Mikayla Miller’s tragedy caused sadness in Hopkinton, but it also caused embarrassment. As the police and DA’s misconduct gained national infamy, some observers accused Hopkinton of being a racist town. The media emphasized, repeatedly, that a black LGBT teen was killed in a predominantly white town after being assaulted by white kids. Although it’s true that Hopkinton’s demographics are mostly white, it is a liberal town with a black town manager and its highest prestige is that it’s the starting point of an international marathon.
THE BOSTON MARATHON
The Boston Marathon has global appeal and it’s a very inclusive event offering an opportunity for minorities, foreign-born visitors, women, and disabled people to compete together in one race. For the past twenty years the men’s race was won by 17 black men and 2 East Asian men. For the past twenty years the women’s race was won by 16 black women and 3 white women. During that time, the vast majority of winners, of any race, were visitors from a foreign
For example, “The Starter”
statue recognizes George V. Brown, an 1898 graduate of Hopkinton High School who was the first person to start the race by firing a pistol. “He was instrumental in bringing the Boston Marathon start to Hopkinton as Boston Athletic Association governer, coach and Athletic Director.” The "Yes You Can!" statue
celebrates Team Hoyt. Dick, the father, pushed his son Rick, who has cerebral palsy, in a wheelchair to the finish line for over three decades.
The “Spirit of the Marathon”
statue at the 1-mile mark of the Marathon celebrates Stylianos Kyriakides’ 1946 win. Stelios ran the marathon to raise money “to provide food and shelter to the Greeks, who were experiencing severe poverty after the Second World War and Greek Civil War
.” An identical statue
was “placed in the City of Marathon, Greece, sister city of Hopkinton, along the seashore...to mark the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.” These statues represent the inclusive nature of the marathon by praising 1) the “townies” who are the indigenous predominantly Anglo residents of similar race to Colonial American whites, 2) the foreigners who travel to the quaint little town to benefit their own indigenous people, 3) the handicapped marathon participants who represent the triumph of the human spirit; thus, Hopkinton is not a provincial town as many New England towns are, because the Boston Marathon has made it a global town.
The marathon also shows up in Hopkinton’s culture in more mundane ways than artistic statues. My brother named his pizza restaurant Marathon Pizza which he sold to new owners who renamed it Royal Pizza. My sister lives at the Legacy Farms residence that donated 19 acres to Hopkinton when they negotiated the deal to build their residence, and the town is planning to create a $29 million International Marathon Center
at the site. Thus, the Boston Marathon and its inclusive and international ethos is a fundamental element of Hopkinton’s culture.
TOWN MANAGER DESCRIBES SYMBIOSIS
, Town Manager, is a native Zimbabwean whose previous resume highlight was leading Oxfam’s
Africa humanitarian programs. While he certainly has the chops to manage a small town due to earning a Master’s in Public Administration and managing the entire Oxfam Africa department, I am of the opinion that one factor that made him a desirable candidate to be Hopkinton’s first Town Manager is that he is the same race as most winners of the Boston Marathon and has an international background. It is my opinion that Hopkinton has a need to constantly integrate, to achieve symbiosis, with the Boston Marathon because the marathon has become an important element of the town’s soul. I guess town officials thought consciously or unconsciously, “There are too many white provincial people in government and that’s separating us from integrating with the Boston Marathon culture.”
I met Norman a few years ago when I spoke with him at his Town Hall office about my complaint regarding a problem at a local institution. He’s a nice guy, and I found it very easy to talk with him. Norman took steps to solve the problem, which shows he’s a good manager. Further evidence that he’s a good manager is that he understands how integral the marathon is to Hopkinton’s culture.
Hopkinton recently signed a 99-year lease for the International Marathon Center and Norman said
, “The Boston Marathon has offered Hopkinton the opportunity to connect with people all over the world” and the Center is going to “allow those relationships to flourish on an ongoing basis.”
WHY MIKAYLA MILLER’S TRAGEDY TRAUMATIZED HOPKINTON
I read that most attendees of Mikayla Millers May 6th vigil were from Hopkinton
. I contacted some of my friends who live in Hopkinton the week I attended the vigil, and they said they sympathized with the BLM campaign. With the exception of one bizarre incident
, the people I met near Mikayla’s memorial were very serious and/or sad, basically they appeared to be mourning. Hopkinton has been severely traumatized by Mikayla’s death.
For a town that gains its greatest prestige, by far, from its association with the Boston Marathon it is profoundly disturbing that a young girl from town, a black LGBT athlete dressed in a track suit, was found strangled a block from the “Welcome to Hopkinton” sign and also near the marathon start line. What happened after the investigation made things worse. The jogger who found her laughed when reporting her death to 911
, the police and the DA waged a campaign of misinformation and hiding evidence
, police harassed her mother for seeking answers, and a Black Lives Matter campaign grew around Mikayla’s death that gained national prominence. Media people often painted the town as racist and that’s contradictory to the inclusive spirit of the Boston Marathon.
THE PROBLEM: RACIST POLICE
What appears to be happening is that the Hopkinton Police are less motivated to adopt Hopkinton’s emerging Global Village culture than the average person. This caused a disconnect between Hopkinton residents and their police department, where the police did not understand or think they had an obligation to meet residents’ expectations of fair treatment of minorities. I lived in Hopkinton for over 10 years and I never saw a black or Asian officer. The government is apparently attempting integration by hiring a black Town Manager, but we do not see the same effort by the police department.