Is Boston racist? Plenty of signs point to yes. The city has been called out many times for being home to a number of racist acts, from a Fenway crowd member calling Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones the N-word last summer to comedian Michael Che saying Boston is “the most racist city” he has ever been to. Now, another spotlight is shining on racism in Boston after a Twitter user shared her experience and received a flood of responses telling similar stories.
On Thursday, Twitter user @hodayum told her most recent tale of experiencing racism in Boston.
“I got called a stupid [n word] in broad daylight today in BOSTON because i bumped into a man and he dropped his donuts,” she tweeted. “Homie had a Bernie sanders sticker on his car. Welcome to America. White men are trash. Thank you for coming to my ted talk.”
The tweet instantly struck a chord, receiving more than 1,700 responses, 23,000 retweets and 138,000 likes as of Monday morning.
— Glodan ✨?✨ (@hodayum) August 10, 2018
In response, people began sharing their own stories of encountering racism in Boston. Many direct messaged @hodayum privately, she said on Twitter, and she shared screenshots of their messages while cropping out their names.
“Worked at an ad agency in Boston for two years under a creative director who referred to any black male as ‘Tiger’ for ‘Tiger Woods,’” one message read. “Most of these black men were disappeared from the agency under fishy circumstances. Writeups for nonexistent offenses, Performance Improvement Plans… Bottom line, if you’re a person of color and you can get out of there, get out.”
This message continued to say that there is “no middle class in greater Boston for reasons that have nothing to do with lack of qualified applicants for the good jobs in town. Just racism.”
The median net worth of a black person in Boston is $8, according to a Boston Globe Spotlight series on racism. “That means they owe almost as much as the combined value of what they own, be it a car, or house, or savings,” the report read.
In contrast, white households in the Boston area have a net worth of $247,500, per the Spotlight team.
Racism in Boston: why is it so prevalent?
That reply was just one of dozens Twitter user @hodayum said she got in response to her initial tweet about experiencing racism in Boston. People told stories of being called racial slurs when offering help to strangers, of being ignored by cab drivers and of not seeing any people of color in certain neighborhoods.
“I can sum up my experience at a private liberal arts school in Boston in one anecdote,” one response read. “A guy in my class asked his poc professor if he ever considered ‘just pretending racism doesn’t exist,’ and when I spoke up to correct him a white girl just cut me off to explain it herself.”
Some people called out how many believe Boston and Massachusetts overall are more progressive areas, meaning this racism is often ignored or overlooked.
According to a 2017 report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Massachusetts is home to the most hate groups out of any state in New England.
To those who have experienced racism in Boston, the area’s progressive reputation is a fallacy. It can be worse than the south, they say, since “the South was forced to reckon with its racism in ways other parts of the country were not.”
Mayor Marty Walsh has previously hosted community discussions about racism in Boston and in 2017, released a strategy of efforts to address racial inequalities in Boston.
“Boston’s Resilience Strategy is focused on ensuring every resident can reach their full potential regardless of their background, and removing the barriers of systemic racism that hinder Bostonians from having access to opportunities,” according to the mayor’s office.
As for all those responses Twitter user @hodayum has received? She might not stop with that Twitter thread. She said that she may start a blog to chronicle stories of racism in Boston, as well as her own experiences growing up here. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment.