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“Being White in Philly” Is Really Being Wrong in Philly


Michael Coard is a Philadelphia criminal defense attorney, community activist, founding member of Avenging the Ancestors Coalition and self-described angriest black man in America.
Robert Huber, a writer-at-large at Philadelphia magazine, wrote a cover story this month titled “Being White in Philly.” Although both he and the story were well-intentioned, that’s not good enough because the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
The story has a fatal flaw, and it’s what I call the “Frankenstein Flaw.” It’s when you lambaste the innocent so-called monster but ignore the actual malicious creator. Although the townspeople of Geneva about 200 years ago condemned the no-name creature just as the American people continue to do today, those Swiss mostly ignored, and Americans still mostly ignore, the creator: Dr. Victor Frankenstein.
Well, goddamn it, slavery, sharecropping, convict leasing, Jim Crow, and de facto discrimination are this country’s Dr. Frankenstein. And the violent black criminals and the lazy, shiftless young black men that Huber seems fixated upon are the creations. If you disagree, then there’s only one other explanation: Black folks are genetically predisposed to be violent, to be criminal, and to be lazy and shiftless. It’s either nature or (forcibly imposed) nurture.
There’s a right answer and a white answer. Take your pick.
Before I expose other flaws in the piece—which stem mostly from the article’s shallow anecdotes—allow me to address the simmering anger of the white people who are reading this and asking who the hell do I think I am to imply that they’re racist if they don’t answer the question as I would like. Those white people are the very same white people who say that blacks have come a long way and should be appreciative. They also say that, with the 2011 reelection of Mayor Michael Nutter—as well as the fact that we have a black police commissioner, black fire commissioner, black D.A., and black City Council president (not to mention last year’s reelection of black President Barack Obama)—we live in a post-racial Philadelphia (and country).

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