Red Sox release statement about multiple incidents of racism at Fenway Park

brs3

sings praises of pinstripes
SoSH Member
May 20, 2008
4,944
Jackson Heights, NYC
I appreciate the Red Sox efforts, and this might empower me to act when I see or hear something in the stands.

This reminds me of people's reactions to Gillette's ad about toxic masculinity, which was meant to empower(imo) men to take a stand against other men to stop perpetuating an unhealthy social norm. The Red Sox(and all other companies/brands) are empowering their white employees, fans, patrons, to join them in rooting out racism. There are probably 7 racist comments per game that are within earshot of someone who would be rightfully offended by it. If you've never heard a single one, you are probably not listening to the crowd around you. I'm not saying every section has a racist, but I am saying someone's definition of a racist comment wildly varies, especially if it's uttered by someone the person knows. Everybody knows someone who drops slurs but wouldn't consider that person racist. Maybe it's the G word for Italians, or W word for someone from Mexico.

Maybe using G word or W word instead of the actual words bothers people, and that's part of the problem. I think people who say we're all becoming 'too sensitive' or 'so politically correct' or 'everybody is offended' are the people who will be having a reckoning like they've had nightmares about. Calling someone a snowflake for thinking you shouldn't use certain words is projection by people who are themselves offended by being told to change their ways. Takes a snowflake to know a snowflake. We're all snowflakes when confronted with our own personal beliefs. It is time for people who are sensitive about being asked to stop using certain words and start thinking more about how they look at others. The ingrained racism exists for many people who don't think they have it.

Now more than ever is the time to face our own racism and that of others that perhaps weren't even considered. The Red Sox statement echoes this, and even if it's the simplest thing without concrete plans to enforce, it means fans are empowered to act.

I have unconscious racism that I am constantly challenging every day, and by pointing it out in others, maybe they'll start challenging themselves, too.
 

Savin Hillbilly

loves the secret sauce
SoSH Member
Jul 10, 2007
18,781
The wrong side of the bridge....
I don't have an enormous amount of data on me to back this up, but a part of this is because Boston did not experience the Great Migration the way other major cities, such as Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, etc. Outside of a few neighborhoods, like Roxbury and West Medford, there were not an enormous amount of black residents in Great Boston until relatively recently. When I graduated from Waltham High School in 2012, the school had a decent amount of black students, but nearly every single one of them was either an immigrant or the child of an immigrant, usually from Haiti or Africa.

Since there are less black families in Greater Boston that have long roots in the area or in the USA, there is naturally going to be fewer things like black owned businesses and black professionals, which I think hurts the feeling of inclusiveness in the city. It would also explain why you don't see many black faces at Red Sox or Patriots games; immigrants or first generation Americans are less likely to be big local sports fans, they have their own sports and fandoms that might not be the same as a fourth-generation Red Sox fan.
Assuming you're right that Boston was not as much of a factor in the Great Migration as other northern cities, isn't it also true that Boston had a fairly sizable and long-standing pre-Migration black community?

Is there a good history of African Americans in Boston out there? Googling, I find one book by Robert C. Hayden, published in 1991. Does anyone know if it's good? This is a topic I should learn more about.
 

jodyreeddudley78

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 22, 2007
1,834
orange county NY
I think the problem in Boston is that racism goes beyond the systemic problems that exist throughout the country. I suppose there would be a problem in NYC if the Yankees put a message up on their billboard, although the organization did release an official BLM statement a couple of days ago. But I can also promise you that you can't just yell out certain words in Yankee Stadium and expect to get away with it. The demographics alone wouldn't allow it. The fact that someone is comfortable enough doing exactly that in Fenway indicates... something. I have zero doubt that Fenway is unique in this aspect, but it certainly seems to be routinely called out by opposing players and fans.
 

bsj

Renegade Crazed Genius
SoSH Member
Dec 6, 2003
19,239
Central NJ SoSH Chapter
Boston is uniquely racist, given its demographics and geography, yes. It's sort of like the politics of Staten Island, NY spread over an entire metro area.

I just had this discussion with my wife who is from there. Her Italian American family from Staten Island are mostly die hard racist Trump supporters. Boston has that but scattered throughout the metro and not isolated to Italians. Note...im not saying "majority" but a very significant pocket.

The only thing that surprises me about the Sox statement is that they made it.
 
