Yes We Can
What do we do when our lives are in turmoil? How do we respond when a pandemic is racing through our region? Are we listening when members of our Black community tell us that change is not only needed but also long overdue? Can we find the resources to support our neighbors who are suffering through a financial crisis?
As Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine, it pains me to see the city I love struggling. I ask myself as a citizen and journalist if I have done enough to keep myself and the people around me safe, to share the stories of Black Pittsburghers and to help my neighbors as I worry about my own economic well being.
This combined July and August edition of the magazine is unprecedented, as so many things have been since March. It was produced under the difficult circumstances most of us are facing and that is why I am so proud of the work in this issue.
There are changes to the way we are presenting the expanded Best of the ’Burgh Readers’ Poll results. To acknowledge that excellence amid adversity takes on extra significance, we are profiling a winner in each of the seven categories of the poll. I spoke to Elissa Weimer-Sentner and her husband Steve Senter, who run Paw and Order Dog Training, winner of Best Pet Service. It was fun getting to know them and sharing their story. At the end of an interview, I like to thank people for the time they took out of their day to talk to me. While I did that with Elissa and Steve, I should have also thanked them for lifting my spirits. Their determination to make their business not only survive but thrive during the pandemic is inspiring.
That same can-do attitude is evident in each of the Best of the ’Burgh stories, whether they are a Readers’ Poll winner or one of the editors’ picks. None of them would say that things have been easy, but none of them are going down without a fight either. I urge you to support them all in any way you can.
I also want to thank Ervin Dyer for his story about Brown Mamas, which lifts up the voices of Black women who have faced persistent discrimination in Pittsburgh. A report written by University of Pittsburgh researchers found that compared to those in similar cities, Black women here face higher rates of maternal mortality and poverty along with lower rates of employment and college readiness.
The women Ervin spoke with share how they have lived with that inequality every day. Hearing their stories is a window into understanding why so many people have taken to the streets to demonstrate for social and economic justice here and around the world. As I grapple with the problems we face today — financial, medical and racial — I take hope from the resilience and determination that the people in the pages of this issue demonstrate.