The Dorchester Historical Society’s holiday card sparked some outrage this past week. On Nov. 21, the Boston organization posted an announcement to its website for its forthcoming holiday party which read, “We’re dreaming of a white Dorchester.” On Monday, the organization apologized after criticism that the messaging wasn’t inclusive to people of other racial backgrounds.
It all started when one critic called out the Dorchester Historical Society via Twitter on Monday. “Looks like someone did not proof this,” the commenter wrote. “The message of a white Christmas implies others are left out. Maybe not intentional but not how it appears. Faux Pas.”
The Dorchester Historical Society responded to the tweet with an apology.
“We are very truly sorry about our graphic used for this event,” the statement read. “This was an unfortunate oversight on our part and the event photograph has been removed from our social media. We were simply changing the words to the classic Christmas carol and did not think it through properly.”
The song they are referring to is the 1942 holiday classic “White Christmas,” written by Irving Berlin. “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas” is the first line in the song.
But this messaging doesn’t quite work the same when you’re describing a neighborhood that’s majority people of color. Dorchester is “the biggest and most diverse neighborhood” in Boston, according to Boston.gov. Residents in the neighborhood are 28.8% white, 35.5% black, 14.3% Hispanic or Latino and 11.9% Asian, according to data from Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development based on the 2010 Census.
It’s important to note that racial demographics have possibly shifted in the past decade due to gentrification in Dorchester, where black and Latino families are most vulnerable of being displaced, according to the Dorchester Reporter.
As of Wednesday, the holiday card in question has been replaced on the Dorchester Historical Society’s website. The new invitation reads, “May your Dorchester days be merry and bright.”