Friday, January 8, 2010

Forget "That Identity Thing"

Can we please, for one moment, stop talking about race?
I'm not referring to our endless symposiums on discrimination, affirmative action and whether our biracial president is actually post-racial. We'll never be finished with those.
But could we, possibly, dial back on noting how remarkable it is that we're the first city in Pennsylvania to have an African-American district attorney? Or that, for the first time in the history of Philadelphia, the three most important people happen to be "of color": Mayor Nutter, Police Commissioner Ramsey and, now, D.A. Seth Williams?
This is not to detract from Williams' sterling attributes. Quite the opposite. The man's race is in many ways the least remarkable thing about him.
Given up at birth by his unwed mother, raised in West Philly by loving adoptive parents, Seth Williams graduated from Penn State and got a law degree from prestigious Georgetown. He worked in the D.A.'s office for a long stretch, distinguishing himself in a variety of positions and even took a shot at the big corner office in 2005. (He lost, but patience apparently pays off.)
So there are many things to admire about Williams, but maybe the fact that he's black should be at the bottom of that list. I felt the same way when one of my personal heros, Lynne Abraham, became D.A. two decades ago. The fact that we shared those X chromosomes meant absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things.
To read the rest of Christine Flowers' column from the Philadelphia Daily News click here.

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