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City Council Updates: Diversity in Boston’s Art Communities and Textile Recycling

The Boston City Council will hold hearings regarding how to promote diversity in Boston’s art community.

This comes after a controversy on how black students were treated on a school trip at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) last month. Two seventh grade students said they were subjected to racist comments and harassment while visiting the museum.

The MFA said they are having their staff take diversity training after two students complained of racist behavior.

“At too many of these important institutions, visitors of color are often viewed with suspicion, treated with contempt, or even taunted with racial epithets,” said Councilor Kim Janey during the city council meeting.

Despite the incident, Janey said the desire to have the hearing is bigger than that one incident.

“It is time for us to have a broader conversation on race, inclusion and diversity in the arts,” she said. 

The MFA has since issued an apology and banned the patrons making the comments. They will also train their guards on patrolling patrons and have their staff take part in bias training.

“I am hopeful our cultural institutions want to participate and will be willing to learn how to welcome all folks,” said Janey.

In other news, Councilor Matt O’Malley requested a hearing on the feasibility of a textile recycling program in Boston.

Massachusetts residents dispose of more than 250,000 tons of textiles each year in landfills, however about 97 percent of those textiles could be reused and recycled. 

“That is a staggering statistic,” said O’Malley. 

Certain cities and town in the state like Brookline and Somerville have developed curbside textile recycling programs where they give residents a special bag to recycle their old textiles. They have diverted more than 2.2 million pounds of textiles from their waste stream.

“This is what Boston ought to be doing,” said O’Malley. 

Members of the department of public works, environment, energy and open space will be invited to the hearing.