By Mike Dougherty
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A controversial article published in Philadelphia Magazine this month has the attention of the Nutter Administration.
The article, titled “Being White in Philly,” features a series of interviews with anonymous white residents from different areas of the city who share stories about their interaction with black residents.
Mayor Nutter calls the article’s tone “disgusting,” and he’s asked the Human Relations Commission to investigate some of the sensitive racial issues explored in the piece.
Nutter spokesman Mark McDonald says this is all about fact finding.
“I think he feels that there are enough problems in this article that it warrants a closer look,” McDonald explains.
PHRC executive director Rue Landau says the commission shares Mayor Nutter’s concerns, and they were already looking at intergroup relations in the city, particularly in changing communities.
The PHRC will hold a public meeting in the Fairmount/Brewerytown section of the city on April 18th, and residents are encouraged to attend to share their stories, concerns, and recommendations for changes. The location has yet to be determined.
In a statement, Philadelphia Magazine editor Tom McGrath says the mayor, like any reader, is entitled to think and say anything he wants about the article and that the need to have a deeper discussion about race in Philadelphia is exactly why they ran the story in the first place.
The full statement from Philadelphia Magazine’s editor Tom McGrath about Mayor Nutter’s letter to the PHRC reads:
I applaud the mayor for asking for an inquiry into the state of racial issues in Philadelphia. The need to have a deeper discussion about race in Philadelphia is exactly why we ran our story in the first place.
Like any reader, the mayor is entitled to think and say what he wants about the story. That said, his sophomoric statements about the magazine and mischaracterization of the piece make me wonder if he’s more interested in scoring political points than having a serious conversation about the issues. Furthermore, his call for a “rebuke” of the magazine by the PHRC is rich with irony. This is the same mayor who just yesterday was shouted down by an unruly mob in City Council; now he himself wants shut down conversation about an important issue in our city. In short, the mayor loves the First Amendment–as long as he and the government can control what gets said.