Many residents of District 6 are upset and pushing back against a recent mailer from District 6 Council candidate Mary Tamer’s campaign. The mailer shows an image of Tamer, who is Arab-American, on the left in color, while Kendra Hicks, the other candidate for the District 6 seat, a Black Dominican woman and the other candidate for District 6, is shown on the right in black and white.
The text on the mailer reads “There are stark differences between the candidates for District 6 City Council.”
Jamaica Plain Progressives, which has endorsed Hicks, released a statement on the matter, saying that “this kind of image manipulation is a known racist tactic used to make Black candidates appear menacing, and it is entirely unacceptable. It is difficult to believe that the Tamer campaign was unaware of this trope in the year 2021.”
Hicks also released a statement on Twitter, saying that “In 2021, there is no place for such blatantly racist messaging in a campaign hoping to represent as diverse a community as District 6. I entered this race to meet the urgent need of resident across the city, focused on solutions and with a belief that together we can create better policy with more voices at the table,” the statement says.
“Darkening or editing a photo of a Black person to look more menacing is a racist tactic that has long been used by candidates in political campaigns, most notably by Republicans. The decision to print and send this mailer to thousands of residents is not only damaging to me but sends a message to the tens of thousands of Black and Brown residents across the city. We are not a menace. We are mothers, children, seniors, workers, voters, business owners, and taxpayers, and we deserve respect.”
Tamer’s campaign issued a response on Twitter on October 18, saying that “The Tamer Campaign, which abhors all forms of racism, sent out a mailer citing clear policy differences between Mary and her opponent, Kendra Hicks.” It continues, “The photo used was never intended to cause harm or show racial animus, but it is clear, based on the feedback we have received and heard, that it did not set the right tone.
Candidates for public office make errors in the midst of long campaign days, and everyone on this multiethnic, multilingual campaign team has learned a valuable lesson. What we intended to focus on and will continue to focus on are the significant policy differences between Mary and her opponent. Elections are about choices, and District 6 voters have a clear choice to make on November 2.”
The back of the mailer features a chart with the “differences” between the two candidates, one of which states that Hicks “has not voted in 14 of the last 20 elections including Trump V. Clinton,” while Tamer’s side reads “increase access to voting as President of the Boston League of Women Voters.”
Hicks said in her statement that “implying that my voting record bars me from running for public office is a form of voter disenfranchisement. As someone who has faced barriers to voting—structural and personal—I am committed to expanding voter enfranchisement and removing the barriers that continue to stand in the way of many.”
JP Progressives said that “Mary Tamer, as a previous president of the Boston League of Women Voters, should be more aware than most of the many barriers to voting.”
The group also called upon those who have endorsed Tamer to issue statements against the mailer and even withdraw endorsement, particularly calling out current District 6 City Councilor Matt O’Malley, who has endorsed Tamer.