American dilemma: the Negro problem and modern democracy”

Full text of “American dilemma: the Negro problem and modern democracy



The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy







Copyright, 1944, by Harper y Brothers

Printed in the United States of America


All rights in this book arc reserved. No part of the book may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For information address Harper y Brothers

This study was made possible by funds granted by Carnegie Corporation of New York. That corporation is not, however, the author, owner, publisher, or proprietor of this publication, and is not to he understood as approving by virtue of its grant any of the statenienls made or views expressed therein.


I have been asked to write a prefatory note for this book, because of the part played by the Carnegie Corporation in inaugurating the compre-hensive study of which it is the outcome. In the public mind, the American foundations are associated with gifts for endowment and buildings to universities, colleges and other cultural and scientific institutions, and to a lesser degree with the financial support of fundamental research. It is true that a great part of the funds for which their Trustees are responsible have been distributed for these purposes, but the foundations do other things not so generally recognized. There are, for example, problems which face the American people, and sometimes mankind in general, which call for studies upon a scale too broad for any single institution or association to undertake, and in recent years certain foundations have devoted a considerable part of their available resources to the financing of such comprehensive studies.”

The primary purpose of studies of this character is the collection, analysis and interpretation of existing knowledge; it is true that considerable research may prove necessary to fill the gaps as they reveal themselves, but such research is a secondary rather than a primary part of the undertaking as a whole. Provided the foundation limits itself to its proper function, namely to make the facts available and let them speak for themselves, and does not undertake to instruct the public as to what to do about them, studies of this kind provide a wholly proper and, as experience has shown, sometimes a highly important use of their funds.

As examples, we may take the inquiry and report of the Committee on the Costs of Medical Care (i 928-1 933), made possible by a group of foundations. Lord Hailey’s memorable study, An African Survey, in the thirties was financed by the Carnegie Corporation. The significance of such undertakings cannot be measured by their cost. The volumes on the Poor Whites of South Africa, published in 1932, represent a relatively modest enterprise, but they have largely changed the thinking of the South Africans upon a social question of great importance to them.

While the underlying purpose of these studies is to contribute to the general “advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding,” to quote the Charter of the Carnegie Corporation, it sometimes happens that a secondary factor, namely the need of the foundation itself for fuller light in the formulation and development of its own program, has been influential in their inception. This is true in the present case. The wide sweep of Andrew Carnegie’s interests included the Negro, he gave generously to Negro institutions, and was closely identified with both Hampton and Tuskegee Institutes. The Corporation which he created maintained that interest, and during the years between its organization in 191 1 and the inauguration of the present study, it made grants of more than two and one-half million dollars in direct response thereto.

In 1931, the late Newton D. Baker joined the Corporation Board. He was the son of a Confederate officer, attended the Episcopal Academy in Virginia and the Law School of Washington and Lee University, and spent the greater part of his early years in the Border states of West Virginia and Maryland. His services first as City Solicitor and later as Mayor of Cleveland gave him direct experience with the growing Negro populations in Northern cities, and as Secretary of War he had faced the special problems which the presence of the Negro element in our population inevitably creates in time of national crisis.

Mr. Baker knew so much more than the rest of us on the Board about these questions, and his mind had been so deeply concerned with them, that we readily agreed when he told us that more knowledge and better organized and interrelated knowledge were essential before the Corporation could intelligently distribute its own funds. We agreed with him further in believing that the gathering and digestion of the material might well have a usefulness far beyond our own needs.

The direction of such a comprehensive study of the Negro in America, as the Board thereupon authorized, was a serious question. There was no lack of competent scholars in the United States who were deeply interested in the problem and had already devoted themselves to its study, but the whole question had been for nearly a hundred years so charged with emotion that it appeared wise to seek as the responsible head of the undertaking someone who could approach his task with a fresh mind, uninfluenced by traditional attitudes or by earlier conclusions, and it was therefore decided to “import” a general director—somewhat as the late Charles P. Howland was called across the Atlantic to supervise the repatriation of the Greeks in Asia Minor after the close of the first World War. And since the emotional factor affects the Negroes no less than the whites, the search was limited to countries of high intellectual and scholarly standards but with no background or traditions of imperialism which might lessen the confidence of the Negroes in the United States as to the complete impartiality of the study and the validity of its findings. Under these limitations, the obvious places to look were Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries, and the search ended in the selection of Dr. Gunnar Myrdal, a scholar who despite his youth had already achieved an international reputation as a social economist, a professor in the University of Stockholm, economic

Foreword vii

adviser to the Swedish Government, and a.member of the Swedish Senate. Dr. Myrdal had a decade earlier spent a year in the United States as a Fellow of the Spelman Fund, and when the invitation was extended to him by the Corporation in 1937, was about to make a second visit at the invitation of Harvard University to deliver the Godkin Lectures.

It was understood that he should be free to appoint and organize a staff of his own selection in the United States and that he should draw upon the experience of other scholars and experts in less formal fashion, but that the report as finally drawn up and presented to the public should represent and portray his own decisions, alike in the selection of data and in the conclusions as to their relative importance. Upon him rested the responsibility, and to him should go the credit for what I for one believe to be a remarkable accomplishment.

The difficulties of Dr. Myrdal’s task, which would have been great enough in any event, were much increased by the outbreak of the present war. At a critical point in the development of the enterprise, he returned to Sweden to confer with his colleagues in the Government and the University, and only after nine months was he enabled to return by a long and circuitous route. Meanwhile, defense and war needs here had taken more and more of the time and energies of his collaborators. Despite all these difficulties, delays and complications, his task has now been completed and is presented in these volumes. The Carnegie Corporation is under deep and lasting obligation to Dr. Myrdal. The full degree of this obligation will be appreciated only when the material he has gathered and interpreted becomes generally known.

