Cities, like people, have reputations. Some of these are basic, trivial things‚ÄĒLos Angeles has bad traffic and good weather‚ÄĒothers more qualitative‚ÄĒeveryone in Miami drives like a coke fiend.But some cities have more unsettling reps. Like Boston, a city where racist shit seems to happen all the time, so much so that the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team (yes, that Spotlight team, the one from the movie) published an in-depth series of stories exploring exactly that last year. And so, for its most recent field piece, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah sent correspondent Roy Wood, Jr. to Boston, to ask the question that sometimes comes to mind to those who do not live in Boston, which is: How racist is Boston really?
In the segment, which you can watch below, Wood visits the Spotlight team to get a factual baseline to work from, and he learns from reporter Akilah Johnson that income disparity between white and black families in Boston is astounding, with the median net worth for white families coming in at $247,500, while the median income for black families is… $8. It’s astonishing, and Roy Wood, Jr. goes to some bleakly funny lengths to illustrate it.
We should also stress that the segment is funny, but it’s funny like your airplane pilot making a joke about rollercoasters might be funny. (Cool if you’ve already landed without incident, but extremely dark if you, like America, are in the middle of your flight.) It’s also a pretty good, if barebones, primer on the very idea of systemic racism and inequality, which is not an epidemic of people shouting slurs, but the ways inequality is upheld by the ignorance of the people who benefit it‚ÄĒthe ones in the best position to do something about it, but also the least likely, because systemic racism doesn’t really do anything to harm them.