And I’ll probably be called racist for writing this. I can live with that. I know who I am. I know what I’ve done, my politics, and what I believe. So do my friends and family. And those that will throw insults? You don’t know a damned thing about me.
I’m offended by this article in today’s Boston Globe by Renée Graham: Yes, Boston, you are racist. Michael Che said that Boston is the most racist city he’s ever been to. I don’t know what that means. Perhaps he hasn’t travelled much. Perhaps it means he was disrespected based on his race more times in Boston than had happened in any other city he’s visited. Or perhaps he’s just carrying on a stereotype that has persisted for a long time. Yes Renée Graham and Michael Che, we have problems in Boston. Perhaps bigger problems than other places around the country. But your labeling Boston this way is not much different than saying “All blacks are…”.
So what is the history of Boston? Yeah, we called ourselves the “cradle of liberty”. And yes, the history is that Boston’s elite stood against slavery before many others did, all the while saying that I don’t want “them” in my house. It’s a mixed history. Yes, the busing thing is embarrassing. It’s disgusting what Tom Yawkey did. All ugly. I think we can agree on that. But we also need to deal with other things.
“the dismal findings of a 2015 Boston University study that showed that residents in the predominately white Back Bay have a life expectancy of 90 years; in Roxbury, a few miles away, with a large black population, that expectancy drops to 59 years.” This sounds so simple. But is it? Compare the homicide rates in the two communities. Black on black violence, when a 19 year old kills a 15 year old, has a big impact on the life expectancy of a community. Facts are simple, the truth is not. There is more in the article that is not as simple as it’s offered to be. But I’m not here to debate each “fact”.
The simple truth is that your words generate headlines, get you attention, but they don’t reflect the world around us. You can do “whitesplaining” for me. Let me do some “blacksplaining” for you. I’m a white man. Yes, I have no idea what it is like to be a black person, an African American, in this country. I can only have a little idea from what I read and hear. But it’s not the world I know, grew up int. I don’t know the fear that Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown may have lived with. I can hear the words of Barack Obama when he said that Trayvon could have been him, could have been his son, but I don’t live with that world. And I don’t know the discrimination directed at women, the barriers they also face. I can listen, learn, but they are not the facts I face in my life. But I do know this:
My white sister has a “Black Lives Matter” sign posted on her lawn. She lives just outside of Boston. My white cousin posted a while ago on Facebook that he wondered if there was a police conspiracy to kill black men. His concerns were based on current events, but if you look at what the Chicago police and J. Edgar Hoover did to Fred Hampton in Chicago then you might see a historical trend that continues.
But here is the reality: when you say “Boston is racist” you label all of us, regardless of where we stand, what we do. They are more than just words of division, of separation, and they offends some of us. Some will just wave it off, say yeah, she’s right. Others, on the margins, will walk from the fight. But at the end of the day, if you said “lots of racist things happen in Boston” I could agree. But I can’t stand by when you just offer words to further divide rather than to heal.