Though he has achieved an extraordinary mastery of the English language, Dr. Myrdal is not writing in his mother tongue. As a result, there is a freshness and often a piquancy in his choice of words and phrases which is an element of strength. Here and there it may lead to the possibility of misunderstanding of some word or some phrase. This is a risk that has been deliberately taken. It would have been possible for some American to edit the very life out of Dr. Myrdal’s manuscript in an effort to avoid all possibility of offending the susceptibilities of his readers, but the result would have been a less vital and a far less valuable document than it is in its present form.

Thanks are also due to the Director’s many associates and advisers, and in particular to Professor Samuel A. Stouffer and Dr. Richard Sterner, who during Dr. Myrdal’s absence carried the burden of direction and decision, and to Messrs. Shelby M. Harrison, William F. Ogburn and Donald R. Young for their generously given editorial services in connection with the publication of some of the research memoranda prepared by Dr. Myrdal’s collaborators.

When the Trustees of the Carnegie Corporation asked for the preparation

viii Foreword

of this report in 1937, no one (except possibly Adolf Hitler) could have foreseen that it would be made public at a day when the place of the Negro in our American life would be the subject of greatly heightened interest in the United States, because of the social questions which the war has brought in its train both in our military and in our industrial life.  It is a day, furthermore, when the eyes of men of all races the world over are turned upon us to see how the people of the most powerful of the United Nations are dealing at home with a major problem of race relations.

It would have been better in some ways if the book could have appeared somewhat earlier, for the process of digestion would then have taken place under more favorable conditions, but, be that as it may, it is fortunate that its appearance is no longer delayed.

I venture to close these introductory paragraphs with a personal word dealing with a matter upon which Dr. Myrdal himself has touched in his preface, but which I feel moved to state in my own words. It is inevitable that many a reader will find in these volumes statements and conclusions to which he strongly objects, be he white or colored, Northerner or Southerner. May I urge upon each such reader that he make every effort to react to these statements intellectually and not emotionally. This advice, I realize, is much more easy to give than to follow, but it is given with a serious purpose. The author is under no delusions of omniscience} as a scholar, he is inured to taking hard knocks as well as giving them, and he will be the first to welcome challenges as to the accuracy of any data he has presented, the soundness of any general conclusions he has reached, and the relative weight assigned by him to any factor or factors in the complicated picture he draws. Criticism and correction on these lines will add greatly to the value of the whole undertaking.

  1. P. Keppel

December 15, 1942.


Late in the summer of 1957 Frederick P. Keppel, on behalf of the Trustees of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, of which he was then President, invited me to become the director of “a comprehensive study of the Negro in the United States, to be undertaken in a wholly objective and dispassionate way as a social phenomenon.”

Our idea, so far as we have developed it, would be to invite one man to be respon- sible for the study as a whole, but to place at his disposal the services of a group of associates, Americans, who would be competent to deal as experts with the anthropological, economic, educational and social aspects of the question, including publir health and public administration. 11

After some correspondence and, later, personal conferences in the spring of 1938, when I was in the United States for another purpose, the matter was settled. It was envisaged that the study would require a minimum of two years of intensive work, but that it might take a longer time before the final report could be submitted.

On September 10, 1938, 1 arrived in America to start the work. Richard Sterner of the Royal Social Board, Stockholm, had been asked to accompany me. On Mr. Keppel’s advice, we started out in the beginning of October on a two months’ exploratory journey through the Southern states. Jackson Davis, of the General Education Board, who has behind him the experiences of a whole life devoted to improving race relations in the South and is himself a Southerner, kindly agreed to be our guide, and has since then remained a friend and an advisor.

We traveled by car from Richmond, Virginia, and passed through most of the Southern states. We established contact with a great number of white and Negro leaders in various activities; visited universities, colleges, schools, churches, and various state and community agencies as well as factories and plantations; talked to police officers, teachers, preachers, politicians, journalists, agriculturists, workers, sharecroppers, and in fact, all sorts of people, colored and white . . .

During this trip the State Agents for Negro Education in the various states were our key contacts. They were all extremely generous with their time and interest, and were very helpful. The trip was an exploratory journey: we went around with our eyes wide open and gathered impressions, but did not feel ready, and in any case, had not the necessary time to collect in an original way data and material for the Study. The experience,

‘Letter from Mr. Frederick P. Keppel, August 12, 1937.

x Author’s Preface

however, was necessary. Without it our later studies will have no concrete point* at

which to be fixed.*

After a period of library work a first memorandum on the planning of the research to be undertaken was submitted to Mr. Keppel on January 28, 1939. It was later mimeographed, and I had, at this stage of the study, the advantage of criticisms and suggestions, in oral discussions and by letter, from a number of scholars and experts, among whom were: W. W. Alex- ander, Ruth Benedict, Franz Boas, Midian O. Bousfield, Sterling Brown, W. O. Brown, Ralph J. Bunche, Eveline Burns, Horace Cayton, Allison Davis, Jackson Davis, John Dollard, W. E. B. Du Bois, Edwin Embree, Earl Engle, Clark Foreman, E. Franklin Frazier, Abram L. Harris, Melville J. Herskovits, Charles S. Johnson, Guion G. Johnson, Guy B. Johnson, Eugene Kinckle Jones, Thomas Jesse Jones, Otto Klineberg, Ralph Linton, Alain Locke, Frank Lorimer, George Lundberg, Frank Notestein, Howard W. Odum, Frederick Osborn, Robert E. Park, Hortense Powdermaker, Arthur Raper, Ira DeA. Reid, E. B. Reuter, Sterling Spero, Dorothy Swaine Thomas, W. I. Thomas, Charles H. Thompson, Edward L. Thorndike, Rupert B. Vance, Jacob Viner, Walter White, Doxey A. Wilkerson, Faith Williams, Louis Wirth, L. Hollingsworth Wood, Thomas J. Woofter, Jr., Donald R. Young.

