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Election roundup: New York media outlet takes note of our quaint accent and realigns Boston geography; at-large forum is set

Teacher, Mom, Mayor

The New York Times has a long piece today about the way Annissa Essaibi George has ramped up her Boston accent, in her uniquely Anissa Essaibi George way (in which she admits to doing so then says it doesn't matter). The story quotes her, a HiPahk supporter of Michelle Wu, an accent coach and some guy who says he only started dropping his Rs harder when his mother told him to pronounce them if he wanted to get ahead in life.

The story relays an anecdote from one of the reporter's friends, a local film producer, on a birthday card she got recently from her sister:

You’re my SISTAH, you’re a PRODUCAH, and now you’re OLDAH.

The story originally began with an anecdote about Essaibi George on Preliminary Night:

The mayoral candidate Annissa Essaibi George was amping up her supporters, who had gathered in an Italian restaurant on the South Boston waterfront, a little punchy after a long day of getting out the vote.

That restaurant would be Venezia, which even a confused reporter such as ye faithful correspondent here knows is in Dorchester's Port Norfolk neighborhood. To its credit, the Paper of Record has since changed the reference to just "the waterfront," which is more accurate, especially for your typical Times reader on the Upper East Side chortling over provincial Bostonians and their accent, although these days, Bostonians who hear "the waterfront" tend to think of the area between Atlantic Avenue and the harbor downtown, not a quiet little area in Dorchester that is barely accessible from the rest of the city.

Anyway, in other news, Wu won the backing of the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus PAC:

Michelle is a bold visionary with a proven track record of building strong policies for a more equitable Boston. We are proud of her leadership when she served on MWPC's Young Professionals Executive Board, and are confident she will continue to act with urgency and in collaboration with Boston’s communities to build solutions to the city’s most pressing problems. As a woman of color and a daughter of immigrants, her election will empower Boston’s systemically underrepresented voices that are the backbone of the city.

Democratic ward committees in Jamaica Plain have organized a Zoom forum for all eight at-large council candidates. Starts at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 19.

The Dorchester Reporter talks with Michael Flaherty, who topped the preliminary ballot for one of the four at-large seats.

The Reporter also takes a look at the race for District 4 (Dorchester, Mattapan and a bit of Roslindale), where Brian Worrell and former state Rep. Evandro Carvalho are competing for the seat Andrea Campbell gave up.

The West Roxbury Business and Professional Association hosts a forum for both mayoral and city-council candidates at he Corrib Pub in West Roxbury at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 13.

Voters next month will get to vote in a non-binding referendum on whether Boston should return to an elected School Committee. Boston Parents Schoolyard News begins a series on the question, starting with an interview with Jean McGuire, the first Black woman elected to the committee before it was replaced with a committee appointed by the mayor.

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Comments

Essaibi George’s accent suddenly became more pronounced after the primary right around the time she sniped at Wu for not being “born and raised” in Boston. You can listen to her older commercials and recognize that she delivers her teacher/mother/mayor line with a more neutral pronunciation. You can tell in the new commercials that she is playing up the accent, almost as if she is doing an impression.

https://twitter.com/annissaforbos/status/1430519700086304769?s=21

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… don’t want her to be my mother either.

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would make a good attack-slogan.

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She knows she is not going to win JP, most of Roslindale, the Back Bay, Allston, and Beacon Hill.

Why not play to the base and have fun with it?

Non-native Bostonians already look at most raised here like they are looking through the glass at a menagerie at the Franklin Park Zoo.

Perhaps if people didn't think, let me emphasize think, that move ins were smahtah than us, we wouldn't throw the feces back at them.

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Her accent, whether authentic or perhaps played up so she could exactly the kind of article written in the New York Times linked here, isn’t that important to most people.

It just strikes me that the shift occurred at the same time she made it clear that Michelle Wu was “other” and not one of us because she was born, you know, elsewhere *wink*. Even though Essaibi George’s parents are immigrants, she’s using the same signals that white nativists use to “other” foreigners and people of color. AEG may not be racist, but that she is willing to use some of the same tools deployed by bigots hits a sour note.

