|"Being White in Philly" was outlined not in 2013, but in this 1997|
Today, Philadelphia is 43 percent black and 36 percent white.
Buzz Bissinger, best known for writing the book "Friday Night Lights," also wrote a non-fiction account of the decline of Philadelphia and the attempt by Mayor Ed Rendell to save the city.
He aptly named it a "Prayer for the City."
Already by his administration, "Being White in Philadelphia" was a no-win proposition.We learn on p. 191 the quagmire that was the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA), an uncomfortable orgy of racial politics and racial patronage that made the public institution a political landmine waiting to be stepped on:
Both knew the degree to which the question of race swirled through everything, since the vast majority of those living in public housing in the city were black. Both knew, because they were white, that anything they did, regardless of how much managerial sense it made, was likely to be treated with suspicions and contempt and accusations of racism. These ideas, more than mere suspicions, were vividly expressed in a remarkably candid letter that the mayor received from John Paone, the executive director of the housing authority until he left under fire in the spring of 1992.The best part of Buzz's book Mayor Rendell (who was white) time in Philadelphia, is when he courted black clergy to stop the next Democratic primary from being a black-white bloodbath. "Being White in Philly" didn't start in 2013...:
Under the umbrella of confidentiality, Paone's letter told a sordid tale of the forces that controlled a public institution supported by taxpayer's money, a system of spoils in which three groups - tenant leaders, employees, and politicians - were guided by complete self-interest.
Race, Paone wrote, was used as an effective cudgel:
Another factor to take into consideration is that 95 percent of the all PHA tenants are Afro-Americans, they have been able to use racism as a weapon against successive administrations that have been predominately white and, thus have been able to frustrate reform. This is not to say you can't have a white Executive Director, but you must have a minority Board Chairman and a significant number of minority senior staff members, including a minority Chief of Staff. (p. 191-192)
Rendall courted members of the city's black clergy with a vengeance in the hopes of gaining their endorsement, and given the way they had related to the mayor in the pat, it seemed clear they were willing to listen.The joys of living in a "Racial Democracy"...
At a meeting the previous February in the Cabinet Room, 18 of the city's most powerful black ministers armed with a list of written demands had surrounded the mayor as he sat at the table. They knew how the game was played, for the first thing on their agenda was the statement that the "clergy here this morning is a cross section of denominations representing hundreds of thousand of voters." They said they expected the mayor's next appointments to both the Board of Education and the Zoning Board to come from their own list. They expressed their unequivocal support for the black police commissioner, Rich Neal (despite misspelling his last name)... They suggested that "serious attention be paid" to appoint an African American male as the superintendent of the city's public school system. (p. 320)
Early in the book, Bissinger tried to strike a nostalgic chord, by mentioning the past glories of Philadelphia [well, the glories of white Philadelphia]:
It was still occasionally called the City of Firsts, and it was more than mere promotional gimmick, even though so many of the first had occurred so long ago that few who lived in the city were aware of them - the first public school in the colonies, the first American paper mill, the first stone bridge, the first botanical garden, the first volunteer fire company, the first American magazine, the first American hospital, the first American insurance company, the first American stock exchange, the first American theater, the first production of an American play, the first carpet woven in America, the first piano made in America, the first American corporate bank, the first daily American newspaper, the first circus, the first balloon flight, the first public building lit by gas, the first American-made lager beer, the first screw-propeller steamship, the first American minstrel show, the first Republican National Convention, the first American zoological society, the first American merry-go-round, the first women's suffrage demonstrations, the first telephone book, the first Salvation Army in America, the first black newspaper, the first revolving door, the first Automat, the first Girl Scout cookie sale, the first city wage tax.Now, Philadelphia is the "first" city in America again for something -- having its black mayor demand the 1st Amendment be scrapped:
It was perhaps a symptom of things to come that the last of the firsts occurred in 1938.... (p. 33)
In what is developing into an alarming challenge to free speech, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has requested that a state agency “rebuke” Philadelphia Magazine and the author of an article titled “Being White in Philly” for committing an “incitement to extreme reaction.”
One of the nation’s most prominent First Amendment scholars, UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, told WND that the Democratic mayor is supporting “outright suppression” of speech with which he disagrees.
The mayor’s letter claims that the article portrayed blacks “as an ethnic group that, in its entirety, is lazy, shiftless, irresponsible, and largely criminal.”
Worst of all, from the perspective of free speech advocates, the mayor accused the magazine of “the sin of having allowed this article to be published.”
Philadelphia Magazine’s editor, who self-identifies as “center-left,” told WND he believes the mayor’s description is a “gross distortion of the piece.”
Volokh said the letter “shows that the mayor supports not just criticism of opinions that he disagrees with but outright suppression.”
‘Being white in Philly’
Nutter personally sent the signed letter to the Human Relations Commission last week, criticizing the article “Being White in Philly.” The Human Relations Commission is the official state agency that “enforces Pennsylvania’s anti-discrimination laws and promotes equal opportunity,” and “investigates complaints of illegal discrimination.”
The article, which has drawn national attention, collected a large number of Philadelphia voices who believe black crime, dysfunction and political correctness drove discussion of race underground.