The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Saturday, February 21, 2004  

I Don’t See Any Here

You all know I hate my landlord, and that I detest its sometimes-big-haired agent, “Miss Thing,” even more.

She friggin’ tried to take me to court for crying out loud. Given that experience -- favorably resolved thanks, again, to Lionel Artom-Ginzburg -- I do not entertain happily, by any means, the notion of going to court with her/them again.

Nonetheless, it struck me this week that I cannot recall ever having seen a black tenant, African-American or otherwise, in this rather large apartment building. And I’ve been living here for 18 months. And it’s a high-turnover building.

Now, the population of the city of Philadelphia is more than half black. One would think, I think, that a building like this one, in the heart of Center City, even one that describes itself as “upscale” and “contemporary,” which some prospective tenants might read as code words, would have at least a few apartments set aside, apartheid-like, for non-white residents.

I admit, I haven’t scoured the tenant list, one I’m sure Miss Thing would be reluctant to provide me, but still, I’m a pretty observant guy, and I’ve spent my tenure here working at home, meaning I’m around a lot, and almost everyone I see coming in and out of the building, except for the doorpeople (not the maintenance staff, who are uniformly white or Hispanic/Latino), the stray home-healthcare worker, and the occasional delivery person, is not black. The tenants are, presumably, and overwhelmingly, Europeans or European-Americans, along with a smattering of Asians or Asian-Americans.

Seems a little odd.

More odd because the other day I overheard one of the (black) doorpeople/security guards almost actively discouraging a black man from securing contact with the rental agent.

Hey, what you public interest attorneys in Philadelphia do with all this is entirely up to you.

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