Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Beating of Black Teen in Marshfield, Mass. Belies Boston's Dark Side

Boston, one of the nation's oldest cities, has always been such a weird place to me. It's the place where Crispus Attucks, an African-American, became the first American to be killed by English troops of the Twenty-Ninth Regiment during the Boston Massacre on March 5, 1770.

But it's also a city that was a major center of the US slave trade and home to a large Irish-American population; many, not all, of whom haven't exactly been welcome to the idea of coexisting with black people in the highly segregated neighborhoods that surround Boston, like the infamous Irish Catholic South Boston neighborhood commonly known as "Southie"

I had a paraplegic classmate from Southie while I was in college at Penn State. She told me it was an extremely dangerous place for any African-American and she didn't know any black Boston residents who would even think about being in the neighborhood at night; she was Irish Catholic.

The photo shown above frightened me when I first saw it years ago as a child, and it still gives me chills today as an adult. In it, a white Southie resident uses a flag pole with an American flag attached to it to stab an African-American man while his hands are held behind his back during a 1970's eruption of violence by Southie residents opposed to school integration and forced busing.

As an African-American intellectual who tries to understand, through objective analysis, some of the complex mitigating factors that make some geographical areas more prone to racism than others. Boston just confuses me. Well parts of Boston anyway.

On June 17th the Boston Globe's John Ellement wrote about 7 people charged in Marshfield, MA with the vicious beating of 17 year-old Tizaya Robinson, a black teenager brutally beaten even after he was unconscious by a group of up to 12 men and women while they yelled racial slurs at him. He was also stabbed repeatedly with 3-inch thick, 18-inch long wooden stick; which was covered in blood and found at the scene.

Just reading about it horrifies and sickens me. What's terrifying is the blind hate that festers in the hearts of people motivated to brutally attack a teenager they don't even know because his skin color is different than their own. Incidents like this are not an indicator of a great nation; but a symptom of a nation eating itself from within. A nation being ravaged by the cultural cancer known as racism.

We're fighting a war in Iraq and in the mountains of Afghanistan? The greater enemy is right here at home, hiding inside the hearts and minds of people blinded by their own hate.

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