Slightly OT: The History conference

I gave a very abbreviated presentation of “Ethnic Divides in an 1880 DC Neighborhood” at the history conference this weekend. It was abbrev. because the presenter ahead of me made her presentation about 2x than what it was supposed to be. That was fine with me. What wasn’t so fine was one of her statements/questions afterwards. She was amazed that information about race (as race was the central theme in my paper) is/was collected by the government and that sort of thing isn’t done in Britain and couldn’t see the usefulness of collecting information about race. Oh. My. G-d. Where do I start?
I’m not a lefty black power radical but I know that race plays a powerful role in the history of America. You really cannot have the history of the US South or the history of the republic itself without covering race. If you do, you’ll have a whitewashed version of history.
In library school they call this a teachable moment. The problem with teachable moments is they come when you are so not in the mood to make it a teachable moment, or you are so stunned by the different point of view that you don’t know where to even begin.
Turning to the other people who came up for questions and remarks made me feel good. ‘Cause really, it’s all about me. Apparently some other folks have been doing the same sort of research and found the same weird patterns I found in Truxton, blacks on one end of the block or street, whites on another. Basically, little bits of micro-segregation everywhere, as opposed to the macro-segregation that I’m familiar with in parts of the South, where whites are on one end of town and blacks on another. You could say we have macro-segregation in DC with whites on one side of Rock Creek and blacks on the other side of the river.
Anyway, glad that portion is over. I still have to map out Truxton for 1900-1930. But I’m going to take a break. In 1880 Truxton had 1,696 people, and tons more in 1900 and I’m just not up for more work.

5 thoughts on “Slightly OT: The History conference”

  1. thats pretty interesting stuff.

    do you also find micro-segragation within the results of whites? separated by germans, jews, italians, etc…

    when would you sepculate post slavery immigration of africans can be seen in enough numbers to call a trend?

    i there segregation between multigenerational african-americans and immigrant africans?

    Also, when do you think DC, east of the anacostia became majority african-american?

    thanks for sharing you research!

  2. In 1880 yes there were a few clusters of Germans and a tiny cluster of Irish immigrants. However, these immigrants were everywhere, particularly the Irish. The Irish would be between large clusters of AfrAmer, whites, and Germans.
    The African Americans in Truxton were from Virginia and Maryland. Later I noticed in some 1920-1930 censuses there were more blacks from AL, NC, and MS. But the Truxton 1880 black citizens seem more local.
    1880 Washingtonians Virginians and Marylanders would marry each other. So major segregation, not in Truxton.
    I’m just doing NW DC.

  3. You should have engaged the person on the question of class in Europe. One quirky thing I have noticed about Europeans: While they suppose that they are racially tolerant, they are much more class oriented. Immigrants always start off in the lowest classes and immigration INTO their countries is a novel idea. People usually leave to become Americans. So, minorities end up being in the lower classes. You cannot have a discussion about Europe without discussing class. I’m sure if you confronted that person with this argument, they would respond that immigrants who happen to be racially different from the home crowd are in the lowest classees because they are new to the country and don’t have established connections for increased opportunities.

  4. Just wasn’t in the mood to confront. Besides oritory debate is not my strong suit.
    The French have always delighted in pointing out American racism but are blind to their own. They are suffering now so I’m not going to throw more salt on that wound.
    Brits. I’ve gotten into arguements with immigrants who lived in the UK for a time regarding which is worse, American classism or British classism. I say British classism.
    The whole arguement that certain immigrant groups are poor because they are new falls flat when you have problems from 1st and 2nd and 3rd generation Europeans whose ancestors hail from Turkey or North Africa and who are still considered “other”.

  5. Yeah, had you had your druthers about you you could have made a comment about how France could benefit with some baseline information about race and race relations. From my time in Kazakstan, where my local peers could differentiate (and stereotype) between shades various Central Asian subraces, I saw that we deal with race a lot more than older countries. I was even mistaken for someone from the Caucasus region and was called a “Crazy Caucasian,” in Russain, and it wasn’t a compliment.

    There are some micro-settlement patterns in Wisconsin too…there are small Italian communities along the Mississippi River (Genoa, DeSoto) in a predominately Scandinavian, Polish and German demographic of the whole state.

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