White people really love Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton: An American Musical.” I mean, really love it. I’m convinced that the Schuyler Sisters are white people’s Destiny’s Child.
More than Miranda’s musical, white people love the founding fathers, especially Thomas Jefferson. So much so that on any given day I will hear, “Thomas Jefferson’s coming home!” totally off-key. So much so that Hofstra University has refused to remove the statue of Jefferson from its campus.
I guess I understand why college students are infatuated with a portrayal of Jefferson engaging in rap battles with Alexander Hamilton, but I struggle to understand Hofstra University’s commitment to that statue despite petitions and demonstrations calling for its removal.
In 2004, the Independent People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) organized a demonstration calling for the removal of the Jefferson statue, donated by David S. Mack, located in front of the Sondra and David S. Mack Student Center.
At the time of their demonstration, InPDUM had only just been recognized as a legitimate organization. In an interview with The Hofstra Chronicle, the president of InPDUM said, “This was one of the first issues that we wanted to address when we were getting InPDUM together.”
Another student told The Chronicle, “The statue is blatant disrespect to African-Americans at the university.”
For over 13 years, students of color have pleaded with Hofstra University to commit to progress, to reject white supremacy, to invest in students of color the way they have always invested in white students and to remove that statue.
Because Jefferson was a slave-holding, white supremacist, serial rapist and eugenicist.
After the death of John Wales, Jefferson’s father-in-law, in 1773, Jefferson inherited 11,000 acres of estate and approximately 125 slaves. When Jefferson died in 1826, he owned more than 600 slaves.
Jefferson also raped and terrorized enslaved girls and women for most of his life. The most famous of these girls is Sally Hemings.
Historians believe that Jefferson first raped Hemings during his tenure as minister to France. Hemings was only 14 or 15 at the time Jefferson forced her into concubinage and impregnated her with the first of five children.
While Hemings could have petitioned for freedom in France, her pregnancy and economic status would have made it impossible. Understanding this, Jefferson used this information as well as a promise to free Hemings’ children as they came of age to coerce Hemings into returning to Monticello in 1789.
A 1998 DNA study found a match between the Jefferson male line and a descendant of Hemings’ youngest son, confirming the terror the Hemings family endured.
Jefferson was also a proud eugenicist, citing that black people were genetically inferior in a number of his writings and speeches.
Jefferson believed that Africans should be submitted to scientific analysis, including the “anatomical knife,” to confirm their inferiority. In justification of slavery Jefferson explained, “It is not their condition, but nature ... which has produced the distinction” between the slave and the slave master.
Go to Axinn Library or Hammer Lab and look it up. Go to a History Club meeting. Go to the History Department. None of this is a secret.
Remnants of slavery are proudly displayed across the country, above and below the Mason-Dixon line. If you do not see it, you either posses the privilege not to or are too much of a white-supremacy-apologizing-coward to face the truth.
Given that students have been calling for the statue’s removal since at least 2004, I must assume Hofstra University is closer to the latter.
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