LI changing, but 'why' is still the same

Scenes around the Village of Hempstead. (Feb. 26,

Scenes around the Village of Hempstead. (Feb. 26, 2011) (Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

By now it's clear. The numbers aren't some statistical aberration.

So-called minorities -- careful using that term from here on out -- are moving onto Long Island in increasing numbers.

And, according to the latest data drop from the U.S. Census Bureau, the newcomers aren't just Asian and Latino immigrants (up 64 percent and 46 percent, respectively, from the 2000 census). As the white numbers keep slipping (down 11 percent in Nassau, down 4 percent in Suffolk), the black population is rising slowly but steadily -- 9 percent in 10 years.

Why not?

These new Long Islanders are arriving for many of the same reasons people have always moved to the 'burbs: A second or third bedroom. Better public schools. The chance to leave tougher urban neighborhoods behind.

Sounds almost like a brochure for postwar Levittown. Almost.

When you look behind the census numbers, you see other patterns that sound awfully familiar. These aren't random moves. People -- of all races -- are still following friends and relatives from specific city neighborhoods to specific Long Island communities. Go where you know someone, right?

And some of this urban-suburban movement is actually happening within Long Island. While the black population of Roosevelt and Hempstead Village is down (mostly replaced by Hispanics), the villages of Elmont, Baldwin and North Valley Stream have added 12,300 new black residents.

People are people, of every hue.

No, the people of Long Island may not look the same in the years and decades that come. But if these numbers hold up like this, where they come and why they come will be no different at all.

ASKED AND UNANSWERED: Yes, that list of repeat fare abusers is maddening, but what exactly should the LIRR do? Toss off the train anyone without a ticket or the money to buy one? . . . This iffy time of year, don't sunnier days make an even bigger difference in your mood? . . . Now that OSI Pharmaceuticals is getting special incubator benefits thanks to State Senate largesse, any other small business want to be incubated? . . . What's Kathleen Rice's definition of "several"? 284? That's how many inmates got your-case-could-be-tainted-because-of-the-lab letters from the Nassau district attorney . . . Will the Labor Department's comparatively bullish Long Island jobs numbers somehow convince Albany: "Oh, they don't need any more help down there"? . . . Who has proved the value of patience and perseverance like Al Montoya, the sixth (and best) goaltender to start for the Islanders this year? . . . 1 million YouTube views for her "My Jeans" music video? If that doesn't make Jenna Rose Swerdlow the coolest seventh-grader at West Hollow Middle School, what will? Shouldn't Jenna at least get a jeans endorsement out of this?

 

LONG ISLANDER OF THE WEEK: HARRY CHAPIN (1942-1981)

Thirty years after Harry Chapin's death, no one around here needs to recount the singer's various good works or his deep commitment to social justice. That work, focusing on hunger issues, is carried on today by LI Cares and the Harry Chapin Food Bank. But why not remind the rest of America with a Harry Chapin Commemorative Stamp? The stamp-Harry campaign is up and running but needs lots of help. For a pre-addressed postcard to the U.S. Stamp Advisory Committee, call 631-582-3663, ext. 124, or email mhaynes@licares.org.

Email ellis@henican.com
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