Cat Specter: Good girls don’t challenge racism

I’m not a fan of Catherine Specter’s alleged advice column in the Post-Gazette.  In fact, I’m secretly convinced she was planted by the Mellon-Scaife contingent to subtly shift PG readers back to “when men were men and girls were girls.”  Her advice has mostly been ridiculous and demeaning.

Today, however, she took herself to a new low endorsing silence in the face of overt racism for the sake of self-preservation.  The question stemmed from a renter whose landlord made racist comments about other (african American) tenants.  Her question:

Question:  DEAR CAT: I was casually talking to my landlord, and she started complaining about other tenants who are African-American. Those tenants and I are neighbors, so I kept my mouth shut even when she used the “n” word. They’ve always seemed like nice people even though they’ve had a few problems with her.I don’t feel right paying money to someone with those values, but I have a lease. Can you put my mind at ease until I can move out?

Cat’s Response: Of course you kept your mouth shut; otherwise next week you’d have no heat. It seems callous, but there’s a reason people separate business from personal matters. Look, for all you know your dry cleaner is a bigot, but he presses a shirt like nobody’s business. Would you still go there if you knew? No, but only because you have the choice. You don’t have that option when you’re bound by a lease.

Cat’s Call: Stay cool, remain friendly with your neighbors, and hightail it outta there when you get the chance.


Apparently, Catty was too busy applying lip gloss to pay attention in history class.  Because guess what?  Silence is complicit endorsement.  This reader wants to feel better for not speaking out against injustice and racism.  She doesn’t get a pass from me or any other reasonable person.

Guess what Catty?  There are LAWS to protect people from racist landlords.  Including retaliation by turning off your heat.  There are resources right here in Pittsburgh that your reader could call if she felt the need … Fair Housing Partnership which enforces fair housing laws is a good place to start.  So your argument for self-preservation is complete crap.

Catty, this woman wanted to rationalize remaining silent in the face of racism. You had the opportunity to provide a thoughtful answer to educate people on how to respond to overt racism.  You blew it by minimizing the real issue.

In 2003, PG columnist  Tony Norman wrote this about Ms. Specter “She believes the burden of living a good life means acting generously, even when it’s against her best interests.”

I don’t see it.

Pgh Lesbian Correspondent’s Call:  Tony Norman’s sabbatical cannot end soon enough.



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