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Jul. 9th, 2009 10:46 am (UTC)
Yeah, its BS racism, and those responsible deserve everything they have coming to them. Philly's a great place, though, and shouldn't get broadly tarred with this; the elitism and intolerance (fear) behind it aren't at all exclusive to NE Phila.
Jul. 9th, 2009 04:25 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure that "Philly as a whole shouldn't get broadly tarred with this" and "the (causes) aren't at all exclusive to NE Phila" are working well together here.

If I understand this, you're saying it isn't ONLY NE Philly that has this little "problem" with racism, and that it's unusual to be this blatant or extreme.

Speaking broadly, Philadelphia, the "city of brotherly love", founded by William Penn as a haven for freedom of religion, it was the largest city in the british empire outside of London before the American Revolution, and it's always been known, or at least promoted, as a place honoring liberty, freedom, and equality.

The population is 44% black, 43% white, and various others for the rest. These numbers are close enough that it's possible to say there is a black majority AND a white majority, with everyone else a minority.
I'm going to guess, based on the wikipedia cites regarding "gentrification" and "urban decay" there, that the black majority in general has a much higher poverty rate than the white majority, putting the white majority into a disproportionate power relationship. Since the federal government does not collect and collate racial census data on the other extreme of the wealth curve I cannot say whether there is any kind of offsetting power relationship created by powerful and wealthy blacks, but given the state of things, I have to doubt there is one.

So, what I see here is a city that advertises itself as tolerant and egalitarian, that has a history* of being, or selling itself as being, the cradle of democracy, the real heart and soul of America, and the champion of every good thing in our culture.
*(except for a 100 year period starting in 1854 and arguably ending in or around 1954 when corruption set in and was finally recognized and if not uprooted, trimmed back)

It's not necessarily a scandalous thing (though it should be) anywhere else. Contract breached by racist white club when it discovers the other party is a black community center? In much of america, this is close to SOP, and while it's criminal and wrong, it wouldn't be nearly as newsworthy. Because we expect Philly to be what it sells itself as, because most of us aren't there and most of us don't know what the real character of the place is.
Jul. 9th, 2009 07:41 pm (UTC)
Since the federal government does not collect and collate racial census data on the other extreme of the wealth curve I cannot say whether there is any kind of offsetting power relationship created by powerful and wealthy blacks, but given the state of things, I have to doubt there is one.

Actually, there is. The Black Clergy of Philadelphia is an extremely influential political coalition in Philly; if you don't have the BC's support, you're probably not getting elected. That's just one example that comes to mind. Three of the last four mayors, and the last two, have been African Americans. The AA community in Philly is not at all the ineffectual group you're making them out to be. A good, readable overview of how Philadelphia coalition politics operate is Buzz Bissinger's A Prayer for the City

And there are numbers available to test your assertion that Philadelphia is unusually oppressive with regards to racial inequality. Here's a couple comparisons from the Census Bureau's American Factfinder service. Caveat: all of these have margins of errors associated with them, which are available via that site.

S1903: Median Income in the Past 12 Months
Data Set: 2007 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates

Household Income

White $55,096
African-American $34,001
Hispanic $40,766

White $51,354
African-American $31,118
Hispanic $30,130

White $46,892
African-American $30,137
Hispanic $24,004

I don't see in these numbers Philadelphia as being at all exceptional with regards to racial inequality compared to the state and nation as a whole; if anything, the white population is doing perhaps slightly worse comparatively than the AA pop (I'm guessing the remnant effect of white flight during the '70s and '80s). If anyone has a right to complain, its the Hispanic (largely Puerto Rican) population of Philly.

Lets look at another measure, poverty status:

S1701: Poverty Status in the Past 12 Months
Data Set: 2007 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates
Percent below poverty level

White 9.0%
African-American 24.7%
Hispanic 20.7%

White 8.9%
African-American 26.7%
Hispanic 31.9%

White 12.2%
African-American 28.7%
Hispanic 43.5%

Same deal, mostly: AA's are poorer than the USA and PA average, but so are the whites by about the same proportion. It's the Puerto Ricans who are really getting the short end of the stick, I'm guessing largely because they're mostly recent migrants who face language as well as socioeconomic barriers, as previous migrant groups did.

More generally: I note that your link was to a Philadelphia media outlet. Its not like the media there have been "well, you know, this is just the way things are done here, y'know?" As to not meeting some idealistic standard: sorry, but Philly's a big city in the United States. It has its share of murders, corruption, congestion, frustration, and yes, racism. Its also got its share of great people trying to make the world a better place. In that, its probably a truer mirror of the real USA than a lot of smaller, quieter places.
Jul. 9th, 2009 10:37 pm (UTC)
Read more carefully please, and I will try to speak more carefully.

I am talking about measures of individual wealth, not only power-of-community. It is an inexorable law of political power that money buys power, and the wealthy hold a great deal of concentrated power.
As noted, the black community is now larger, slightly, than the white community, if we can even say "community" in either case, as they're large enough to be statistical masses, with a number of smaller, influential subcommunities.

