Loconto was overheard making anti-Asian comments during a Boston School Committee meeting over Zoom.
Chairman of the Boston School Committee (BSC) Michael Loconto resigned from his position on Thursday, October 22, after he was heard making racist comments about Asian American residents. On Wednesday, October 21, Loconto participated in a virtual BSC meeting about dropping the admission test for exam schools, when several members of the public were named to testify. As the names of the Asian American individuals were read, Loconto, seeming to not know his microphone was on, made a mocking statement about them.
“That was like, Shania, Shanaya, Shanay-nay, and Boo Boo, and David, right?” Loconto was heard saying, during the meeting.
In the eruption that followed, numerous political figures called for Loconto’s resignation, including city councilors Andrea Campbell, Kim Janey, and Annissa Essaibi-Geroge. Loconto apologized for his words, in the midst of a social media firestorm. Mayor Marty Walsh said that on Wednesday morning, Loconto let him know that he would be stepping down as chairman. On Thursday, leaders such as congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and district attorney Rachael Rollins released a statement calling Loconto’s remarks “blatantly racist and harmful,” deploring the normalization of hateful rhetoric, and concluding that Loconto’s resignation is “a step in the right direction.”
“Names carry deep significance and are fundamental to our identity and pride as a people,” reads the statement. “And yet our names have historically been weaponized for racist rhetoric, feeding stereotypes that cause so many to be seen as perpetual foreigners in this country. Last night’s incident reinforces not only the history of racial discrimination, but also a pattern of residents and families of color being shut out of important decisions and spaces of power in our city.”
According to an article by WBUR, Campbell has said that she hopes the next BSC chair will be a person of color. Boston Teachers Union president Jessica Tang said in a statement that Loconto’s remarks were unacceptable and have only highlighted the “systemic racism in our society.”
Shira Laucharoen is a reporter based in Boston. She currently serves as the assistant director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. In the past she has written for Sampan newspaper, The Somerville Times, Scout Magazine, Boston Magazine, and WBUR.