The Matter of Black Lives

The Black Lives Matter network (or Movement for Black Lives) stunned its critics and observers by coming up with a platform and list of six policy demands.  After a year of organizing and intense deliberations, BLM waited until the end of the Democratic National Convention in Philly to make its announcement.

Criticized as nothing more than a bunch of young rabble-rousers who like to take to the street but don’t have any vision, one might think this was a big step forward for BLM, right?  Not to the media.

According to various major media critics, this movement of young black people’s weaknesses include not having an identifiable leader; not speaking the “language” of white America; failing to court the African-American church; coming up with demands that don’t “poll well;” and failing to address black-on-black violence.

Let’s see what they said.  “We are a collective that centers and is rooted in Black communities, but we recognize we have a shared struggle with all oppressed people; collective liberation will be a product of all of our work.” And who are these oppressed people?  Who oppresses them?

“While this platform is focused on domestic policies, we know that patriarchy, exploitative capitalism, militarism, and white supremacy know no borders. We stand in solidarity with our international family against the ravages of global capitalism and anti-Black racism, human-made climate change, war, and exploitation.”

No tired, John Lewis preacher-style pandering to liberals nostalgic for the 1950s and early 1960s here. No more mild rhetoric from people who used to breathe fire but are now thoroughly owned by neo-liberal Democratic Party money.

Over the past two years, they’ve rebuffed attempts to take over their movement by the likes of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Cornell West.  These young people know their history, know how to organize in the 21st century, and know that their interests do not lie in selling out for praise from their enemies.  For now, at least, there are no “super star” leaders to be coopted.  Just a growing, increasingly sophisticated collective of people who know that black — and all oppressed — lives matter.

Pittsburgh-area young people have been on the move too, as the large July demonstrations downtown demonstrate.  Opportunists are always lurking, however, just as honest disputes will arise.  Go to this website for official information on BLM:

And throw away the key?

Critics accuse African-Americans who are opposed to police killings of our people of ignoring black-on-black violence. We need not listen to them; their intentions are suspect.  We don’t expect the average white person to be privy to conversations in our homes and communities, but can’t they see the “Stop Shooting/We Love You” signs in windows and lawns where African-Americans live?  Are they unaware of the long-running New Pittsburgh Courier front-page campaign to embarrass and mobilize the black community by running a weekly tally of black homicide victims?

Yes, the poor and oppressed victimize their fellow poor and oppressed people.  Take the case of young Eric Taylor, of Duquesne.  Earlier this month, the 17-year-old was sentenced to 22 1/2 to 45 years in prison for a crime he allegedly committed when he was just 15.  The story goes something like this:

In 2014, young Taylor is said to have shot a pregnant 15-year-old girl (motive unclear), whose baby died.  LeRoy Powell — again, just 15 years old — testified at Taylor’s preliminary hearing.  District Attorney Stephen Zappala’s office made Powell’s testimony public — his name was all over the news — and he was shot down in broad daylight just days later.  The DA’s office later admitted that it “might not have” fully explained the risks to young Powell and his family or offered protection.  No one has ever been charged with Powell’s murder.

In sentencing Eric Taylor so harshly, Judge David Cashman said he took into consideration the fact that Taylor had committed two armed robberies at age 13.  Two armed robberies at 13 and a deadly gun crime at 15?!  Did Cashman consider what could have happened in the life of a child to cause him to behave so?  Does he, or any of those people who self-righteously condemn people like Eric Taylor, know or care?

The City of Duquesne is a glaring example of the results of deindustrialization, disinvestment and just plain abandonment by those politicians and capitalists who concoct what passes for social policy in the United States today.

In 2010, the average household income in Duquesne was just half the state average.  Its school district is so underfunded that it closed its high school, which had produced state champions in football and basketball, in 2009.  In 2012, it closed its middle school.  At its one remaining elementary school, 100 percent of the kids qualify for free or reduced-price meals, a fourth receive special education services, and less than one percent are designated gifted.  What the hell kind of place is that in which to grow up?

Is 17-year-old Eric Taylor related to — perhaps even the son of — another Eric Taylor of Duquesne, an alleged heroin kingpin, who was murdered in 2000?  Or perhaps he knew Terron Taylor, who was sentenced to prison for involvement in the same heroin ring, which also claimed as a member former Duquesne High School and Duquesne University basketball star Kevin Price?

