Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Haiti & Galveston

A recent review in The New York Times Book Review led me to thoughts about Galveston, Texas. 

The book reviewed was called Toussaint Louverture. Toussaint Louverture was the leading figure in the fight for Haitian independence. The book is written by Madison Smartt Bell.

Here is an excerpt from the book as quoted in the review—  “within Haitian culture there are no….contradictions., but simply the actions of different spirits which may possess one’s being under different circumstances and in response to vastly different needs.” 

This was written about the personality of Toussaint Louverture, but also seems to be about Haiti and Haitian culture as a whole.

I thought about this explanation of contradictory things while visiting the island city of Galveston last week.

Galveston is changing. More wealthy people are moving in and the middle class is moving out. The poor remain.

I saw evidence of this while shopping in a Galveston supermarket. The store is being upscaled. The physical condition of the store has been improved and more wine, fancy cheeses and organic foods are being offered.

The Galveston I’ve known has seemed to be a poor place. Galveston has never fully recovered from the 1900 hurricane or from the construction of the Houston Ship Channel over 90 years ago.

How will a “new” more prosperous Galveston change the character of the island? Is it time to shake off the lingering effects of long-ago events or will a growing gap between rich and poor on the island become a new tragedy?

What “different spirits” and “different circumstances” will shape modern Galveston?

March 5, 2007 - Posted by | Best Posts Jan.-June 2007, Books, Galveston, Texas

1 Comment »

  1. “will a growing gap between rich and poor on the island become a new tragedy?” I doubt it. Galveston will become a Federal Gov’t fiefdom just like Houston, see the recent articles about re-establishing rail between Galveston/Houston and you see the parallel; the rich developers will cause the Galveston Pols, (chosen by the rich developers) to chase Federal Transportation dollars that will be used on re-development projects and to attract more rich developers money. In the course of the re-development projects, the housing of the poor people will be bulldozed and the Feds will move them into the thousands of new HUD apartment units built along major thoroughfares in the heart of formerly “safe” suburbia where they will wreak havoc on the school districts, businesses and home values forcing the “suburbanites” to sell and move to………….Conroe/Katy/Magnolia/Tomball, etc. You’ve seen the same thing in Downtown/Midtown and East end of Houston.

    Then of course, Galveston will be home or party home to only the blessed rich people who will have only themselves in their new pristine environment to deal with. Well nothing’s perfect; there will have to be some “low rent” apartments provided for servants and staff of posh restaurants and newly cleansed “smoke free” bars and cafe’s. But no family housing; no need to burden themselves with higher school district taxes and the dirty little urchins that accompany the smelly “middle” classes. Just like Houston. And so, it will be, just as a writer at “The Nation” lamented about New York, Galveston will become, much like downtown Houston/New Orleans, etc., a sort of Disneyland version of a “Downtown” district closely resembling Las Vegas, but with a plasticine “Local” veneer. Now of course we can only hope they “skip” the misstep of Houston which allowed “youngsters” type party bars to flourish. But no matter, if they make that misstep, they’ll use the authority of their hired thugs, the Police, to raid the establishments and close them down to be replaced by more palatable establishments.

    Why were you asking when the paradigm was before you all along?

    Comment by ed | March 6, 2007

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