A shameful record

The renowned sports philosopher Duane Charles Parcells has often noted that no matter what image one might project on the outside, people cannot escape the reality of their true being.

“You are what your record says you are,” the old ball coach has repeatedly said in an observation that is as applicable off the field as on.

And so it is with the ugly incident Monday night at Fenway Park with Baltimore Orioles player Adam Jones revealing once again that the Hub of the Universe has a stain of racism that is not easily washed away. Does someone calling Jones the “n-word” make us a racist city? If it was an isolated incident, it would be hard to tar an entire region for the actions of one nitwit.

But given the city’s recurring history and the number of black players, including members of the Red Sox, confirming the atmosphere at America’s Most Beloved Ballpark as inhospitable for players of color, it’s hard to escape the tag. A standing ovation for Jones may make fans feel a little better about themselves and their city and send a message to the nation at large that we’re a tolerant bunch, but it’s a Band Aid on the festering sore.

“The first step to fixing a problem is admitting there’s a problem,” wrote the Boston Globe‘s cerebral sports columnist Christopher L. Gasper, who said he’s been subjected to racist taunts through the years. “The moment there is any racially-tinged incident on the Boston sports scene, some people get reflexively indignant and try to debunk the allegations. They turn the debate into a false binary choice between the calumniation that everybody in this region is racist or the naive notion that racism doesn’t exist in Boston at all. That’s not helpful, and it’s not going to salvage Boston’s reputation or prevent further incidents like the one involving Jones. ”

The fault lines on the incident have been predictable, with sports talk callers questioning Jones’s veracity, elected officials and Sox brass doing damage control by decrying the incident and claiming “it’s not who we are as a city,” while members of the city’s minority community collectively nod their heads in knowing agreement with Jones and others.

Boston’s schizophrenic reputation as a liberal enclave with a hard-to-shake hateful streak is embedded in the national mindset from the days of school busing. But there are plenty of other incidents that locals may want to forget but are part of the landscape here.

From the riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King, to the long-running court proceedings trying to desegregate the city’s public housing, to the treatment of black men in the wake of Charles Stuart killing his pregnant wife and blaming it on a nonexistent black carjacker, to the finding a few years back that Boston police stop and question minorities in disproportionate numbers, the thread of intolerance, prejudice, and racism flows through the decades, connecting the past with the present.

Michael Che, a member of the Saturday Night Live cast, caused a hurricane of feelings recently when he labeled Boston the “most racist city” he’s ever visited. Similar to what’s occurring now with the Jones incident, white Bostonians were up in arms and in denial that racism exists in this day and age while blacks and other minorities saw it as validation of their own experiences.

“What’s galling to me is having a Masshole tell me I’m lying, like I didn’t walk a mile in those shoes, lived there for 7 years,” one Latino friend who’s now a sportswriter living in Brooklyn wrote me on a Facebook message. “I think the cool kids call it ‘gaslighting,’ trying to make like I’m crazy for speaking the truth of what I experienced. It’s dismissive of what people see and experience, ignoring the facts because it doesn’t fit in their view of the world.”

That gets to the crux of the problem. Whites deny their city is a cauldron of hate because they’ve never been called the “n-word,” never been refused housing because of their race, never been followed around a store because of the color of their skin. But that refusal to accept the reality of racism is as much a contributor as the Neanderthal who feels emboldened to shout racial epithets and throw peanuts at an opposing player because, well, he can.

“There is something about the climate here,” Tanisha Sullivan, president of the Boston chapter of the NAACP, told the Globe. “There is something about the climate that made people think it was okay. That made people think that, in a crowded stadium, they could shout out these words, and not only would they not be arrested — but the people around them would find it acceptable. And that speaks to something very deep.’’

We like to think we’re better than that, but history keeps getting in the way. You are what your record says you are.



Gov. Charlie Baker — along with Attorney General Maura Healey proposes an expansion of the state’s wiretap law to allow law. (Boston Globe) A Herald editorial urges passage of the bill.


Quincy Housing Authority officials warned residents to cease planting flowers or gardens on public housing property or they will be torn up. (Patriot Ledger)

West Bridgewater officials are warning some residents who refuse to allow the town to replace their old water meters out of fear their bills will climb that their water will be shut off if they don’t comply. (The Enterprise)

Dennis Town Meeting voters rejected a measure to petition state lawmakers to allow the town to tax medical marijuana. (Cape Cod Times)

Framingham Town Meeting wrapped up its final session as the town prepares for the switch to become a city in January. (MetroWest Daily News)


President Trump tweeted the country needs “a good ‘shutdown’” after alternately praising the compromise $1 trillion spending bill to keep the government running and slamming Democrats for forcing Republicans to the table with the threat of a filibuster. (U.S. News & World Report)

Trump and Hillary Clinton butt heads over James Comey, with Clinton saying the FBI director damaged her election chances and Trump saying Comey took it easy on his Democratic rival. (Time)

GOP defections on the health care overhaul continue as House leadership scrambles to find support for passage with the White House pressing for a vote on the bill to repeal Obamacare. (U.S. News & World Report) Gov. Charlie Baker comes out against the new health care bill. (Boston Globe) Scot Lehigh says the bill is destined to meet the same fate as the failed previous effort to replace the Affordable Care Act. (Boston Globe)

Housing secretary Ben Carson, on a choreographed “listening tour” of the country’s public housing, says he wants to make housing available to those in need but doesn’t want to make the accommodations too comfortable so they want to stay. (New York Times)


James Jajuga, a former state senator and public safety secretary under governor Jane Swift, says he plans to run for mayor of Methuen. (Eagle-Tribune)

Mayor Marty Walsh and his reelection challenger, Tito Jackson, both spend time pressing flesh yesterday in Roxbury, the neighborhood Jackson represents on the City Council, on the first day to collect nominating signatures for the mayor’s race. (Boston Herald)

Joe Battenfeld says Hillary Clinton is testing the waters for another run for president in 2020. (Boston Herald)


With a $16 million budget gap and little help from the state, Brockton school officials will send out 189 pink slips and cut programs to close the hole. (The Enterprise)


Amgen offers a money-back guarantee on its $14,000 cholesterol drug. (CommonWealth)

Neighborhood Health Plan reverses course and says it will provide coverage of a costly new drug for all patients with a condition called spinal muscular atrophy, not just those with the most severe form of the disease, as had been the insurer’s previous policy. (Boston Globe)


Beverly officials hold a meeting to talk about the MBTA’s plan to shut down weekend commuter rail service this summer to install a new anti-crash system. Residents complained the T needs to provide shuttle service when the trains aren’t running. (Salem News)


With the disappearance of the Arctic ice cap because of global warming, new shipping routes once thought impossible could be opened up by mid-century. (New York Times)

Naomi Oreskes and Jeremy Jones, in a Globe op-ed, applaud two bills filed on Beacon Hill to price carbon emissions in the state.

Eighteen protesters were arrested for blocking pipeline access to Otis State Park. (Berkshire Eagle)


A husband and wife team from Middleton are charged with running an illegal gambling operation at bars and clubs throughout Massachusetts and New York.


A federal judge rejected defense motions to dismiss the extortion case against two former aides to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. (Boston Globe)

A Wareham High School student was arrested and charged with making terrorist threats after posting a picture of himself on social media with a caption reading, “Anyone down for a school shooting?” (Standard-Times)


Unionized Boston Herald reporters are boycotting Twitter to protest the suspension of reporter Chris Villani for violating the paper’s social media policy by tweeting breaking news without first getting the approval of an editor. (Boston)

The nonprofit that owns the two Philadelphia daily newspapers is having some success raising money. (Nieman Journalism Lab)