What other life did young Taylor know?  What did Duquesne, the Mon Valley, Pittsburgh or US society have to offer him?  Or the older Eric Taylor, Terron Taylor, or even Kevin Price once his basketball days were over?  Is locking up a 17-year-old kid for the next two to four decades the answer?

The Black Lives Matter network doesn’t think so.  Among other things, they call for economic justice and demand “investments in the education, health and safety of Black people, instead of investments in the criminalizing, caging, and harming of Black people.”

So should we.  Eric Taylor, LeRoy Powell, and the young lady who was shot and lost her baby all deserve a better life.

— James Collins




Born A Man

I need nothing to be a man

Because I was born a man

And I deserve the right to live

Like any other man.

— Big Youth, “My Time”

In case you haven’t heard, Pittsburgh is “one of the most segregated metropolitan communities in the country.”  That statement comes from the Urban Institute’s Margaret Simms, one of the authors of a report on Pittsburgh published last fall.  That study, “Barriers & Bridges,” and a steady stream of others by think tanks, universities and foundations, have all demonstrated what our eyes, ears, out-of-town visitors and life experiences have long told us: Greater Pittsburgh is an extremely racist region.

Some of our white friends will object, but before they do let’s look at the cradle-to-grave numbers in black and white — and the Pittsburgh area basically is black and white, with relatively few people of Asian and Hispanic descent.

We can start with Allegheny County’s black infant mortality rate, which is twice the national average and about the same as Sri Lanka’s.  While growing up in our region, African-American youth are arrested at six times the rate of white youth — it’s “only” two-to-one nationally.  If one successfully avoids jail or prison, then one needs a job.  But the black unemployment rate is consistently double the white rate (you’ll notice a “two-to-one” pattern with many of these statistics).  And even that figure understates the problem for males, since only about half of black men, 18 to 64, are even in the workforce.

The over and under

Okay, so let’s say a black person gets a job.  Care to guess how much this person might earn, compared to a white counterpart?  Yes!  It’s about half as much, with blacks leading 2-to-1 in the $25,000 and under category, and whites leading 2-to-1 in the over $50,000 category.  Not surprisingly, the black poverty rate is a staggering 33 percent, more than double the considerable white rate of 15 percent.

How do people get to work?  Well, nearly a third of blacks rely on public transportation, while only 4 percent of workers “of other races” do so.  A slightly larger number of the “others” — 8 percent — use mass transit for any reason at least once a week.  One may surmise that many of them are taking advantage of services dedicated to getting people to and from the North Side stadiums.

Where do people live?  You shouldn’t be surprised to find that the percentage of whites who own their homes is double the black rate; after all, blacks are denied loans at twice the rate as whites.

We can play this game ad nauseam — looking at education level, educational achievement, health, crime (where blacks are more likely to both be arrested for, and victims of, violent crime), but you get the picture.  The real point is this: what does this picture tell us about our region, and what can be done about it?

Now many people will say that these statistics point to some deficiency in black people — their “culture of poverty,” which doesn’t exactly blame the individual so much as it does the entire class of people from which he or she springs.  Those people need to learn to follow the norms and rules of our society; you have to be tough to teach them independence and self-sufficiency.

This type of thinking leads to a crime-fighting policy that locks up black people for doing the same kinds of things free whites do all the time.  It leads to black people being killed for minor transgressions that white people survive — like a traffic stop or quietly drinking in public.  It allows Bill Clinton, and too many older black people, to continue to pretend that most of those black and brown bodies crowding the prisons are crack dealers who cynically got innocent kids “hopped up” on drugs.  (Hey!  I thought it was the government that did that!)

But all of those arguments are old, stale even.  The problem is racism, pure and simple.  It’s not about civilizing uncultured black people; it’s about addressing centuries of virulent racism, in Pittsburgh and nationally.  It’s about providing opportunity and support to people have been denied opportunity for generations.

Even the polite folks at Heinz Endowments and the Urban Institute, which “does not take positions on issues,” pretty much name the problem as structural racism.  However, their tentatively suggested remedies are weak, relying on good will from the public and leadership from corporations and large institutions.  Perhaps we should rely instead on the force of law, for here is a fact: to the international community, such racism is illegal, a violation of human rights.

