Monday morning’s press conference at City Hall – where a report issued by the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations on racism and discrimination in the Gayborhood was released months after a historic public hearing – was the result of agitation; and the Mayor, Mr. Jim Kenney, not only acknowledged such truth, but urged the resistance to continue.
“We need to continue to have activists step up and get in the government’s face,” said Mayor Kenney, who told a member of the media that he would consider rejecting political contributions from bar owners in the Gayborhood who were found in the report to have created “preferable environments for white, cisgender, male patrons.”
The business practices of bars in the Gayborhood, the report states, substantiate the numerous reports of racism and discrimination the PCHR heard at the October 25th, 2016, public hearing, where nearly 400 people attended – including Mayor Kenney and Philadelphia City Councilman Mr. Derek Green – and roughly 30 individuals testified, including Black Lives Matter activist Mr. Asa Khalif, who was present at Monday’s press conference.
Mr. Khalif said of the report that it’s a step forward and its findings validate the cries of unequal treatment shouted for decades in the City. The Black and Brown people, who’ve publicized their grievances, said Mr. Khalif, who spoke first after the press conference to Techbook Online, weren’t making this crap up!
A report similar to the one released Monday dates back to 1986, where a coalition of leaders wrote of feelings of exclusivity and “unwelcomeness” in the Gayborhood.
“Their recommendations weren’t fully adopted,” Ms. Rue Landau, Executive Director of the PCHR, said of the late 1980’s coalition. She added: “A strategic, long-term enforcement plan, as well as public commitment by community leaders to hold places accountable, is needed to reduce or eliminate racism and discrimination.”
Among the recommendations presented Monday morning was a requirement for all bar owners and their staff to receive training on the City of Philadelphia’s Fair Practices Ordinance and implicit bias. It’s unclear whether prior to this moment – which was exacerbated when a video was discovered showing the White man who owns ICandy repeatedly saying “nigger” when referring to patrons – if bar owners were trained on the FPO.
Still a work-in-progress is the PCHR’s testing program, which began after the October 25th hearing and uses comparators – young black males and young white males, for example – to see if they’re treated differently. Ms. Landau wouldn’t elaborate on the testing except to say it’s occurring in 11 bars and could be done citywide.
Mr. Khalif was “pleased” to hear about the testing, albeit its details were minimal, and implied that the overall response from the PCHR was encouraging.
Mayor Kenney, who touted the fact that the training process offered throughout 2016 by the Office of LGBTQ Affairs and the PCHR to the Mummers resulted in a transphobia-free and racism-free parade in 2017, made among his last words on Monday: “If we can do it with the Mummers, we can do it with the bars.”
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