Jan. 26, 2020 --My research into Hempstead continues. I finished writing my novel, The Day America Turned Black, and am revising it while looking for agent representation. Meanwhile, as my research progresses, I get insight into the murky part of racisim: people believing that they are not racist, but not realizing the racist matrix in which they live.
I found an article from 1935 commending the Hempstead Harriet Tubman Club for setting up a home where up to 12 needy young Negresses could be housed. Negresses! Can you imagine such a term in use today? But back then, it was a term of respect. The white people of Hempstead seemed more concerned than in surrounding communities about the welfare of their Negro population. (Nobody says "Negro" anymore, either -- but back in 1935, it was, like Negress, a term of respect.) Hempstead' whites went to a lot of trouble to commend and aid efforts like the Harriet Tubman Club. The question is, were the nice white people doing anything like what the Harriet Tubman Club decided to do?
In several articles that I have downloaded
and kept in a file, a difference between black achievement early in the
twentieth century and early in the twenty-first century is notable. It lies in the emphasis on education,
which was heavier among black people in the first part of the twentieth century
than in the second part. There were black lawyers and university professors during the
1800s and early to mid 1900s, at a time when education was segregated and black
people were purposely sent to inferior schools during the days of Jim Crow.
first Tuesday of November, I delivered my historian report at the Hempstead
Village Board of Trustees meeting. Trustee Lamont Johnson commented to me that
my book,Hempstead Village, was a
miserable failure because it did not include certain events. These events
occurred starting in the 1930s, and constituted what he considered to be black
people's achievement in the village. He added that if I wanted to write a book
that would detail these milestones, he would be glad to work with me.
The more I study the history of the Hempstead Public Schools, the
more it looks to me as though the needs of the district's children
succumbed to the fear of unemployment among some of the African American
people on the school board and in the Village of Hempstead.
I didn't believe it at first
when some people claimed that the school system was ruined by decades of
patronage, in which one particular school board member got herself into
a position to hire unqualified applicants in exchange for portions of these applicants'
Humans were made to create. When the creating is stymied, we start to die
inside. Along with the sense of being killed comes anger.
Kids are creative from day one. Too often, their
creativity gets interpreted as infantile foolishness that, some fine day, will
yield to adult sensibility. Thus, when a toddler between ages one and two makes
up syllables and uses them like words, the "babbling" gets
interpreted as an errant attempt at human speech. But that interpretation is
Hempstead High School was renowned on Long Island during the first half of the twentieth century. Students from nearby villages attended Hempstead High because they didn't have their own high schools yet. Hempstead had transport: the Long Island Railroad and a trolley system running west, east, and south. It built roads that cars could traverse and it had been a business establishment since its inception; Sammis Hotel sustained itself with Sammis descendants as propietors from 1660 to 1929. Carman Lush Pharmacy served at least three generations.
For the past week (Jan. 8-14), Long Island's premier paper Newsday, has printed headlines about the utter breakdown in the function of the Hempstead School Board. The focus on the school board's blatant failures to work in unity is, on one hand, long overdue, and on the other hand, off target.
Hempstead has for so long been overloaded with section 8 residents and Central American immigrants that today's untenable situation is predictable. I don't mean to fault people who may need section 8 housing, and I certainly don't fault Central American immigrants who are leaving bloody gang warfare and natural disasters.
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. These students are unkind, rude, undermining, and distracting. Their snide jokes tend to draw others into their disruptions. Whatever the professor is trying to accomplish in class, these students will take every opportunity to treat the professor as an inept outsider.
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.
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.