2.09.2017

Urban Challenges

You know from this space that I am a lover of cities, a booster for Philadelphia, and bullish on our urban future.  Donald Trump's remarks about America's urban centers are, to say the least, pointed.  Just about everything I've heard him say on the subject is clangy, not to mention coded.  And even when the speaker and the words are less confrontational, I bristle up when cities are trashed, since a lot of those opinions are outdated, misinformed, and borderline racist.

And yet.  It's fair to say that while cities are booming nowadays, all is not well in every neighborhood.  Broader and long-running economic forces have created a tale of two cities, and here in Philadelphia as well as throughout the country can be found entire communities that have been laid waste economically, physically, politically, and socially.

It is right for me, as someone who moved into the city 25+ years ago from the suburbs, to defend urban settings from undue slams.  But it is wrong for me, while touting the wonder of my lovely urban neighborhood, to forget that not everyone who lives in my city has access to the same level of public safety, school quality, or recreational amenities.  In fact, an uncomfortably large number of Philadelphians live in crushing poverty, trapped in awful schools among burnt-out blocks.

I say this not to sensationalize urban blight, feed nefarious stereotypes, or ignore the beautiful things that are still able to flourish here, but rather to acknowledge that all is not well in many parts of Philadelphia and other urban settings in America.  Let us learn and love our great cities in this country.  But let us not be blind to the real challenges they face or unaffected by the fact that our fellow women and men suffer so. 
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