IMPORTANT UPDATE : Even as I wrote this story, the St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast issue was being settled. District Councillor Bill Linehan and Linda Dorcena-Forry issued a joint statement, that Senator Dorcena-Forry would, in fact, be hosting next year’ St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast. The dispute lasted all of two days.
However, the other half of this story — the Freedom House Forum for Mayoral candidates “of color” only, remains. And so I ask you all to read, below, what I wrote before news of the South Boston resolution broke…
The last thing that Boston’s Mayor campaign needs is an interruption by racism. Yet that is what has happened these past two days — through no fault of the candidates, let me make very clear. The 12 hopefuls running, and their campaigns, all speak for the new Boston, long since grown beyond a sadly racist past — 40 years ago and more — and have made this one of the most intelligent, forward-thinking issues conversations I have ever seen in the political arena. It has been citizenship at its high school, civics class best.
And yet the past intrudes. Some voters, and even some civic leaders, can’t help themselves.
First came the news that the committee that puts on South Boston’s annual St. Patrick’s day breakfast was divided on whether to invite its newly elected State Senator, Linda Dorcena Forry, to host the affair. South Boston’s State Senator has, ever since Bill Bulger’s time, done the honors; and all have been white and of Irish heritage; whereas Dorcena Forry is a person of color and of Haitian parentage; and lives in Dorchester Lower Mills. Of course, a case can be made that, as the breakfast is a South Boston event, a South Boston spokesperson should host it. Fair enough; and now, since the resignation of State Senator Jack Hart, South Boston’s City Councillor, Bill Linehan, has claimed host status. But that’s not at all the last word. Though never a rule of the breakfast, the area’s State Senator has hosted it for at least the last 20 years. Thus the problem of Linda Dorcena Forry.
^ Linda Dorcena-Forry : South Boston’s next St Patty’s day breakfast host ?
Will she be invited to do what the District’s last three state senators have always done ? It would be next to impossible, were she not so invited, to avoid that race is the reason. It would be bad business indeed for the breakfast committee to accord any such prospect. Linda Dorcena Forry should host the 2014 St. Patrick’s day Breakfast. She will do just fine.
The above discussion was not till today on my task list. Indeed, I had intended not to mention the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast at all. To me it is a neighborhood affair, and that was that. And then came my discovery, at last night’s Mayoral Forum at the Reggie Lewis Center in Madison Park High School, of the Freedom House Mayoral forum flier pictured below. It forced me to set aside, for awhile, the excellent conversations at Madison park High about jobs, construction,l and schools. Please take a close look at it :
Like you, I could not believe what I was reading. I was stupefied. “The First mayoral Forum for candidates of Color.” proclaimed the flier.
If the South Boston St. Patrick’s day breakfast is just a neighborhood affair, in no way a government-funded or public function — you have to buy a ticket — Freedom House’s Mayoral Forum is every bit a public function.
The flier adds insult to injury. “Free and open to all,” it proclaims. Open to all ? But not to all candidates ? What ARE they thinking ?
This is one Forum that Here and Sphere will, not attend. Nor should any of the candidates “of color.’ All should say “thanks, but no thanks.”
Then it will be time to address the matter of who will host the 2014 South Boston St. Patrick’s day Breakfast. After which the last strokes of old racism will, hopefully, fade away like what they are: the ghosts of failed, immoral attitudes.
—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere