Stories about life in Liddonfield housing project and its impact on the Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood of Upper Holmesburg. These true stories reveal how government policy affected the lives of real people, from the project residents to area homeowners during the 5 decades of Liddonfield’s existence. Stories and articles are written by a former resident of the project.

FIGHT THE STIGMA!

FIGHT THE STIGMA!
Rosemary Reeves, Blogger, standing on Philadelphia Skyline

Apr 24, 2015

PublicHousingStories.com: IRISH SHOULD TAKE BACK DEMOCRATIC PARTY

PublicHousingStories.com: IRISH SHOULD TAKE BACK DEMOCRATIC PARTY: By Rosemary Reeves If modern politics has not looked favorably upon poor, working-class and middle-class Irish Americans t...

IRISH SHOULD TAKE BACK DEMOCRATIC PARTY




By Rosemary Reeves

If modern politics has not looked favorably upon poor, working-class and middle-class Irish Americans then we have only ourselves to blame.  Many Irish Americans have become successful and of that we are proud, but that success has also steered them away from a pro-Irish mentality.  Our people have become complacent as political drop-outs, complaining about our powerless in politics as we watch the television news in our modern cities and suburbs with a bag of potato chips in one hand and a 2 liter bottle of soda in the other.  We no longer cheer on our champions.  We longer connect with other Irish Americans and many of us have ceased to care about Irish American youth, especially those struggling with poverty. 

There are Irish American boys in poor Philadelphia neighborhoods like Kensington with no father figure to offer them pride in the traditions of our people.  There are Irish American girls with no knowledge of our culture.  Their children will be equally ignorant of the ways of the Irish.  If we do not begin to reunify by connecting with each other through Irish cultural organizations and social gatherings where our ethnic music and dance are celebrated, our uniqueness as a people will fade and what political influence we have left will gradually disappear.

Ever since our relatives who came before us stepped off the boat from Ireland and onto American shores, they faced discrimination and poverty.  For generations others underestimated the people from the Emerald Isle.  Some mocked our traditions and sought to rob us of our dignity as an ethnic group.  Many said the Irish would never amount to anything.  When John Kennedy became a strong contender in 1960 presidential race we could hardly believe it and when he was inaugurated as the first Irish Catholic president it was a moment in history that proved we were a people who could rise above.

Kennedy’s Presidential victory marked the pinnacle of our political influence in the United States.  We had risen through the ranks of the Democratic Party, which was the party of the future for our people.  We stood at the top of the hill together, a hill we climbed step by step and inch by inch, gazing with pride in our eyes at the social and political landscape before us.  The underdog had won.  It was a victory not only for the Irish but for all Americans, who beheld with awe the achievement of a vision, one our country had long professed ─ that with guts and determination comes glory. 

When at just 46 years of age Kennedy’s light was extinguished, so was our own greatness as a people.  In our grief we all but dropped out of the political arena as an ethnic group which voted pro-Irish-American.  Once a political force to be reckoned with, we have forgotten our strength as a unified group at the polls, and as movers and shakers within the Democratic Party. 

Our great Democratic leader John Kennedy would not have wanted our people to fall into political darkness.  Now is the time to put grief aside and rekindle the light that shone on Irish Americans on his inaugural day.  We can take back the Democratic Party, one mayor and congressman at a time.  Only guts and resilience will take us to glory.  To get there once again, Irish Americans must reunify, re-connect with each other, introduce our youth to Irish history and traditions, and celebrate our heritage with Irish music and dance.  Most of all, we must have the will and drive to work within the Democratic Party in order to shape it in our favor, like the Irish American ward leaders of the past.

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Apr 22, 2015

LIAM McNALLY STUNS THE AUDIENCE ON BRITAIN'S GOT TALENT SINGING DANNY BOY

VOICES ON WHITENESS



Summary:  Compares the stereotype of whites as born oppressors to the concept of original sin, exposes the indignity of being labeled privileged when you are white and poor and reveals the mistake that led to troubling consequences for Americans of European descent.  

by Rosemary Reeves 

Being white in America is like being born with original sin.  At birth you bear the mark of the wicked deeds of your ancestors, both real and imagined, and despite the innocence that comes with being just minutes old you are tarnished.  I could never abide the unfairness of original sin when it came to the story of Adam and Eve.  That church doctrine went in one ear and out the other in catechism class and so it is with the prevailing racial dogma which declares I am stained from birth with white privilege.

Ask anyone, even a white person, to visualize man's inhumanity to man and he will see blue-eyed slave masters, Hitler, swastikas and white settlers abusing Native Americans on the prairie.  Chances are he will not see Idi Amin's Ugandan reign of terror, India's cruel caste system, widespread child prostitution in the Philipines or the horrors endured by black slaves owned by other blacks in present day Africa.  The prevailing assumption is that whites are the sole perpetrators of evil, so much so that George Washington's name has been removed from our public schools and he is the founder of our country. 

I refuse to believe that there is something in my white DNA, a predatory gene perhaps, which drives me to oppress and abuse other races and that in order to control such urges I must be constantly reminded of past misdeeds of the white race. I am a doubting Thomas and I say there is no original sin of white privilege.  What makes me so hard to convince?  Being born into a poor white family from the projects makes you see these things in a different light.  My experience growing up was one outside the realm of the white middle-class, so racial messages that are geared toward that group are not as easily digested.  If our culture truly believes in diversity then it would not leave poor whites out of the equation, deny their reality and insist they are privileged even in the midst of their daily struggle for survival.

