Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Jewton/Newton elects its first black mayor

For the past three years, my nuclear family has resided in Newton, which in 2005 was judged the nation's safest city. I have never felt particularly connected to the city because it has the aura of an overgrown town (there are now about 85,000 people there). The place just has a few too many Whole Foods, Starbucks, and traffic jams of imported SUVs to feel like home. The town's new high school will, at $200 million, be the most expensive in Massachusett's history.

However, a few things about the town please me, including its accessibility to Boston via the MBTA, the fact that the Charles River flows near my house, the world-class hospital, the local ethnic eateries in my hood, and the fact that it lies along the Boston Marathon route. And one more thing to add to the list: Newton, with a black population of about 2%, just today elected its first black mayor. I love even more what someone on the web said about this historic date:

"I find it amazing that I will now live in a city with a black mayor, in a state with a black governor, in a country with a black president. Such a thing was absolutely inconceivable when I was growing up and, regardless of how I feel about the individual politicians, I am proud to be living in a time and place where that is possible."

I am also glad to be living in such a time and place where the color of one's skin does not prohibit him from serving the public's interest. I am also proud that the winners are honorable and hard-working; in my city, the candidate knocked on more than 10,000 doors to garner support. Nonetheless, no one can deny that much more than electing black officials needs to happen in order to really alter the social constructs of our cities and nation. Bravo for more steps in the right direction, though.

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