During the further planning of the study in terms of specific research projects and collaborators, Donald R. Young of the Social Science Research Council, Charles S. Johnson of Fisk University, and Thomas J. Woofter, Jr., then of the Works Progress Administration, were relied upon heavily for advice. Mr. Young, in particular, during this entire stage of the study, was continuously consulted not only on all major questions but on many smaller concerns as they arose from day to day, and he placed at my disposal his great familiarity with the field of study as well as with available academic personnel. Upon the basis of the reactions I had received, I reworked my plans and gradually gave them a more definite form in terms of feasible approaches and the manner of actually handling the problems. A conference was held at Asbury Park, New Jersey, from April 23 to April 28 inclusive, at which were present: Ralph J. Bunche, CharJes S. Johnson, Guy B. Johnson, Richard Sterner, Dorothy S. Thomas, Thomas J. Woofter, Jr., and Donald R. Young. As a result of the conference I submitted to Mr. Keppel, in a letter of April 28, 1939, a more definite plan for the next stage of the study. The general terms of reference were defined in the following way:

The rtud* thus conceived, should aim at determining the aocial, political, educational, and econom.c rntu. of the Negro in the United State* a. well as defining opinion, held by different groups of Negrdes and white, a. to hi. “right” atttua. h mat, further, be concerned with both recent change, and current trend, with respect ‘Memorandum to Mr. Keppel, January a«, i 939 .


Author’s Preface xi

to the Negro’s position in American society. Attention must also be given to the total American picture with particular emphasis on relations between the two races. Finally, it must consider what changes are being or can be induced by education, legislation, interracial efforts, concerted action by Negro groups, etc.

Mr. Keppel, who from the start had given me the benefit of his most personal interest and advice, and who had followed the gradual development of the approach, gave his approval to the practical plans. Needed were a working staff, consisting of experts who could devote their whole time to the project, and, in addition, the collaboration of other experts to prepare research memoranda on special subjects. I was most fortunate in securing the cooperation needed. The following staff members were engaged, besides Richard Sterner: Ralph J. Bunche, Guy B. Johnson, Paul H. Norgren, Dorothy S. Thomas, and Doxey A. Wilkerson. Norgren did not join the staff until November I, 1939. Mrs. Thomas left the study on January 15, 1940, for another engagement. Outside the staff, the following persons undertook various research tasks, namely: M. F. Ashley-Montagu, Margaret Brenman, Sterling Brown, Barbara Burks, Allison Davis, J. G. St. Clair Drake, Harold F. Dorn, G. James Fleming, Lyonel C. Florant, E. Franklin Frazier, Herbert Goldhamer, Melville J. Herskovits, T. Arnold Hill, Eugene L. Horowitz, Eleanor C. Isbell, Charles S. Johnson, Guion G. Johnson, Dudley Kirk, Louise K. Kiser, Otto Klineberg, Ruth Landes, Gunnar Lange, T. C. McCormick, Benjamin Malzberg, Gladys Palmer, Arthur Raper, Ira DeA. Reid, Edward Shils, Bernhard J. Stern, Louis Wirth, T. J. Woofter, Jr. There were the following assistants to staff members and outside collaborators, who worked for various periods: Berta Asch, Lloyd H. Bailer, Louis Boone, Frieda Brim, Vincent Brown, William B. Bryant, Elwood C. Chisolm, Walter Chivers, Kenneth Clark, Belle Cooper, Lenore Epstein, Edmonia Grant, Louis O. Harper, James Healy, Mary C. Ingham, James E. Jackson, Jr., Wilhelmina Jackson, Anne De B. Johnson, Louis W. Jones, Alan D. Kandel, Simon Marcson, Felix E. Moore, Jr., Rose K. Nelson, Herbert R. Northrup, Edward N. Palmer, Lemuel A. Penn, Glaucia B. Roberts, Arnold M. Rose, George C. Stoney, Joseph Taylor, Benjamin Tepping, Harry J. Walker, Richard B. Whitten, Milton Woll, Rowena Wyant, and Walter Wynne. Mrs. Rowena Hadsell Saeger was the executive secretary of the study through-out this stage.

During the summer of 1939 I prepared a detailed plan for the study.* The work on the various research memoranda started gradually during the summer and fall of 1939, and I remained in close touch with all my collaborators. As I wanted to be able to corroborate, as far as possible, * “Memorandum on the Disposition of the Study on the American Negro.” information in the literary sources and in the research memoranda being prepared for the study, by looking at interracial relations in various parts

xii Author’s Preface

of the country with my own eyes, 1 continued to reserve as much of my time as possible for work in the field. After the Germans had invaded Denmark and Norway in April, 1940, Mr. Keppel and I agreed that my duty was to go home to Sweden. Samuel A. Stouffer — who, meanwhile, had undertaken the responsibilities on the staff which Mrs. Thomas had left — agreed to take upon himself the burden of directing the project in my absence. Without reserve, he unselfishly devoted all his talents and all his energy to the task of bringing the research to completion by September 1, 1940, and he succeeded. I shall always remain in deep gratitude to Stouffer for what he did during those months and for the moral support he thereafter has unfailingly given me and the project.

