Gawker is on a quest to determine the most racist city in America. Your contributions are vital to the cause. Please add your insights in the discussion system below. Or if you'd like to nominate another city please send an email here. Today...Boston, Mass.
Ethnic Breakdown: 54% White, 24% Black, 17% Latino, 9% Asian, 6% Mystery Box
History of Racism:
• The Boston Busing Crisis of 1974 resulted in police violence and riots, including an incident in which, "Charlestown youth literally speared a black attorney with a flag pole adorned with the Stars and Stripes at City Hall Plaza."
• The Boston Red Sox were the last major league baseball team to integrate their roster.
• Bruin fans taunted Washington Capitals winger Joel Ward (who is black) with numerous racist taunts over Twitter in April 2012.
• Celtic legend Bill Russell was racially blackballed by Boston sportswriters and once had has house broken into and his bed shat on. Former Celtic Tommy Heinsohn on Russell: "All I know is the guy won two NCAA championships, 50-some college games in a row, the Olympics, then he came to Boston and won 11 championships in 13 years, and they named a fucking tunnel after Ted Williams."
• "I was, like, CARJACKED! Yeah, that's it!"
• If you're a black Harvard professor and you live in Boston and someone breaks into your house, the police will assume you're the burglar.
Hear it from Bostonians!
I lived in Boston for only 2.5 years during college but it is hands down the most racist city in the country. And I feel I am qualified to make that assertion for two reasons: 1) I've spent many summers in Selma, Alabama, where my parents grew up during the height of Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement, and 2) I moved to Boston after spending two years in Lynchburg, VA. That's right, the town with the word "lynch" was less racist than Boston.
After spending two years at a woman's college in Lynchburg, I told my parents that I was going to transfer to a college in Boston. Their immediate reaction was concern. They told me stories of the riots that happened in Boston in the 70s due to busing to integrate the schools. But I argued that was over thirty years ago. Surely Boston had changed since then?
The first thing I noticed about Boston was how incredibly segregated it was. There were still neighborhoods where black people were afraid to enter, nevertheless move into.
It wasn't until I moved to Boston that someone called me nigger to my face. It happened several times. The first couple of times, I heard it from elderly white people.
I clearly remember a time when I was about to enter a restaurant and I decided to hold the door open for the elderly white man behind me. I was always told to respect my elders so it was almost an automatic instinct to do so. He walked through, glared at me and said "I could open door myself, you nigger!" I was so shocked! You hear that word in hip hop songs, or even hear black people refer to themselves as nigga (although, I never understood that). But to hear someone say that to me as an insult had an immediate and profound effect on me. But what could I do? He was a senior citizen. I couldn't push him to the ground and curse him out (although I did think about it). I just decided to keep my cool. At least two other white seniors called me the n-word but I never said anything back. I just chalked it up to the fact that they're hold outs of a previous generation. They weren't going to change the way they think at this point but subsequent generations must be more forward thinking. Plus, they were going to die soon anyway so I took a small amount of comfort in that.
A year later, I was in a Dunkin Donuts with a classmate. We were sitting at a table, discussing a class assignment, when a 40-something white woman came stumbling up to us. It was clear that she was on drugs or inebriated. I thought she was going to ask me for money but instead she said "You fucking nigger! If you ever bite my breast again I'm going to fucking stab you." Uh, what? It took everything I had in me not to curse her out, laugh or do some combination of the two. Clearly, this woman was distressed. What if something like this actually happened to her?
I calmly replied "Ma'am, I think you have me confused with someone else. I don't know you. I've never seen you before. And I've definitely never bitten your breast." And then she sucker punched me and ran away. I sat shocked for a minute. Did that really happen? And then I booked it outside after her.
I couldn't find her so I went to our campus police station, conveniently located in the same building as the Dunkin Donuts. I told the police about the incident and they managed to track her down. But they did everything they could to discourage me from pressing charges.
They told me they wouldn't be able to hold her long. They said it would've been better if they had witnessed the assault firsthand. They said that if she had punched me below the knees or in the stomach, then they could actually charge her with assault. Apparently, the fact that she punched in the face, in public, in a store with security cameras wasn't enough for them. I walked away without pressing charges. I was young and naive. Now I realize that I had every right to press charges, they just didn't want to deal with the paperwork.
I consider myself very lucky now to live in Oakland, California the very picture of diversity and racial harmony (sometimes, usually during the weekend farmer's markets). But every time I go back to Boston (which, thankfully, isn't that often), I still keep my eyes peeled for that 40-something (now 50-something) white woman. She's got a knuckle sandwich coming her way.
It's the only place I've witnessed people (who didn't seem insane/on drugs/homeless) yelling ethnic slurs at each other in the street.