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Letters to the Editor

Northeast Philadelphia residents commend officers, reflect on summer and call to action against racism.

It’s time to take action

I grew up in a working-class Philadelphia neighborhood. I was taught the value of hard work and reaching for the “American Dream.” My own experience has not always been easy. Still, regardless of the hardships I have faced, the color of my skin has never been an obstacle or a barrier.

Evaluating the ways in which race affects our lives is part of my job as a public servant. It is difficult and personal, and I do not always do it perfectly. As a white man, I have privileges I do not always see. But I am committed to this work because as an American, a Philadelphian, a father and a public servant, black and brown lives matter to me as much as white lives.

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Racism is a destructive force that daily divides communities and creates unequal privileges. Sometimes, racism is easy to identify and condemn, like the violent racial hatred witnessed in Charlottesville. However, racism doesn’t always wear a white hood. It is often more subtle, systemic and unconscious, but just as damaging and dangerous. Conversations about race and racism are difficult because they force us to confront who we are, what we believe, and how and when we choose to act. The ways we address (or, more often, distort or ignore) racism cause many people of color to live in fear that their lives will not be valued. We must show — through our words and our actions — that we value the lives of all Philadelphians, even if they don’t look, pray or speak like us.

Here is how I plan to take action. First, I will engage community leaders in our district to develop a strategy to dismantle overt and subtle racism. Second, I will work more closely with communities of color to ensure that my work and the work of our community organizations better represents the diversity of our neighborhoods. Third, I will support efforts to establish trust between police officers and all members of the community. Our police officers should be supported to protect and serve our community. In order for that to happen, all residents must feel that they are being treated justly.

It’s time to demonstrate courage and unity by righting the blatant and systemic wrongs of racism. In doing so, we will be a stronger Philadelphia. If you have other ideas or want to work productively with me, I welcome your feedback and engagement.

Bobby Henon

City Councilman, 6th District

Great work by 7th district

Sometimes, we need to take a closer look at events to understand the risks police officers encounter serving the community. I found myself calling upon our 7th district officers and it made me wonder what it must be like to be in their shoes.

A rarely used door at our house was not properly locked. At work, I received a call from the security company that an intrusion alert was sent. I called my wife at home with no response and then her mobile. Thankfully, she was at the veterinarian and I told her what happened and that the police would be on their way. When she arrived home (5–10 minutes), an officer was already there inspecting the house.

They noticed the rarely used door was open, most likely the wind pushed it open. The officers told her to stay outside. They went into the house, and all was OK. They were very professional and courteous to my wife. But it made me think about how an officer goes into a building not knowing the layout and what they may encounter inside. They take a great risk especially in today’s world. It gave me a better appreciation of the work that the police do, and I am even more thankful and respectful of their actions.

A big thanks to the men and women in blue.

Stan Sienkiewicz

Bustleton

Summer in the Northeast

I had a fine summer. Each week, I went to the Northeast Regional Library for a “Sampling of World Literature,” a book club led by Keith Kessler, humanities librarian, a friendly, helpful, fun and generous person. It’s a no-stress group where films are shown and conversation flows easily. Each can have a taste, a nibble or a meal at the smorgasbord of literature, whichever suits you. I always came away enriched.

After exercising the mind, there is Max Myers pool, where I could swim every day, weather and body permitting. A beautiful, clean Olympic-size pool with a session set aside for adult swim. The lifeguards are young, friendly, competent and bright. I can even talk about world literature with them. I go home refreshed and energized.

Thank you all.

Diane Kenion

Castor Gardens

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