Poor whites have their own dialogue going. This is the conversation I had with a man who also lived in Liddonfield housing project at one time.  “I never understood the meaning of white privilege,” I told him.

“I never did either,” he replied, “I’ve struggled my whole life.  When I lived in the projects my family was worse off than the black kids I hung out with.”  That is our racial reality, one that is shared by poor whites across America, but the mainstream press doesn't ask poor whites how they feel about white privilege.  So I will say it here.  I find the term “white privilege” objectionable because it denies the existence of poor whites.  It renders a disadvantaged class of people, one to which I once belonged, utterly invisible.  
 
Those who support the white privilege theory will say it refers to more than just material wealth.  They will insist that even poor whites reap advantages over non-whites from the color of their skin.  Watch us shake our heads.  We, too, have suffered deprivation, inequality, hunger and society’s contempt.  Martin Luther King recognized this but minorities today do not.  Instead, their spokespersons try to measure who has suffered most, minorities or poor whites.  The winner takes all, as if suffering was a competitive sport.  Telling whites in poverty that they benefit from white privilege is abuse of a vulnerable population.  This is inhumane.

In fact, one might argue that poor whites are more disadvantaged than minorities.  There are countless programs in place that offer aid and services specifically to America's poor minority populations.   Can you name one targeted specifically toward underprivileged whites?  I'm not saying these programs aren't good.  I'm saying poor whites are denied equal treatment when it comes to cultural and charity based support systems, despite being a disadvantaged population.  

They also receive unequal treatment in the media.  While poverty among minority groups is widely publicized, white poverty is reported in the media far less.   On those occasions when it does appear in the newspapers, it is a formulaic rundown of unemployment figures or percent of home foreclosures.  The media's cold descriptions of whites falling into poverty encourage indifference, almost urging the reader to feel nothing for their suffering countrymen.

Occasional documentary footage shows struggling white families with piles of unpaid bills on their table.  Cameras roll as they talk about not having the money to pay them.  No mention is made of the fact that poor whites are deprived of political representation and cultural institutions to address their specific needs.  Furthermore, not only does the mainstream media fail to condemn negative stereotypes of poor white people but it doesn't even acknowledge such stereotypes exist.  

There are no pleas for sympathy from the public, no attempts at promoting human understanding or kindness toward poor white people the way there is toward poor minority groups.  Can this be a mere oversight or is something ugly, namely prejudice against poor whites, purposely happening in the mainstream media?

Words like "marginalized" and "oppressed" which are routinely used by the mainstream media to elicit sympathy for poor blacks are missing in articles describing poor whites.  Is it not oppression to be labeled by the majority as "white trash?"  Is it not marginalization when people don't even hesitate to use the term?  Is it not second class citizenship when outrage is reserved only for the non-white inheritors of poverty?  Is it not the height of prejudice when poor whites are lumped together with more affluent whites under the umbrella of white privilege?  

Finally, poor whites do not receive advantages from the more affluent members of their race just for having the same skin color, as the white privilege argument contends.  This is a myth.  The reality is that they are often viewed by other whites as failures.   Whites who are poor thus tend to believe that they are responsible for their own impoverishment.  They feel ashamed and embarrassed.  For this reason they are not vocal about their poverty.   Many try to keep it a secret out of fear of being judged by other whites.  Their chances for networking and socializing with other white people are greatly diminished.  For instance, they will make excuses not to go out to dinner with others, even if such associations may lead to opportunities, because they simply can't afford it.  They are essentially excluded from social clubs where networking takes place because they don't have the membership or entrance fee, a proper suit or appropriate dress for such an occasion.  Poor white children are left out of boy scouts, sports teams, math and science clubs and so on because their parents can't afford fees associated with these activities.

Being poor and Caucasian is very isolating and having fair skin does not give this disadvantaged group any benefits.  In fact, some poor whites actually prefer the company of poor blacks due to rejection by other whites and their common experience with poverty.

The Great Depression following the stock market crash of 1929 forced extensive news coverage of white poverty as soup lines grew with untold numbers of hungry, unemployed white men and their families.  Even as the economy began to improve in later years Americans had much concern for the plight of the underpaid white laborer whose children didn’t have enough to eat.  News coverage of white poverty was brushed aside, however, with the birth of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the feminist movement of the 1970’s as racial and gender discrimination dominated the headlines.  At the same time, the media wrongly portrayed the United States as a classless society.  Journalists redefined poverty as an aberration suffered only by minorities as a result of institutionalized racism.  The existence of poor urban whites conflicted with this new definition and so coverage of white poverty disappeared from the media.  This is also when the term “white privilege” was coined.

Despite the fact that Martin Luther King was a strong advocate for poor whites, whom he felt were also discriminated against, his attempts to organize them were in the early stages when his life ended and the more radical black leaders that emerged after his death dropped the idea in favor of the white privilege argument.  As a result, the faces of poverty portrayed in the media became almost exclusively non-white.


Working-class and middle-class whites should try to soften their attitude toward the less fortunate members of their kind.  They are part of an extended family based on common ethnicity. 


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