Twentieth-century African-American leaders like W.E.B. DuBois, William Patterson and Malcolm X understood this.  Their strategy (at one point or another in their respective careers) was to expose US racism to the world and let our leaders justify themselves before world, whose hearts and minds our leaders so fervently wished to win.  Today, we should expose backwards, paternalistic Pittsburgh — whose political and business leaders have long sought to sell our region as some underappreciated diamond-in-the rough to the nation and world.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The United States, as a founder of United Nations, also signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which is recognized “as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations.”  Everyone is entitled to the rights set forth in the Declaration, regardless not only of such distinctions as “race, colour, sex, language [and] religion,” but also regardless of “property” (or lack thereof) and “birth or other status.”

In other words, people can’t be deprived of the rights inscribed in the Declaration just because they happen to be born black and/or poor.  Article 5, for example, prohibits “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”  Common examples of this would include police tactics that target only blacks: stop-and-frisk, anti-loitering patrols and the like. Article 9 also prohibits “arbitrary arrest [and] detention.”

Articles 22, 23 and 25 address “social security” and work — basically “the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being” of a person or family.  Some of the things the signers of the Declaration — and therefore, the United States government — believe guarantee this standard of living include housing, medical care, and adequate income during periods of unemployment and old age.

In all, the Declaration is a neat, tidy document that suits our modern age far more than the hallowed U.S. Constitution that gets so much lip-service.  The U.S. signed the Declaration and purports to be the world’s leader in everything, including human (although political leaders much prefer to say “democratic”) rights.  Well, Pittsburgh and its surrounding counties and municipalities are part of the U.S. and therefore subject to all relevant international treaties and agreements.  Just as activists in North Carolina and Georgia are loudly alerting the world to the doings of the homophobic idiots who are in power in those states, we Pittsburghers have to alert the world to the naked inequality that scars our region.

Pittsburgh’s African-American population doesn’t need to be “civilized” in order to enjoy a slice of the pie.  We were born into the human family and, according to the United Nations, that is more than enough. We need opportunity.  Perhaps the word that those fixated on our culture are looking for is “assimilate.” That has been the goal of most African Americans since slavery days, but we can only do so if we are let in.   Black people are plenty civilized and have contributed mightily to this nation, in spite of all the obstacles.  Give us the chance to do more.

(Sources include the aforementioned “Bridges and Barriers,” funded by The Heinz Endowments; “Pittsburgh’s Racial Demographics 2015: Differences and Disparities,” published by the University of Pittsburgh Center on Race and Social Problems; and “The Pittsburgh Regional Quality of Life Survey,which can found at the PittsburghTODAY website.  The various sources defined Greater Pittsburgh variously, from just the city and Allegheny County, to a metro area comprising Allegheny and seven other counties, to the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which includes 25 counties in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and Ohio that surround Pittsburgh.)


— James Collins




Hope for the “Other” Pittsburgh


As much as Pittsburgh’s movers-and-shakers would like you to believe that the city is the “most liveable,” as much as our elites rally around the authoritative words of upper-middle-class visiting travel editors and life-style writers, the truth is that Pittsburgh is far from the urban showcase that many pretend.

Like Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, Pittsburgh is two cities: a glitzy urban playground with luxury housing, a burgeoning restaurant scene, abundant bike lanes, and the other amenities of the urban gentry. Standing below or apart from this superstructure of leisure and consumption is a largely silent and nearly entirely neglected majority of poor, low and modest income workers, unemployed, underemployed, fixed income retirees, and otherwise disadvantaged citizens. For Pittsburgh’s leaders, those not participating in the city’s revival represent the losers from a bygone era of manufacturing and mining, a time when Pittsburgh stood as a centerpiece of US industry. Those leaders have put that period behind them; and they would like to put the people behind them as well.

For local politicians, for foundation heads, and for corporate leaders, the way ahead is to keep the majority mollified and out of sight while courting a new urban elite. And thanks to the compliant local media, they are largely successful.

But the facts are inescapable.

Pittsburgh is an aging city with little or no population growth. The county rivals the retirement destinations like Dade County in average age and it’s getting older. One estimate places the county’s working population 55 and older at 23.8% of the work force. Those workers will retire and age the population even more. Civic leaders are not attending to that fact.

