The Dorchester Historical Society, an organization that celebrates the history of that section of Boston, has pulled an advertisement for an upcoming holiday party that used the phrase “We’re dreaming of a white Dorchester.” The ad, evoking Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas,” was one of several that substituted the word “Dorchester” into Christmas carol lyrics and popular holiday-related phrases, but contained a probably unintended — but still very unfortunate — racial connotation.
According to Boston TV station WCVB, the historical society apologized Monday, November 26.
“We are very truly sorry about our graphic used for this event,” the organization’s official Twitter account wrote. “This was an unfortunate oversight on our part and the event photograph has been removed from our social media. We were simply changing the words to the classic Christmas carol and did not think it through properly.”
Other cards included such lyrics as “may your Dorchesters be merry and bright.”
Dorchester — originally a separate town but later incorporated into Boston itself in the early 1800s — was settled by English immigrants in the 1630s. It’s located south of downtown Boston, bordering South Boston.
The historical society’s purpose, according to its website, is “preserving the traditions and records of Dorchester and its people, from the earliest settlement in 1630 to the present time.”
Dorchester historical society apologizes, says it's horrified by Christmas card it sent out to advertise an upcoming event. pic.twitter.com/144ukLTxj5
— WBZ NewsRadio (@wbznewsradio) November 27, 2018
The wording of the advertisement was especially unfortunate considering the history of racial tensions in and around the Dorchester area. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., lived in Dorchester for a time in the early 1950s while he was studying at Boston University, and the neighborhood later saw dramatic demographic change.
Dorchester was also among the flashpoints of the Boston busing crisis in the 1970s, and is currently one of the more racially segregated areas of the city. And racial tensions in the area are far from a thing of the past. In August, according to Dot News, a white Dorchester man was arrested for disorderly conduct after drunkenly ranting at several strangers, including a black man and woman on motorcycles.
We are very truly sorry about our graphic used for this event. This was an unfortunate oversight on our part and the event photograph has been removed from our social media. We were simply changing the words to the classic Christmas carol and did not think it through properly. https://t.co/2Anki4JF6N
— Dorchester Historical Society (@DotHistorical) November 26, 2018
Currently, according to Boston 25 News, Dorchester is about 45 percent black, 18 percent Hispanic, and 22 percent white. In a city with large amounts of gentrification in recent years, “a white Dorchester” carries a certain implication.
Actor Mark Wahlberg and the rest of his famous family are natives of Dorchester. Casino billionaire and Republican fundraiser Sheldon Adelson was also born there, as was the current mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh. The late Star Trek actor, Leonard Nimoy, was born in Dorchester as well.