“Whether seriously, or thrown around as a joke,” Daily Show host Trevor Noah said in a recent video, “Boston is often referred to as one of the most racist cities in America.” This longstanding reputation, reinforced by a recent Globe Spotlight series, prompted The Daily Show to send correspondent Roy Wood to ask the question “How racist is Boston?”
The segment began with examples from the city’s history, including the Red Sox’ handling of matters concerning race (they were the last team in the majors to integrate), violent public reactions to the desegregation of schools in the 1970s, and Oriole’s Adam Jones’ accounts of racist taunts from fans at Fenway Park just last year.
Woods then addressed the Spotlight team. Globe Reporter Akilah Johnson discussed figures that supported her claim that racism is more than just a matter of attitudes. A 2015 report found that the household median net worth was $247,500 for whites and just $8 for blacks. “That’s not even a grande soy latte,” Wood quipped in reaction.
Wood followed up with examples that illustrated a presence of institutionalized racism in Boston’s educational, business, and health care sectors.
He followed up with a trip to the Fenway area, where he posed the question of whether Boston fans felt the effects of what he referred to as “structural racism.” Fans, all of whom were white, opposed the idea that Boston was a racist city. Many claimed that they’ve never seen or experienced it.
It was a direct juxtaposition to the next part of the video, where Tanisha Sullivan, president of the Boston NAACP, explained, “it’s difficult for people who don’t experience it on a day-to-day basis to realize that it’s there.”
Wood returned to Fenway to wrap the segment with a tongue-in-cheek rally session, urging white people to put in the “leg work” and confront structural racism.
Do you think Boston is a racist city? Share your opinion in the comments below.