Last edited:

jon abbey

Shanghai Warrior
Dope
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
50,938

jodyreeddudley78

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 22, 2007
1,834
orange county NY
I hadn't read that yet. I would like to say I'm completely surprised, but I'm really not. I am surprised that it would come from left field with no problem from fans or staff.

And, keep in mind, I fucking hate the Yankees.
 

TonyPenaNeverJuiced

Member
SoSH Member
Jun 7, 2015
217
Jumping in for the statue discussion. First off, start here, with this 2018 article from WGBH: Yawkey Way Might Be No More, But Fenway Statues Still Lack Racial Diversity

Here are some brief ideas for statues.
  • Pumpsie Green (this should be obvious, and should include information on the Red Sox shameful history of being last to integrate)
  • Dave Roberts (while "the steal" itself it wonderful, I'd love to see a statue that captures the jumping-spin Roberts made after scoring the run - it's a beautiful image that only video really captures, but a creative sculptor could do something interesting with
  • George Scott (great early years ... ish ... were with Boston.)
  • Reggie Smith (similar to George Scott - maybe we can celebrate the African-American non-white players of the 1967 team with something)
  • Dave Henderson (the home run, come on)
  • Earl Wilson (first black pitcher for the Sox, the famous '62 no hitter)
  • Mo Vaughn (the anchor of the '95 team)
  • Ellis Burks (loved that he was back for the '04 team, an 18-year career that started and ended with the Sox)
Those are just some ideas for African-American players deserving of statutes. Expanding to non-white players, obviously people like Ortiz, Pedro, Tiant, and you could go on. And how about Al Green? A guest services employee for nearly 50-years, he was inducted into the team HoF in 2017. I can only imagine what he had to deal with from those crowds.
 

riboflav

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 20, 2006
7,831
NOVA
When talking to fans of other teams, it doesn't help that the Sox traded Mookie. Whether Mookie wanted out of Boston or the Sox weren't going to pay him top dollar, it certainly enhances the perception that we are a racist city in the eyes of those I know.
 

Kliq

Member
SoSH Member
Mar 31, 2013
12,792
Assuming you're right that Boston was not as much of a factor in the Great Migration as other northern cities, isn't it also true that Boston had a fairly sizable and long-standing pre-Migration black community?

Is there a good history of African Americans in Boston out there? Googling, I find one book by Robert C. Hayden, published in 1991. Does anyone know if it's good? This is a topic I should learn more about.
Not sure, but the Great Migration really played a major role in shifting the demographics of the US's black population from being basically contained in the South with a few pockets here and there, to there being numerous prominent black neighborhoods across the county. For sure you can go back and find prominent black figures from Massachusetts, like Crispus Attucks and W.E.B. DuBois, but not sure how few and far they are.

This Wikipedia article has some good information. In 1900, Massachusetts and Michigan had both 1 percent of their populations reported as African American. By 1970, Michigan had grown to 13 percent black population and Massachusetts to 4 percent. New York was also 1 percent in 1900 and grew to 14 percent in 1970. Ohio was 2.5 percent and grew to 10 percent Illinois was 1 percent and then 14 percent by 1970.

Today, 8 percent of the Mass. population is black, ranked 28th in the country. What is also interesting is that number has doubled since 1970, while the percentage of black residents in Michigan, New York, Ohio and Illinois have all remained basically the same. So Massachusetts is seeing later growth in the black population than other states, probably related to Massachusetts becoming a popular spot for Caribbean and African immigrants, as opposed to being a hotspot during the Great Migration. A similar demographic shift can be noted in Minnesota, which saw very little growth in African American population during the Great Migration, but has tripled it's percentage of black residents since 1970, in part because it has been a popular destination for East African immigrants.
 

LoweTek

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
May 30, 2005
1,684
Central Florida
I have always believed being a racist is a learned behavior, learned in the home. I was never taught to hate anyone in my lily white north of Boston suburban house. I remember being aware of an uncle on my mother's side was deeply racist. I always thought it made him look stupid. The only racist thing I can ever remember my mother uttering was regarding an Asian girl, several years older than me at the time. I said something to the effect of finding her very attractive. She said something like, "You better not ever bring one of those home..." I assume it was some kind of left over hate from WWII. Ironically, my keen attraction to Asian women became more intensified as a result. So I married an Asian woman 21 years ago. It must be genetic because my son inherited it. He married a woman from Korea five years ago. He said to me, "I got this from you... I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate it. You were right..."