Because of the delay in the completion of the work — and, indeed, the uncertainty as to whether I would ever be able to return to the task of writing a final report — the Corporation decided, in the fall of 1940, to facilitate the publication of some of the memoranda. A Committee to advise In the selection of those contributions most nearly ready for publication was appointed, consisting of Donald R. Young, Chairman, Shelby M. Harrison and William F. Ogburn. Samuel A. Stouffer served as Secretary to this committee. The following volumes have been published:

Melville J. Herskovits, The Myth of the Negro Past. New York: Harper & Brother*,


Charles S. Johnson, Patterns of Negro Segregation. New York: Harper & Brothers,


Richard Sterner, The Negro’s Share. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1943.

A fourth volume is to be published later: Otto Klineberg, editor, Characteristics of the American Negro. New York: Harper &


This volume contains the following research memoranda, the manuscripts of which will be deposited in the Schomburg Collection of the New York Public Library.

Otto Klineberg, “Tests of Negro Intelligence,” “Experimental Studies of Negro Personality.” Benjamin Malzberg, “Mental Disease among American Negroes: A Statistical


Louis Wirth and Herbert Goldhamer, “The Hybrid and the Problem of Miscegenation.”

Eugene L. Horowitz, ” ‘Race’ Attitudes.” Gny Johnson, “The Stereotypes of the American Negro.”

The following unpublished manuscripts, prepared for the study — after some provision has been made to preserve the authors’ rights — are being

Author’s Preface xiii

deposited in the Schomburg Collection of the New York Public Library where they will be available for scientific reference:*

  1. F. Ashley-Montagu, “Origin, Composition and Physical Characteristics of the

American Negro Population.” Margaret Brenman, “Personality Traits of Urban Negro Girls.”

Sterling Brown, “The Negro in American Culture” (fragment).

Ralph Bunche, “Conceptions and Ideologies of the Negro Problem,” “The Programs, Ideologies, Tactics, and Achievements of Negro Betterment and Interracial Organizations,” “A Brief and Tentative Analysis of Negro Leadership,””The Political Status of the Negro.”

Barbara Burks, “The Present Status of the Nature-Nurture Problem as It Relates to

Intelligence.” Allison Davis, “Negro Churches and Associations in the Lower South.”

Harold F. Dorn, “The Health of the Negro.”

  1. G. St. Clair Drake, “Negro Churches and Associations in Chicago.”
  2. James Fleming, “The Negro Press.”

Lyonel C. Florant, “Critique of the Census of the United States,” “Negro Migiation — 1860-1940” (revised edition, 1942, of the Stouffer-Florant manuscript).

  1. Franklin Frazier, “Recreation and Amusement among American Negroes,” “Stories of Experiences with Whites.”
  2. Arnold Hill, “Digest and Analysis of Questionnaires Submitted by Urban League Secretaries for ‘The Negro in America.’ Churches and Lodges, Negro Business and Businessmen, Racial Attitudes, Recreation and Leisure Time.”
  3. C. Isbell, “The Negro Family in America,” “Statistics of Population Growth and Composition.”

Guion G. Johnson, “A History of Racial Ideologies in the United States with Reference to the Negro.”

Guion G. Johnson and Guy B. Johnson, “The Church and the Race Problem in the United States.”

Guy B. Johnson and Louise K. Kiser, “The Negro and Crime.”

Dudley Kirk, “The Fertility of the Negro.”

Ruth Landcs, “The Ethos of the Negro in the New World.”

Gunnar Laage, “Trends in Southern Agriculture,” “The Agricultural Adjustment Program and the Negro” (fragment).

  1. C. McCormick, “The Negro in Agriculture.”

Benjamin Malzberg, “A Study of Delusions among Negroes with Mental Diseases.”

Paul Norgren, “Negro Labor and Its Problems.”

* In addition to the unpublished research memoranda listed, the following material is also deposited in the Schomburg Collection:

Memorandum to Mr. Keppcl, January 28, 1939 (containing the first plan of the Study) Memorandum to the Staff, “Disposition of the Study on the American Negro,” September 10, 1939 (containing the definitive research program) Memorandum to the Staff, “Main Viewpoints and Emphases of the Study,” February 8,



Memorandum to the Staff, “Preparation of Manuscripts,” February 8, 1940 Memorandum to the Staff, “Bibliographies,” October 31, 1939

xvi Author’s Preface

ments in this book are made in a conjectural form and based on personal observations, these observations are often made by Sterner or by both Sterner and myself.

Arnold Rose has prepared drafts for Chapters 5, 6, 7, and 8 on problems connected with race and population, Chapter 22 on the present political scene, Chapter 29 on the patterns of discrimination, Chapters 41 and 42 on church and education, and Appendices 4, 7 and 8. He has also prepared drafts for many sections of other chapters. For still other chapters he has assembled data and filled in gaps. For the final formulation of the main methodological analysis in Appendix 2 on facts and values in social science, his contribution has been of great importance. He has read the manuscripts of all parts and edited them. His editing work has included much more than polishing the English. It has, rather, been a most conscientious checking of basic data as well as of inferences, and a critical consideration of arrangement, viewpoints and conclusions. Both his criticisms and suggestions have, with few exceptions, led to changes in the final manuscript, and many of these changes are important. His wide knowledge of the social science literature and his sound judgment on methodological problems have, in this critical work, been significant. When I delivered the manuscript and departed from America, there was still a great deal of checking to be done and gaps to be filled in for which he was responsible, as well as for the proof reading. He also had to write Chapters 43 and 44, on the Negro community and culture, and Sections 1 and 4 of Appendix 10. For the present form of these two chapters and the appendix, Rose is himself responsible.