Here accent shift is part of a larger strategy. She’s smart enough to know what she’s doing and has a diverse enough background to plausibly deny that she’s doing it.

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She is signaling native and immigrant Bostonians of all colors and backgrounds that the "they think they are smarter than you because they went to Harvard, Brown, Wesleyan, etc" people are trying to take over the city.

You only see it from a somewhat Trumpian view of "them". You don't get it, do you?

The same signals are coming from people supporting Wu just going the opposite way. Wu's base has destroyed working class areas of Boston. The near complete take over of JP, most of Roslindale, the South End and other pockets (watch out Elm Hill) by, mostly white somewhat well off growing up, educated people at the expense of the working and lower middle class is class warfare.

This "New Boston" is just war on the poor, though they don't see it that way because they had to live in Allston for three years after college and they think they were "poor" once.

I don't mind Michelle Wu at all. It is just the subtle taking down to people that irks a lot of people. It is also the legal inability to make Rent Control / Stabilization happen or making the T free that she promises, but knows, absolutely she knows she can't deliver on because the state as a whole will block her that drives me nuts, yet that's what people will believe.

Good luck to her, but get ready for a lot of school issues and the price of housing going even higher when NIMBYs get even more power under her watch.

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…she’s using the same tools that that the nativists do. She doesn’t actually have to be racist because the racists will hear her using the playbook and assign their own meaning. It’s gross.

And she gets to deny it all because of her background and the reasons you outline. It’s a win-win.

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Cause you’re doing a fell of a lot of stretching!!

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She’s appealing to Bostonians by sounding like a Bostonian?

The nerve of some people.

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No, she's appealing to one particular segment of Bostonians by thickening up her accent. It's a dog whistle, except the rest of us can hear it, too.

Even aside from that, and as hard as it might be to believe, there are people who were born right in Boston who do not drop their Rs, and not even through some conscious effort or with the help of a speech coach.

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What AG said.

I had a similar comment typed out, but the above comment is more clear and more concise.

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Look I remember in the not so recent past there was an Illinois bred, Wellesley College educated, Arkansas, District of Columbia, and New York resident who had the uncanny ability to affect different accents based on who she was addressing. Around African Americans, she sounded southern, while in New Hampshire she had very much the boring Midwestern accent people seem to love. If the claim is that her stump speech in Hyde Park, the South End, and Dorchester all have different accents sure, she’s pandering. But to claim it is a “dog whistle” is to use a phrase you know is loaded with racist connotations.

All of this brings me back to my point- why do people hate Boston accents in this neck of the internet so much that when she uses one it is considered evil?

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It’s that her shift coincides with the “born and raised here” comment. It’s transparent pandering.

No one is saying that a Boston accent in and of itself is a racist dog whistle.

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If only for the fact that she began to emphasize her accent before the comment about being born and raised.

That Wu’s supporters are getting all worked up about this article says as much about their views than it does about Essaibi George’s views.

…came out within a week of each other, both after the election, though.

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It's an important and complex job. So hopefully I would think mayor is smarter than me.

Raised inDrchester, came home after 20 years in New York and am horrified how life long and native Bostonians are treated. I might have backed Wu until the sheer force of bigotry for anyone who is not backing her sent me out of the room. Sad the best a Harvard Grad can give us is the same old race card crap. Nothing new there. Wu has bet worth of 6 million and she is promising rent control and free mass transit, the cynicism is epic. A

She isn’t dealing in this kind of crap. And despite the “dog whistle” claim, Essaibi George is attempting to appeal to those who have been harmed by actual dog whistle politics in the past, at least in the main election.

Pat Buchanan called from the 90s and wants his old guy talking point back.

And “Horrified”? Really, is the “new” Boston really that “horrifying” as compared to times in the 70s when white adults were hurling rocks and racial slurs at Black school children, or Whitey’s drug and crime-laden South Boston in the 1980s, or the Charles Stuart-era Boston of the early 90s with record-high homicide rates and inflamed racial divisions?

