A public meeting was held Thursday to provide a forum for residents to respond to the Philadelphia Magazine article “Being White in Philly.” Published last month, the article’s content mostly focused on interviews with citizens living in Fairmount and Brewerytown. The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations hosted the meeting at Girard College to give these residents an opportunity to respond to the article’s claims.
Philadelphia Magazine was invited to attend the public meeting but declined.
Mayor Nutter said it would have been respectful of Philadelphia Magazine to come and listen to what really goes on in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods given the controversy the article has created.
“I think it’s a lost opportunity,” he said.
Nutter called the article a piece of “pseudo journalism.”
“It created an incomplete therefore false impression of race relations in Philadelphia,” he said. “Stories like the recent magazine piece are plain lazy and destructive.”
Many speakers at the meeting expressed their concerns regarding gentrification and community relationships. Commissioner Saadiq Jabbar Garner said the meeting was held to evoke conversation among residents.
“One of the things we would like to see through this dialogue is people coming together, communities, neighborhoods, talking, looking at ways to communicate with each other, to get to know each other and to go back to looking at some of those things that existed in our communities 20 and 30 years ago that were fruitful and the things that brought people together and not just the things that divide,” he said.
Nutter said the city has many challenges and race relation is one of them.
“But there is a right way to approach a complex problem and a wrong way,” he said. “Clearly this magazine article took the latter path.”
Commissioner Thomas Earle said the meeting provided valuable insight and opinion which was a lot different than the story presented by the magazine.
“What we accomplished here was a lot larger than the article and what it caused,” Earle said. “This is well beyond racism. This is about inter-group relations. It’s also about fairness and building communities and the resources needed to build integrated communities.”
Nutter said he applauds the efforts of the commission and hopes similar discussions will continue.
“I look forward to the commission’s work and to your findings as we seek to have a more harmonious Philadelphia, everyone trying to live up to our name, the city of brotherly love,” Nutter said.