About the contributions of both Sterner and Rose I want to add the following. The size of the book, and still more the scope of the problems involved, will make it understandable even to the reader who is not him- self familiar with many of the specific fields, that the work done has been immense. We have had to dig deep into primary sources in many fields of social science and a major part of this digging has been done by them. The collaboration, which stretched ruthlessly over evenings and weekends, has been a sheer pleasure to me, as I have felt more than I have ever experienced before the stimulation of an ideal cooperation where we not only added together the results of our labor but imagined that we in our concerted endeavors sometimes reached higher than an arithmetical sum. A similar outlook on the methodological problems of social science and a mutually shared scientific curiosity in seeing our structure of hypothesis, data, and conclusion rise, have given to our collaboration a spirit of intellectual exploration which I will not soon forget.

To Miss Ruth Moulik, who has been our secretary and who will continue to stay with the book until it has come through the press, we are grateful for her skill and great devotion. Besides the responsibility for


Author’s Preface xvii

the office and, particularly, for the typing and checking of the manuscript, she has helped us by statistical computations, by digging up sources in the library, by checking statistical data and quotations, and in many other ways.

In the last, hectic stage of the study, from September through December, 1942, Caroline Baer Rose was a member of the little group of three who had to carry on after Sterner and I departed for Sweden. She worked unselfishly through all hours, including evenings and weekends, and brought to the study her frank personality and broad background. She assisted Mr. Rose in checking data and filling in gaps and was especially helpful in doing these things on the economics part. She also wrote the first draft of Chapter 44, Section 4, on “Recreation.”

Before making my final revision of the manuscript I have had the invaluable help of having it read critically and carefully by two friends who are at the same time outstanding social scientists with a great familiarity with the problems treated in the book: Professors E. Franklin Frazier of Howard University and Louis Wirth of the University of Chicago. They have not spared any effort, and as a result I have had their criticisms and suggestions often from page to page, referring to everything from the syntax and the arrangement of chapters and appendices to fundamental problems of approach and to conclusions. In my revision nearly every point raised by them has caused omissions, additions, rearrangements, clarifications or other alterations. Paul H. Norgren has read Appendix 6 and a first draft of Chapter 19. Gunnar Lange has read Chapters 10 to 12 and a first draft of Chapter 18. The final manuscript has benefited by their criticism. Alva Myrdal has read various chapters; her criticism of Appendix 1 and Chapter 41 on Negro education has been particularly valuable.

The relation of the study to the Carnegie Corporation of New York must be accounted for. The study has an unusual character as it was not initiated by any individual scholar or academic institution but sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation itself and, in a sense, carried out within the Corporation. The general plan that a number of American experts should be asked to collaborate by preparing research monographs while the director himself should write a final report, was also developed by the Corporation. All decisions on practical and financial matters have been taken on the responsibility of the Corporation. The Trustees of the Corporation have been most generous and prompt in appropriating necessary funds for the study.

Mr. Keppel has had to keep in closer touch with the progress of the work than is usual when a study is sponsored by an outside institution. No conventional words of appreciation can express what his unfailing personal interest in the project has meant in upholding the courage of the present author throughout his tribulations. Charles Dollard, the Assistant to the President of the Carnegie Corporation, has followed the work in all its

xviii v Author’s Preface

practical details and has, with Keppel, contributed most in terms of moral support and advice. Both Keppel and Dollard have read the manuscript and given me their criticisms and suggestions, which have been very valuable. For the content of the book, I am solely responsible.

The scope and main direction of this book will be explained in the “Introduction.” There are, however, some few notes of a more personal character for which the proper place is at the close of this preface. To invite a foreigner — someone “in a nonimperialistic country with no background of domination of one race over another” who, presumably “would approach the situation with an entirely fresh mind”; I am here again quoting Keppel’s first letter, August 12, 1937 — to review the most serious race problem in the country, is an idea singularly American. In any other country such a proposal would have been defeated by afterthoughts of practical and political expediency. Many will deem it a foolish idea. But  more fundamentally it is a new demonstration, in a minor matter, of

American moralism, rationalism, and optimism — and a demonstration of America’s unfailing conviction of its basic soundness and strength. Early in the course of this work, when I had found out the seriousness of the task before me, I proposed to Mr. Keppel that a committee be formed of a Southern white, a Northern white, and a Negro. In such a group we could have allowed for political considerations and worked out a basis for practical understanding, to which each one could have subscribed, since the representation of different viewpoints would have accounted for the intellectual compromises involved. This was, however, not at all what he wanted. He told me that everyone would generously help and advise me — and there he proved right — but that I would have to find out for myself, and upon my own responsibility, the truth in the- matter without any side glances as to what was politically desirable and expedient.

This book is the result. Let it be added at once that the author does not have any pretension of having produced the definitive statement of the Negro problem in America. The problem is too big and too complicated, and also things are rapidly changing while one writes. Time has, as always, been a limitation. When I now leave the work, I know that many chapters could be improved. But apart from such shortcomings, there is a more basic relativism which the reader should keep in mind. Things look different, defending ufon “where you stand” as the American expression runs. The author fully realizes, and hopes the reader will remember, that he has never been subject to the strains involved in living in a black : white society and never has had to become adjusted to such a situation — and that this condition was the very reason why he was asked to undertake the work. He was requested to see things as a stranger. Indeed, he was asked to be

Author’s Preface joe both the subject and the object of a cultural experiment in the field of social

science. As he, in this problem — to which he previously had given hardly a thought — was nearly stripped of all the familiar and conventional moorings of viewpoints and valuations, he had to construct for himself a system of coordinates. He found this in the American ideals of equality and liberty. Being a stranger to the problem, he has had perhaps a greater awareness of the extent to which human valuations everywhere enter into our scientific discussion of the Negro problem. In two appendices on valuations, beliefs, and facts he has attempted to clear the methodological ground for a scientific approach which keeps the valuations explicit and hinders them from going underground in the form of biases distorting the facts. And he has followed the rule all through the book of inserting the terms “the American Creed” and “value premise” and of specifying those value premises and printing them in italics. The reader will be less irritated by their repetition if he understands that these terms are placed as signs of warning to the reader and to the writer alike: the search for scientific knowledge and the drawing of practical conclusions are dependent upon valuations as well as upon facts.