There is no doubt there is racism in Boston. Hopefully, it's one day going to go away. Interestingly, I can recall vividly as a kid Reggie Smith and Joe Foy being my favorite players and thinking nothing of it. For me, racist language is like hearing gay slurs. It is a complete turn off, an exit the scene kind of turn off. Just another symptom of stupidity. It's really that simple: stupid (not a word I use lightly or very often).
 

jon abbey

Shanghai Warrior
Dope
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
50,938
When talking to fans of other teams, it doesn't help that the Sox traded Mookie. Whether Mookie wanted out of Boston or the Sox weren't going to pay him top dollar, it certainly enhances the perception that we are a racist city in the eyes of those I know.
Interestingly going into this past offseason, I heard/saw complaints from Dodgers fans who think their GM/organization favors white players currently, which I think is actually more of a reflection that they are much better at drafting than signing international players, but I don't really know.
 

The Allented Mr Ripley

holden
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Oct 2, 2003
11,981
South Shore, MA

bsj

Renegade Crazed Genius
SoSH Member
Dec 6, 2003
19,239
Central NJ SoSH Chapter
I'll never forget the things i heard as a teenager in east boston who had the audacity to wear my Reggie Lewis jersey the day after he died. definitely a seminal moment that i clearly remember nearly 30 years later
 

HriniakPosterChild

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 6, 2006
13,705
500 feet above Lake Sammammish
Have folks read Shut Out by Howard Bryant? Seems like the right time to finally give it a look.
I read it, it's good.
I read it many years ago, and I can’t recall another book that had me shaking me head so much. I’d recommend it

Also, only 7 reported incidents actually speaks pretty well for the fanbase of a team that draws a couple million fans per year.
“Look how small that iceberg is!”

Not sure, but the Great Migration really played a major role in shifting the demographics of the US's black population from being basically contained in the South with a few pockets here and there, to there being numerous prominent black neighborhoods across the county.
One of the best books I’ve read in the last 10 years focused on the Great Migration—The Warmth of Other Suns. I’ve mentioned it in V&N, but I think it’s worth mentioning in this thread, too. Because of its focus on a handful of personal stories, you won’t find much about Boston in it, but it’s well worth reading.
 

Lose Remerswaal

Missing an “R”
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Many groups of Fenway employees are veteran employees. Many of the ushers have 30-40 years under their belts. Very few People of Color among the ushers (I can only think of two, and one of them actually retired last year). Not many women, too, but that is improving. I think if the Sox concentrated on getting more POC in public facing roles beyond concessions and cleaning would be a good step towards stemming some of the racist behavior, as there would be more employees attuned and concerned about things like that. I am friendly with some of the veteran ushers, but the things THEY say make me blush. Not racial, but offensive in other ways.
 

lexrageorge

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 31, 2007
10,267
Boston is uniquely racist, given its demographics and geography, yes. It's sort of like the politics of Staten Island, NY spread over an entire metro area.

I just had this discussion with my wife who is from there. Her Italian American family from Staten Island are mostly die hard racist Trump supporters. Boston has that but scattered throughout the metro and not isolated to Italians. Note...im not saying "majority" but a very significant pocket.

The only thing that surprises me about the Sox statement is that they made it.
I do feel focusing on whether Boston is more or less or equally racist as other MLB cities misses the point, which is that noone attending a game at Fenway should ever be subject to racial slurs. If it happens in Chicago, that doesn't make it less bad when it happens here. It wouldn't surprise me if Boston is worse, but that is a topic in its own right that goes well beyond what happens in Fenway.

The bolded surprises me, however. The team has taken so many steps at addressing the franchise's past history and has also taken just as many steps to make fans and players of color welcome here.

When talking to fans of other teams, it doesn't help that the Sox traded Mookie. Whether Mookie wanted out of Boston or the Sox weren't going to pay him top dollar, it certainly enhances the perception that we are a racist city in the eyes of those I know.
That reaction is neither the fault of the team nor the fans.
 

fairlee76

Member
SoSH Member
Oct 9, 2005
3,213
jp
One of the best books I’ve read in the last 10 years focused on the Great Migration—The Warmth of Other Suns. I’ve mentioned it in V&N, but I think it’s worth mentioning in this thread, too. Because of its focus on a handful of personal stories, you won’t find much about Boston in it, but it’s well worth reading.
The Promised Land by Nicholas Lemann is another great book on the Great Migration.
 