My favorite narrative is that somehow out-of-towners with graduate degrees who buy properties that were recently sold by native Bostonians who moved to Scituate or Nashua are the ones “destroying” the city. Come on.

The city has its problems and gentrification puts pressure and stress on a lot of people, but it’s pretty wild to say that native Bostonians are some sort of opressed class.

But yeah, all Bostonians being displaced by new folks with money are heading to Scituate.

Moron.

No need to make it personal; I don’t call you names.

You were the one who was telling me not so long ago that the dream for many Dorchester/Mattapan residents was to make it to Randolph. But there was no mention then of the pressures of gentrification influencing that migration. It was as if Randolph was the promised land.

But it seems like with Bostonians historically there’s alwayssomeone “destroying” the city: the Irish, the Italians, “those folks” that want to integrate schools, the Latinos and their “gangs”, the students, the yuppies…it’s all soooo old. And tired. And boring.

No one is being opressed because your neighbors sold out and moved and someone else moved in. And in some ways the city is a better place today for some lifelong residents—lower crime, better school performance, and higher property values have benefited lifelong Boston residents. Of course it’s not perfect, and of course it may not be better for every single person, but if this is what a “destroyed” Boston looks like, then it must have been a post-apocalyptic war zone in the 80s.

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Not everyone owns where they live, and when there is, um, a change in the socioeconomic composition of a neighborhood, there are those who suffer not only in terms of bemoaning the "good old days" but also in terms of no longer being able to afford to live where they worked to make the place attractive to those who will be able to outbid them for housing. Happened in Charlestown, South Boston, the South End, and Jamaica Plain and it is now happening in Roxbury and Dorchester. Sure, at one point it was the idea of moving out to get the lawn and good school for the kids, but trust me, there are people who want to continue to live in Boston who are getting forced out. So yeah, it's personal.

What kills me is that people decide that Boston is the place they want to live, move here, then get all pissy about the people who have been living here since before the newcomers were born. I would never gripe about the accent used in a place I decided to move to, even if it was a place with a horrendous accent like Omaha or Los Angeles.

Probably won’t own for a good long time. And housing is a s***show everywhere. My friends (multi-generational SB/Dorchester family) are looking to move out because of BPS. The 3 places they looked at in Rockland/Whitman wanted the same rent for the same size as what they and their neighbors pay in the Ashmont area. So much for finding a rental deal outside the city. My brother does well for himself in a trade and his wife makes a good salary in her sector and have been saving for years living with his in-laws, and the suburban housing market is too nuts for them. We all saw that $400k as-is burned out house in Melrose recently.

And I can tell you, for the first time in 25 years I am neither living nor wroking in Boston because I am exhausted from being pushed further and further away from my job. I have been pushed out of more than one neighborhood; the last apartment I applied for in Waltham before I found my current place had +30 applicants, almost all couples with two incomes. Even if I earned more than I do, couples are almost always going to win out because of two streams of income is bigger and better than one. It sucks, but I don’t turn couples like Wu and her husband avatars of my resentment.

The problems you outline don’t end at the City line and the overall point, which admittedly I failed to make, is that there are so many more forces causing gentrification pressures and displacement besides “new” Bostonians—some of whom want to make Boston a good place to call home. Speculative real estate, foreign investment laying empty, corporations buying up houses to artificially inflate home prices, AirBnB, poor city planning, slumlord conglomerates, the life sciences and tech sectors, are all factors, too.

So it’s not that I love gentrification as posited above; it’s that I think that by solely griping about new yuppie neighbors and not acknowledging the many other often corporate gentrifying forces, it doesn’t put the pressure/blame on the parties doing the most damage.

And yet, it's townies who show up and stomp their feet and throw a fit over every closed-down car mechanic and vacant lot being turned into housing. Short of the city somehow throwing up barriers and checkpoints at every road, making it illegal for 'outsiders' to enter the city to rent a home, how exactly is it supposed to keep housing affordable enough that lifelong residents, who by your own words can't compete with grad-school-gentrifiers, can still rent? Private landlords own their units and they rent them out at the highest price they can, and if 'outsiders' can afford more they'll pay more. The only downward pressure on housing prices is via supply increases. Or a giant economic crises that removes jobs and money in general from the city, but I can't imagine townies would benefit from that either. It sucks, sure, capitalism is a bitch! But the "WE HAVE TO KEEP EVERYTHING THE SAME AS IT WAS WHEN I WAS TEN" townie crowd isn't proposing any solutions that are actually going to accomplish what they say they want.

