Cambridge Mayor Marc McGovern announced in a statement Monday that the city will hold a series of “community conversations” in response to a video that went viral this month of a Harvard employee asking her neighbor with a biracial daughter if she lived in one of the “affordable units.”
“Interactions like the one shown in this video — interactions that are rooted in privilege, classism, and racism — are all too common,” the mayor said of the video, which captured national attention and garnered millions of views. “Yes, even here in Cambridge.”
After the video of the confrontation was shared on Facebook, the employee, Theresa Lund, was placed on leave from her position as executive director at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and issued an apology.
“When incidents like this arise, I hear people say that this is not the Cambridge they know,” McGovern said. “The truth is that the Cambridge I and others with privilege know is not the Cambridge that so many others have experienced. Racism and classism is not just something that happens ‘somewhere else’. It happens here, sometimes in subtle ways, as has been pointed out by members of the Black Student Union at CRLS, and sometimes in blatant ways, as we saw in the video. The truth is that even here in Cambridge, we have much work to do.”
McGovern said he has asked City Councillor Sumbul Siddiqui, an attorney who grew up in affordable housing in Cambridge, to lead the conversation series this fall.
“What took place in that video was upsetting and damaging to our entire community,” he said. “But let’s use it to catapult us to doing the hard work to move our city forward.”
Read his full statement below: