Boston has long been saddled with a reputation of racism and intolerance. While in many respects, Boston has grown up and become a more inclusive city, a recent article in The Boston Globe reminds us that Beantown still has its niches of prejudice.


Some of those pockets of bigotry land, unfortunately, in some of the least likely places—nightclubs. Supposedly places for people to unwind, meet new people, and have a few drinks (it is Boston, after all) , clubs downtown don’t always live by the carefree image they promote.

Lawrence Harmon begins his article, “If you ask entertainment promoters in Boston to recommend a stress-free venue in the city where people of any ethnicity would be comfortable at the bar or on the dance floor, they respond with one voice: Cambridge.” We shouldn’t have to go across the Charles to experience true diversity.

Future Boston calls for a change starting with a public hearing. But let’s not do it in City Hall—let’s do it where the people of Boston really work, sleep, and play.

Nightclubbing should be fun—and there’s nothing fun about apartheid. 

—Carly, Future Boston intern


About Future Boston Alliance

Future Boston Alliance is a non-profit organization seeking to revolutionize our city's creative economy. By advocating for new talent and businesses and holding educational events, we aim to make Boston a hub for collaboration, innovation, and culture.

12 responses »

  1. Kendrick Reynolds says:

    Is this really a problem? You’re inability to feel comfortable is the responsibility of … who?

    Does the possibility of not going out at night seem reasonable? Have you considered how odd it is to want someone else to own your feelings? To assume ownership and agency of your personal discomfort at a nightclub?

    Odd. When you’re older you will worry about things that matter. But, for now, I suppose this seems incredibly important.

    • We think racism of any kind in any situation is really a problem, yes. Our frustration is not based in the fact that this is happening at a nightclub. Rather, it is based in the fact that this is happening anywhere in Boston.

      • Larry Kim says:

        But where is racism not happening?

        In what city or state in this country are men and women of color, gay, lesbian or transgendered people not working their way up/out/through a white, male,
        hetero-normative system of perks and power?

        Find that answer. Then ask yourself if Boston is as horrible as you’re making it out to be.

  2. Chandler says:

    This blog reminds me of a politician running for office. Scour the newspapers and fox news for scraps of content to criticize the President, then string them all out on single blog. At least with Romney, we know that he is businessman trying to become president. What is your angle?

    Boston is definitely not perfect, and you’ll certainly have an easy time getting cheers (from me too) for saying the bars close too early, but why not also try to highlight some of the good things it is doing. For example, in the last month I went to cool open studio events in the South End and Somerville…stuff like that needs to be encouraged.

  3. Larry Kim says:

    This city has a 6.2% unemployment rate. I doubt people in Ohio are barking about the nightlife.

    Sorry the world isn’t what you want to be.

    • Just because Boston is doing extremely well in some areas doesn’t mean we shouldn’t push to make it better across the board. The city has been blessed with how well it has weathered the recession, but that doesn’t mean we get a pass on everything else. If we want to continue to weather future recessions, we need to always be striving to improve every facet of our city.

      • Larry Kim says:

        Get a pass on everything else?

        With all due respect, what else is there?

        The ledger of our national conversation for the better part of a decade has been about the economic downturn and the inability of millions of American’s to provide for themselves and those they love. Little else, if anything, has broken past this.

        Again, you live in a state with a 6%+ unemployment rate . . . at a time when millions of your fellow state and national citizens have been without work so long, they’ve given up looking for another job. This matters. This counts. Sorry you can’t get your drink on till the wee hours of the morning in Massachusetts but some things matter more than others.

        Consider the alternatives. The fact that young people in Boston cant behave like young people in Brooklyn or London isn’t a problem.

  4. Jan Dumas says:

    So are you just talking about night life promoters or all bars in general?

    Future Boston keeps saying it’s not about the night life. Then I read the blog and see more posts about night life then any thing else. I will stop believing Future Boston is not all about the nightlife when FB can go a month without a night life post.

  5. Truthtella says:

    Selkoe is pretending he cares about changing the town.

    Quite the opposite.

    This is customer retention marketing masked as social activism.

  6. Jan Dumas says:

    I think you are forgetting one thing, not every body listens to the same music. I would not attend a rap show, and I think few if any of the people in your group would listen to the Battlefield Band.

    That and, apartheid is defined as a government supported separation of the races, Boston does not have apartheid, it has people self segregated on basis of personal interest. Our churches are even more self segregated than our nightclubs! It just happens that way.

    • Christopher Todis says:

      Agreeing with Jan Dumas.

      Given the picture that accompanies the essay, and the concept that’s floated
      as Boston having nightclubs that operate beneath an umbrella of government supported separation by the races, the narrative is a bit much.

      Hyperbole isn’t necessary when the truth wil do just fine. Can we tell the truth? That downtown is becoming a more residential area and those residents are far less inclined to have their backyards and front steps marred by late-night partygoers?

      Most of the articles and essays on this blog are hyperbolic to such an inane degree you would think living in Boston is no different than living in amish country.

      We would rot from a lack of imagination if the town envisioned on this site was the town made manifest; inadequate transportation and a million elderly minds in cahoots to keep young people from smiling seems the authors verdict. Which, is should be said, seems a bit extreme.

      Also, there is actual, concrete, quantifiable racism happening in this country–and in this city–each and every day. A housing opportunity is denied based on race each and every day. Young people are sentenced unfairly based on race each and every day. Men and women of color are denied employment based on race each and every day.

      But when one equates the inability to stay out until 3AM with the systemic disenfranchisement of minorities and women writ large, you’ve lost me.

      I would think you lose a ton of other folks as well.

      What this ‘alliance’ would be wise to focus on is doing everything in its power to increase the number of local employers who are ready and willing to hire those in our most troubled neighborhoods.

      Take concrete steps to reduce the number of violent crimes that plague the areas in which young men and women of color live. This, too, would be worth the effort.

      The last great transformation this city needs isn’t in the Mayor’s office. It’s in the neighborhoods that give us those headlines that make us shake our heads and wish things were different. Those problems are solved with jobs. Why?

      Because its awfully difficult is harp about the inability to order drinks at night when you have somewhere to go in the morning.

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