Despite the fervent efforts of numerous agencies, the population of the region has been stagnant. Diversifying the region and invigorating the economy through population growth has been proven a failure with no reasonable promise of success going forward. Civic leaders are not attending to that fact.

Incomes for most county residents are on the decline. According to a report from the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board (TRWIB) cited in the Post-Gazette, average income of the bottom 99% fell by 4% between 2001 and 2012. The average county income fell to $41,876 in 2012 (roughly $20/hour). Those making $20/hour or less account for 57.5% of the workforce, a figure classified as “low wage, low skilled” according to Vera Krofcheck, chief strategy officer for TRWIB. She adds that Allegheny County consistently has a higher density of low wage jobs than its peer regions. Moreover, they are concentrated in the under $15.00/hour range with 34.43% of the work force earning between $8 and $15/hour.

The fact that UPMC will agree to take its 62,000 employees to this threshold by 2021 hardly inspires a celebration of “livability.” Civic leaders are not attending to these facts.

It takes little imagination to recognize that the life opportunities for most Pittsburghers are limited– home ownership or rent, reliable transportation, adequate health insurance, higher education, and even modest amenities are barely in reach without multiple jobs or significant indebtedness for 60% of the population saddled with “low wage” employment. Civic leaders are not attending to this fact.

As they have in the past, our elites continue to find resources to fuel the uber-city, the entertainment and cultural playgrounds, the hip amenities, and upper-middle-class oases secure from the urban underclasses. But the needs of the many, the long suffering residents of the diverse residential neighborhoods, go unattended. The streets go unpaved, the playgrounds deteriorate and go unsupervised, the homeless struggle, the mentally ill are criminalized, the schools are underfunded, and a laundry list of other urgent needs are simply ignored. Nothing underscores the obscene misplacement of priorities like the naked fact that Pittsburgh is spawning 10,000 new accommodations at a time when the authorities acknowledge a 21,000 shortfall of so-called affordable housing. Estimates are that a mere 3% of the 10,000 are “affordable” — the rest are market-rate (luxury).

Of course the market has yet to speak on the rationality of the frenzied luxury build out. Smart money says that it will fizzle.

When pressed on strengthening the neighborhoods– public sector jobs, day care centers, youth activity and job training facilities, mental health and senior services, etc.– our leaders plead poverty and preach austerity. When 40% of the property in Pittsburgh goes untaxed largely from non-profit tax exemption, when private projects are excused from tax liabilities, and when new revenues are generated through consumption and flat taxes that overly burden low and moderate income people, it is difficult to challenge the austerity hawks. While the leaders manage to generously offer tax abatement and infrastructure support for developers’ needs, they are remarkably tight-fisted when it comes to the peoples’ needs.

We undoubtedly need a peoples’ agenda to shift priorities from the unfettered courtship of the “New Pittsburgh” to the neighborhoods and the majority of people who populate them. But even more we desperately need people determined to wrest civic leadership from the institutional Democratic Party, the governmental bureaucracies, the university technocrats, and the corporate and foundation leaders who have brought us to this unhappy moment. Well intentioned people in and outside of this nexus who believe that cooperation and dialogue solely within these circles will produce adequate change are living in fantasy land. Officialese, spoken with expressions of sincerity and sobriety, mask the inertia of those personally shielded from the harsh realities of inequality, poverty, and insecurity.

Its going to take all of us…”, “There are a lot of good people working on a lot of fronts…” “Hopefully, we’re going to see some innovative activity…”, “…we’re working every day to find the solutions we so desperately need”, “We need data sources to make informed public policy decisions”, “…the future of our city depends on figuring out ways to solve these problems”, “What’s the best way for the New Pittsburgh?”, “Now we are asking ourselves if in the next several decades we can produce a city that is equitable and livable.”

This is just a sample of the vacuous, uninspiring comments of several prominent leaders participating in a recent internet forum concerning one of the city’s more acute problems. There are no solutions here, only soothing balm for those neglected. If we settle for words and promises from the mis-leaders, we will have only the mis-leaders, their words, and their promises a decade from now.

