The power of perception
Boston friendly? Depends on who you ask.
Boston isn’t known as the friendliest place, but perceptions of just how hospitable it is vary greatly by race.
Thirty eight percent of African-Americans say the city is welcoming to minorities, while 47 percent of Hispanics feel the same way, according to a survey by the Commonwealth Compact, a University of Massachusetts Boston project formed to promote diversity.
By comparison, 63 percent of whites said the city embraces people of color.
The survey by Boston research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey, polled 1,500 people of various races across the country on their attitudes about 10 major cities. New York scored the highest on the welcoming scale among all races, while Minneapolis was last. Boston ranked seventh.
Robert Turner, codirector of the Commonwealth Compact, said some of the negative perceptions about Boston come from the fact that the city is largely segregated. Historic events, such as the busing crisis in the 1970s, also linger in people’s minds, he said. And, Turner said, you can’t overlook the “cold-shoulder factor.’’
“How welcoming do they think Boston is to anybody?’’ he said.
Segan Odedele , an 18-year-old black man who moved to Boston to attend Northeastern University in 2009, said he has noticed some standoffishness, but overall he feels welcomed: “Sometimes people look away, but maybe they’re just shy and having a bad day or something.’’
Katie Johnston Chase can be reached at email@example.com.