

  • Thought provoking post…Now watch Allhiphop follow it with 20 gossip articles about who banged who, who’s doing what drugs, who commited what crime etc. You can’t fight stereotypes and push them forward on the same platform expecting anything to change.

  • actionsspeaklouder

    “and the hood is still segretated
    cause deep down two street really hate us
    and 6th street, thats like lil asia
    but 5th n 7th war wit them bangaz
    its real” – South Philly

  • Matt Swan

    I’m no scholar but I so see an issue within our own culture that would give the thought to others looking in that we are barbaric, lazy, baby making drug dealing criminals. How many of you rememnber the old joke ” the easiest way to shut a black man up is give him a book he cannot read or a basketball”? That in essence is true. Our culture is rich in educated men and women but they take a long back seat to a rapper, drug dealer, or professional ball player. We wil be taken seriously as a race and people when our kids are bigger forces in high school graduations, attend AND graduate from colleges and universities to include Ivy league schools, take up positions of authoroty in state and Federal governments and HOLD those positions and serve their communities with dignity, and we have another black POTUS. But we are hell bent on using the ghetto as our crutch why we can’t be better, we use the law enforcement as reasons we are in the system, we blame the governments, both state and federal for not giving us programs that could uplift us. We look to rappers as the wat foward and to ball players as mesiahs. It’s not white America that is failing us, WE as a race are failing US. We don’t need government handouts in the form of welfare, we need to get off out butts and get jobs. They won’t pay the most in the beginning, but no job ever does. Nelly said it best when he rapped I don’t want my 40 acres and a mule, I want my 40 acres and a POOL. He was talking about going out and getting his. We can do this, it’s in us and has been there forever. Stop glorifing these fake mesiahs with a ball in their hands, their just as human as you or me. Glorify those that can make a real difference to you; the doctor that taking care of you, that lawyer that got that bs case off your back, that congressmam that comes to talk to you and find out what can he do to make your life better? Stop blaming the whites for the things we are doing to ourselves. Stop blaming thev whites when you’re outside selling drugs, stop blaming the whites that you’re still in the ghetto, stop blaming the whites for your overall lack of education, lack of personal courage, lack of motivation to fix your OWN damn problems, lack of employment when there are jobs out there, and the perception that we are going to use the race card on everything. Wake up people tomorrow can be yours, but we settle for what we are given, rather than what we could be.

    • Q.

      Damn…you effed up when you quoted Nelly’s wack azz. LOL

      But seriously…who specifically are you talking to? I doubt most of the readers here are “in the ghetto, selling drugs and blaming white people.”

      BTW, not to cause debate, but you kinda contradicted yourself when you said:

      “We wil be taken seriously as a race and people when our kids are bigger
      forces in high school graduations, attend AND graduate from colleges and
      universities to include Ivy league schools, take up positions of
      authoroty in state and Federal governments and HOLD those positions and
      serve their communities with dignity, and we have another black POTUS.”

      Really? Black folks have achieved all the above and more, including a Black POTUS, but you say we need a SECOND Black POTUS to gain respect?? LMAO

      Okay, if we’ve acquired all those Post-American Dream accolades yet still have broad [economic] deficiencies, then WHAT DOES THAT TELL YOU?

      Hint: CLASS vs. RACE

      American people in general are suffering relatively high unemployment, lower graduation rates, higher criminal convictions, etc. Are those truly race problems, or something else?

      • Matt Swan

        I had a response to yours, but the “lovely” moderators on AHH decided not to post it. Thanks AHH for supressing thought and good debate on a subject other than silly and irrrelevant rumors.

      • Matt Swan

        This is to bunzallday
        To a point you are correct, but checking history, you would realize that blacks have also done quite a bit of damage to folks also. And every government that the white man touches is corrupt is false. Look at most African governmernts from the middle east on down; genocide is running rampant This government that the white man created has survived over 230 years. No other democratic government has survived that long straight through. A revolution is what is needed but not with violence and needless action, but a revolution of the minds, a revolution in the thought process, a revolution in the misrepensation of our race, a revolition of where we actually are, our values, where we need to be, and how to get there; those are what we need. What can be gained through senseless violence? Rodney Kings verdict only tore up OUR neighborhoods and did us no good, the riots of the 60’s again tore up where we were to lay our heads, BUT at least those were for civil rights and many gains were made. If anyone in this country thinks its better somewhere else go and live there. You’ll be back pretty quick. If you think the government is corrupt, do something about it. Pester your congressman, your state and local governments and logicaly demand change. If you’re gonna talk about it, BE about it.

  • Taihair Djehuty

    “Whites are responsible for the vast majority of violent crimes. With
    respect to aggravated assault, whites led blacks 2-1 in arrests; in
    forcible-rape cases, whites led all racial and ethnic groups by more
    than 2-1. And in larceny theft, whites led blacks, again, more than 2-1.” More whites hurt each other than Blacks hurt Whites. The numbers can be backed up by the FBI census. So the portrayal of the violent Black man is very one-sided. We just live in a violent nation all together, no matter race. I grew up in the hood and nothing ever happened to me. It wasn’t till I had moved out and graduated that I had become the victim of a violent crime, by someone that was white. Even when I lived in the hood, the only person I ever had any threatening issues with was this White kid that thought he was all thug. Just looking at him made him want to get in your face and fight you. Messed up part is, I was friends with his little brother for years.
    You kind of knew where this dude was coming from when he used language like “Urban pioneer.”

  • Khris Hutson

    If the author of the article really wanted to discus race relations, he probably would’ve, you know, like, talked to black people too.

  • appreciate this article, had an issue w/ a white girl who said being white in the hood was the same as being Black in America & because she grew up in the hood, she had/has no white privilege. Typical “white victim” trying desperately to relate to the Black plight by plunging themselves in the environment & thinking it makes them relate. You still don’t travel in a Black body, you are received entirely different by the world, and you don’t fight the inner-demons of self-hate due to the permeated racist culture of American society. You can opt out whenever you feel like it, like the female in the article who said she’s two years in and about done. We Black for life.

  • Ave Maria Pospieck-Schnerr

    people use too many excuses…black and white…this is 2013…people need to start educating themselves on ways to make a better life for themselves….yes…there are plenty of free opportunities (schooling & training)….if needed use welfare to get on your feet…not as a lifestyle….use the government to better yourself…don’t let the government use you…..some people don’t realize as long as we continue to see each other through negative eyes….change will be slow coming….there are good and bad people in all races and ethnicities….just not enough compassionate ones….smh….

  • Mafia Is Forever

    Blacks and Whites purposely separate themselves. It’s gonna be hard for the first ones to inter-mix but once you see us all embracing each other’s styles and cultures together (the positive ones) then we’ll be in a better spot.
    A lot of work has to be done to people’s minds because at this point, so many people think in negative patterns and that holds them back, even when they think their way is helping them move forward.
    Simple Example: “Aye Nigga, let’s rob these people, kause we gotta eat.” But they don’t be thinkin’ “Whoever I’m about to rob has to eat too, so if I take their money that they just got payed, how will they eat and/or pay their bills?”
    People have to learn to care about other people. We’re all on this earth together. God will come through for you but you have to follow his guidance. This is for ANYBODY looking for a way out.