I knew there were powerful communities among the black majority, just as there are powerful communities among the white majority. I am more interested in whether these powerful communities come from individual wealth holding onto power, or from pooled influence. Clergy are pooled influence, not wealth-holding-power. You skipped past the "powerful AND wealthy" to get "created by blacks" and that's NOT what I was saying.

The government measures and publishes measures of LACK of power, that is, of poverty. These measures include a breakdown of the poverty, by racial categories. It publishes this in a very open way and it is used to drive policy and implementation of programs.
It does not publish measures of excess of power, in the form of highly concentrated wealth, with a breakdown by racial categories. It does not use this measure, if it does even measure it, to drive any policies or programs.

My link was to the same place I saw the story originally.
Jul. 10th, 2009 02:26 am (UTC)
* I submit its mostly irrelevant whether the source of political power comes from "wealth-based" influence or "pooled" influence, what matters is who actually has the power of control at the end of the day. Perhaps one could see the former source as being less moral/legitimate than the latter from a social justice perspective, but I don't share that view, since the application of power is what makes it good or evil, not where it comes from. Politicians coming from the "pooled influence" side certainly appear no more immune to corruption, or better able to make good decisions, than those elected using a wealth-based path, at least in my experience.

* Wealth doesn't automatically equal political power, so poverty doesn't automatically equal lack of power, especially in a democracy or a republic compared to other systems which are more vulnerable to graft and pay-for-play. Wealth and power tend to be correlated, certainly, but they're not the same thing, so using wealth as a proxy for power has its own difficulties. A well-organized impoverished group can wield quite a lot of political power, especially if it has good leadership, just as an extremely wealthy subpopulation can be politically impotent if they can't find a way to translate that wealth into influence.

* Having observed and studied the Philadelphia political machine in action, I think you're trying to apply generalities to a specific situation, and that has its limits. For example, whom do you have in mind in terms of a "white majority" organization in Philadelphia which is as politically powerful as the Black Clergy? Do they act in a counterbalancing manner, or do they act more as a reinforcing influence, with the major AA political organizations there? How do you take into account the precinct-based system through which political influence largely operates in Philadelphia? etc.
Jul. 15th, 2009 11:32 pm (UTC)
All this has gone afield and verges on time-wasting contention over quibbly details - if not by you, then by me, and as an experienced flame-warrior wishing to maintain cool peace, I'm going to cut that short. Thank you for the information; it has been educational and informative about tangential topics and I definitely appreciate it.

My original comment was to the effect that Philadelphia, which has been marketed for most of my life as a place of Christian Virtue and of American Values, was not doing well at meeting its image due to this act of racism, and that view and associated comment remains unchanged. Deeper examination only reveals that the marketing is made of sheer cloth and the emperor might as well be naked. Perhaps we should stop clothing our self-image as cities, states, and as a nation in cloth-of-marketing.
Jul. 16th, 2009 12:52 am (UTC)
It's one incident, that's all. My original point was that one can't paint a city with just one particular brush or impression, whether its virtuous or villainous. As another example, the Rodney King beatings and later riots doesn't detract from that LA was and is a fabulously diverse place, even though those were some of the darker days in American race relations. I don't think any city is any single particular quality, they're just too big for that: neither Sodom and Gomorrah, nor Winthrop's shining city on the hill, but with aspects of both and neither at the same time.
Jul. 16th, 2009 12:57 am (UTC)
See, you're still trying to bring "reason" into a reflexive reaction. :)

And I'm hardly the only person to have that reaction.
Jul. 9th, 2009 02:16 pm (UTC)
uuggggggh you'd think Philadelphia of all places would know how to avoid having such moronic events. And yet. yeah this is just disgusting...
Jul. 9th, 2009 02:17 pm (UTC)
that is appalling!
Jul. 9th, 2009 02:28 pm (UTC)

On the plus side, imagine how much money the Creative Steps Day Camp and its participants are about to take in settlement money from this soon-to-be shut down club.
Jul. 9th, 2009 03:08 pm (UTC)
Frankly, I'm amazed they were so blatant about it. Like, the situation wasn't bad enough, they had to go and admit, openly, the racist reason for doing it.
Jul. 9th, 2009 05:32 pm (UTC)
Wait, it says it's a private club, so technically this would be legal (but DEFINITELY not ethical), right?
Jul. 9th, 2009 06:03 pm (UTC)
Actually, it's illegal because they already accepted the money. They broke a contract for blatantly racist reasons.
Jul. 9th, 2009 06:04 pm (UTC)
Ah, awesome. Thanks for clearing that up.
Jul. 9th, 2009 09:29 pm (UTC)
Not necessarily legal either.
And they DID accept the contract, then void it based on racial prejudice alone, which is in and of itself enough to get them into dire trouble.
Jul. 9th, 2009 06:02 pm (UTC)
"The pool attendants came and told the black children that they did not allow minorities in the club and needed the children to leave immediately."

I'm guessing that the swim club is going to be regretting those words to the tune of millions of dollars come the lawsuit. What were they thinking?
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