In the Rollins-Baker fight, where were the white male Dems?

Their silence showed a lack of courage and integrity

THE PAST FEW WEEKS have been dominated by the very public debate between District Attorney Rachael Rollins and Gov. Charlie Baker over Rollins’ planned reforms for her office. Rollins campaigned and won on her promise to address the systemic inequalities present in the criminal justice system that have been perpetuated by her office’s predecessors. Instead of allowing the voters to get exactly what they asked for, the governor and his secretary of public safety and security released unprecedented public rebukes of the new DA’s plan in order to pressure her to maintain the status quo – a status quo that would have continued to harm and disrupt black and brown communities.

Simply put, the actions of the governor and his staff were sexist and racist. Both men are state level officials aiming to throw around their status to check a black woman trying to use her newly earned powers for the good of a district where people of color make up 54 percent of the population.

Thankfully, Rollins did not back down. Women of color elected officials showed up and showed how to defend their sister in service. Other elected officials of color also showed their support through public statements to help apply pressure on the governor and his team.

However, almost every white male Democrat who represents Boston at both the local and state level was silent. Silence is complicity, and the silence from white male Democrats showed a lack of courage and integrity, as well as de facto support for racism and sexism in our community.

We look to our elected officials for leadership. This was a chance for our white male Democratic elected officials to show unabashed support for women of color, the communities they represent, and to stand up to injustice, but they failed.

We need our elected leaders to exemplify our values. In an era full of hate driven by every -ism and -phobia in existence, we need leaders who will show empathy. If you are a white man representing a majority-minority district, empathy is the most important value you can exemplify as it shows that you are working to understand and support a community that shares a drastically different lived experience from you. You also need to lead and legislate with this differing lived experience in mind. Again, our white male electeds failed to do that.

Meet the Author

Donovan Birch Jr.

CEO/Founder, The Birch Group
Quite simply, if you can’t stand up to the governor from the opposition party for the communities you represent, how can we trust you to stand up for us any other time? In the end, we need our white male elected officials to be truly invested in racial justice and feminism. You cannot claim to be a progressive, or a candidate running on positive change, if you can’t stand by those things.

Donovan Birch Jr. is a lifelong resident of Mattapan, CEO/Founder of The Birch Group, and member of the Greater Mattapan Neighborhood Council.