InstaFace

MDLzera
Silver Supporter
SoSH Member
Sep 27, 2016
13,762
Pittsburgh, PA
The area I wish the Sox would do more in with respect to racial justice is to put more staff and money towards helping kids in minority communities discover and play baseball. You've got MLB's Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities initiative, but it seems somewhat token. In NYC at least, most efforts that aren't that are the legacy of an evolving population in neighborhoods that had little leagues and other entry-level programs in the 40s and 50s and the character of the neighborhood changed. So there are a lot of bigger youth leagues where the E-board is mostly white and the player base is mostly non-white. You've also got a handful of local startup leagues that either grew out of a church, or from the hustle of some baseball-obsessed local whose kid didn't have a chance to play, so he (always he) decided to create one.

There is no shortage of opportunity to expand on MLB's RBI program in and around Boston, e.g. in immigrant neighborhoods who don't have a pre-existing cultural affinity for baseball. The country might have more pressing issues right now than minorities playing ball, but that's one where you'd expect a pro baseball franchise to lead, rather than just support with words and money.
 

chrisfont9

Member
SoSH Member
When talking to fans of other teams, it doesn't help that the Sox traded Mookie. Whether Mookie wanted out of Boston or the Sox weren't going to pay him top dollar, it certainly enhances the perception that we are a racist city in the eyes of those I know.
IMO this is pretty low on the list of pieces of evidence that the city is racist. The Sox just won a series with a really-not-all-that-white team, led by Mookie and Price (among others).
The area I wish the Sox would do more in with respect to racial justice is to put more staff and money towards helping kids in minority communities discover and play baseball. You've got MLB's Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities initiative, but it seems somewhat token. In NYC at least, most efforts that aren't that are the legacy of an evolving population in neighborhoods that had little leagues and other entry-level programs in the 40s and 50s and the character of the neighborhood changed. So there are a lot of bigger youth leagues where the E-board is mostly white and the player base is mostly non-white. You've also got a handful of local startup leagues that either grew out of a church, or from the hustle of some baseball-obsessed local whose kid didn't have a chance to play, so he (always he) decided to create one.

There is no shortage of opportunity to expand on MLB's RBI program in and around Boston, e.g. in immigrant neighborhoods who don't have a pre-existing cultural affinity for baseball. The country might have more pressing issues right now than minorities playing ball, but that's one where you'd expect a pro baseball franchise to lead, rather than just support with words and money.
+1 to this!
 

Pablo's TB Lover

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 10, 2017
1,532
I think all the Sox can really do is speak truth to it and keep reminding fans of this, in the hopes that either:
1) More fans report the incidents they see in the ballpark, which may or may not result in action (the he said/he said nature of the complaints may not always allow for direct action by the organization); or
2) Probably the less messy scenario of nudging racist fans from coming to the ballpark in the first place or expressing their fucked beliefs aloud, and generally empowering the non (less?) racist whites to call that crap out and let the offending party know it is not ok.
 

Starburah

lurker
May 13, 2009
40
The only racist thing I can ever remember my mother uttering was regarding an Asian girl, several years older than me at the time. I said something to the effect of finding her very attractive. She said something like, "You better not ever bring one of those home..." I assume it was some kind of left over hate from WWII. Ironically, my keen attraction to Asian women became more intensified as a result. So I married an Asian woman 21 years ago. It must be genetic because my son inherited it. He married a woman from Korea five years ago. He said to me, "I got this from you... I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate it. You were right..."
...............
 

Minneapolis Millers

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
2,227
Twin Cities
Assuming you're right that Boston was not as much of a factor in the Great Migration as other northern cities, isn't it also true that Boston had a fairly sizable and long-standing pre-Migration black community?

Is there a good history of African Americans in Boston out there? Googling, I find one book by Robert C. Hayden, published in 1991. Does anyone know if it's good? This is a topic I should learn more about.
This is a good place to start: https://www.maah.org/boston_heritage_trail
 

Minneapolis Millers

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
2,227
Twin Cities
The area I wish the Sox would do more in with respect to racial justice is to put more staff and money towards helping kids in minority communities discover and play baseball. You've got MLB's Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities initiative, but it seems somewhat token. In NYC at least, most efforts that aren't that are the legacy of an evolving population in neighborhoods that had little leagues and other entry-level programs in the 40s and 50s and the character of the neighborhood changed. So there are a lot of bigger youth leagues where the E-board is mostly white and the player base is mostly non-white. You've also got a handful of local startup leagues that either grew out of a church, or from the hustle of some baseball-obsessed local whose kid didn't have a chance to play, so he (always he) decided to create one.

