Reine Duell Bethany - Author and Illustrator
My Blog

Discussion of Race Relations Without Accusation

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? 

Marketability versus Intellectual Development

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.

You can be wrong and still have a point

Dec. 8, 2018
On the 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.

Undeserved EMplyment versus Hempstead Schoolchildren

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' paychecks.

How to Create a Gang Member (Or At Least Destroy a Child's Productivity)

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 inaccurate.

The Problem Wasn't the Black Kids

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.

On Behalf of Hempstead

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.

Student Unkindness Toward the Professor

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.

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.
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