Imagine the following true confession by a U.S. senator, offered up as justification for helping to force “friendly takeovers” of businesses whose owners had the “wrong skin color”:
We get used to the fact that we’ll be the only white people in the restaurant. We want to come to something like this to see other people who look like us. Everybody has their own comfort zone.
Replace the word white with black and you have a verbatim quote by William “Mo” Cowan, the attorney who will serve out the remainder of John Kerry’s term in the U.S. Senate.
The Daily Caller reports that back when Cowan was head of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers’ Association, he was also part of a group that used black flash mobs to coerce white-owned restaurants in Boston to sell. The group’s leader, a software developer named Reggie Cummings, would send out emails to professionals of color synchronizing a night and time when they would descend on a designated eating establishment.
Cummings told The Guardian’s Gary Younge in a 2003 interview:
Boston is one of the best cities in the world in terms of culture, arts and music. Yet I find myself living in a world that doesn't look like me. So I thought there are all these great places. Let's take them over.
Cowan who was also interviewed explained:
White people in the U.S. have had the comfort zone all their lives. They don’t have to go looking for it. It’s always interesting to me to observe even the most positive, forward-thinking progressive member of the majority culture when they are surrounded by minorities.
But Younge, who is himself black, sees these ambushes (his word) differently. “If friendly-takeovers are about integrating downtown Boston,” he wrote, “they are also about asserting a black identity within it. If white people organised groups on such racial lines they would be accused of racism.”
If there is a silver lining in the story it is that Cowan’s stay in Congress will be brief. He is not among the candidates competing in the Democratic Party’s April 30 primary for the seat.
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