When, in this way, the data on the American Negro problem are marshaled under the high ideals of the American Creed, the fact must be faced that the result is rather dark. Indeed, as will be pointed out in the first chapter, the Negro problem in America represents a moral lag in the development of the nation and a study of it must record nearly everything which is bad and wrong in America. The reading of this book must be somewhat of an ordeal to the good citizen. I do not know if it can be offered as a consolation that the writing of the book, for much the same reason, has been an ordeal to the author who loves and admires America next to his own country — and does it even more sincerely after having had to become an expert on American imperfections. To a scholar a work is always something of a fate. His personal controls are diminutive; he is in the hands of the facts, of his professional standards, and of the fundamental approach chosen.

If this book gives a more complete record than is up to now available of American shortcomings in this field, I hope, however, that it also accounts more completely for the mutability in relations, the hope for great improvement in the near future and, particularly, the dominant role of ideals in the social dynamics of America. When looking back over the long manuscript, one main conclusion — which should be stressed here since it cannot be reiterated through the whole book — is this: that not since Reconstruction has there been more reason to anticipate fundamental changes in American race relations, changes which will involve a development toward the American ideals.

xx Author’s Preface

To the friends, colleagues, experts, and administrators of both races who have been helpful to me in the course of this study, 1 want to say plainly that in a job of this kind the attempt to be completely honest involves the author in the risk of losing friends. If this does not happen in the present instance, I shall ascribe this to the singular American magnanimity which is demonstrated in the very initiative of calling for this study.


Stockholm, October, 1942

University of Stockholm


Permission has been granted by the following publishers to quote from the copyright material listed below. The place and date of publication will be found in the Bibliography. American Council on Education:

Children of Bondage by Allison Davis and John Dollard.

Color, Class, and Personality by Robert L. Sutherland.

Color and Human Nature by W. Lloyd Warner, Buford H. Junker and Walter A. Adams.

Growing up in the Black Belt by Charles S. Johnson.

Negro Youth at the Crossways by E. Franklin Frazier. D. Appleton-Century Company:

Below the Potomac by Virginius Dabney.

Race Distinctions in American Law, by Gilbert T. Stephenson. Albert and Charles Boni:

The New Negro edited by Alain Locke.

The Atlanta University Press:

Economic Cooperation Among Negro Americans edited by W. E. B. Du Bois. Chapman & Grimes, Inc.:

The Negro’s God by Benjamin E. Mays. Chapman & Hall, Ltd. (London) :

Through Afro-America by William Archer. The University of Chicago Press:

The Biology of the Negro by Julian H. Lewis.

Deep South by Allison Davis, Burleigh B. Gardner and Mary R. Gardner.

The Etiquette of Race Relations in the South by Bertram Wilbur Doyle.

Introduction to the Science of Sociology by Robert E. Park and Ernest W. Burgess. Negro Politicians by Harold F. Gosnell.

The Negro Press in the United States by Frederick G. Detweiler.

Shadow of the Plantation by Charles S. Johnson., The Clarendon Press (Oxford) :

The Relations of the Advanced and Backward Races of Mankind by James Bryce.

jorii Acknowledgments

The Cleveland Foundation:

Criminal Justice in the American City — A Summary by Roscoe Pound. Columbia University Press:

American Caste and the Negro College by Buell G. Gallagher.

The Anthropometry of the American Negro by Melville J. Herskovits. The John Day Company and David Lloyd, agent:

American Unity and Asia, copyright 1942, by Pearl S. Buck. R. S. Crofts & Co.:

The Roots of American Civilization by Curtis P. Nettels. Doubleday, Doran and Company:

Booker T. Washington by Emmett J. Scott and Lyman Beecher Stowe.

Following the Colour Line by Ray Stannard Baker.

Penrod by Booth Tarkington.


The Story of the Negro by Booker T. Washington.

Studies in the American Race Problem by Alfred H. Stone.

Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington.

What the Negro Thinks by Robert R. Moton. Duke University Press:

Race Relations and the Race Problem edited by Edgar T. Thompson. Lee Furman, Inc.:

A Long Way From Home by Claude McKay. University of Georgia Press:

What Negro Newspapers of Georgia Say About Some Social Problems by Rollin Chambliss. Ginn and Company:

The Basis of Racial Adjustment by Thomas J. Woofter, Jr.

Folkways by William Sumner.

Harcourt, Brace and Company:

Black Reconstruction by W. E. B. Du Bois. Darkwater by W. E. B. Du Bois. Dusk of Dawn by W. E. B. Du Bois.

Main Currents of American Thought by Vernon L. Parrington. Harper & Brothers:

American Minority Peoples by Donald R. Young. Divine White Right by Trevor Bowen.

The Negro’s Church by Benjamin E. Mays and Joseph W. Nicholson.

Negro Problems in Cities by Thomas J. Woofter, Jr. and Associates.

Preface to Eugenics by Frederick Osborn.

The Story of a Pioneer by Anna Howard Shaw.

We Europeans by Julian S. Huxley and A. A. Haddon. Harvard University— Peabody Museum:

Study of Some Negro-White Families in the United States by Caroline Bond Day.