Our local politicians proudly describe themselves as “progressives,” a term that fell into common usage when the Clintonites and their supporters ran away from the term “liberal” decades ago. I thought of them when I read a recent Harpers article written by Thomas Frank (Nor A Lender Be, April, 2016). He sought words to capture the feeble, self-serving poverty road-shows sponsored by the Clinton Foundation:

This is modern liberalism in action: an unregulated virtue exchange in which representatives of one class of humanity ritually forgive the sins of another class, all of it convened and facilitated by a vast army of well-credentialed American technocrats, while the objects of their high and noble compassion sink slowly back into a preindustrial state.

I believe this aptly describes the local task forces, forums, study groups, and other exhibitions of hand-wringing and earnestness that leave the challenges that face most Pittsburghers untouched. We must push these mis-leaders aside or replace them if we ever hope to reconfigure our priorities.

–Greg Godels

Invisible People

It would be convenient to place the blame for the widening gap between the two Pittsburghs—one affluent and filled with possibilities, the other economically distressed and neglected– at Mayor Peduto’s doorstep. Certainly, he and other civic leaders have shown little, but belated interest in addressing the issue.

But to be fair, Pittsburgh’s growing class and race divide is characteristic of cities across the US. And the indifference by elites traces back many generations.

Prior to World War II, living patterns were dictated in cities like Pittsburgh by the needs of local industry. The hills, valleys, and rivers of Pittsburgh shaped neighborhoods which took on ethnic and class character as workers migrated to the area for jobs in mines, mills, and shops. Typical of most cities, the process of urbanization was anarchic, chaotic, and unplanned. In this regard, Pittsburgh followed the path of industrial cities throughout the world since the dawn of the industrial age.

But the unique topology of Pittsburgh—suited perfectly for the metals industry—coupled with the patchwork, unstructured evolution of working class and poor neighborhoods fostered the impression that Pittsburgh was a depressed, dirty city—an impression that local leaders were anxious to remediate.

The post-war wave of so-called “urban renewal” projects fit perfectly with the desire of Pittsburgh’s industrial magnates to sweep the image of poverty, neglect, and racism under the rug of urban engineering. It was no wonder that Pittsburgh’s leading lights were among the first to embrace the urban renewal strategy in the early 1950s, reshaping the downtown and lower Hill districts by forcibly removing the pockets of poverty and working class life from the city’s center.

Like the national urban renewal policy, the local version hid the ugliness of the policy behind high-sounding slogans: “clearing slums” and “removing blight.” But “slums” was simply a nineteenth century code-word for low-income, impoverished neighborhoods.

In Pittsburgh, as in many other cities, “slum clearance” or eliminating “blight” was eye wash for dealing with the neglected human by-products of industrial capitalism; like industrial slag, the unemployed, dark-skinned, and low income workers were to be hidden from sight. The consequences of mass displacement were met with civic indifference, proving that renewal was little more than urban cosmetics.

A New Round of Urban Surgery

When the industrial corporations abruptly decided to pull up stakes in the early eighties, Pittsburgh was faced with another human crisis: tens of thousands of families that had– only over the last few decades– enjoyed a reasonably high standard of living from the steel and related industries were left without employment.

Faced with this tragedy, and no doubt speaking for the local elites, then-Mayor Caliguiri offered the succinct advice: leave! We memorialize his role with a statue at the entrance to the City-County building.

Accordingly, the population shrunk, creating under-utilization of costly city services and under-occupancy of existing housing stocks. At the same time, local authorities embarked on an expensive, further aggrandizement of the downtown skyline—a tribute to the “vision” of elites, an insult to the neglected neighborhoods.

Where Renaissance I funneled public funds to private contractors for public projects, the newer mini-Renaissance adopted a fresh strategy: Public funds funneled to private developers for private projects. Like earlier word games, the self-important term “Public Private Partnerships” or, charmingly, “P3” was invented to mask the bleeding of the public for projects that the market place had determined to be too risky for private investment.

This strategy came to a zenith in the Murphy administration with expenditures of as much as four billion dollars on hare-brained schemes in pursuit of an ever-changing vision for the region. The target changed impulsively: attract suburbanites to shop downtown (retail), lure suburbanites to reside downtown (condos and apartments), support the meds/eds industry (infrastructure/amenities), and attract the “creative class” (bike trails, restaurants…), etc. What all of the Murphy goals had in common was an unspoken desire to serve a new community rather than meet the needs of the existing population and its neighborhoods.

