Attorney General Eric Holder was criticized early in the first Obama administration for calling this country a "nation of cowards" when it comes to discussing racism.
Well, Holder might have been heartened this past week by the myriad conversations in this city concerning a controversial Philadelphia Magazine article titled "Being White in Philly." It certainly got people talking. But whether the discussions will produce positive change or - like President Bill Clinton's National Conversation on Race - leave most people, black and white, unsatisfied is a question mark.
The article by Robert Huber was well intended in wanting to report the belief of some whites that they can't express legitimate criticism of African Americans without being labeled racist. But the lopsided perspective, based solely on interviews with unnamed whites, came across as promoting stereotypes of blacks as criminals and slackers. The anonymous comments justifiably touched a nerve in a city with its own shameful history of racism toward African Americans, a city where too many poor, black neighborhoods remain racially segregated and economically isolated.