by Jack Lakeman, DP Editor-in-Chief
Sunday, July21st, 2013,
(CAMBRIDGE, MA) —Dana and Edmund Onley had been longing to see their oldest daughter, Jessica, in a wedding gown for years. Since Jessica’s college graduation says Dana, 54, the couple had dreamed of seeing their daughter standing at the altar in their hometown of Cambridge, Massachusetts adorned in white, smiling, glistening, “Just like an angel from heaven,” according to Dana.
Like the Onleys, Thomas and Lucille Wytes also hoped their 28-year-old son, Justin, would marry after college, as they had. And neither family could be more pleased with their child’s choice for spouse. However, such a glorious occasion has been crushed for both families, and not because of cold feet on the part of Justin or Jessica.
Last Tuesday the Cambridge city council held an emergency meeting and took an unprecedented vote to stop the marriage from taking place in the town. Their reason: the union of Justin Wytes (pronounced “whites”) and Jessica Onley (pronounced “only”) has resulted in a Wytes–Onley wedding, a name which the council says is simply “too uncomfortable” for the town to tolerate.
Justin and Jessica’s announcement in the Cambridge Chronicle was printed as “Wytes–Onley,” and was not given a second thought by either family. “But that was the whole problem,” said Cambridge city council member Minka vanBeuzekom, “they didn’t think about how a Wytes–Onley wedding sounds in this day and age. The families involved should have been more sensitive in this regard. Did they ever stop to think how this is going to make our city’s one African-American resident feel?”
Despite the Wytes family’s contention their name can be pronounced “weetz” as it was in 17th century Scotland, the Cambridge city council has still demanded the offensive sounding wedding take place outside city limits. As expected, both families have been left dumbfounded and more than dismayed at the council’s decision.
“There is nothing –nothing– intentionally insensitive or inflammatory about our family names or the order of them in our wedding announcement,” said Thomas Onley, 51, to Duh Progressive Thursday. “And what does the city council think gives them the right to determine if we can be married within city limits or not? This is insane.”
According to Minka vanBeuzekom and other city council members, there is nothing insane about cleansing Cambridge of anything remotely implying racial segregation.
“Massachusetts has not experienced a ‘Whites Only’ event since 1957, and we’ll be darned if we’ll be retreating back to that awful time in history just because these two lovebirds want to tie the knot,” said Cambridge City Manager Robert W. Healy last Tuesday. “There won’t be a ‘whites only’ anything in our town, so help me…except for our overall population!”
Added Healy, “And except for some of those ‘pajama people’ I fought in Nam. Yeah, we got a few of them in the town; can smell their restaurants for miles.”
Irony So Thick One Could Cut It With a (Wedding Cake) Knife
Seemingly overlooked by the anti–Wytes–Onley coalition is that half of the Onley family is from Colombia, including Jessica. Having been orphaned during Colombia’s civil war in the 1980s, Jessica and her sister, Helena, were taken in by Christian missionaries. A year later the siblings were adopted by fellow missionaries Edmund and Dana Onley, whom they have considered their parents since 1984. Dana Onley’s brother, Jonathan, also a missionary, married Colombian refugee Selena Palacio in 1991. The two have four children. Added to this is the groom's best man, college roommate and best friend Sanjay Santoshi, a second generation Indian-American, which makes for a 40-percent non-White–Wytes–Onley wedding next month.
Never the less, Cambridge officials remain adamant and heartbroken such a “terrible sounding event” could take place in their proudly progressive town. Said fellow Cambridge city council member Leland Cheung to Duh Progressive Thursday, “I will never forget seeing the images…of my mother recounting the images of what it was like seeing her mother recounting the images of Civil Rights marchers in Selma through the comfort of their TVs up here. It was tear-jerking. From that day on, in 1998, I made up my mind that Cambridge would never be home to such ignorant displays of segregation, no matter how abstract or removed from actual context. Never!”
With tens of thousands of dollars already invested in their wedding, the Wytes and Onleys say they have few resources left to legally challenge Cambridge’s ban on their children’s matrimony. Furthermore, say the families, moving the wedding to a new venue outside city limits would put them even deeper in debt. They are publically requesting financial and legal assistance.
“We love all our grandchildren with all our hearts, even the little brown ones,” said granddad Joseph Onley, 79, Thursday. “Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Colombian, Spanish, what-have-you, they’re our kids and we love them and want our Jessica to be happy. We love Justin and his family, too.”
However, the reference to “the little brown ones” is exactly the sort of stereotypes and xenophobia Cambridge officials are claiming a Wytes–Onley matrimony promotes.
“Was it not Republican President George H. W. Bush who referred to his Mexican grandchildren as the ‘little brown ones’ that he claimed to love just the same?!” said councilwoman Minka vanBeuzekom. “And that was a racist perception, too. …Just like Bush, these ‘Wytes–Onley’ people are celebrating their families’ differences while still unable to acknowledge them. That’s uncalled for. It’s certainly something we can’t abide here (in Cambridge) with a ‘Wytes-Onley’ wedding.”
There is no telling what the rest of the country will think of Cambridge if a “whites only” sounding wedding takes place, according to vanBeuzekom, but will certainly be a “great stain of embarrassment and shame” to the ultra–forward leaning enclave.
Cambridge’s one Black resident which Minka vanBeuzekom mentioned earlier could not be reached for comment. Reports are he is too busy out actually having actual sense and not giving a shit.