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ity whose preponderant existence our newspapers ignore? In the first place, it will feel the lifting of the pressure as the iron hand of "discipline” is relaxed. And it will expand, when that pressure is removed, to the point where it will first ask, then demand, and finally secure, the right of self-determination. It will insist that, not only the white world, but the whole world, be made "safe for democracy.” This will mean a self-governing Egypt, a self-governing India, and independent African states as large as Germany and France--and larger. And, as a result, there will come a shifting of the basis of international politics and business and of international control. This is the living thought that comes to me from the newspapers and books that have been written and published by colored men in Africa and Asia during the past three years. It is what I have heard from their own lips as I have talked with them. And, yet, of this thought which is inflaming the international underworld, not a word appears in the parochial press of America, which seems to think that if it can keep its own Negroes down to servile lipservice, it need not face the world-wide problem of the “Conflict of Color," as Mr, Putnam-Weale calls it.
But that the more intelligent portions of the white world are becoming distressingly conscious of it, is evident from the first great manifesto of the Russian Bolsheviki last year when they asked about Britain's subject peoples.
And the British workingmen have evidently done some thinking in their turn. In their latest declarations they seem to see the ultimate necessity of compelling their own aristocrats to forego such imperial aspirations as that of Sir Harry Johnston, and of extending the principle of self-determination even to the black people of Africa. . But eyes which have for centuries been behind the blinkers of race prejudice cannot but blink and water when compelled to face the full sunlight. And Britain's workers insist that "No one will maintain that the Africans are fit for self-government.” And on the same principle (of excluding the opinion of those who are most vitally concerned) Britain's ruling class may tell them that “No one maintains that the laboring classes of Britain are fit for self-government.” But their half-hearted demand that an international committee shall take over the British, German, French and Portuguese possessions in Africa and manage them as independent nationalities (?)
until they can “go it alone,” would suggest that their eyesight is improving
To sum it all up, the war in Europe is the result of the desire of the white governments of Europe to exploit for their own benefit the lands and labor of the darker races, and, as the war continues, it must decrease the white man's stock of ability to do this successfully against the wishes of the inhabitants of those lands. This will result in their freedom from thralldom and the extension of political, social, and industrial democracy to the twelve hundred million black and brown and yellow peoples of the world. This, I take it, is what President Wilson had in mind when he wished to make the world "safe for democracy." But, whether I am mistaken or not, it is the idea which dominates today the thought of those darker millions.
EDUCATION AND THE RACE.
[With most of the present sources of power controlled by the white race it behooves my race as well as the other subject races to learn the wisdom of the weak and to develop to the fullest that organ whereby weakness has been able to overcome strength; namely, the intellect. It is not with our teeth that we will tear the white man out of our ancestral land. It isn't with our jaws that we can ring from his hard hands consideration and respect. It must be done by the upper and not by the lower parts of our heads. Therefore, I have insisted ever since my entry into the arena of racial discussion that we Negroes must take to reading, study and the development of intelligence as we have never done before. In this respect we must pattern ourselves after the Japanese who have gone to school to Europe but have never used Europe's education to make them the apes of Europe's culture. They have absorbed, adopted, transformed and utilized, and we Negroes must do the same. The three editorials in this chapter and the article which follows them were written to indicate from time to time the duty of the transplanted African in this respect.]
Reading for Knowledge. Some time ago we wrote an editorial entitled "Read, Read, Read!" We touch upon the same subject again, !
, because in our recent trip to Washington we found thousands of people who are eager to get in touch with the stored-up knowledge which the books contain, but do not know just where to turn for it. In New York the same situation obtains, and no help is afforded by the papers of our race.
The reason is that some of our newspaper editors don't read and don't know beans themselves. James W. Johnson is one of the notable exceptions. We were cheered up a good deal by noting his recent editorial advice to our "leaders" to read Arthur Henderson's "The Aims of Labor.” But that was six months after the editor of The Voice had been telling thousands of the “led” all about it and about the British Labor Party and the Russian Bolsheviki in his outdoor talks in Harlem.
But there is no doubt that the New Negro is producing a New Leadership and that this new leadership will be based not upon the ignorance of the masses, but upon their intelligence. The old leadership was possible partly because the masses were ignorant. Today the masses include educated laymen who have studied science, theology, history and economics, not, perhaps in college but, nevertheless, deeply and down to date. These young men and women are not going to follow fools and, indeed, are not going to follow any one, blindly. They want a reason for the things that they are asked to do and to respect. The others, the so-called Common People, are beginning to read and understand. As we sat in the great John Wesley A. M. E. Zion Church in Washington one Sunday night, and heard the cultured black minister speak to his people on literature, science, history and sociology, and yet so simply that even the dullest could catch the meat and inspiration of his great ideas, we could not help saying as we went out of the church: “Depend upon it, these people will demand as much from their next minister." In fact our race will demand as much from all its leaders. And they will demand no less for themselves.
So, with a glad heart, we reprint the following paragraphs from our earlier editorial trusting that our readers everywhere may find them helpful:
As a people our bent for books is not encouraging. We mostly read trash. And this is true not only of our rank and file but even of our leaders. When we heard Kelly Miller address the Sunrise Club of New York at a Broadway hotel two or three years ago, we were shocked at the ignorance of modern science and modern thought which his remarks displayed. His biology was of the brand of Pliny who lived about eighteen hundred years ago. For him Darwin and Spencer and Jacques Loeb had never existed nor written. His ignorance of the A. B. C.'s of astronomy and geology was pitiful.
If this is true of the leaders to whom our reading masses look, what can we expect from those reading masses? The masses must be taught to love good books. But to love them they must first know them. The handicaps placed on us in America are too great to allow us to ignore the help which we can get from that education which we get out of school for ourselves—the only one that is really worth while.
Without the New Knowledge the New Negro is no better than the old. And this new knowledge will be found in the books. Therefore, it would be well if
every Negro of the new model were to make up his or her) mind to get the essentials of modern science and modern thought as they are set down in the books which may be easily had. Don't talk about Darwin and Spencer : read them!
To help the good work along we append the following list of books that are essential. When you master these you will have a better “education” than is found in ninetenths of the graduates of the average American college.
"Modern Science and Modern Thought," by Samuel Laing; "The Origin of Species" and "The Descent of Man," by Charles Darwin ; "The Principles of Sociology"