Acknowledgments xxui

Harvard University Press:

Population: A Problem For Democracy by Gunnar Myrdal. Reprinted by permission of the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Hastings House and Hampton Institute:

The Negro in Virginia prepared by the Federal Writers’ Project. D. C. Heath and Company:

Race Relations by Willis D. Weatherford and Charles S. Johnson. Henry Holt and Company:

American Regionalism by Howard W. Odum and Harry E. Moore.

Black Yeomanry by Thomas J. Woofter, Jr.

The Frontier in American History by Frederick Jackson Turner.

The Negro in American Civilization by Charles S. Johnson.

Planning for America by George B. Galloway and Associates. The Johns Hopkins Press:

The Industrial Revolution in the South by Broadus Mitchell and George S. Mitchell. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.:

The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man by James Weldon Johnson.

Black Manhattan by James Weldon Johnson.

The Mind of the South by Wilbur J. Cash.

The Racial Basis of Civilization by Frank H. Hankins. Little, Brown & Company:

The Road to Reunion by Paul H. Buck.

Little, Brown & Company and Atlantic Monthly Press:

The Epic of America by James Truslow Adams. Longmans, Green and Co., Inc. :

The Basis of Ascendancy by Edgar Gardner Murphy.

Problems of the Present South by Edgar Gardner Murphy. A. C. McClurg&Co.:

The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois. McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc.:

Race Mixture by E. B. Reuter. The Macmillan Company:

The American Commonwealth by James Bryce.

Democracy and Race Friction by John M. Mecklin.

The Mind of Primitive Man by Franz Boas.

Race Questions by Josiah Royce. Studies in the Theory of Human Society by Franklin H. Giddings. Julian Messner, Inc.:

Sinful Cities of the Western World by Hendrik De Leeuw. Methuen and Company, Ltd. (London) :

The Negro in the New World by Sir Harry Johnston.

xxiv Acknowledgments

The University of North Carolina Press:

The Collapse of Cotton Tenancy by Charles S. Johnson, Edwin R. Embree and W. W. Alexander.

The Legal Status of the Negro by Charles S. Mangum, Jr.

Liberalism in the South by Virginius Dabney.

Human Geography of the South by Rupert B. Vance.

The Negro College Graduate by Charles S. Johnson.

Preface to Peasantry by Arthur F. Raper.

Tar-Heel Editor by Josephus Daniels. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.:

American Faith by Ernest Sutherland Bates. The Oxford University Press:

American Farmers in the World Crisis by Carl T. Schmidt.

Race, Class and Party by Paul Lewinson. The University of Pennsylvania Press:

The Philadelphia Negro by W. E. B. Du Bois. G. P. Putnam’s Sons:

Darker Phases of the South by Frank Tannenbaum.

Freedom and Culture by John Dewey. The Ronald Press Company:

The Course of American Democratic Thought by Ralph H. Gabriel. Russell Sage Foundation:

“Youth Programs” by M. M. Chambers in the Social Work Year Book, 104 1 edited by Russell H. Kurtz.

Charles Scribner’s Sons:

America’s Tragedy by James Truslow Adams.

Heredity and Human Affairs by Edward M. East.

The Marginal Man by Everett V. Stonequist.

The Negro: The Southerner’s Problem by Thomas Nelson Page.

The Negro Question by George W. Cable.

The Old South by Thomas J. Wertenbaker.

The Passing of the Great Race by Madison Grant.

The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy by Lothrop Stoddard.

The Twentieth Century Fund:

Facing the Tax Problem. The Viking Press:

Along This Way, copyright 1933 by James Weldon Johnson.

After Freedom, copyright 1939 by Hortense Powdermaker.

Alien Americans by B. Schrieke, copyright 1936..

Brown America by Edwin R. Embree, copyright 1931.

Negro Americam; What Now?, copyright 1934 by James Wejdon Johnson.

Acknowledgments xxv

University of Virginia:

Negro Crime in a Small Urban Community by Robert M. Lightfoot. Yale University Press:

Caste and Class in a Southern Town by John Dollard.

Essays of William Graham Sumner edited by Albert G. Keller and Maurice R. Davie.

New Haven Negroes by Robert Austin Warner.

Social Life of a Modern Community by W. Lloyd Warner and Paul S. Lunt.

Xavier University:

The Negro in Louisiana by Charles B. Roussevc.


Foreword, by Frederick P. Keppel v

Author’s Preface ix

Introduction xli

i . The Negro Problem as a Moral Issue

  1. Valuations and Beliefs
  2. A White Man’s Problem
  3. Not an Isolated Problem
  4. Some Further Notes on the Scope and Direction of This


  1. A Warning to the Reader


Chapter 1. American Ideals and the American Conscience 3

1 . Unity of Ideals and Diversity of Culture

  1. American Nationalism
  2. Some Historical Reflections
  3. The Roots of the American Creed in the Philosophy of



  1. The Roots in Christianity
  2. The Roots in English Law
  3. American Conservatism
  4. The American Conception of Law and Order
  5. Natural Law and American Puritanism
  6. The Faltering Judicial Order
  7. Intellectual Defeatism
  8. “Lip-Service”
  9. Value Premises in This Study

Chapter 1. Encountering the Negro Problem 26

  1. On the Minds of the Whites
  2. To the Negroes Themselves
  3. Explaining the Problem Away
  4. Explorations in Escape
  5. The Etiquette of Discussion
  6. The Convenience of Ignorance
  7. Negro and White Voices

