I have lived here on and off for 53 years. I was born during the national Civil Rights Movement and understand the complexities of divisiveness and racism. My social circles are diverse in nature. I have experienced profiling and racism, but mostly outside of our community and by individuals — not a certain group of people as a whole.
I graduated from Patchogue-Medford High School in 1980 and my school years were a very happy period of my life, with students from various backgrounds and cultures interacting in and out of school. I still maintain friendships with childhood friends. We never experienced the racism and divisiveness like we see today. When I meet someone for the first time, I don’t notice or see color. That’s how we were raised here.
Statistically, Long Island is considered one of the more segregated places in the nation, but Patchogue is the exception. The village has always been culturally rich and one of the few areas on Long Island with a diverse population with many different people living side by side from the 1960’s through today.
Our village continues to welcome all, which is why it is a unique place to live and visit. Many that are not from here, or are the newer generation of residents that relocated here in the 1990’s through today may not be aware of this.
When the media labels Patchogue as a town filled with hate-mongers, it’s hurtful, insulting and I take offense because this is far from the truth. It’s easy to research that, historically, our community has been multi-ethnic and peaceful.
When it comes to criminal acts, individuals that commit hate crimes should be the people labeled as “racist” or “hate-mongers.”
The entirety of people who live in the town, along with the school district, should not be branded as such.
Photo: Tracy Todd Hunter walks in the black history exhibit at Artspace in February. (Michael White)