OPINION: Why I’m Giving Up on “Allies”

Photo by iStock / prill

During this tumultuous political climate, no quote resonates with me more than this one from the late Black Panther Party leader Eldridge Cleaver: “There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.”

Progressive values are at a crossroads, and those who are committed to preserving them must take a stand more visibly and ferociously. As tensions rise within our communities, now is not the time for the most privileged in society to tune out because they can afford to avoid conflict. Nor is it the time to act like Switzerland — neutral stances on issues that affect people of color, women, LGBTQ, the poor, and other marginalized groups either leave support for us in limbo or worse.

Many people champion allyship as an effective way to take that stand. In short, an “ally” is someone with privilege helping someone being marginalized with a problem. This approach might sound noble in theory, but in practice it has only added to oppression. Read more »

LGBTQ&A: Alex Deering

Alex Deering

Alex Deering is a Democratic committee member in Philadelphia’s 16th Ward, Division 6. We spoke with the rising civic leader about his political aspirations and being out in the black professional scene. Read more »

OPINION: Single-Identity Social Justice Is No Justice at All

Photos | Dan McQuade

Photos | Dan McQuade

“There’s a gay Trump supporter in Philly,” a close friend of mine texted me on the last weekend in February. “Really? That doesn’t make sense,” I quickly responded. Minutes later, I was tagged on a viral post in a closed LGBTQ social media group I belong to. A scan of the outraged comments revealed that a senior adviser to Philly Pride Presents, Chuck Volz, a white gay man, is “an ardent Trump supporter.” I saw copies of provocative images and social media posts made by Volz that mocked people of color, women, and the Muslim ban. (All of this information was later reported on publicly.)

I quickly contacted Franny Price, the lead organizer of Philly Pride, to see if she had any clue what was going on. What I got back from her was that she’s always been aware that Volz was a conservative with “controversial views,” but that that didn’t necessarily keep him from being “a champion of LGBTQ rights in the community for a long time.” She later said that Volz wouldn’t step down from Philly Pride leadership because the organization felt that “his personal politics are separate from his commitment to the LGBTQ community.” Read more »

OPINION: We Can No Longer “Agree to Disagree” About White Privilege in America

Aslan Alphan | iStockPhoto.com

Aslan Alphan | iStockPhoto.com

As the hand-me-down celebration known as Black History Month settles, I’m reminded of the legacy of my ancestors and the inheritance that has historically been denied to me. Culturally, racism is still viewed as a social issue, a realm in which “allies” (those well-meaning white people) can absolve themselves of their white guilt by verbalizing how supportive they are of diversity efforts and interracial harmony. But often missing from our collective narratives of black history and what it means to have such skin color in America during a Trump era is the role that race plays in financial equity and access.

Racism is more than just an individual character flaw and act of social misconduct — it’s the expression of a pernicious system that can’t be defeated with promises of moral sobriety and personal concern. One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding race, in fact, is the illusion that class position can somehow negate white privilege. Read more »

Donald Trump Is the President America Deserves

Donald Trump

Photo by Andrew Harnik/AP

Another day, another insult from president-elect Donald Trump.

As you have no doubt heard, on the eve of MLK weekend Trump took to attacking the legacy of civil-rights icon and Georgia congressman John Lewis:

At this point, I’m not surprised by ad hominem Twitter rants fired off by our next president. I’m more stunned by the continual fake shock espoused by my liberal friends on social media. Every damn day, I see white progressives post “Trump has gone too far this time” or “I’m scared for this country” or “We are now entering a dangerous America.”

I sit there laughing — often hysterically — but this weekend I couldn’t take it anymore. Read more »

After Trump’s Win, White Liberals Are Now a Minority

Donald Trump at a rally

Donald Trump speaks at the Newtown Athletic Club in Bucks County on October 21st | Photo: Dan McQuade

Around 2:40 a.m. on election night, I left the watch party I’d been attending and took an Uber home. It was shortly after the Associated Press announced that then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump had won Pennsylvania. I was over it — it actually began to sink in that he was actually going to win.

During the ride, my driver — a young white guy with teary eyes — turned up KYW Radio in the car as broadcasters finally confirmed that Trump had won the election. I was slowly moved to tears myself. The horrific bigotry that spewed from his lips, his lack of political experience, and endorsement from the Ku Klux Klan hadn’t been enough to stop him from defeating one of the most qualified candidates of my lifetime.

But as my driver turned on Walnut Street and upped the volume on the radio, I began to realize his tears weren’t the same as mine. As we heard the Trump supporters on air chanting “USA, USA, USA,” I saw that he had a calming sense of relief. He was crying tears of joy, whispering to himself: “It’s about damn time.” Read more »

Here’s the Lineup for Lululemon’s Sweet Weeklong Schuylkill River Trail Race

Photo | M. Edlow for Visit Philadelphia

Photo | M. Edlow for Visit Philadelphia

Calling all runner friends! Remember how we told you guys about the awesome weeklong 8K race Lululemon is putting on along the Schuylkill River Trail this month? In case you forgot (we forgive you), it’s called the Ghost Race, and it looks like it’s going to be pretty darn sweet.

