This City in Massachusetts Has Been Named the Most Racist City in the State


Boston, Massachusetts’ capital and largest city has a long and turbulent history of racism, earning it a reputation as one of the nation’s most racist cities. Despite its progressive reputation and varied population, Boston nevertheless faces racial inequality and discrimination in a variety of areas, including education, housing, health care, and criminal justice. In this article, we’ll look at why Boston has been voted the most racist city in the state, as well as what steps are being taken to solve the issue.

A Legacy of Segregation and Violence

One of the most prominent instances in Boston’s racist history was the 1970s busing crisis, in which a federal judge ordered the integration of public schools by involuntary busing of children across racial lines. The decision provoked violent demonstrations and rioting from white neighbors who resisted Black pupils’ integration into their communities and schools. The pictures of enraged crowds hitting busses and Black children with rocks, bottles, and racial insults stunned the country and stained Boston’s reputation for decades.

The busing issue was not a single episode; it was the result of decades of racial segregation and prejudice in Boston. Since the early twentieth century, Boston has been separated into ethnically diverse neighborhoods, with black populations concentrating in the South End, Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan, and white residents in the North End, South Boston, Charlestown, and West Roxbury.

These disparities were exacerbated by discriminatory laws and practices such as redlining, restrictive covenants, urban renewal, and white flight, which denied Black inhabitants access to decent housing, education, jobs, and services.

The history of segregation and violence still haunts Boston today, with many Black citizens feeling unwelcome and dangerous in specific areas of the city. According to a 2017 Boston Globe study, 54% of Black respondents reported feeling discriminated against in Boston, compared to 14% of white respondents.

Furthermore, 71% of Black respondents reported feeling very or somewhat unwanted in the Seaport District, 60% in the North End, 58% in Beacon Hill, and 55% in South Boston.

A Reality of Disparities and Exclusion

Another reason Boston has been rated the most racist city in the state is the chronic racial inequities and exclusion that influence many facets of Black citizens’ lives. Although Boston is a majority-minority city, with 53% of the population identifying as non-white, white elites continue to manage and control the city, wielding the majority of political, economic, and social power.

For example, in the 2021 mayoral contest, which had a record number of candidates of color, only one Black candidate, acting Mayor Kim Janey, advanced to the final four and was ousted in the preliminary round. The two finalists, Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George are both women of color, although neither is Black.

Furthermore, despite having a majority of members of color, the Boston City Council still has just four Black members out of 13 total. The Boston Police Department, which has been accused of racial profiling and using excessive force against Black citizens, has just 22% of its officers who are Black, compared to 25% of the city’s total population.

Racial inequality and exclusion may also be seen in Boston’s economic and social arenas. According to a Federal Reserve Bank of Boston research from 2015, the median net worth of white households in the Boston region was $247,500, while Black households had a median net worth of only $8. This indicates that Black households have less than a penny for every dollar of wealth held by white households. The survey also discovered that Black households had lower incomes, greater unemployment rates, lower homeownership, and poorer educational attainment than white households.

Furthermore, a 2017 Boston Foundation analysis discovered that Black people experienced considerable hurdles and problems in obtaining health care, transportation, arts and culture, and civic involvement in Boston. According to the survey, Black inhabitants had a greater incidence of chronic illnesses, a shorter life expectancy, less access to health insurance, and worse satisfaction with health care than white residents. It also discovered that Black inhabitants had longer commuting times, less access to public transportation, less involvement in arts and cultural events, and lower voting turnout than white residents.

A Vision of Change and Progress

Despite the bleak image of racism in Boston, there are hints of hope and optimism about the future. Many Black people and activists are working hard to disrupt the existing quo and bring constructive change to the city. They are organizing, mobilizing, agitating, and working together to address the core causes and repercussions of racism, as well as to achieve racial fairness and justice in Boston.

For example, following the death of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in 2020, hundreds of Black people and supporters marched through Boston’s streets to protest police brutality and systematic racism. They requested accountability, transparency, and change from the Boston Police Department, as well as the redirection of police monies to community programs and services. As a consequence of their lobbying, the city council agreed to decrease the police budget by $12 million and establish an independent police oversight board.

Another example of Black-led change in Boston is the formation of the Black Boston COVID-19 Coalition, a network of Black community groups, leaders, and professionals that emerged in reaction to the coronavirus pandemic’s disproportionate impact on Black citizens.

The group has advocated for additional testing, tracking, treatment, and immunization for Black communities, as well as more economic relief, housing help, and food security. The partnership has also educated and informed Black citizens about the virus and the vaccination, as well as addressed community mistrust and misconceptions.

A third example of Black-led prosperity in Boston is the growth of Black-owned companies, media, and the arts. Despite the hurdles and obstacles that Black entrepreneurs encounter, such as a lack of access to cash, networks, and markets, they have built and expanded enterprises that cater to the needs and interests of Black consumers and communities.

Some of these companies are Frugal Bookshop, Boston’s sole Black-owned bookshop; Black Market, a pop-up market featuring Black merchants and artisans; and the Urban Grape, a wine shop that sells wines made by Black and minority winemakers.

Furthermore, Black media and arts have thrived in Boston, with outlets including the Bay State Banner, a weekly newspaper that covers Black issues and perspectives; Basic Black, a public television program that discusses Black topics and culture; and the Roxbury International Film Festival, New England’s largest festival celebrating films by and about people of color.


Despite its progressive reputation, Boston is dealing with a racist heritage, including the 1970s busing crises, redlining, and racial inequality. The city’s racial gaps remain, affecting education, housing, health care, and politics. Activists are rallying for change, calling for racial justice, police accountability, and community projects, and expressing optimism for a more equal future.

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