The line between news and opinion has become increasingly blurred. People don’t know who to trust or to believe anymore.
In the interest of creating greater transparency, Inquirer editors decided to move my column from the news section to its new home in the editorial and op-ed pages. It will now appear on the same pages as Inquirer columnists Will Bunch, Trudy Rubin, Helen Ubiñas, and Solomon Jones. Not much else will change, though. I’ll still write columns twice weekly. Digital readers probably won’t notice any changes except that I’ll sometimes be opining more about national topics. I’ll also collaborate with the Editorial Board, contributing my insights and perspectives to its positions on important issues of the day in editorials that serve as the voice of The Inquirer.
I’m here for it.
I frequently get emails accusing me of being biased or of inserting my opinion into what I write, though that’s exactly the job I’m supposed to do. Hopefully appearing on the op-ed pages will help readers understand that columnists not only report the news but also share their perspective on it.
If you’ve followed my work in the past, you know that I weigh in on a little bit of everything — social justice, crime, politics, and the lives of people who live in this great city. I promise to keep doing that.
As 2022 begins, I will be paying close attention to voting rights, both on the state and federal levels. I’ve got my eye on what’s happening concerning the passage of all-important voting rights legislation currently before Congress, as well as what’s happening in GOP-led state legislatures where Republicans are trying to erect barriers to limit ballot access. What they’re attempting is a back-alley assault on Americans’ right to vote. Pennsylvania Republicans, who control the statehouse, have vowed to continue passing various election bills to suppress the vote.
I’m also deeply concerned about the upcoming midterm elections and the possibility that Republicans may seize control of Congress and what that will mean; also, Pennsylvania has major Senate and gubernatorial races looming.
Closer to home, I’ll be watching Mayor Jim Kenney, City Council, and our other civic leaders. I’ve been unimpressed over the last year with their hand-wringing over the city’s gun violence crisis and other civic issues. It’s wrong that they get to collect hefty paychecks and sit by while hardworking taxpayers dodge bullets and potholes. In the year ahead, I plan to focus more on the state of our underfunded local schools and explore ways Philly can push back against its ongoing gun violence crisis.
I don’t care how much pushback I get: I’ll continue harping on the need for people to be vaccinated, especially after learning earlier this week that, on Monday, Philly’s own Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium tested nearly 800 people and reported a startling 45% positivity rate, according to Ala Stanford, the group’s founder. As of earlier this week, Pennsylvania was reporting a positivity rate of 29.2%, according to Spotlight PA.
I’m going to try really hard not to be a steady source of gloom and doom. Lots of things interest me. So, while I want to use this platform to hold the powerful to account and to spotlight those who most need our support, I intend to mix things up.
Some of my best-received columns of 2021 were the ones that didn’t focus on what went wrong, but on what went right. Yes, I will continue to insist that that new target shooting arcade with realistic toy assault rifles in the Fashion District has got to go. But even during these grim, difficult days dealing with COVID-19 and unrelenting gun violence in Philadelphia, there are bright spots of light that make us hopeful of a better tomorrow. People need to know about them. I look forward to focusing on more upbeat topics in the months ahead, and maybe even try and have some fun for a change. I’ve been thinking of weighing in on the Sex and the City reboot, if I ever make it past that dreadful first episode of And Just Like That... . Nothing’s off-limits.
One of the things I enjoy most about this job is getting to know people like you and hearing your stories. If you have one you’d like to share, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re not going to always agree. My hope is that we can at least be civil about it. Some of you come at me pretty hard sometimes. But I get it. You’re passionate about this region and want the best for it. I’ll respond to as many emails as I can.
We are barely into 2022 and it already looks as if we’re in for quite a ride. I’m ready for it. Let’s go.