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The “R” word–again

July 28, 2007

Did I mention that racism still exists? 


Today when I was working on my computer on the first floor of the house I’m living in, a highly charged altercation took place on the street out front, fueled both by the oppressive heat and despicable hatred.


A car stopped in the middle of the street (which is one way and has no room for passing) to pick up a pair of teenage girls from our neighbors’ house.  The girls stood outside the car chatting back and forth between its driver and their mom, who was sitting on their front porch.  Cars began piling up behind them, yet they continued to chat away as if they were the only people on the street.  Finally, the driver in the car immediately behind them lost his patience and started shouting for them to get moving, which the girls ignored.  After another shout from the angry driver, the girls’ mother intervened and told him to shut the hell up; she also yelled that he, as a black man, had no business coming into a white neighborhood and telling people what to do. 


I was shocked.  Or maybe I wasn’t.  If you keep up with my blog, you’ll remember that when I first moved to South Philly, I wrote an entry about the “City of Neighborhoods” and how people consider Philadelphia’s diversity of neighborhoods (notice I wrote diversity of neighborhoods and not diverse neighborhoods) to be quaint and attractive.  At that time, I had expressed my doubt about the City of Neighborhoods being a good thing; now I’m sure that it’s based at least in part on a deep-seated racism that still persists in Philadelphia’s older communities.  We suburban and rural folk may come into the city and think it’s diversity of neighborhoods is cute, but it’s not based on the jovial, accepting spirit we like to think it is.  At least not everywhere.


So our world comes full circle yet again, right back to where we started in the late 1800s with the end of slavery, and again in the 1950s and ‘60s with the Civil Rights movement.  Or maybe we had never really gotten anywhere in the first place.


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