There is no shortage of opportunity to expand on MLB's RBI program in and around Boston, e.g. in immigrant neighborhoods who don't have a pre-existing cultural affinity for baseball. The country might have more pressing issues right now than minorities playing ball, but that's one where you'd expect a pro baseball franchise to lead, rather than just support with words and money.
Re: RBI, I agree. What I’ve seen in Minneapolis has been mostly infrastructure and supplies (rehab a field, buy some equipment). What’s really needed is operations $ for ongoing staffing/outreach/marketing. The park system here (which is among the best urban systems in the country) doesn’t have enough money to do those things. MLB could help. $100,000-$250,000/yr in the top 50 markets. That’d be a start.
 

8slim

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 6, 2001
14,718
Unreal America
One of the defining memories of my youth was hearing my uncle -- who was always described as one of those guys who'd "give you the shirt off his back" -- call Jim Rice the N-word while we were watching the Sox on TV during a family gathering. My parents never, ever, ever spoke that way, and I was utterly dumbfounded. The amount of casual racism (and anti-semitism) I saw growing up in suburban Boston was appalling, certainly in retrospect. It's not hard to believe some of those knuckle-draggers would spout that garbage at Fenway. Very glad to see the team validate Hunter's comments.
 

Doug Beerabelli

Killer Threads
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
[QUOTE="riboflav, post: 3912099, member: 18966"
When talking to fans of other teams, it doesn't help that the Sox traded Mookie. Whether Mookie wanted out of Boston or the Sox weren't going to pay him top dollar, it certainly enhances the perception that we are a racist city in the eyes of those I know.
[/QUOTE]

Tell you friends it’s not so bad - they traded for an African American player named Jeter! That took some major growth on their part.
 

HriniakPosterChild

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 6, 2006
13,705
500 feet above Lake Sammammish
I think if the Sox concentrated on getting more POC in public facing roles beyond concessions and cleaning would be a good step towards stemming some of the racist behavior, as there would be more employees attuned and concerned about things like that.
Two years ago, we travelled 3000 miles to Boston so Li’l HPC could see baseball at Fenway. Like many clubs, the Red Sox give away a “My first trip to Fenway” button, and the man who gave one to my son was a person of color.

I left Boston in 1992, and that would have been hard to imagine under the previous ownership.
 

richgedman'sghost

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
May 13, 2006
1,496
ct
Two years ago, we travelled 3000 miles to Boston so Li’l HPC could see baseball at Fenway. Like many clubs, the Red Sox give away a “My first trip to Fenway” button, and the man who gave one to my son was a person of color.

I left Boston in 1992, and that would have been hard to imagine under the previous ownership.
Regarding programs that the Red Sox could do more besides the RBI program. The Red Sox Foundation gives lots of scholarships away through their Fenway Scholars Program. They also have a mentoring program set up for students in the city. The Foundation also gives money to many other charities that deal directly with the racism issue such as sponsoring banquets etc.. In fact, I think the 5050 raffle at the Spring Training Game I attended was dedicated to such an effort
The Foundation also does many other events for POC that I'm forgetting at the moment. I agree more needs to be done but it"s not like the team has its head buried in the sand regarding its racist past. The Red Sox are already doing many of the things that other posters have suggested.
At the last Fenway game I attended, I noticed many fans of a Latin background but not many people of color. I think this has more to do with the sports lack of popularity than anything the Red Sox have or have not done
 

jose melendez

Earl of Acie
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Oct 23, 2003
22,868
Washington DC
The Wilbon think is striking. I'm curious about when his incident at the Garden occurred. I assume the 80s.

I think there has been dramatic improvement in Boston over the course of my lifetime. Though, of course, I was born in 1976 near the bottom of race relations in Boston. The extent to which non-white people literally couldn't go into Southie or Charlestown once upon a time is grotesque.

And the fact that the Sox didn't really get beyond being an all but openly racist organization until Jean Yawkey died and Harrington and Duquette came in is pathetic.

