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.


Rosemary Reeves, Blogger, standing on Philadelphia Skyline

Sep 26, 2011

We Don't Deliver to That Neighborhood

by Rosemary Reeves

I've come a long way from the projects, or so I thought.  I now live in a middle-class neighborhood, but recently I discovered that I traded in discrimination based on class for that based on race and redlining. 
Once in a while, I like to order take-out.  I always receive plenty of menus from take-out joints in the area, menus I find hanging in a bag around my door knob quite often.  Just about all of the take-out places claim to deliver, but when I strayed from the take-out that I normally ordered from, I began to notice that when I give my address for delivery, the person on the phone suddenly says, “We don’t deliver to that neighborhood.”  The first few times that happened, I thought it was peculiar, since my address was nearby to each take-out place I called. 
“But I don’t live far away,” I’d reply, “It’s in the same zip code.” 
“We only deliver to certain areas,” they said.  Some of them were less than a half mile distance from where I lived and for a while, it seemed weird to me but I never read anything into it.
It was only when delivery to my address was turned down several times in a single night with the same vague, run-around excuse that I finally got a person on the phone who had the gumption to give an honest answer.  “Your neighborhood is dangerous, so that’s why we won’t deliver there,” he said.
I was floored.  “Dangerous?  Are you kidding me?” I replied. I had moved to this suburban hamlet from Philadelphia eight years prior.  Normally, I detest the suburbs but this neighborhood’s quiet, serene surroundings were a refreshing change from the hustle and bustle of the city and it was a short trolley ride into downtown Philly.  It has lovely streets lined with charming detached houses, landscaped lawns and dogwood trees.  It is populated by mainly middle-class African Americans.  As a white person, I am a minority there but have grown used to it.   Once, I was taking a stroll and was so surprised to see a Caucasian man at the bus stop that I actually found myself staring at the fellow.  I was thinking, “What do you know?  A white guy!”
Walking through my town is safer than walking through center city Philadelphia.  I could not understand why they refused to deliver on the grounds that it was a dangerous neighborhood.  Furthermore, it was only 7:00 p.m.  It’s not like I asked them to deliver at some ungodly hour.  The only conclusion I could come to was redlining, which is figuratively drawing a red line through a neighborhood due to race.  Mine is a predominantly black neighborhood and so it is perceived as dangerous, even though the majority of its residents are middle-class. 
Republican Herman Cain, who is running for president, is the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, which he admits refused to deliver to a black neighborhood in an interview with Alex Pappas of The Daily Caller. Mr. Cain is himself an African American.  His explanation for that delivery policy seems reasonable.  Employees were robbed when delivering to that area.  So, when is it appropriate to refuse delivery and when is it discrimination?  When it comes to my new town, it sure feels like discrimination to me. 

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