The Case for Black With a Capital B



Michelle Wu: Making Her Mark On Boston

by Talia Whyte

If Michelle Wu is elected, she would become the first Asian American woman to sit on the Boston City Council.  This has been an exciting election season for diverse candidates in the city.  Former State Rep. Charlotte Golar Richie, community activist John Barros, Touch 106 FM co-founder Charles Clemons and City Councilors Felix Arroyo and Charles Yancey all made valiant efforts to run for mayor.  There were
also candidates of color running for district level city council positions like Jean Claude Sanon and Ava Callendar.

However, despite the great selection of qualified, diverse candidates and a beautiful late summer weather preliminary election day, less than a third of Bostonians actually voted.  During election night as
the final results rolled in, a couple of my black friends texted me furious notes about how Boston is still racist because neither of the two final mayoral candidates were people of color.  While it is true that Boston has a dark racial past, I truly don’t believe that was the reason none of the mayoral candidates of color prevailed.  For one thing, John Connolly and Marty Walsh had stronger campaigns and were
able to mobilize their supporters to the polls, unlike the other candidates.  I asked both of my friends if they voted, and they said no.

And there lies the problem.

How can one complain about the process if one didn’t participate in the process in the first place?  It becomes harder to sell the idea of the “New Boston” when many “New Bostonians” aren’t engaged in civic duty.  To have so many great candidates of color on the ballot and people still not feeling motivated enough to support them speaks to a larger problem.

During an Oct. 2 press conference at the State House, Gov. Deval Patrick weighed in on the preliminary results with similar sentiments.

“We get the government we deserve,” Patrick said.  “If people sit it out, we get what we deserve.  If people check in, they engage, they take responsibility and come out to vote, then we get a better
government; a government that reflects us and who we aspire to be.”

Gov. Patrick remained neutral in the race because he is an acquaintance of most of the mayoral candidates.  However, he did say that whoever wins will not get to the finish line without engaging
communities of color.

“It would be unwise not to,” he said.

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