Opinion: JP Progressives’s Statement Concerning Negative Campaigning in District 6

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A few days ago, a mailer arrived in the mailboxes of some voters in District 6. A composite photo of the D6 city council candidates showed Mary Tamer on one side, in color and light, and Kendra Hicks on the other side, in darkened black and white.

This kind of image manipulation is a known racist tactic used to make Black candidates appear menacing, and it is entirely unacceptable. It is difficult to believe that the Tamer campaign was unaware of this trope in the year 2021.

On Monday morning, after several days of outrage and pushback from the D6 community, the Tamer campaign released a statement noting that the mailer “did not set the right tone.” We call this a statement and not an apology because nowhere in it was an expression of regret, an acknowledgement of the harm caused, or the word “sorry.”

The mailer also commented on Kendra Hicks’ voting record. Mary Tamer, as a previous president of the Boston League of Women Voters, should be more aware than most of the many barriers to voting. Early and mail-in voting are quite recent additions in Boston, and access is still difficult for hourly workers, parents of young children, and voters of color—all of which describe Kendra's lived experience.

As Mary Tamer’s campaign engages in ugly tactics of shaming and racist fear-mongering, Kendra Hicks’s team has been bringing a message of possibility and inclusion, connecting with both residents who vote in every cycle and those who will be stepping into a polling place for the first time in November. We are excited by the ways Kendra brings people into the conversation and uses her lived experience to highlight the inequities faced by so many here in D6.

As of yet, we have not heard any statements from those who have endorsed Mary Tamer, repudiating her campaign’s divisive and hateful tactics. This includes the current District 6 councilor and City Council President pro tempore, Matt O’Malley. As his constituents and as a group that has worked with him over the years, we are deeply disappointed. We call upon Councilor O’Malley to speak out now against this racist attack and to withdraw his endorsement.

To our community, we say: You cannot let this pass. Silence, especially white silence, allows racism to flourish. Speak up and let your community know that you will not support a candidate who runs a racist campaign. Particularly if you have been a Tamer supporter, let the campaign know how you feel, including asking for the return of donations—otherwise, your money supported this mailer.

JP Progressives stands strongly by our endorsement of Kendra Hicks for District 6 City Councilor, and we invite you to join us in showing your support.

 

The JP Progressives Steering Committee includes the following:
Ed Burley, co-chair
Ziba Cranmer
Mohammed Dar
Enid Eckstein
Bruce Fleischer
Rebecca Gray
Martha Karchere
Cindy Lu
Krista Magnuson, co-chair
Christine McCarthy
John Riordan
Anne Rousseau, co-chair
Ella Wise

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