To a certain extent, I've been a little surprised by the amount of coverage this story has gotten because to me it's barely even news. We all know that there are racial incidents at Fenway don't we? I guess that the Sox officially owned it is important, but that they happened should not surprise anyone in the least.
 

Koufax

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
Silver Supporter
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
4,617
I've been going to games for decades now. In the beginning, there was always someone within earshot who was loud and nasty - often hurling the N word around. So much so, that I thought to myself that I could not bring kids to the game. It has been years since I've had that experience or anything remotely resembling it. Maybe its just the section where I sit. So actually I am surprised that Fenway is still hostile to black players, but obviously it is. Maybe the whole city is similarly problematic, but far enough below the surface that I don't see it. It's very discouraging if that's true.
 

Ralphwiggum

Well-Known Member
Gold Supporter
SoSH Member
Jun 27, 2012
6,116
Needham, MA
As someone who grew up around Boston and has lived in the area basically my entire life, those testimonials are incredibly hard to hear. But Wilbon is right that we have to own it.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

Found no thrill on Blueberry Hill
Gold Supporter
SoSH Member
Sep 9, 2008
29,341
AZ
The Wilbon think is striking. I'm curious about when his incident at the Garden occurred. I assume the 80s.

I think there has been dramatic improvement in Boston over the course of my lifetime. Though, of course, I was born in 1976 near the bottom of race relations in Boston. The extent to which non-white people literally couldn't go into Southie or Charlestown once upon a time is grotesque.

And the fact that the Sox didn't really get beyond being an all but openly racist organization until Jean Yawkey died and Harrington and Duquette came in is pathetic.

To a certain extent, I've been a little surprised by the amount of coverage this story has gotten because to me it's barely even news. We all know that there are racial incidents at Fenway don't we? I guess that the Sox officially owned it is important, but that they happened should not surprise anyone in the least.
To hear Wilbon tell it, the story is that this is a thing that black people know and understand and talk about but can’t say, because the liberal imprimatur of the state blocks anyone from hearing you. That is why I guess it is seen as important — because people are interpreting it as saying “Ok, Boston, you’re ready to have this conversation now? About time. And we have a lot to say.” Add in the fact that Boston squarely puts the lie to the myth that this is an R v D or red state v blue state issue and you can see why it has legs I think.

That our red President appeals to racists can trick you into thinking this is not an issue for all of us and can make it so that some very blue folks who imagine they are progressive are patting themselves on the back so hard that they don’t look as hard in the mirror as they should.

The Red Sox statement puts all of that under the microscope.
 

BaseballJones

goalpost mover
SoSH Member
Oct 1, 2015
9,386
One of my questions is this: Why would Boston, of all cities, have such a racist history? It's always had lots of immigrants who have had to come together. It's not a city that has a long history of slavery. It's not a southern location that dealt with Jim Crow.

I mean, accurate history shows that Boston was integral to the early American slave trade.


But Boston outlawed slavery in the early 1780s. Key abolitionists were from Boston. So this isn't me saying Boston *isn't* a racist city. It's me asking why it has such a racist history. Why, of all places, is Boston known for being racist? What is it about Boston?

Anyone have any ideas?
 

jose melendez

Earl of Acie
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Oct 23, 2003
22,868
Washington DC
I think a big part of it is the massive gap between reputation and reality. Another part of it is that having a long standing free black population, some of whom were doing pretty well caused resentment among the white underclass.

Interestingly, black friends of mine are very divided on Boston. Many of my black friends who lived there say it's not worse than elsewhere. And I have a friend I've known since childhood who grew up in Mattapan who said no one in Boston has every called him the n-word. By contrast, a grad school friend of mine said she hadn't been in Cambridge for two hours on her first visit to MA when someone called her that.

I feel like I have a pretty good fix on how racist Boston is--I think. But what I don't have a good fix on is how racist other cities are.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

Found no thrill on Blueberry Hill
Gold Supporter
SoSH Member
Sep 9, 2008
29,341
AZ
One of my questions is this: Why would Boston, of all cities, have such a racist history? It's always had lots of immigrants who have had to come together. It's not a city that has a long history of slavery. It's not a southern location that dealt with Jim Crow.

I mean, accurate history shows that Boston was integral to the early American slave trade.


But Boston outlawed slavery in the early 1780s. Key abolitionists were from Boston. So this isn't me saying Boston *isn't* a racist city. It's me asking why it has such a racist history. Why, of all places, is Boston known for being racist? What is it about Boston?

