Boston, MA

OPINION: Series revisits Boston's racial history

February 19, 2003
Boston has a long history of progressive politics and cordial race relations. In the early to mid 1800s, Massachusetts was home to 145 separate abolitionist societies, over 10 percent of the nation’s total, with Boston acting as the movement’s center. Boston’s minorities enjoyed many civil rights as compared to other US cities. Black Bostonians were well educated, widely represented in both local and state politics, and could boast a thriving merchant class. As late as 1904, the Colored American Magazine reprinted a Boston Sunday Herald article titled “Boston as the Paradise of the Negro." And yet this is only one side of Boston’s legacy.
     Boston is also famous for its ethnically divisive city politics, the violence surrounding forced bussing in the early 1970s, and a continued economic and political climate that many people of color feel is not accepting of minorities. As pointed out in Part 1 of this series, some minorities see Boston in such a bad light that they would not encourage their children to stay. How could things have changed so much?

BHA reaches a milestone in reducing racial bias

February 12, 2003
Three years after the Boston Housing Authority paid $1.5 million to settle a racial harassment lawsuit filed by a dozen minority families living in South Boston and Charlestown, the federal government and the plaintiffs' lawyers have given the BHA a clean bill of racial health.
     Between 1990 and 1996, the minority residents charged, the housing authority stood by while they were subjected to shouted epithets, racist graffiti, and physical violence. In the years following the forced integration of BHA developments in the late 1980s, white residents fired BB pellets through minority families' windows and set fires at their doors. In 1993, there was a cross-burning outside a Hispanic family's Charlestown apartment.
     Under the terms of the 1999 settlement, the BHA had to go through a three-year ''probation'' period, during which it was expected to beef up police protection, sharpen its investigations of race-related incidents, and launch outreach programs to bring residents of different races together.
     Most importantly, the BHA was supposed to enforce a ''zero tolerance'' policy for the perpetrators of racial incidents, evicting whole families if one member committed a racially motivated act of violence or vandalism.

Traffic citations reveal disparity in police searches

January 06, 2003
When a police officer in Massachusetts pulls over a car and writes a routine traffic ticket, the officer is far more likely to search the car of a black or Hispanic driver than that of a white driver.
     Nearly two years after the state began collecting information on traffic citations to measure possible racial profiling by police, a Boston Globe analysis of more than 750,000 tickets, from every police department in the state, shows a wide racial disparity in traffic tickets and vehicle searches.
     Although blacks and Hispanics are more likely to be searched, whites are more likely than any other racial group to face drug charges following a search - supporting a claim by minorities that they are searched with less reason. 

Gay group banned at Boston school

September 07, 2002
The chancellor of Boston University ordered a support group for gay students at a college-run preparatory school to disband, saying he believes it encouraged premarital sex.
     Chancellor John Silber gave the orders to the BU Academy headmaster James Tracy, who complied.
     "We're not running a program in sex education," Silber told The Boston Globe. "If they want that kind of program, they can go to Newton High School. They can go to public school and learn how to put a condom over a banana."

Among the races, income gaps closing unevenly

August 27, 2002
The warm economic winds of the 1990s filled the sails of people of all races in Massachusetts, but not equally, according to new data from the 2000 Census. Asians and Native Americans closed some of the income gap separating them from whites, while blacks and Latinos still trailed far behind.
     The good news for all groups was that incomes rose faster than inflation. After taking inflation into account, household incomes in the state rose by 2 percent for blacks, 6 percent for non-Hispanic whites, 7 percent for Hispanics, 14 percent for Asians, and 25 percent for Native Americans, according to census figures analyzed by The Boston Globe.
     These changes left blacks earning 64 cents on the dollar compared with non-Hispanic whites, down from 66 cents at the beginning of the decade; Hispanics 51 cents, unchanged; Asians 97 cents, up from 90 cents, and Native Americans 69 cents, up from 59 cents. The median household incomes reported for 1999 were $53,051 for non-Hispanic whites, $33,727 for blacks, $27,300 for Hispanics, $51,273 for Asians, and $36,810 for Native Americans. 

Footaction agrees to anti-bias teaching for employees

August 08, 2002
The Footaction shoe store chain has agreed to provide anti-discrimination training for its Massachusetts employees after an employee was accused of discriminating against a family of Dominican descent.
     The agreement stems from a December 28 case in which an employee at the Peabody store allegedly refused to help a 29-year-old Dominican woman, her two children and aunt, because they spoke Spanish.
     The employee refused to exchange a pair of boots, told them to leave the store if they did not stop speaking Spanish, and told them to go back to their own country where they could speak Spanish, the attorney general's office said. 

Deliberations in racial bomb plot

July 26, 2002
A federal jury must decide if two white supremacists were trying to cleanse society of all nonwhites, or if their plan to incite a "racial holy war" was just talk.
     The jury began considering the case against Leo Felton and Erica Chase late Thursday, and deliberated for about 30 minutes before going home for the day. Deliberations were scheduled to resume Friday morning.
     In closing arguments Thursday, a prosecutor said Felton and Chase plotted to bomb Jewish and black landmarks. 

Couple accused of plotting race war

July 16, 2002
The trial of a son of civil rights activists and his girlfriend began with allegations that they plotted to incite a race war by blowing up black and Jewish landmarks.
     Defense attorneys said Leo Felton, the son of a white mother and a black father, and Erica Chase, who is white, were never serious about carrying out bombings.
     But prosecutors said in opening statements Monday that the pair hoped to wipe nonwhites from society.

Tech services company settles suit

May 29, 2002
Information technology services company Keane Inc. agreed Wednesday to a $350,000 settlement with former employees who alleged they were racially harassed and discriminated against at work.
      Keane also agreed to beef up anti-discrimination training. The company did not admit wrongdoing and said it settled to save legal expenses, not because the charges were valid.
      The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the suit on behalf of four black employees in September 2000 after one of them said the letters "KKK" were written on a message board at his office.

Study treats skin-tone stereotypes

April 24, 2002
A new study suggests whites and blacks hold similar perceptions of black people based on their skin tone.
     Light-skinned blacks were more likely to be described as intelligent, attractive or wealthy, while dark-skinned blacks were more apt to be described as poor, criminal or tough and aggressive, according to the study led by Tufts University psychology professor Keith Maddox.
     The study, funded by the National Science Foundation, asked 150 college students – both blacks and whites – about cultural stereotypes involving the skin tone of blacks.


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