On September 26 and 27 Pope Francis came to Philadelphia.
He spoke about hope, forgiveness, compassion, joy and renewal. Philadelphians soaked it all up.
Pope Francis then hopped his plane on the 27 at 8 P.M. leaving thousands of people all aglow.
Could this be a new beginning? Could Philadelphia actually embrace what was being said to them and apply it to their daily lives?
One could only hope, but hope doesn’t necessarily spring eternal especially in this city.
Even if the Pope had set up a permanent residence here it probably wouldn’t have made much of a difference because the longer he had stayed here the more likely it would have been that he would be infected by the Negadelphia bug.
The Negadelphia bug is an invisible, officially undiagnosed virus that turns sane people into cranky, discontented people. It’s in the water.
On Tuesday, September 29, residents woke up to find the editor of the Philadelphia Magazine, Tom McGrath, apologizing.
Philadelphia Magazine is a print publication that comes out once a month and they also have a really great website that is chock full of articles that are posted weekly.
McGrath wasn’t apologizing for the entire magazine, but just the cover because the cover is what caused people in the media to get their knickers in a twist and to spread the bug to unsuspecting readers.
In the magazine’s October issue, entitled “A City Parent’s Guide to Schools” there were seven kids sitting on a wall outside of the Albert M. Greenfield School which is located at 2200 Chestnut Street; an area in Center City.
Media types were upset about the racial makeup of the students in the picture because there weren’t any African Americans in that group. There was a little girl in the picture that could have been of either Latino or mixed heritage, but apparently they didn’t care about her.
In Philadelphia, it’s always about black and white despite the fact that there are 10,835 American Indians/Alaskan Natives, 74,435 Asians, and 128,928 Latinos that call this city home.
It was quickly pointed out that Greenfield is 60% minority students. Since their problem was that there were no African Americans pictured it should be noted that there also weren’t any Asians, Pacific Islanders or American Indians sitting on the wall either.
All of which are students at Greenfield.
At Greenfield there are more Caucasian students (42.2%) than African American students (32.4%). Five years ago the percentage of minorities at that school or any other Philadelphia public school was larger, but those numbers have decreased thanks parents putting their kids in charter schools and gentrification pushing low and middle income families out of the city.
The area of 22 and Chestnut Streets in Philadelphia used to be home to a large minority population, but housing built for the wealthy changed all that.
There are several public schools that are very desirable in this city and Greenfield is one of them. The problem is that in order to attend the school you have to live within that school’s boundaries.
The area that the school is located in is known as Rittenhouse Square, is over 60% Caucasian and the median household income as of 2008 was $83,000. It is now over $150,000.
One of those in the media that was leading the charge against Philadelphia Magazine was the Daily News’ favorite interloper Helen Ubinas who rode in on her gray nag from Hartford, Connecticut in 2012.
Although it can’t be proven, many in this city believe she brought the Negadelphia bug with her.
Since then she has taken it upon herself to tell Philadelphians (often incorrectly) what is wrong with them. A majority of Philadelphians believe having to endure Ubinas’ emotional and unfounded tirades is what’s wrong with them.
On Oct 1, the reporter decided to address Philadelphia Magazine as she saw it: for starters she believes that the magazine’s newsroom-their ethnic makeup-isn’t equal to the community that they serve.
The truth is, if she bothered to do her homework, she would have found this not to be the case; that the magazine’s staff is equal to their readership base.
The reporter eventually unveiled her true motives: to use the magazine article to pull readers into an issue that was probably personal for her and others of her ilk: the hiring practice of media outlets, magazines and newspapers where who does the reporting (their race), the area that they cover as reporters (the community’s race) and who does the hiring (their race) are often in conflict.
What Ms. Ubinas fails to convey to her readers is that it’s the job of the journalist is to just report the facts of the story; to tell the story without bias or prejudice. As a former blogger it’s understandable that she may not believe that reporters are expected to naturally do this.
Rebecca Klein, the Education Editor of The Huffington Post, who happens to live in New York and is Caucasian also had to put in her two cents which she found by going through the school’s stats on the Philadelphia School District website without fully understanding what the issue was.
Philadelphia Magazine Editor Tom McGrath did not owe anyone an apology, but he probably felt the pressure to offer one.
