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Boston mayor defends decision to host a holiday party for elected officials of color

by Michael Nguyen
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Inclusivity

Boston’s inaugural Asian American mayor, Michelle Wu, is staunchly upholding her decision to organize a holiday gathering exclusively for elected officials of diverse racial backgrounds. The event, named the “Electeds of Color Holiday Party,” took place on Wednesday and has been a longstanding tradition in Boston’s political landscape for over a decade, free from any prior objections.

The incident that drew recent attention involved an inadvertent invitation sent by one of Wu’s staff members to the entire city council, extending an invitation to the party hosted at the publicly-owned Parkman House near the Massachusetts Statehouse. Subsequently, a follow-up email was promptly dispatched to offer apologies for the initial message. Notably, roughly half of the council’s 13 members do not identify as white.

Mayor Wu elucidated her stance, emphasizing that various private events catering to different groups exist, and she anticipates a multitude of opportunities for festive gatherings throughout the holiday season. She attributed the incident of the mass email to a genuine typographical error, categorizing it as an unintentional mistake.

Frank Baker, a council member since 2011 who did not seek reelection for the upcoming term, expressed reservations about the concept of a holiday party exclusive to officials of color, opining that the holiday season should serve as a unifying period for all individuals to come together. While acknowledging its potential divisiveness, he resigned himself to the situation.

Councilor Ricardo Arroyo, of Latino heritage, defended the holiday gathering, suggesting that certain parties may have deliberately attempted to inflame the situation for controversy.

Ricardo Patrón, Mayor Wu’s press secretary, affirmed that city resources were not utilized to finance the event.

This controversy surrounding the holiday party draws to a close a year marked by internal discord within the council, at times revealing racial fault lines. It is noteworthy that it was only in 2020 that more than half of the city councilors were women and people of color.

Furthermore, this incident occurs against the backdrop of a broader national context wherein conservative circles have expressed opposition to diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in various sectors, encompassing academia, the corporate sphere, and beyond.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Inclusivity

What was the purpose of the “Electeds of Color Holiday Party” hosted by Mayor Michelle Wu?

The “Electeds of Color Holiday Party” aimed to provide an exclusive festive gathering for elected officials of diverse racial backgrounds in Boston.

How did the controversy surrounding the party begin?

The controversy arose when an unintended invitation was sent to the entire city council, rather than just the intended recipients, sparking a debate on the party’s exclusivity.

How did Mayor Michelle Wu respond to the situation?

Mayor Wu defended the event, citing its longstanding tradition and explaining that it was not meant to exclude anyone but rather to celebrate diversity within elected officials.

What were the differing opinions within the city council regarding this holiday party?

While some council members, like Frank Baker, found it divisive and believed the holidays should unite everyone, others, like Ricardo Arroyo, defended the event and suggested that it had been intentionally politicized.

Were public funds used to finance the “Electeds of Color Holiday Party”?

No, Mayor Wu’s press secretary confirmed that city funds were not utilized to cover the expenses of the holiday gathering.

What broader context does this controversy fit into?

The controversy unfolds against a backdrop of growing debates surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in various sectors, reflecting broader societal discussions on these issues.

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