Moment defiant Boston Mayor Michelle Wu arrives to host her no-whites holiday party despite criticism the ‘electeds of color’ party is divisive: Unrepentant city leader says she’s honored to be part of the group

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Written By Maya Cantina
  • Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, held a holiday party for ‘electeds of color’
  • Wu’s office mistakenly sent the invitation to all 13 members of the city council, and then had to retract the invites sent to white people
  • Wu defended the gathering and was all smiles outside the event 

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Boston Mayor Michelle Wu was defiant in face of waves of criticism over her administration’s ‘elected of color’ holiday party that was held in a city-owned building on Wednesday night. 

Speaking alongside Russell Holmes, a Massachusetts state representative, outside of the event at the city’s Parkman House, Wu claimed to members of the media that ‘some of the folks who are concerned might also just not have all the information.’ 

Outside the venue, Wu and Holmes defended the ‘no whites’ event and said there are countless examples of representative groups based on race, with both citing the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington, DC, as an example. 

‘I can understand someone might be confused or worried if certain people weren’t being invited at all or were being left out of any type of celebration. But I assure you, everyone on the Boston City Council has got an invitation to multiple types of events and holiday parties,’ Wu said. 

The segregated holiday party for ‘electeds of color’ has been held for years in Boston, but came under scrutiny this year after an email invitation was sent to all 13 members of the city council, only for them to be rescinded from the seven white councilors 15 minutes later.

Rep. Holmes chimed in during the impromptu press conference.  ‘The controversy really should be that this is the first time we’ve had a woman mayor and a person of color and Asian elected here in the city,’ he said. 

Democratic Councilor Frank Baker, who is white, disagreed. ‘I do find it divisive, but what are you going to do about it. You don’t want me at a party, I’m not going to come to a party,’ he told WHDH. 

Michelle Wu, the mayor of Boston, is seen on Wednesday night arriving at the ‘electeds of color’ party

Russell Holmes, a Massachusetts state representative, is pictured with Wu on Wednesday night at the party

Russell Holmes, a Massachusetts state representative, is pictured with Wu on Wednesday night at the party

Around a dozen people attended the party

Guests are seen arriving at Wednesday’s party, held at Parkman House

One woman covered her face as she arrived at the controversial party on Wednesday night ahead of Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden

One woman covered her face as she arrived at the controversial party on Wednesday night ahead of Suffolk County District Attorney Kevin Hayden

Some of those arriving for the celebration appeared to be trying to enter the party incognito

Some of those arriving for the celebration appeared to be trying to enter the party incognito

The holiday gathering for 'electeds of color' lasted less than two hours

The holiday gathering for ‘electeds of color’ lasted less than two hours 

A partygoer in festive green is seen leaving Wednesday night's holiday party

A partygoer in festive green is seen leaving Wednesday night’s holiday party

Caterers were seen bringing in trays of food for the guests, and around a dozen people were seen by DailyMail.com arriving at 5:30pm. The party was over within two hours. 

Wu also said the event allows representatives to build collations and represent communities. She added the holiday season is a great time together. 

She again defended the email scandal saying that many have experienced the embarrassment of sending an email by mistake. 

There are many gatherings across Boston based on different representative groups, Wu said, adding that ‘everyone’ has gotten invitations to multiple similar events. 

Wu was elected Mayor of Boston in November 2021, becoming the city’s first female and first Asian American mayor. 

Michael McCormack, an attorney and former five-term Boston city councilor, said Wu’s hosting an exclusive party is not typical of her office, and argued former mayors Tom Menino and Ray Flynn would have invited the entire chamber. 

‘The problem is that Boston and race, unfortunately, are synonymous. I’m just hoping it was a mistake. It’s not something that anyone in the mayor’s office should be proud of,’ McCormack said. 

The Boston Herald reported there were seven white council members, who were not invited – and six people of color who were. 

‘This is a group that has been in place for many, many years,’ Wu, the first Asian American mayor of Boston, said earlier in the day.  ‘We celebrate all kinds of connection and identity and culture and heritage in the city.

‘Just yesterday we hosted our official City Hall Hanukkah lighting.

‘We have had tree lightings, and we want to be a city where everyone’s identity is embraced, and that there are spaces and communities we can help support.’

Michelle Wu, the mayor of Boston, on Wednesday defended her 'electeds of color' holiday party

Michelle Wu, the mayor of Boston, on Wednesday defended her ‘electeds of color’ holiday party

She said the invitation to white people was ‘an honest mistake’, refusing to accept that dividing people by race could be offensive.

‘I think we’ve all been in the position at one point where an email went out and there was a mistake in the recipients,’ she said.

‘So there was truly just an honest mistake.

The event was revealed after Mayor Wu's director of City Council relations Denise DosSantos (pictured) accidentally invited the entire chamber instead of only 'electeds of color'

The event was revealed after Mayor Wu’s director of City Council relations Denise DosSantos (pictured) accidentally invited the entire chamber instead of only ‘electeds of color’ 

‘There are multiple ways that we celebrate with everyone. There are several parties where all the entire city council and all of our elected colleagues have been invited to.’

