SP2 race series addresses Philly Mag article

The School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) and the African-American Resource Center kicked off their ongoing “Let’s Talk About Race” discussion in January with a frank conversation on race relations in America as part of Penn’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Symposium on Social Change.

The second talk in the series will address the controversial Philadelphia Magazine cover story, “Being White in Philly.” The article in the March issue of the magazine set off a firestorm, even prompting a sharp rebuke from Mayor Michael Nutter.

“‘Being White in Philly’ underscores how critical these conversations are,” says Richard J. Gelles, dean of SP2. “This article has created a thousand discussions all across the city, and we want to bring those many perspectives together, embracing the spirit of diversity and moving us all in the right direction.”

The discussion is scheduled for Tuesday, April 16, at 5:30 p.m. in Café 58 in Irvine Auditorium, 3401 Spruce St., and is part of a series that offers people of all races, backgrounds, and beliefs a way to foster communication and create understanding.

Robert Huber, author of the controversial article, and Adrienne Simpson, the only full-time African-American employee at Philadelphia Magazine who penned “The Only Black Person in the Room” for the Philadelphia Inquirer, will share their perspectives about their articles.

Organizers will also show “The Danger of a Single Story,” a 20-minute TED Talk from Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie, who warns that if people hear only one story about a particular issue, it creates negative stereotypes.

Valerie Dorsey Allen, executive director of the African-American Resource Center, says Philadelphia—along with the country at large—is long overdue for an honest discussion about race and racism.

“It has to happen across cultures, around kitchen tables, in houses of worship, and in schools,” she says. “It is important that all angles of the issue of racism be examined so we don’t leave with a single story, but knowing there is good, bad, and room for improvement on all sides.”

The event is free and open to the public. Registration is required. To RSVP, email Lee Dushoff at leedushoff@gmail.com.

Let's Talk About Race