H́nh ảnh trang

vacation, and then go straight again. They will be expected to go straight all the time; to stand by us in war as well as in peace; not to blow hot and cold with the same mouth, but "to stand four-square to all the winds that blow."-1920.

Just Crabs

Once upon a time a Greedy Person went rummaging along the lagoon with a basket and a stick in quest of Crabs, which he needed for the Home Market. (Now, this was in the Beginning of Things, Best Beloved.) These were Land Crabs-which, you know, are more luscious than Sea Crabs, being more Primitive and more full of meat. He dug into their holes with his stick, routed them out, packed them on their backs in his basket and took them home. Several trips he made with his basket and his stick, and all the Crabs which he caught were dumped into a huge barrel. (But this time he didn't pack them on their backs.) And all the creatures stood around and watched. For this Greedy Person had put no cover on the barrel. (But this was in the Beginning of Things.)

He knew Crab Nature, and was not at all worried about his Crabs. For as soon as any one Crab began to climb up on the side of the barrel to work his way toward the top the other Crabs would reach up, grab him by the legs. and down he would come, kerplunk! "If we can't get up," they would say "if we can't get up, you shan't get up, either. We'll pull you down. Besides, you should wait until the barrel bursts. There are Kind Friends on the Outside who will burst the barrel if we only wait, and then, when the Great Day dawns, we will all be Emancipated and there'll be no need for Climbing. Come down,

you fool!" (Because this was in the Beginning of Things, Be : Beloved.) So the Greedy Person could always get as many Crabs as he needed for the Home Market, because they all depended on him for their food.

And all the creatures stood around and laughed. For this was very funny in the Beginning of Things. And all the creatures said that the Reason for this kink in Crab Nature was that when the Creator was giving out heads he didn't have enough to go around, so the poor Crabs didn't get any. And the Greedy Person thanked his lucky stars that Crabs had been made in that Peculiar way, since it made it unnecessary to put a cover on his barrel or to waste his precious time a-watching of them. (Now, all this happened long ago, Best Beloved, in the very Beginning of Things.)

The above is the first of our Just-So Stories ---with no apologies to Rudyard Kipling or any one else. We print it here because, just at this time the Crabs are at work in Harlem, and there is a tremendous clashing of claws as the Pull 'Em Down program goes forward. It's a great game, to be sure, but it doesn't seem to get them or us anywhere. The new day that has dawned for the Negroes of Harlem is a day of business accomplishment. People are going into business, saving their money and collectively putting it into enterprises which will mean roofs over their heads and an economic future for themselves and their little ones.

But the Subsidized Sixth are sure that this is all wrong and that we have no right to move an inch until the Socialist millennium dawns, when we will all get "out of the barrel" together. It does not seem to have occurred to them that making an imperfect heaven now does not unfit any one for enjoying the perfect paradise which they

promise us--- -if it ever comes. Truly it is said of then. that "the power over a man's subsistence is the power over his will"-and over his "scientific radicalism," too. But we remember having translated this long ago into the less showy English of "Show me whose bread you eat, and I'll tell you whose songs you'll sing." Surely this applies to radicals overnight as well as to ordinary folk. And if not, why not?

But when the reek of the poison gas propaganda has cleared away and the smoke of the barrage has lifted it will be found that "White Men's Niggers" is a phrase that need not be restricted to old-line politicians and editors. Criticism pungent, and insistent is due to every man in public life and to every movement which bids for public support. But the cowardly insinuator who from the safe shelter of nameless charges launches his poisoned arrows at other people's reputation is a contemptible character to have on any side of any movement. He is generally a liar who fears that he will be called to account for his lies if he should venture to name his foe. No man with the truth to tell indulges in this pastime of the skulker and the skunk. Let us, by all means, have clear, hard-hitting criticism, but none of this foul filth which lowers the thing that throws it. In the name of common sense and common decency, quit being Just Crabs.



The Negro's Own Radicalism

Twenty years ago all Negroes known to the white publicists of America could be classed as conservatives on all the great questions on which thinkers differ. In matters of industry, commerce, politics, religion, they could be trusted to take the backward view. Only on the question of the Negro's "rights" could a small handful be found bold enough to be tagged as "radicals”—and they were howled down by both the white and colored adherents of the conservative point of view. Today Negroes differ on all those great questions on which white thinkers differ, and there are Negro radicals of every imaginary stripe--agnostics, atheists, I.' W. W.'s Socialists, Single Taxers, and even Bolshevists.

In the good old days white people derived their knowledge of what Negroes were doing from those Negroes who were nearest to them, generally their own selected exponents of Negro activity or of their white point of view. A classic illustration of this kind of knowledge was afforded by the Republican Party; but the Episcopal Church, the Urban League, or the U. S. Government would serve as well. Today the white world is vaguely, but disquietingly, aware that Negroes are awake, different and perplexingly uncertain. Yet the white world by which they are surrounded retains its traditional method of interpreting the mass by the Negro nearest to them

selves in affiliation or contact. The Socialist party thinks that the "unrest now apparent in the Negro masses is due to the propaganda which its adherents support, and believes that it will function largely along the lines of socialist political thought. The great dailies, concerned mainly with their chosen task of being the mental bellwethers of the mob, scream “Bolshevist propaganda" and flatter themselves that they have found the true cause; while the government's unreliable agents envisage it as "disloyalty." The truth, as usual, is to be found in the depths; but there they are all prevented from going by mental laziness and that traditional off-handed, easy contempt with which white men in America, from scholars like Lester Ward to scavengers like Stevenson, deign to consider the colored population of twelve millions.

In the first place, the cause of "radicalism" among American Negroes is international. But it is necessary to draw clear distinctions at the outset. The function of the Christian church is international. So is art, war, the family, rum and the exploitation of labor. But none of these is entitled to extend the mantle of its own peculiar "internationalism" to cover the present case of the Negro discontent-although this has been attempted. The international Fact to which Negroes in America are now reacting is not the exploitation of laborers by capitalists; but the social, political and economic subjection of colored peoples by white. It is not the Class Line, but the Color Line, which is the incorrect but accepted expression for the Dead Line of racial inferiority. This fact is a fact of Negro consciousness as well as a fact of externals. The international Color Line is the practice and theory of that doctrine which holds that the best stocks of Africa, China, Egypt and the West Indies are inferior to the worst stocks. of Belgium, England and Italy, and must hold their lives,

« TrướcTiếp tục »