One of the Two major topics in American Life


The Spotlight team takes on our hardest question

The series was reported by Akilah Johnson, Todd Wallack, Nicole Dungca, Liz Kowalczyk, Andrew Ryan, Adrian Walker, and editor Patricia Wen. Today’s story was written by Johnson.

Google the phrase “Most racist city,” and Boston pops up more than any other place, time and time again.

It may be easy to write that off as a meaningless digital snapshot of what people say about us, and what we say about ourselves — proof of little beyond the dated (or, hopefully, outdated) memories of Boston’s public and fierce school desegregation battles of the 1970s.

Except that Boston’s reputation problem goes much deeper than an online search. A national survey commissioned by the Globe this fall found that among eight major cities, black people ranked Boston as least welcoming to people of color. More than half — 54 percent — rated Boston as unwelcoming.

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