Ironically, Murphy campaigned on a pledge to serve the neighborhoods. In fact, his first official act was to take his staff on a road show to every neighborhood in the city. But very quickly his head was turned by a host of consultants and “experts” (like Richard Florida and the Urban Land Institute).

To a great extent, the Peduto administration has only continued the Murphy legacy. Having landed a big corporate fish in Google, Peduto and his minions have simply thrown resources at the private sector parasites who seek to attach to the big fish. With no foresight or control over the ensuing feeding frenzy, East Liberty has been purged of its existing community and transformed into a Google playground.

Speaking with Forked Tongue

Characteristic of the entire urban engineering project is a willful, crafty distortion of goals and realities by adopting arcane, innocuous or euphemistic words or phrases to mask or confuse. “Urban Renewal,” “Urban Redevelopment,” and “Public-Private Partnerships” are examples of terms that are cover for far more unfriendly and destructive ideas than the words suggest. They disguise urban strategies that not only put private interests ahead of the public, but serve to evade any serious solution to urgent urban issues.

The embarrassing reality hidden behind the curtain of technocratic jargon is the harsh face of poverty, a façade unwelcome in the “new” Pittsburgh. Since the dawn of commercial and industrial cities, poor people have been produced and reproduced by the chaos of commerce and industry. A workforce necessarily crammed into areas contiguous to large-scale industry and subjected to the ever-changing whims of the market place necessarily generates unstable employment, uncertainty, and, of course, poverty. At least in earlier times, officialdom tried to find crude solutions: the poor laws, outdoor relief, even workhouses. But today’s public officials replace solutions with neglect—force the poor out of sight. ‘Disappear’ them.

It is this outrage that makes the interminable debates over the unfortunate term “affordable housing” so disgusting. By couching the gentrification issue in terms of the weasel-word “affordable,” the powers-that-be escape the responsibility for providing housing for low-income and poor people. Arguments over the appropriate percentage of median income within an arbitrary area as the determinate of “affordability” is sheer casuistry, arguing over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. They only delay a discussion of how public policy can be crafted to include everyone, including the poor and the ever-growing low-income population.

Waves of poverty still wash over a neglected population devastated by de-industrialization and the loss of decent paying jobs.

The hypocrisy of the “affordable housing” shell game was recently brought home when Peduto’s administration structured a $20 million deal to keep McCormack Baron from throwing 143 existing units of Crawford Square “affordable housing” onto the open market. McCormack Baron is the designated developer for the affordable housing promised for the lower Hill site vacated by the Civic Arena. Maybe the next mayor can keep them in the affordable housing game with another subsidy.

A recent Post-Gazette article underlines the lengths that the media and elite opinion go to avoid facing the harsh realities of urban poverty. Supplied to the P-G by PublicSource, a news service heavily endowed by local foundations (their most prominent crusade was against excessive overtime by public employees; they haven’t gotten around to the bloated salaries of foundation heads, non-profit officials, or corporate leaders!), the article (City marked with pockets of violence, 1-24-16) highlights the incongruity of affluent neighborhoods abutting “pockets of violence.” While the article concedes that racially segregated neighborhoods are visited by income, employment, and housing disadvantage, it devotes only a few short paragraphs to these factors in a commentary occupying nearly three-quarters of a page of newsprint.

Rather than exposing the cancer of racism and the inequality-breeding dynamics of discrimination, the author casts a shadow of fear and the taint of mindless violence over an entire (racially defined) community. To one unfamiliar with any predominately African-American community, a picture solely of foreboding violence is drawn.

Of course violence is tragic. But when it increases in a community, it is invariably a product of increasing poverty, persistent unemployment, and the resulting hopelessness; it has been so since the industrial revolution in every country and with every ethnic group. With very few exceptions, it is the inevitable consequence of inequality and civic neglect—correctable conditions, should the will to correct be present.

Of course this point is lost when attention is drawn primarily to the violence plaguing a neighborhood, as though wishing it away would be the answer.

But PublicSource, the Post-Gazette, the rest of the commercial media, and their sponsors, advertisers and directors are afraid to face the actual causes of urban street violence. To do so, they would have to acknowledge more than the symptoms of urban problems. They would have to acknowledge the persistent violence of indifference, neglect, and racism.

Until we have that conversation, the gap between the two Pittsburghs will only widen further.

–Greg Godels