What is it with Boston mayors and this now-outdated concept of the "Boston accent"? Mahty Walsh had it and Menino was an accent unto himself. Ray Flynn, who went on the be the Pope's umbrella holder, had it. Somebody should tell Essaibi George that these days that accent is more at home in the northern and southern suburbs of Boston than in today's Boston neighborhoods. Everybody talks that way in those suburbs, due to the "white flight" of the 70s and 80s. Everybody from East Boston went to Peabody, Lynnfield and Saugus, effectively rendering those towns East Boston North. People from Dorchester went to Milton, Braintree, Mansfield, etc. Unfortunately for Essaibi George, the Boston-accented people in those locations cannot vote for Mayor of Boston.

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I still hear it, even here in WuLand, um, Roslindale, where the Pleasant Cafe still has "tonic" on the menu.

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You are annoyed when you come across Bostonians speaking Boston accents.

I knew Flynn and Menino and became acquainted with the Walsh family back when Ed King was governor. The way they talk is/was they way they talk. If you don’t like it, go back to the Midwest or wherever it is you are from.

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Well, that's the most Bostonian thing that's been uttered in this entire thread.

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I find myself sometimes thinking "You're not from here, you can't say that" but I hate when I think that. My husband is "not from here" (he is from eastern CT) and that would negate him. I try to curb that thinking. I support Wu for mayor.

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Please, Real Housewives, PLEASE pick this up and run with it!

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Wheah does Essaibi George get her ciggies and beah? Jackie's Packie on Rte. 34!

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That's hilarious , I'm guessing that is real, if not they are very good actors.

Who are all from the Boston area.

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It shows, you can fake a boston accent but it isn't easy. That was hilarious.

Jessica Chaffin (Chaffin in this) plays Ronna Glickman, a middle aged Jewish widow and socialite from Marblehead who (along with her sidekick Bryan Safi) doles out wonderful and compassionate advice on the Ask Ronna podcast, which is recorded from a carriage house on her property somewhere in Marblehead. Prior to that Ronna and her best friend from childhood, Beverly Ginsberg, played by Jamie Denbo (Dawn in this skit) were the stars of the Ronna and Beverly podcast. Beverly, from Swampscott, was a little less refined than her Marblehead bestie. The two met during their summers at Hempstead, NH's Camp Tel Noar. You may recognize Denbo from her role as the liquor store manager in Kevin can F**k Himself.

Lucia Aniello (Sharon in this skit) is one of the creators and producers of the recent Emmy award winning television program Hacks, and her husband, Paul W. Downs (Marky Mark's Cousin in this skit) is another creator and producer of Hacks. Both have had roles in Broad City, and Downs has a fairly prominent role in Hacks.

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It doesn't work. Be authentic, people see through bullcrap.

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Who went to another elite school and then proceeded to talk down to many working class people?

Smart person, but missed the political / social cues big time and cost her dearly.

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You mean like Teamsters Local 25 and the hotel workers union, both of which have endorsed Wu? Oh, yeah, the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters endorsed Wu the other day as well. If you want a complete list of unions that have endorsed her, please do let me know (and yes, I realize some unions have endorsed Essaibi George).

Time to wake up and realize that "working class" in Boston no longer equals tough-talkin' white guys from Southie and Charlestown (it never really did, anyway, but especially now).

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Working Class Boston is a lot of Dorchester, East Boston, Roxbury, Mattapan, Hyde Park there Upper Middle Class Raised Guy, not just Nutzo and Jimma from South Boston and Charlestown.

By the way, lest we forget, the hospitality workers union filmed their spot for Janey at a non-union building. So much for Workers of The World Unite.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1428713914343337988

Also, Local 25? You mean the one with all of the convictions? https://www.justice.gov/usao-ma/pr/former-teamster-leader-convicted-exto...