You can read up on the race here, but as a quick rundown: For the Ghost Race, Lululemon has teamed up with Strava and Silverline Athletics to create a virtual 8K race course along the SRT that you can complete anytime, starting next Monday, October 17th through October 23rd. And while you can complete the course on your own, Lululemon has also teamed up with a bunch of running leaders in Philly who you can run the course with throughout the week, starting with a midnight run (!!) on October 17th, led by Jon Lyons of Run215. (That would be 12 a.m. on Monday morning.)

Other folks you can run with include City Fit Girls, Rebecca Barber of the Rocky 50K and more. And if you run the course with them, you have a chance at snagging some free Lululemon gear. Yes, please! You can check out the full lineup of events below.

Read more »

What Simone Manuel’s Gold Medal Comments Say About Race in America

simone-manuel-940x540

The #blacklivesmatter movement has been no stranger to controversy. In its short existence it has garnered a reputation for being anti-American, a race-baiting organization, and, most recently — tapping into the fear zeitgeist for many white Americans — a domestic sleeper cell of terrorists. Reaction to #blacklivesmatter has at times even transcended racial identity, with critics accusing it of being “uncoordinated,” “loud” and “ineffective,” or reducing its most visible torchbearers — the protestors who have clogged everything from highways to brunch spots, to city hall, to the DNC — with derisive claims that they are shiftless, unthinking, unemployed, idealistic people with lots of energy and little planning in much the same way that the country has discredited other system disruptors like the Bernie and Occupy camps.

It has also spawned another type of reaction too; the most popular combative rhetorical retorts to #blacklivesmatter have been across-the-aisle brand battle cries of #alllivesmatter or #bluelivesmatter. It’s made the conversation around it all feel like we’re wading into increasingly turbulent waters while one side yells “Marco!” and the other side yells “Polo!,” all resulting in a stalemate. That the conversation on race now feels inescapable for folks only begins the long road toward empathy about the everyday experience for many Black Americans who feel we’ve had no choice but to navigate this country’s implicit and explicit unequal racial codes. From schools, to employment, to voting, to police interactions, it’s always been a sink-or-swim experience for us, and given the racial animus here, it’s often felt more like sinking. To quote David Foster Wallace (out of context): “this is water.”

That’s what I thought about when 20-year-old Simone Manuel emerged from the pool — breaking the surface and making history when she not only set a new Olympic record in the women’s 100-meter freestyle swimming, but also became the first African-American female to win gold in an individual swimming event.  Read more »

After the Latest Freddie Gray Acquittal, All I Feel Is Numb

Officer Caesar Goodson (left) on the day he was acquitted of murder charges in the death of Freddie Gray (right).

Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. (left) on the day he was acquitted of all charges in the death of Freddie Gray (right).

What more can you write, post, scream, cry, cuss and pontificate about after a while? At some point, there’s a leaden numbness that creeps into the blood when these moments announce themselves. They’re like bizarro action movies; the whole narrative is reversed, and while we experience the same series of fake climaxes and plot twists, by the time of the denouement, you feel foolish, remembering and realizing that when you sat down to watch this play out, the outcome was never in question.

That’s what Freddie Gray’s death and court proceedings surrounding it feel like to me: the predictable outcome to a decidedly fucked-up action film. As the latest verdict was handed down involving Gray’s death, that old feeling came crawling back again. The initial incident literally set Baltimore ablaze, confounding many people inside and outside the city as to why so many blacks would feel inclined to protest so much, so angrily, so loudly and so violently. In that sense, that’s when the country feels the most unflatteringly colorblind; an entire nation, it seems, incapable of understanding what could be troubling people to act out in such a manner, taking to the streets in protest.

It can be hard to appreciate that those moments aren’t only about Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner. It can be hard to understand that black people in this country are intimately familiar with injustice. These murders don’t represent mere incidents of injustice, of “he said, authority said” narratives; these represent a legacy in the country so old it makes these situations preordained. We’ve been here before is what I’m saying. The constant exoneration and adulation of law enforcement makes sense if it’s never been a cudgel used against you.

I remember being a child in elementary school, drawing and coloring policemen: the bright smiles, the shiny caps, the impeccable uniforms and the billy clubs that seemed more likely to be used to shoo away dogs or, at worst, winos. I remember a school field trip to a police station; donning one of those uniform caps, the adult-sized hat falling over my eyes and me playfully tilting it back so that I could see. Sitting in the passenger seat of a cruiser as an officer showed me how the radio dispatch worked; clapping and laughing with my classmates when the stationary cruiser’s sirens were turned on, blue-red-blue-red-blue-red-blue-red whipping across our faces. Read more »

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