Life is slowly returning to normal for the black Hampton Bays woman who was the target of a racist verbal assault by two white men while she was walking with her year-old daughter in the hamlet earlier this month.
She is once again taking her daughter outside to play, though they still do not venture too far from home. She said she also is slowly rebuilding her confidence and hopes to one day return to her routine, which includes making frequent trips to the center of town to go grocery shopping and complete other errands.
While she is not quite back to where she was prior to the November 8 incident, the woman—who spoke to The Press on the condition of anonymity—said she is slowly recovering from the frightening incident. She added that she is overwhelmed by the words of encouragement from her neighbors, most of them strangers, and their generous offers to drive her to the King Kullen in town, or to walk with her, side by side, along Ponquogue Avenue.
“I didn’t expect all these people to come out,” she said while smiling and sitting on her couch on Monday evening. “It was just so sweet, because they all feel terrible and want to do something. It made me think that people are so nice.”
The incident occurred on Election Day, when she was walking near the intersection of Lynncliff Road and Ponquogue Avenue. Just after 4:30 p.m., as she was pushing a stroller carrying her daughter, two white men pulled up next to her in a pickup truck and shouted racial slurs at her before spitting on her and driving off.
She and her husband reported the incident to Southampton Town Police, though two weeks after the incident, they said they have not received an update from investigators, making them believe that arrests are unlikely.
Regardless, the woman says the support shown by her neighbors has renewed her faith in the Hampton Bays community, which she joined four years ago when she relocated to the hamlet from Washington, D.C.
One of the people who reached out is Sonya Hubbard. The Hampton Bays resident, who is also a member of the Hampton Bays Moms, a Facebook-based group that includes several dozen local mothers, said this week that she was devastated to hear that such a racist incident occurred so close to her home.
“This is a community filled with really good people, and most of us, I would say nearly all of us, would never treat somebody like that,” Ms. Hubbard said. “Our hearts go out to this family, and we just want to help them in any way that we can.”
Ms. Hubbard, along with other members of her group and nearly a dozen other people, have all stepped up in the past week to offer their services. Some have offered to sit and talk with the victim, while others say they would be happy to join her during her walks to the grocery store; the woman does not have a driver’s license.
Their goal, they said, is to make her feel safe in her hometown.
“It is so encouraging and heartening because a lot of people are outraged by this,” Ms. Hubbard said. “We have a strong group of volunteers and we just want to help together, which I think is so uplifting that there is this groundswell of support.”
Longtime hamlet residents Bruce and Nancy King had a similar reaction when they first heard about the incident. “This is not all of Hampton Bays,” Mr. King said. “This is not our community. This is not the way we feel, and we don’t want it to be judged by the actions of these two people doing what they did. It is time to act.”
“This is not Hampton Bays,” Ms. King stressed.
Support for the woman, along with her husband, who is white, and their child, is coming not just from Hampton Bays.
Though she was not initially surprised to hear about such an incident, Kate Mueth of Springs said she was outraged nonetheless. She explained that she recently formed a local coalition designed to offer a support system for women minorities in need in the community. While members of the still unnamed group have met only once thus far, Ms. Mueth said they were all motivated to find a way to help the victim.
“We have a lineup of women who are willing to go to Hampton Bays to drive her wherever she needs to go to feel safe,” Ms. Mueth said. “It is all of us on the East End, not just East Hampton or Hampton Bays, but all of the East End that we want to be offering help and reassurance where needed.”
For now, the woman and her husband are continuing to sort through the dozens of emails they have received from those offering assistance, again noting that they are overwhelmed by the support.
“It shows there really is a lot of nice people out there that really care about what goes on in their community—it is good to see,” her husband said. “They took it as if it happened to one of their friends or family, and they are total strangers to us. It is really nice to see that.”