Despite its name, the magazine doesn’t cater to the low or middle class in Philadelphia and it never did. Its reader base has always been those with disposable income: upper and upper middle class people. For a long time, these people lived in the suburbs although some did live in the tonier neighborhoods of Philadelphia like Chestnut Hill, Girard Estates and Winchester Park.
It also has had a large readership in the Philadelphia suburbs and some areas in New Jersey for years.
In fact, the magazine has been around since 1908.
If you want to understand what a magazine or newspaper’s readership base is all you have to do is look at the ads. The October issue has an advertisement for egg freezing, certified pre-owned BMWs, the Parx Casino’s (located in Bucks County) Celebrity Chef Dinner Series, and a lot of high-end senior living communities.
These are not something that most inner city residents would be interested in.
Even when Mayor Michel Nutter temporarily lost his mind over the magazine’s article, Being White in Philly, and sent a letter about it to the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission the periodical didn’t change how it addressed relevant issues to the readers.
In 2014 they did an article that painted a bleak picture of the Philadelphia School District although no one in this city really complained about it because it was true.
All these articles are written for their readers who willingly pay either $4.99 per issue or $59.88 per year. People in Philly like to complain about how they used to be able to get their Daily News for seventy-five cents and now have to shell out $1.50.
To be fair, the Philadelphia Magazine does an excellent job, not only reporting on stories, but taking the time to do it right without being worried about space or word count.
They have, on occasion, put out controversial pieces, but that’s the whole point of reporting on a story – to get people talking. They are also very good at that.
It’s also possible that Ubinas and Klein went after the publication because it’s a huge target; that they would get a lot of press out of it as well as publicity. Their supposed moral outrage or political correctness or their need to be the voice of minority racism didn’t transcend to the Philadelphia Family magazine.
Unlike Philadelphia Magazine, Philadelphia Family has only been around since 2013 and is published twice a year.
The magazine is headquartered in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania as part of the Main Line community of wealthy towns in Delaware County and, unapologetically, serves the millennials as well as gentrifiers that are arriving in herds to set up residence in the city. They are also bringing their kids with them.
Helen Ubinas doesn’t have to worry. The staff of the magazine reflects their readership: Caucasian and upper middle class.
In their fall issue, the magazine features a multi-cultural family of a Latino father, Asian mother and their two children sitting outside the Jenks Academy Arts & Sciences School which is located in the Germantown area that has been mostly African American since the late 1970s.
At the Jenks School, the student body is 76.6% African American and less than 1% Latino and Asian; 57% of the students are from disadvantaged homes.
Unlike Greenfield, families are not clamoring to get into this school as test scores have continued to decline since 2012 and currently the school is performing at less than 50% which is barely above the school district’s average.
The family pictured on the cover is not representative of this school. The Garido family lives in a 3,779 square foot apartment they purchased in 2008 for $247,500.
So why wasn’t there any outrage for this magazine cover?
Aside from the fact that it’s a free magazine and not distributed outside of wealthy neighborhoods in Philadelphia like Chestnut Hill (where this copy was acquired at), it wasn’t really worth the media’s time because they understood what this magazine is in addition to who it represents.
In other words, this magazine is so far down the totem pole it’s not worth the effort and wouldn’t have given certain journalists the attention a whale like Philadelphia Magazine would bring.
It’s a time honored tradition in journalism: in order to get people talking (mostly about you and your article) you have to go after a recognized brand.
The same goes for editors. In order to get people’s attention you have to put out something that will engage people. Vanity Fair, Newsweek, Time and the Rolling Stone have all done this. This month African American-based Ebony magazine joined that list.
It is important to note that this probably wasn’t Philadelphia Magazine’s agenda.
These magazine covers and accusations of racism, their hiring practices or being behind in the times isn’t what people should be upset about. In fact, both Philadelphia Magazine and Philadelphia Family took advantage of the new reality in this city.
The real conversation that should be going on – and isn’t – is the effect that the herds of millennials and the practice of gentrification that is engulfing the city is having or will have on the people of this city.
The real people of this city. Not the ones who decide on a lark to move here because this city is trending.
There should be talk about how the greed of Philadelphia’s officials is reaching epidemic proportions in which the cultural and ethnic fabric is being destroyed.
