This is Why People Think Boston is a Racist City
Tim Thomas, not at the root of controversy … this time. (Photo by Dinur on Flickr.)
The B’s season ended last night, but you already knew that.
It was overtime, and Bruins goalie, Tim “Tea Party” Thomas let one past. You already knew that, too. Maybe you even know the Capitals player who scored it, Joel Ward, came up bigger last night than at any other point during his regular season. But even if you didn’t know that, you almost certainly know that Ward is black. And suddenly, that’s a problem.
The backlash to the loss (and specifically against Ward) was swift, brutal, and not seen here in such overt and disgusting terms since the busing violence in the 1970s. Fans took to Twitter to semi-anonymously rail against the Capitals winger with personal attacks. It was enough to make Joel Ward the fourth highest trending topic on Twitter in Boston. I’m not even going to rehash what’s been said — keen though I am to out these people — because it is totally vile, bigoted, and yet perfectly predictable for a city like Boston.
Google “the most racist city in America” and there we are, sitting right on top. It almost always comes down to anecdotes (the experience of racism is difficult to quantify) but if Google results indicate how people think, then we’ve got racism deeply lodged inside us — and this from a state that elected an African American to two terms as governor and voted overwhelmingly pro-Obama in 2008.
For all the political furor lately, electoral concerns are cold as ice when compared to the passion and frenzy of professional sports fandom here. It’s a bummer that the Bruins lost, sure, but what’s worse is that such a small thing as a first round loss could unleash our sickening side. Almost like it’s always been there, waiting to get triggered, waiting for some kind of critical mass where the semi-anonymous could have safety in numbers.
Until we figure out how that happens, and why it happens so easily, we’re likely to stay at the top of that Google search. The B’s may have let us down, but these racist fans are the true disappointment.
Update 4/27/12 9:21 a.m.: Clarified reference in third paragraph to the busing violence.