8 Prominent Philadelphians on What Being Black in Philly Should Look Like

As the nation reckons with its racist past, we wanted to know what Philadelphia’s Black community would consider real, substantive progress and change.

black in philly

What should being Black in Philly look like? Prominent Philadelphians have some answers.

There is a sense — here and elsewhere — that the nationwide protests in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis are different from movements we’ve seen before. That more than ever, there’s the possibility of substantive change. That the country may finally and significantly reckon with its racist past. We asked eight Philadelphians across several spheres what seizing this moment would look like, and should result in, here in our city.

It Should Embrace Spiritual Diversity and Model Equity

Pastor Leslie D. Callahan on Philly as a hub of religious innovation and seeing Blackness as the gift and promise of Philadelphia. Keep reading here.

It Should Provide Opportunity and Safety for Our Children

Keir Bradford-Grey on the need for more investment in public schools and on how the justice system limits possibilities for youth in the Black community. Keep reading here.

It Should Feature Public Art That Reflects the Community

Cathy Harris of Mural Arts on the importance of empowering Black artists and giving people a say in how they are represented. Keep reading here.

It Shouldn’t Be a Choice Between Facing Racism or Transphobia

Roberto Thornton on the need for Philadelphia to be welcoming of all. Keep reading here.

It Should Be Empowered and Equipped to Heal

Erica Wilkins on the importance of training therapists to treat the wounds of racial trauma. Keep reading here.

It Should Look Like Ownership and Economic Justice

Gabriel Bryant on the need for the Black community to have ownership of all the systems and institutions that impact it. Keep reading here.

It Should Look Like Real Policy Change

State Representative Jordan Harris on channeling the energy of Black Lives Matter protests into a collaborative political wave. Keep reading here.

It Should Look Like the Abolition of White Supremacy

Megan Malachi on the need to disband the police, institute community-led models of public safety and pay reparations. Keep reading here.

Published as “What Should Being Black in Philly Look Like?” in the August 2020 issue of Philadelphia magazine.