People who don’t measure up economically or socially are being pushed off to the side as the desirables take over every square inch of this city, even areas such as Kensington and North Philly which have always been historically undesirable.
More of an effort should be made to make sure that there’s a place in this city for everyone who wants to be here and not just the ones who have the money to invest in $300,000 properties.
Philadelphia has become home to millions of people in its history.
These people adapted to the way the city was; abiding by its rules as well as to how things were done and carved out a life for themselves.
They did not come here expecting to turn the city into something they wanted, but yet that’s exactly what’s starting to happen and city officials are more than happy to appease them.
In the process people who have worked to support the city and who have made the city what it was are being pushed out just because their bank accounts don’t match the ones who are buying up property.
It shouldn’t be this way. People shouldn’t get special privileges just because of their ecomically wealthy status.
This is what journalists should be writing about.
Who cares what’s on a magazine cover? It’s a magazine cover and next month there’ll be another cover, but the problems that are currently affecting this city will continue to grow.
Don’t get it wrong, the Millennial Apocalypse and the Gentrification Outbreak are good for city government and they’re good for greedy realtors.
It’s everyone else that will end up paying the price.
Perhaps, though, if Ubinas and Klein are that incensed with what they feel are racist images, they really need to talk to Councilman Mark Squilla who sponsored a bill in April of 2015 to acquire a portion of the Reading Viaduct in order to continue to build the Reading Viaduct Rail Park.
They should also talk to the president of the Center City District, Paul Levy, who has raised over 65% of the needed $9 million to complete the first phase of this project which, once finished, will become the property of the city.
The reason why these two people should be interviewed is because they commissioned the architectural company Studio Bryan Hanes to draw up the plans for park.
The city has used the company before to draw up plans for the Sister Cities Park, which is located at 18 Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, in 2010.
All of the images for the plans that Studio Bryan Hanes creates feature very little minorities and mostly Caucasians.
The business has created images and plans for the Sister Cities Garden; the Rail Park; Perry World House (at the University of Pennsylvania); Penn Treaty Park; Clark Park (located in West Philadelphia); Parkside Edge; The Porch at 30 Street Station; Pier 68; the Schuylkill Avenue Esplanade; Iroko at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, and the Callowhill/Chinatown North Strategic Plan.
Many of these are located in areas that have a culturally diverse population, but the images don’t reflect that; they reflect the population that the city wants to attract.
To view these images, please go to: http://www.studiobryanhanes.com/work/.
It is the taxpayers, who are not all Caucasians, that will ultimately be financially responsible for these places through increased taxes.
The Studio Bryan Hanes firm has presented these plans along with their images to the Center City District. Members of City Council, where African Americans hold most of the seats, have also seen and approved these plans with their images.
Philadelphia Magazine shouldn’t have apologized, but council members really have some explaining to do. Center City District and Bryan Hanes absolutely should apologize.
Pope’s message: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/pope-franciss-visit-to-ph…
Philadelphia Magazine: http://www.phillymag.com/
Albert M. Greenfield School: https://webapps.philasd.org/school_profile/view/2470
Rittenhouse Square: http://www.city-data.com/neighborhood/Rittenhouse-Philadelphia-PA.html
Helen Ubinas: http://www.philly.com/philly/columnists/helen_ubinas
October 1 article: http://www.philly.com/philly/columnists/helen_ubinas/20151001_Philadelph…
Rebecca Klein, Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/philly-magazine-cover-diversity_560c…
Being White in Philly: http://www.phillymag.com/articles/white-philly/
Mayor Nutter’s Letter: http://media.philly.com/documents/MayorLettertoPCHR.pdf
Philadelphia’s School Crisis: A City On The Brink: http://www.phillymag.com/articles/philadelphia-school-crisis-city-brink/
Philadelphia Family: http://phillyfamily.com/
Ebony Magazine: http://www.salon.com/2015/10/19/ebonys_controversial_cosby_cover_prompts…
Mark Squilla: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/City_moving_forward_on_Reading_Viaduct…
Sister Cities Park: http://www.ccdparks.org/sister-cities-park
Studio Bryan Hanes: http://www.studiobryanhanes.com/work/