Please, please try harder.

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It must be tough having facts not conform with your view of the world. My sympathies.

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Owner / Editor who gets to pick and choose the Anon posts he wants doesn't like it when the endorsements he mentions have a huge suburban membership and past criminal base to it.

I mean its is not like Local 25 Union Boss Jackie Flynn pressured Gus Van Sant from giving him a speaking role in Good Will Hunting over a union actor. No not at all.

I love how everyone is falling in love with Unions now that it is endorsement time. Save for most of the people here wanted to stick daggers into Walsh's heart when he tried to make sure unions were used for events in the city. Walsh likes this union? BAAADD. He should go to jail. Wu likes this union? Goody Goody Gumdrop Michelle.

The hypocrisy is wonderful.

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…which anon posts Adam doesn’t send through? And why would you even give a crap? That is a strange, specific, and off-topic gripe to have.

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That's the point. He's to be appreciated for that, not criticized.

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feel free to find another site to read (or start your own!)

I will look for yours first.

By the way, I read your statement in Pee Wee Herman's voice just to match up with the sentiment.

than continuing to spend your time reading and responding to a site that you find objectionable. But hey, I guess everyone needs to have a hobby.

another person might call it “having ideas and sharing them”

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It's called Do As I Say and Not Do As I Do Arrogance.

For reference, AEG's accent from 5 years ago, shortly after joining the city council: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rD-P5q_FnCk&t=1595s

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I might have even been in the chambers then.

But, yeah. You can tell she's from Boston, but you have to listen a lot more closely than you do today.

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Inauthenticity is her biggest problem, and she just keeps doubling down. She’s the real Bostonian from Dorchester… living in a $1.5m house. Hardest working, man-of-the-people politician… who can’t remember to pay her f-ing taxes for seven years straight or see what’s wrong with a little self-dealing. She’s a straight-talking reformer… who never misses an opportunity to kiss up to the base instincts of the lousiest police and firefighters. She loves her mother… and her fatha.

At some point you wonder if she’s not smart enough to do any better, which may actually be the biggest problem.

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I was born and raised in the city by parents of different backgrounds neither from here, a lot like AEG's background. I talk a lot like how she actually talks and talked in public until a couple weeks ago, having other regionalisms engrained in speech patterns/pronunciations and occasionally dropping some R's but generally keeping them. I generally don't think I have a Boston accent but if I go to the midwest or south they think I do.

Any way If I were to run for office and suddenly start talking like how she has started talking since the primary all my friends would think I was pandering. I would be, and she is.

When she is specifically highlighting the otherness of her opponent who is much more visibly non-white while hamming up this accent, that dogwhistle seems pretty much audible.

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Make me unreasonably furious.

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Let's make sure the electorate gets criticized too. What were there, nine primary candidates on the ballot? Bostonians didn't do their jobs, so this clown act is what you get.

Was there a candidate who would have got the Will LaTulippe vote this time?

Wrote myself in...and I'll do the same in the general.

It's everyone else's fault for not doing exactly what you wanted (even though you apparently can't articulate what that is or find a candidate who can).

Port Norfolk has to be the most obscure neighborhood in Boston. I literally never heard of it until this post. Who lives there? Has it ever made the news before?

Bay Village without the hookers.

People from Dorchester know it.

I guess you never went to the Venezia, never went to Sealtest to get discount ice cream, never jumped off of the pier next to Chris Craft at high tide. Never went down along the Neponset mouth looking for tadpoles.

I've been! Met with coworkers for drinks once. Gorgeous spot.

It is a gorgeous spot! My Mom would say "It is northern Italian!!!"

I have lived in Dorchester/Mattapan for most of my life but It's true I've never been to the mouth of the Neponset River. My river access came from Milton Station and I've only been as far as the area that was in back of the Drive Inn near the bridge and Dairy Queen back in the day. Caught a couple of eels and a really small bluefish on the river back then. Lost a shoe in the mud on a dare.

Has it always been called Port Norfolk? I only ever have heard Neponset. Or does it go by both?