Why Is City Hall Dividing Dorchester?

Recently, the City of Boston Public Health Commission published advertisements in this newspaper giving notice of a public health issue. One of the ads addressed "Residents of North Dorchester", the other "Residents of South Dorchester."

We have published both, but we find the nomenclature to be troubling.

In our view, there is one Dorchester, a community which is comprised of a number of different neighborhoods. Some time in the last half century, city planners decided to divide our community into two. In so doing, they created names for districts that historically came to represent a racial divide.

Thus, the term "North Dorchester" became a codeword for a part of our community which has a substantial black and other racial minority population, and "South Dorchester" came to represent that part of our community considered "white."

This week we received two press releases from the Mayor's press office about the "Pave the Way" program; one headlined the program "in Mattapan, North Dorchester," and included Standard St. in Lower Mills and Torrey Street in Codman Square, among others; while the "in Dorchester" release includes Ashmont St. and Burt St. near Codman Square, along with Manchester St. in Lower Mills, one block over from Standard Street.

Who in City Hall can be responsible for such designations? And what is their motivation? And why does city government insist on dividing our community.

Over the years, we have published commentaries calling for the end of the use of these divisive terms, and we routinely avoid making use of the terms "South Dorchester" and 'North Dorchester." It is very disappointing that city government continues to propagate these terms.

Planners have long used "geocodes" and "census tracts" to micro-study smaller parts of large neighborhoods; but there is no "North Dorchester" or "South Dorchester", other than that which existed in the flawed thinking of the racially biased planners who first came up with the terms. It is most disappointing that current city officials continue this practice.

- Ed Forry

A Growing Pride in Dot Roots

We had a call this week from a 67 year old man who lives in retirement on Cape Cod. This Dorchester native said he stills travels regularly up Route 3 to visit his mom in a Quincy nursing home, and until recently he drove his pick-up truck, proudly displaying his OFD- Originally from Dorchester bumper sticker. The bright yellow sticker, he said, never failed to bring a wave, a smile or a friendly greeting from other OFD'ers who passed him on the road.

But, he had a problem: he just sold the vehicle and put a new car on the road, and now he's forced to ride without his sign proclaiming his Dorchester roots. He urgently hopes to get a new sticker, and we sent one along to him.

This man's OFD experience is repeated numerous times and it underscores just how attached so many people feel to this community. At our website (www.dotnews.com), Dorchester folk from around the country are sustaining their own digital community, leaving messages, searching for old friends and generally recalling the great feelings they have about growing up in Dorchester.

For many, it was not always fashionable to proclaim their Dorchester connection. Now, more and more, being a Dot person- current or formerly- has great cache. It is a development to celebrate.


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