HomeCommunity IssuesBacklash against diversity now includes holiday parties

Backlash against diversity now includes holiday parties

A holiday party thrown by the mayor of Boston for city council members who come from minority communities sparked debate this week about diversity, inclusion and some say exclusion.

Trouble started when an aide for Mayor Michelle Wu accidentally sent an invite for the party to all 13 city councilors, 7 of whom are White.

Fox News reports that outgoing City Councilor Frank Baker criticized the invite as “exclusionary.”

“I find it unfortunate that with the temperature the way it is, that we would further division,” he said.

The aide who made the mistake has since apologized.

“I wanted to apologize for my previous email regarding a Holiday Party for tomorrow,” Denise DosSantos wrote. “I did send that to everyone by accident and I apologize if my email may have offended or came across as so. Sorry for any confusion this may have caused.”

The brouhaha comes as a backlash against DEI gained momentum after the conservative U.S. Supreme Court ruled against affirmative action in college admissions this summer. Since then, anti-affirmative action advocates have filed lawsuits challenging grants and scholarships meant to increase diversity.

Events specifically for minority and other underrepresented groups have been common in schools and workplaces as a way to find spaces for them where they can feel comfortable.

“The attention that was given specifically to race and particularly anti-Black racism in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, I think that wave of support and interest was almost inevitably going to invite a backlash,” said Professor Erica Foldy, at New York University said to USA Today. “And I think that that’s what we’re seeing now.”

City Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson defended the party for minority members of the council. She is African American and Muslim.

It’s “about creating spaces for like-minded individuals to connect and support each other,” she said in an email quoted by the Boston Herald.

“There’s nothing wrong and lots of things right with giving people of color and other people from marginalized groups a break from surviving in spaces that were not necessarily (and) not originally designed for them and may in some ways may feel hostile to them,” she said. “So I think, actually, a good trend would be to have more of these kinds of events, rather than fewer.”

Mayor Wu’s office said its planning a party for the entire city council next week.

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