- Boston Mayor Michelle Wu planned a Christmas Holiday Party exclusively for ‘electeds of color’
- An aide to the mayor accidentally emailed the exclusive party to the whole city council chamber
- The move to host a racially segregated party sparked outrage, with one city councilor branding it ‘unfortunate and divisive’
The Democratic mayor of Boston has sparked outrage after inviting city councilors to a holiday party intended only for ‘electeds of color.’
Michelle Wu’s invitation for the December 13 ‘Electeds of Color Holiday Party’ appeared to have been sent out to all councilors in error by her aide, Denise DosSantos.
DosSantos followed up the email 15 minutes later apologizing for the invite, clarifying that it was only meant for the city’s six councilors of color. The seven white council members were not welcome.
‘I wanted to apologize for my previous email regarding a Holiday Party for tomorrow,’ DosSantos, a black woman, wrote. ‘I did send that to everyone by accident, and I apologize if my email may have offended or came across as so. Sorry for any confusion this may have caused.’
There was no apology for actually planning to host a racially segregated party. Wu was slammed by outgoing City Councilor Frank Baker, who told the Boston Herald that it was ‘unfortunate and divisive.’
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu (pictured in October) sparked backlash after planning a race-based Christmas party for ‘electeds of colour’
Wu’s director of City Council relations, Denise DosSantos, reportedly invited the chamber to the exclusive event by accident, and apologized for any offense caused.
The move quickly divided Boston’s city council, with some saying they were not offended by the party while others questioned Wu’s judgement.
Wu was elected Mayor of Boston in November 2021, becoming the city’s first female and first Asian American mayor.
Michael McCormack, an attorney and former five-term Boston city councilor, said Wu’s hosting an exclusive party is not typical of her office, and argued former mayors Tom Menino and Ray Flynn would have invited the entire chamber.
‘The problem is that Boston and race, unfortunately, are synonymous,’ McCormack said.
‘I’m just hoping it was a mistake. It’s not something that anyone in the mayor’s office should be proud of.’
However, Wu’s spokesman Ricardo Patron said on Wednesday that the mayor was asked to host the annual party by the Electeds of Color group, and the host and location changes each year.
He said the party was just one of a number that were happening over the festive season, and Wu was planning a larger holiday party next week for all her cabinet members, city councilors and the entire legislature.
Baker said he didn’t see the additional, exclusive party as a ‘good move’ given heightened tensions in the city council, but said he was not personally offended.
The Boston City Council comprises of seven white council members and six of color. Pictured (L-R) is Brian Worrell, Kendra Lara, Sharon Durkan and Julia Mejia
(L-R) Erin Murphy, Ruthzee Louijeune, Frank Baker and Gabriela Coletta
(L-R) City Council president Ed Flynn, Ricardo Arroyo, Liz Breadon, and Michael Flaherty
Councilwoman Tania Fernandes Anderson defended Wu, saying: ‘Just like there are groups that meet based on shared interests or cultural backgrounds, it’s completely natural for elected officials of color to gather for a holiday celebration’
Wu, a former member of the city council, was elected Mayor of Boston in 2021, becoming the city’s first female and first Asian American mayor
‘I find it unfortunate that with the temperature the way it is, that we would further that division,’ he said, adding: ‘I don’t really get offended too easily.
‘To offend me, you’re going to have to do much more than not invite me to a party.’
Others defended the move, with black city councilor Brian Worrell saying the holiday party was an example of Boston’s government reflecting ‘all kinds of specific groups.’
‘We make space and spaces for all kinds of specific groups in the city and city government,’ Worrell told the Boston Herald. ‘This is no different, and the Elected Officials of Color has been around for more than a decade.’
Worrell also reportedly said DosSantos has a good working relationship with the city council and he didn’t take offense to the way the incident unfolded.
‘As she said in her follow-up email, she meant no ill will,’ he said.
Some critics questioned Wu’s judgement as it is claimed hosting an exclusive party is not typical of her mayoral office, and the move may not have flown if carried out by former mayors such as Ray Flynn (left) and Thomas Menino (right)
The event was revealed after Mayor Wu’s director of City Council relations Denise DosSantos (pictured) accidentally invited the entire chamber instead of only ‘electeds of color’
Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson, in an email to DosSantos and Wu’s team, said the email invite ‘should not offend anyone and there is absolutely no confusion.’
Feeling there were ‘no need for apologies at all’, Fernandes Anderson said: ‘Just like there are groups that meet based on shared interests or cultural backgrounds, it’s completely natural for elected officials of color to gather for a holiday celebration.’
She continued: ‘Many groups celebrate and come together in various ways, and it’s not about excluding anyone. Instead, it’s about creating spaces for like-minded individuals to connect and support each other.’