Anyone have any ideas?
This is the question. And also I think the answer to Jose’s question.

The point is that these things are not necessary conditions for racism. Nor is political affiliation. Supporting unions or being on the right side in the Civil War does not perfectly correlate with calling out the guy who uses the N word at a baseball game.

This is a conversation about what racism is. Why it is. This is why Boston is important in the discussion. (And it is not just Boston — it stretches from Maine to Connecticut. When I tell people in the West about the casual racism I heard daily in my Connecticut suburb in the 70s and 80s, they are stunned. It happened.)
 

jose melendez

Earl of Acie
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Oct 23, 2003
22,868
Washington DC
I just put up what I thought was a pretty sensible facebook post trying to engage my very diverse and Boston heavy network on how racist Boston is compared to other cities, but then I took it down a minute later before anyone responded, because I think that I probably shouldn't try to be a convener on this issue.
 

jose melendez

Earl of Acie
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Oct 23, 2003
22,868
Washington DC
One of my questions is this: Why would Boston, of all cities, have such a racist history? It's always had lots of immigrants who have had to come together. It's not a city that has a long history of slavery. It's not a southern location that dealt with Jim Crow.

I mean, accurate history shows that Boston was integral to the early American slave trade.


But Boston outlawed slavery in the early 1780s. Key abolitionists were from Boston. So this isn't me saying Boston *isn't* a racist city. It's me asking why it has such a racist history. Why, of all places, is Boston known for being racist? What is it about Boston?

Anyone have any ideas?
That piece is quite good.
 

edoug

Well-Known Member
Silver Supporter
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
3,380
One of my questions is this: Why would Boston, of all cities, have such a racist history? It's always had lots of immigrants who have had to come together. It's not a city that has a long history of slavery. It's not a southern location that dealt with Jim Crow.

I mean, accurate history shows that Boston was integral to the early American slave trade.


But Boston outlawed slavery in the early 1780s. Key abolitionists were from Boston. So this isn't me saying Boston *isn't* a racist city. It's me asking why it has such a racist history. Why, of all places, is Boston known for being racist? What is it about Boston?

Anyone have any ideas?
Busing wasn't the cause but is probably has something to do with it. As a person who loves Boston, this a really tough pill to swallow. Just that the pill is bigger and is grosser tasting.
 

Average Reds

Dope
Staff member
Dope
V&N Mod
SoSH Member
Sep 24, 2007
28,657
Southwestern CT
To those who are asking “why is Boston so racist?” I think you may be looking so intently at the details that you are missing the big picture.

Insular white people are racist. Boston is an incredibly insular/provincial town. As is Philadelphia, which was another bastion of northeast racism until relatively recently. (And I should note that it’s still racist, but not as bad as Boston.)

It’s really not much more complex than this. White culture - and to a great extent, the culture of this country - has always been racist. No matter how much we tried to tell ourselves otherwise after 2008.

What we living through right now is a spasm of reactionary racism and homophobic bigotry (which is important, because it binds a lot of evangelicals and/or the religious right to the cause of racism) by scared white people who can’t accept a world where they are not considered the most protected class.
 
Last edited:

jose melendez

Earl of Acie
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Oct 23, 2003
22,868
Washington DC
Busing wasn't the cause but is probably has something to do with it. As a person who loves Boston, this a really tough pill to swallow. Just that the pill is bigger and is grosser tasting.
Busing was necessary because the Boston School Committee refused to obey a court order to integrate. One can safely assume, therefore, that the racism was there long before busing. Boston's racism is often presented as a working class white issue. But it's hard for me to imagine that if Judge Garrity had ordered kids in Wellsley to be bused, there wouldn't have been a similarly racist reaction in the suburbs. Indeed, that was the argument of a lot of white people in the city, that busing was "integration for thee, but not for me." I don't think Southie and Charleston would have reacted better if busing had extended to mostly white suburbs, but it certainly would have been a less hypocritical immigration plan.

I do think the ugliness of Boston's racist reaction to busing figures prominently in Boston's reputation as a racist city.
 

