The New Black

Originally published in the Boston Phoenix

December 15, 2010
David S. Bernstein (Reporter, Boston Phoenix)

When the Theater District's Cure Lounge ejected a group of black Harvard and Yale alums and grad students last month, many saw it as the latest confirmation of Boston's racist core.
It is a perception — as old as Bill Russell and as current as Skip Gates — that successful, professional-class blacks will find more hostility than welcome in the Hub.
The Cure incident also caused heartburn for city leaders. With two major black conferences coming to Boston this summer, they hope to prove how far Boston has come in terms of race relations. The Urban League conference in July and Blacks in Government (BIG) the next month are expected to bring a combined 13,000 visitors to the city — breaking what has been, in effect, a quarter-century boycott of Boston. If something like the Cure incident were to happen during those conferences, it could do exactly the opposite, setting the city back years.
"We thought Boston was ready for an opportunity," says BIG president J. David Reeves. "Things have changed over the past 20 or 30 years."
Not only has the city changed, but Boston's black leadership is changing, too: from the "old guard" who emerged first from the busing and other civil-rights struggles, and then from the drugs and crime problems of the 1980s and '90s, to a generation whose political savvy and inclusive outlook just might help Boston to finally make room for a vibrant black middle class.

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