Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Does First Really Matter?

A search of the term “Roxbury natives”, in Hollis Catalog, the Harvard University library database, pulls up exactly what you’d expect if you lived in the metro Boston area and paid too much attention to maimstream media: Life Without Parole: Living in Prison Today; In Her Own Words: Women Offenders’ Views on Crime and Victimization: an Anthology; The American Drug Scene, An Anthology; and The Modern Gang Reader.

And I just wanted information about the indigenous populations who lived in Roxbury before the Puritans came. But history is the propaganda of the victor and the Puritans founded Harvard so you can’t really expect them (Harvard, Puritans, history as it’s been written by them) to think beyond the world as they have created it – however in need of transformation that world may be. Roxbury is full of poor black people and so is indelibly linked in the minds of both the elite and the maimstream with prison, gangs, and drugs. Also, drugs, guns and gangs. Unwed mothers with children by various fathers and social welfare cheats are also part of the myth of this particular Other (poor black people) but the former is becoming slightly less anathema and illegal aliens have cornered the latter label.

Mixed in with the books on drugs, prisons, and crime (not poverty, injustice, and hypocrisy – evidence that racism is alive and kickin’) are some on feminism, schools, and the incredibly rich early history of the neighborhood. While Back Bay was still merely a swamp, Roxbury was integral to the early development of the colony as well as the American Revolution.

Indigenous people in Roxbury? I’ll keep looking and let you know what I find.

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