From the Editor: Down with the Brown

I’m realizing only now, as I write this at 7:29 on a Tuesday night, how nearsighted and one-dimensional this issue is that we have been planning for about a month or so.It’s Black History Month, and the original goal was…

I’m realizing only now, as I write this at 7:29 on a Tuesday night, how nearsighted and one-dimensional this issue is that we have been planning for about a month or so.

It’s Black History Month, and the original goal was to highlight Philadelphia’s booming and vibrant African-American businesses, entrepreneurs and startups. I mean, this city is overflowing with great local Black businesses, so highlight them, right? I think we did a good job of that in this issue, which begins on page 6.

We found companies that just started out, companies that are thriving within their niche and ones that learned from their mistakes. Not every story is a success story, because not everything needs to have a happy ending to make for a good tale.

However, I’m looking at this from a very narrow-minded perspective, one that I now think is too easy of a path to follow. We need to look at this from a Black and Brown perspective. Instead of highlighting the month for celebrating a certain people, we need to celebrate a culture, a work ethic and a desire to grow Philadelphia’s business community into a melting pot equal to her population.

The night before I penned this column, at right around the same time, I had dinner at a new Mexican restaurant called Nemi, in Port Richmond. The restaurant has only been open about two months according to my waitress, and it was the poster child of a business that we should’ve highlighted for this issue: renowned restaurant chef from Philadelphia opens his own spot, featuring authentic Mexican cuisine.

Only listening to bits and pieces of what my server told me about the establishment, I wished I had been there a month earlier. Perhaps I would’ve been more inspired to change our uniformed ways prior to 48 hours before the close of this issue. But it did make me think. Sure, this is Black History Month, but the efforts of both Black and Brown Philadelphians are equally as notable. The struggle is its own in uniformity. There’s no need to get into it, it just is.

If I’m fortunate enough to remain as editor this time next year, the goal will be to highlight businesses like Nemi alongside businesses like Marsh + Mane (page 7), Black and Nobel (page 8) and Duke & Winston, the ultimate in redemption stories I hope you flip to on page 12. There’s something really great about celebrating cultures of all types. The more and more (and more) I’ve been thinking about it, I just don’t believe we need to single out a specific color, just because society says we should.

Make no mistake, I’m all for celebrating the rich history of my Black people. I think that many of us have transcended the labels and boxes and evolved into true success stories that can serve as inspiration for the next ones that look like us. But the same can be said of my Latino family, my Asian family, my Indian family, even my White people that are descendants of Black and Brown cultures.  

Have you ever seen or do you know a Jamaican “coolie?”

If so, you get my point.

My point, labels are dumb. But if we have to use them, why not stretch the ribbon to fit the culture and not color? It’s something I realized too late for this issue, but I’m going to do what I can to ensure we, at Philly Weekly, don’t make the same mistake twice moving forward.

With that said, do you know a Black and/or Brown business we should highlight? Drop us a line at mail@philadelphiaweekly.com and tell us all about it. Like this issue? Hate this issue? Tell me why at kgabriel@philadelphiaweekly.com.

Until next week, Philly.

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  • Kerith Gabriel's Headshot

    Kerith Gabriel is the editor-in-chief at Philadelphia Weekly but somehow hasn’t figured out that means he doesn’t have to write nearly as much. Journalism has been in his blood since his beginnings as a sports writer over a decade ago for the Philadelphia Daily News.