Before this week’sDemocratic National Convention,I had initially hoped for the local protesters to really make a huge statement that would make the nation focus on the big issues impacting our city. Instead, everyone was too busy being distracted by the sore-loser Bernie Sanderssupporters.
Being that Philadelphia isone of the poorest major cities in the nation with apublic education crisis and embarrassing poverty problem,it was a huge letdown for us to have the world stage and not take advantageto raise awareness.
Philadelphians were too busy showing off thecity, bragging about our cheesesteaks, caught up in the renovations that are actually driving taxpayers crazy,anything but the urban American hardships that are far too common across this nation.
It felt uncomfortableseeing so many homeless people sleeping outside City Hall as visitors went sightseeing. It felt even worse that a lot of the big media outlets could care less about the few small groups that tried to use their voices to bring attention to these issues. Americawas drinking our Kool-Aid, and it served us no purpose.
As television screens were fixated on CenterCity, Independence Hall, and the cheesesteak battle royale in South Philly,who bothered to see how West and North Philly were doing? Time and time again, our major conventions – such as last year’s World Meeting of Families – get clobbered in the Phillystereotypes of tasty greasy food, historical political sites, and metropolitan life.
However, there were a few impressive exceptions.
One that stood out to me was the push for sensible gun control by local community leader Anton Moore. On Tuesday night, the Southwest native spoke eloquently at the convention about the persistent fatal gun crimes impacting our local community.
It was a relief to see him take the global media, includingNBC “Dateline,” ABC “Nightline” andBET, on a tour of therough neighborhoods that City Hall probably didn’t want the world to see,but it was a revelation, nonetheless. His nonprofit, Unity in the Community, had the kind of serious conversationson the world stage that many of our local elected officials hardly ever want to speak out loud about to the press. Many of them were too busy at the parties trying to bump shoulders with the celebrities. I know because I was there.
Which brings me back to a sobering truth – the DNC overall really wasn’t about Philly taking advantage of a chanceto possibly heal our city, but to show itself off againto the rest of the world. Sure, there were a few panels that werefocused on community engagement – but nine times out of 10, the nail was already in the coffin.
Folks were given a limited scopeon the true complexities that are really impacting us. This convention was about Philly looking like the Philadelphia the world assumes us to be – instead of the one we really are.