The 38-year-old daughter of Taiwanese immigrants said she and her team had ‘had individual conversations with everyone, so people understand that it was truly just an honest mistake that went out in typing the email field.’

She added: ‘And I look forward to celebrating with everyone at the holiday parties that we will have beside this one as well.

‘And it is my intention that we can again be a city that lives our values and creates space for all kinds of communities to come together.’

Wu’s invitation for Wednesday’s party was sent out to all councilors in error by her aide, Denise DosSantos.

DosSantos followed up the email 15 minutes later apologizing for the invite, clarifying it was only meant for the city’s councilors of color. 

‘I wanted to apologize for my previous email regarding a Holiday Party for tomorrow,’ DosSantos, a black woman, wrote. 

‘I did send that to everyone by accident, and I apologize if my email may have offended or came across as so. Sorry for any confusion this may have caused.’ 

There was no apology for actually planning to host a racially segregated party.

Wu (pictured in October) sparked backlash after planning a race-based Christmas party for 'electeds of color'

Wu (pictured in October) sparked backlash after planning a race-based Christmas party for ‘electeds of color’ 

Wu's director of City Council relations, Denise DosSantos, reportedly invited the chamber to the exclusive event by accident, and apologized for any offense caused

Wu’s director of City Council relations, Denise DosSantos, reportedly invited the chamber to the exclusive event by accident, and apologized for any offense caused 

Wu’s spokesman Ricardo Patron said on Wednesday the mayor was asked to host the annual party by the Electeds of Color group, and the host and location changes each year. 

Patron said the party was just one of a number that were happening over the festive season, and Wu was planning a larger holiday party next week for all her cabinet members, city councilors and the entire legislature. 

Some of those disinvited from the party because they were white shrugged it off, while others said it was a sad state of affairs.

‘We stopped getting to know each other, and we started attacking each other,’ Councilor Baker also said.

He said it was part of ‘the wake’ of the pandemic, and a failure to ‘connect at the heart.’

‘I find it unfortunate that with the temperature the way it is, that we would further that division,’ Baker said, adding: ‘I don’t really get offended too easily. 

‘To offend me, you’re going to have to do much more than not invite me to a party.’ 

Others defended the move, with black city councilor Brian Worrell saying the holiday party was an example of Boston’s government reflecting ‘all kinds of specific groups.’ 

‘We make space and spaces for all kinds of specific groups in the city and city government,’ Worrell told the Boston Herald. 

‘This is no different, and the Elected Officials of Color has been around for more than a decade.’ 

Worrell also reportedly said DosSantos has a good working relationship with the city council and he didn’t take offense to the way the incident unfolded. 

‘As she said in her follow-up email, she meant no ill will,’ he said.  

Brian Worrell

Kendra Lara

Sharon Durkan

Julia Mejia

The Boston City Council comprises of seven white council members and six of color. Pictured (L-R) is Brian Worrell, Kendra Lara, Sharon Durkan and Julia Mejia 

Erin Murphy

Ruthzee Louijeune

Frank Baker

Gabriela Coletta

(L-R) Erin Murphy, Ruthzee Louijeune, Frank Baker and Gabriela Coletta

City Council president Ed Flynn

Ricardo Arroyo

Liz Breadon

Michael Flaherty

(L-R) City Council president Ed Flynn, Ricardo Arroyo, Liz Breadon, and Michael Flaherty 

Councilwoman Tania Fernandes Anderson defended Wu, saying: 'Just like there are groups that meet based on shared interests or cultural backgrounds, it's completely natural for elected officials of color to gather for a holiday celebration'

Councilwoman Tania Fernandes Anderson defended Wu, saying: ‘Just like there are groups that meet based on shared interests or cultural backgrounds, it’s completely natural for elected officials of color to gather for a holiday celebration’ 

It is claimed Wu's hosting of the exclusive party is not typical, and may not have been accepted if carried out by former mayors including Ray Flynn (pictured)

A former city councilor claimed former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino (pictured) would have only invited the whole chamber

Some critics questioned Wu’s judgement as it is claimed hosting an exclusive party is not typical of her mayoral office, and the move may not have flown if carried out by former mayors such as Ray Flynn (left) and Thomas Menino (right) 

Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson, in an email to DosSantos and Wu’s team, said the email invite ‘should not offend anyone and there is absolutely no confusion.’ 

Feeling there were ‘no need for apologies at all’, Fernandes Anderson said: ‘Just like there are groups that meet based on shared interests or cultural backgrounds, it’s completely natural for elected officials of color to gather for a holiday celebration.’

She continued: ‘Many groups celebrate and come together in various ways, and it’s not about excluding anyone. 

‘Instead, it’s about creating spaces for like-minded individuals to connect and support each other.’ 

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