DJnVa

Dorito Dawg
SoSH Member
Dec 16, 2010
41,532
Jumping in for the statue discussion. First off, start here, with this 2018 article from WGBH: Yawkey Way Might Be No More, But Fenway Statues Still Lack Racial Diversity

Here are some brief ideas for statues.
  • Pumpsie Green (this should be obvious, and should include information on the Red Sox shameful history of being last to integrate)
  • Dave Roberts (while "the steal" itself it wonderful, I'd love to see a statue that captures the jumping-spin Roberts made after scoring the run - it's a beautiful image that only video really captures, but a creative sculptor could do something interesting with
  • George Scott (great early years ... ish ... were with Boston.)
  • Reggie Smith (similar to George Scott - maybe we can celebrate the African-American non-white players of the 1967 team with something)
  • Dave Henderson (the home run, come on)
  • Earl Wilson (first black pitcher for the Sox, the famous '62 no hitter)
  • Mo Vaughn (the anchor of the '95 team)
  • Ellis Burks (loved that he was back for the '04 team, an 18-year career that started and ended with the Sox)
Those are just some ideas for African-American players deserving of statutes. Expanding to non-white players, obviously people like Ortiz, Pedro, Tiant, and you could go on. And how about Al Green? A guest services employee for nearly 50-years, he was inducted into the team HoF in 2017. I can only imagine what he had to deal with from those crowds.
I loved him but is Ellis Burks *really* worthy of a statue? Seems like effort would be better served by advocating for someone like Green.
 

edoug

Well-Known Member
Silver Supporter
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
3,380
Busing was necessary because the Boston School Committee refused to obey a court order to integrate. One can safely assume, therefore, that the racism was there long before busing. Boston's racism is often presented as a working class white issue. But it's hard for me to imagine that if Judge Garrity had ordered kids in Wellsley to be bused, there wouldn't have been a similarly racist reaction in the suburbs. Indeed, that was the argument of a lot of white people in the city, that busing was "integration for thee, but not for me." I don't think Southie and Charleston would have reacted better if busing had extended to mostly white suburbs, but it certainly would have been a less hypocritical immigration plan.

I do think the ugliness of Boston's racist reaction to busing figures prominently in Boston's reputation as a racist city.
I didn't mean the actual act or need for busing but the reaction to it.
 

joe dokes

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 18, 2005
16,253
I think a big part of it is the massive gap between reputation and reality. Another part of it is that having a long standing free black population, some of whom were doing pretty well caused resentment among the white underclass.

Interestingly, black friends of mine are very divided on Boston. Many of my black friends who lived there say it's not worse than elsewhere. And I have a friend I've known since childhood who grew up in Mattapan who said no one in Boston has every called him the n-word. By contrast, a grad school friend of mine said she hadn't been in Cambridge for two hours on her first visit to MA when someone called her that.

I feel like I have a pretty good fix on how racist Boston is--I think. But what I don't have a good fix on is how racist other cities are.
Busing was necessary because the Boston School Committee refused to obey a court order to integrate. One can safely assume, therefore, that the racism was there long before busing. Boston's racism is often presented as a working class white issue. But it's hard for me to imagine that if Judge Garrity had ordered kids in Wellsley to be bused, there wouldn't have been a similarly racist reaction in the suburbs. Indeed, that was the argument of a lot of white people in the city, that busing was "integration for thee, but not for me." I don't think Southie and Charleston would have reacted better if busing had extended to mostly white suburbs, but it certainly would have been a less hypocritical immigration plan.

I do think the ugliness of Boston's racist reaction to busing figures prominently in Boston's reputation as a racist city.
Not busing itself, because, as you say, busing was ordered as a result of racist practices, but I think the *national perception* comes straight from the busing protests in the 70s getting national attention.
Everyone in the country saw this picture:
31767
 

judyb

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 18, 2005
4,428
The Wilbon think is striking. I'm curious about when his incident at the Garden occurred. I assume the 80s.

I think there has been dramatic improvement in Boston over the course of my lifetime. Though, of course, I was born in 1976 near the bottom of race relations in Boston. The extent to which non-white people literally couldn't go into Southie or Charlestown once upon a time is grotesque.

And the fact that the Sox didn't really get beyond being an all but openly racist organization until Jean Yawkey died and Harrington and Duquette came in is pathetic.

To a certain extent, I've been a little surprised by the amount of coverage this story has gotten because to me it's barely even news. We all know that there are racial incidents at Fenway don't we? I guess that the Sox officially owned it is important, but that they happened should not surprise anyone in the least.
Ppl