Reine Duell Bethany - Author and Illustrator
My Blog

Deep Student Unkindness

I find that I can cope with student inattention, misunderstanding, or laziness effectively. What I find most difficult is student unkindness.
     Some students come to college with an immature view of professors. Typical of middle-school children -- truthfully, even more typical of toddlers -- these students see themselves standing for their personal dignity against the authority figure rather than as adults who are in class to learn something that they themselves have decided they need.


In my work as village historian, I have been surveying the repositories of information about, specifically, Hempstead Village.Hidden on a top shelf in a vault, I discovered scrapbooks: four covering Hempstead events 1927-1943, and one with articles from 1961 to about 1965.
      A headline among the 1961 articles impressed me: APARTMENTS COMING TO LONG ISLAND. It was a Newsday article. It impressed me because Long Island communities at this very time, 2017, are organizing to resist a a mushrooming trend of new apartments.

Move over, Hurricane Harvey: Trump is a far more threatening disaster.

Not only did Trump pardon a criminal of a sheriff, Joe Arpaio, whose inhumane treatment of prisoners in Arizona did nothing to deter crime and everything to enforce racism. Now Trump has announced that he is lifting the ban on militarization of police weaponry that former President Barack Obama wisely imposed after the clashes in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. This move on Trump's part means that police could once more transition away from viewing themselves as part of communities whose citizens they help by fostering conflict resolution and by taking criminals off the streets.


My history book on Hempstead Village has consumed me, as well as the wedding of our fourth child on August 5.
      But nobody can ignore the dreadful events in Charlottesville this past Saturday, when a rally of white supremacists and neo-Nazis arose to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee because of its symbolic endorsement of black slavery.
     Counter-protestors gathered in the morning while the alt-right groups also gathered. The encounters between them became so acrimonious that police separated the groups and canceled the rally.

Trevor Noah Talks About Racism He Experiences in the United States

Trevor Noah grew up in South America and moved to the United States after achieving fame as a hard-hitting comedian. He identifies as black, though his features could be mistaken for Hispanic or even Indian. If a man like this gets pulled over repeatedly by police when he has not committed any crimes or suffered car equipment failure, then racism definitely operates in police decision making!

Hempstead School Board Mess

I have not been to a Hempstead School Board meeting since about 2002. I did not put my children into the Hempstead school system and did not give more than a passing shake of the head to articles in Newsday about contentious school board meetings.
     What I saw last Thursday, June 15, the last school board meeting before the year turns over on July 1 to 2017-2018, was embarrassing. The prime element evident was division, and I don't mean heated discussion among board members.

Alive though Not

Yesterday, May 31, 2017, I spent 3.5 hours poring over Hempstead Village births and deaths records, 1890-1910. Afterward, I returned home so hungry that I could barely expend the effort to heat food, and once I ate, I fell asleep for two hours.
     Why the intensity? To my amazement, entering the records caused me to enter a living dream, wherein these people from more than 100 years past came alive. Their children got born, while their mothers' ages and the number of living siblings revealed the wild joy and heartrending trauma surrounding a growing family, and the fathers' occupations -- laborer, farmer, butcher, reporter, banker -- shaped the home in which the family constructed daily life.

Death Blow from the Inside Out

Once upon a time, someone I had trusted as a friend back-stabbed me. Since then, the places where I had encountered that friend became cues for remembering the pain of betrayal. I avoid those places and keep my face forward, disallowing those memories.
      But what if your cue for betrayal is your whole nation?
      I say this in reference to African Americans, but it surely applies in any location where a group has been singled out as the one to demean with impunity.

My Letter to the Editor of Long Island Newsday 4.19.17

Newsday is a terrific newspaper. In my role as Hempstead Village Historian, I find that my research is made easier because past historians have preserved countless Newsday clippings. The faithful detail with which Newsday reports on our village is awe-inspiring.
      But I don't agree with everything that the Newsday editors say about our village. In rebuttal to a Newsday editorial that approved the addition of many apartment units as part of our village revitalization, I wrote the following (and have recieved many compliments on it):

Guilt and African American Teen Gangbangers

I have just read a lengthy qualitative study of 50 African American male teen gang members. Eleven of the 50, while not denying their membership in their gangs, nonetheless stopped gang-related activity to continue their education, with future career goals in mind.
      The other 39 did not do so. They did not spend time studying, but spent a lot of time watching television and playing video games (both of which are activities that I call "zoning,"  which temporarily numb inward pain but never resolve it).
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