B For Vendetta

Boston, we have a problem…

Our city has been pegged as a notoriously racist metropolitan, full of bigots who use racial epithets and negative stereotypes far too casually.

I’m here to acknowledge that reputation as being painfully true, to a degree. And I want to do something about it.

In the aftermath of the Bruins’ game 7 loss to the Washington Capitals, a number of Bruins fans took to Twitter to vent. Unfortunately, they did so in the worst way possible – by targeting Joel Ward with racist Tweets. Take a look:


Racist Bruins/hockey fans
Don't look away. And don't shrug it off.


Now, the immediate urge from many Bostonians is to say, “They’re not real Bruins fans” and “They don’t represent Boston.”

Really? This guy’s not a Bruins’ fan?


Racist Bruins Fan
Well, what's the right way to take the "N" word?


I desperately want to believe these people are just a small, vocal minority that’s cut off from the rest of the region, but I stopped believing that fairy tale many years ago – right around the time I moved back to Massachusetts after living in Virginia for seven years. You know, Virginia – rebels flags, Confederate monuments, and state song that would make most folks blush. But in all my time in that Red State, I didn’t hear the “N word” once. Yet I hear it far too often in Boston.

Grantland’s Bill Simmons doesn’t think a larger connection should be made between these fans and the city overall. “Those morons don’t reflect on the city of Boston, but rather the Internet itself — an occasionally unseemly place with little accountability that willingly courts hateful morons from every corner of the world,” he wrote.

I appreciate Simmons condemning the Tweets, but I take exception with the reasoning. Yes, the Internet can be a dark place that’s full of racism. But that’s not really what this is about. Not completely.

Understand that these people tweeted these hateful messages out Wednesday night because they felt comfortable enough to do so. They felt safe in the confines of Twitter and their own relatively small cliques of followers to post these words. They did not fear consequences from their friends and followers.

Now, you can say that just makes the dumb and ignorant of the social media world we live in. And that’s part of it. But the other, inescapable part of the equation is that they felt certain the racist comments wouldn’t be condemned by their followers and the people around them. You know, friends and family members.

Check the timelines of the some of these racists — you tell me how many of their followers challenged them for using the “N” word or objected to the racism.

So it’s not just these Tweeting bigots that are the problem – it’s everyone else who sees the Tweets and don’t stand up to them. Public racism like this doesn’t just happen in a vacuum; a protective atmosphere has to be constructed to make these bigots feel it’s okay to post these things.

That’s the awful part – the part that even the biggest Boston homers don’t want to acknowledge. There’s a culture of looking the other way when it comes to racism here. Maybe it’s because Bostonians are so sick of hearing about racism and Metco and school busing in the 1970s, but too many people here are willing to shrug off these racist insults and jokes with a let-it-slide attitude.

Well, I’m not.

I’ve seen too much of this over the last decade, and I’ve fucking had it. I’m waging a war on racism in Boston, and I’m on a vendetta ride again these bigots. I’m going to scour Twitter and Facebook and whatever else I can find to root you out. I see a racist Tweet against Joel Ward, I call out the man (or woman) who Tweeted it.

I will call you out, I will shame you, and I will badger you until you apologize – or delete your Twitter account. And there will be consequences. I’m urging the Boston Bruins — and any other sports team in the city — to ban you from the arena for life.  If I can get you suspended or expelled from school, I will. If I can even get you fired from your job, I will. You’ve been warned.

The vendetta ride is on. BTBNL will be calling out the racists, both here and on Twitter. Expect us.

  • Jeremy W. Soule

    “Don’t look away” is right. I’m so f*cking tired of these stories that don’t reflect who I am, but that I identify myself so much with the state and region makes me completely depressed that this happened. So embarrassing and shameful.

    Have any of these guys had their Twitter accounts deactivated?

    • Paul Caputo

      A bunch of the accounts don’t exist anymore, probably because the users deleted them themselves.

  • Paul Caputo

    Nicely done, Rob. Nice to see the internet mob rise up for a force of good.

  • Canucks4Life

    Canucks fan here. Sucks that all Bruins fans are being painted by the same racist brush as the morons that posted those horrible messages. Of course that isn’t the case, and I applaud you for publicly exposing them.

    We’re still charging our idiots that trashed downtown last summer. And like you, the public were the ones that outed the majority of these fools. See for yourself. –> https://riot2011.vpd.ca/

    The reputation we spent 10 years building (Olympics, etc), they destroyed in just 3 hours. Now you all understand what we in Vancouver went through last June. No we are not all rioters, but we watched the Boston news reports and we were portrayed as just that. It’s not fun when the shoe’s on the other foot is it?

    The riot happened, and yes Canucks fans did it. We own that. And we’re taking steps to make it right and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Even though you can’t stop racism, I really hope Boston owns it and doesn’t just use the easy “They’re not Bruins fans” excuse. Guess what? As the story above says… yes they are.

    • Rob Wright

      Damn, I wish we had a Web site dedicaed to identifying the racists. That would make this a lot easier.

      @Canucks4Life I can sympathize. I followed the riots coverage after Game 7 and was pretty shocked at what I was seeing — both the stupidity (posing for pictures, then posting them on Facebook) and wanton destruction of such a beautiful city. And you’re right — the wrong move is to try to disown thhose rioting fans. You have to face it, accept it, and own it in order to prevent it from happening again.

  • Phil Broder

    Shouldn’t the first step in fighting Boston racism be the team itself? What’s up the mascot: a BLACK bear! And the team wearing black jerseys? I say the team should represent all bears equally and without prejudice, with polar bear white jerseys at home, black bear black jerseys on the road, and grizzly brown jerseys as their third jersey alternative. And replace the blue lines on the rink with rainbows.

    “When it comes down to a war between the races, I’m going to side with the bears.” – Edward Abbey

    • Rob Wright

      Phil, thanks for the much-needed laugh.

  • Ron Henry

    Rob, this is a stereotype I’ve fought years to deny, but incidents like this keep that in the public mindset. Boston is full of racist. I’ve heard it from every walk of life in areas from LA to FL to Jamaica. It’s what Hollywood portrays in any Southie character gets put on the screen and what the public starts to believe. I still hope it’s the few and not the many. I was happy to see the backlash those ignoramuses got on Twitter. Great to see a good internet with nice intention. I only wish other people in their day-to-day lives will also point out how blatantly stupid they made themselves look and that there really is no place for that behavior in this day and age.

  • I emailed Billy Grossi’s principal and let him know of the behavior he exhibited. He assured me that they would have a meeting with him and his parents.

    • Rob Wright

      Oh James, I love you!!!! Thanks so much for being part of the Vendetta Ride! Let me know if you hear any updates on that one.

Facebook IconYouTube IconTwitter Icon