UPDATE: The Being in Philly event has been postponed due to possibily inclement weather.
Organizers hope Philadelphians of all races will turn out next week for an event at Love Park called “Being in Philly.” The gathering, scheduled for 4 p.m. on March 20, is in response to a controversial Philadelphia magazine cover story called “Being White In Philly.” In the piece, based on anonymous interviews, Robert Huber makes the claim that white people are afraid to talk about race for fear of being called racist.
The article has a lot of problems, many of them well documented already. But the first-day-of-spring event isn’t so much to address the issue of bad journalism but to present another view of what’s happening in Philly.
“The goal is to have an intellectual dialogue and discourse that promotes a positive outcome and interactive cultural understanding,” Chris Norris, a lead organizer, told me last week.
Organizers also hope to bring Huber, the author of ‘Being White in Philly,’ to Love Park to introduce him around.
“To introduce him to organizations like Rising Sons and to introduce him to the Black Male Engagement Project that the Knight Foundation is spending millions and millions of dollars on to change the narrative in this city and Baltimore and Detroit. To introduce him to people like Gregory Walker (founder of the Brothers Network)…Gregory Corbin and Solomon Jones. That’s the goal. Not to make him feel scared, to make him feel like there’s going to be an angry black mob waiting for him. That there’s going to be intellectual black men waiting with open arms to embrace him because, hey, he needs a hug. “
Organizers hope Philly mag will respond by writing some sort of piece of follow up to Huber’s piece.
“We want to encourage Philly magazine to write a part 2 (called) being a Philadelphian. Not being white. Not being black. But being a Philadelphian. That’s really important,” pointed out Rashaun Williams, 18, a Temple University sociology and history major who's helping organize the gathering.
In addition to all that, organizers say there will be free musical performances and a water ice giveaway. Editors at Philly mag also have been invited.