In a display of unity and celebration of diversity, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu hosted an annual holiday dinner for the city’s elected officials of color, an event that has sparked conversation and controversy. The mayor, Boston’s first Asian-American leader, took to social media to share a photo of the gathering, underscoring the significant representation of minority leaders across various levels of government in Boston.
The festive event, which took place at the historic Parkman House, came under scrutiny when an aide to Mayor Wu inadvertently extended an invitation to all city council members, including those who were not part of the event’s intended demographic. The city council consists of a diverse group with a nearly equal split between minority and white members. The unintended invite was quickly followed by an apology from the aide, but no apology was issued for the exclusive nature of the event itself.
Criticism arose from various quarters, branding the dinner as exclusionary and divisive. The gathering was called into question by some, including media commentators, who labeled it as a form of segregation. Meanwhile, other members of the city council defended the event, highlighting its role in celebrating the achievements and contributions of minority leaders within the municipal government.
Mayor Wu, who has witnessed the growth of minority representation since her tenure as a city councilor, expressed pride in the expanding group of elected officials of color. She praised the progress and the creation of mentorship opportunities within this collective, emphasizing the importance of fellowship among those breaking new ground in public service.
The dinner party, according to Wu’s press secretary, Ricardo Patrón, was not funded by city money, addressing concerns about the use of public funds for the private event. Reactions to the online photo were polarized, with some social media users voicing strong objections, while others supported the Mayor’s efforts to highlight diversity and representation.
Supporters of the mayor in the comment sections of social media platforms lauded the display of diversity, pointing out the historic imbalance of representation in spaces of influence and power. Advocates for the event emphasized the significance of creating spaces for solidarity and visibility for people of color in the public sphere, advocating for their right to “take up space” and be seen.