. The North and the South


xxviii Contents

Chapter 3. Facets of the Negro Problem 50

  1. American Minority Problems
  2. The Anti-Amalgamation Doctrine
  3. The White Man’s Theory of Color Caste
  4. The “Rank Order of Discriminations”
  5. Relationships between Lower Class Groups
  6. The Manifoldness and the Unity of the Negro Problem
  7. The Theory of the Vicious Circle
  8. A Theory of Democracy


Chapter 4. Racial Beliefs 83

  1. Biology and Moral Equalitarianism
  2. The Ideological Clash in America
  3. The Ideological Compromise
  4. Reflections in Science
  5. The Position of the Negro Writers


  1. The Racial Beliefs of the Unsophisticated
  2. Beliefs with a Purpose
  3. Specific Rationalization Needs
  4. Rectifying Beliefs
  5. The Study of Beliefs

Chapter 5. Race and Ancestry 1 13

  1. The American Definition of “Negro”
  2. African Ancestry
  3. Changes in Physical Appearance
  4. Early Miscegenation
  5. Ante-Bellum Miscegenation
  6. Miscegenation in Recent Times
  7. “Passing”
  8. Social and Biological Selection
  9. Present and Future Genetic Composition Trends

Chapter 6. Racial Characteristics 137

  1. Physical Traits
  2. Biological Susceptibility to Disease
  3. Psychic Traits
  4. Frontiers of Constructive Research


Chapter 7. Population 157

  1. The Growth of the Negro Population
  2. Births and Deaths
  3. Summary
  4. Ends and Means of Population Policy
  5. Controlling the Death Rate

Contents mox

  1. The Case for Controlling the Negro Birth Rate
  2. Birth Control Facilities Tor Negroes

Chapter 8. Migration 182

  1. Overview
  2. A Closer View
  3. The Great Migration to the Urban North
  4. Continued Northward Migration
  5. The Future of Negro Migration


Chapter 9*. Economic Inequality 205

  1. Negro Poverty
  2. Our Main Hypothesis: The Vicious Circle
  3. The Value Premises
  4. The Conflict of Valuations

Chapter 10- The Tradition of Slavery 220

  1. Economic Exploitation
  2. Slavery and Caste
  3. The Land Problem
  4. The Tenancy Problem

Chapter 11.. The Southern Plantation Economy and the Negro

Farmer 230

  1. Southern Agriculture as a Problem
  2. Overpopulation and Soil Erosion
  3. Tenancy, Credit and Cotton
  4. The Boll Weevil
  5. Main Agricultural Classes
  6. The Negro Landowner
  7. Historical Reasons for the Relative Lack of Negro Farm Owners
  8. Tenants and Wage Laborers
  9. The Plantation 1 enant

Chapter 12. New Blows to Southern Agriculture During the

‘Thirties: Trends and Policies 251

  1. Agricultural Trends during the ‘Thirties
  2. The Disappearing Sharecropper
  3. The Role of the A.A.A. in Regard to Cotton
  4. A.A.A. and the Negro
  5. The Local Administration of the A.A.A.
  6. Mechanization
  7. Labor Organizations
  8. The Dilemma of Agricultural Policy
  9. Economic Evaluation of the A.A.A.
  10. Social Evaluation of the A.A.A.
  11. Constructive Measures
  12. Farm Security Programs

xsx Contents

Chapter jy^Seeking Jobs Outside Agriculture 279

  1. Perspective on the Urbanization of the Negro People
  2. In the South
  3. A Closer View
  4. Southern Trends during the ‘Thirties >
  5. In the North
  6. A Closer View on Northern Trends
  7. The Employment Hazards of Unskilled Work .
  8. The Size of the Negro Labor Force and Negro Employment
  9. Negro and White Unemployment

Chapter 14. The Negro in Business, the Professions, Public

Service and Other White Collar Occupations 304

  1. Overview
  2. The Negro in Business
  3. Negro Finance
  4. The Negro Teacher
  5. The Negro Minister
  6. The Negro in Medical Professions
  7. Oter Negro Professionals
  8. Negro Officials and White Collar Workers in Public Service
  9. Negro Professionals oi the Stage, Screen and Orchestra
  10. Note on Shady Occupations

Chapter 15, The Negro in the Public Economy 233

  1. The Public Budget
  2. Discrimination in Public Service
  3. Education
  4. Public Health
  5. Recreational Facilities
  6. Public Housing Policies
  7. Social Security and Public Assistance
  8. Specialized Social Welfare Programs during the Period After the Sc
  9. The Social Security Program
  10. Assistance to Special Groups
  11. Work Relief
  12. Assistance to Youth
  13. General Relief and Assistance in Kind

Chapter 16, Income, Consumption and Housing 364

  1. Family Income
  2. Income and Family Size
  3. The Family Budget
  4. Budget Items
  5. Fooof Consumption
  6. Housing Conditions

Chapter vj^’The Mechanics of Economic Discrimination as a Practital Problem 380

  1. The Practical Problem
  2. The Ignorance and Lack of Concern of Northern Whites
  3. Migration Policy
  4. The Regular Industrial Labor Market in the North
  5. The Problem of Vocational Training
  6. The Self-Perpetuating Color Bar
  7. A Position or “Indifferent Equilibrium”
  8. In the South

Chapter 18. Pre-JVar Labor Market Controls and Their Consequences for the Negro 397

  1. The Wages and Hours Law and the Dilemma of the Marginal Worker
  2. Other Economic Policies
  3. Labor Unions and the Negro
  4. A Weak Movement Getting Strong Powers

Chapter 19. The War Boom — and Thereafter 409

  1. The Negro Wage Earner and the War Boom
  2. A Closer View
  3. Government Policy in Regard to the Negro in War Production
  4. The Negro in the Armed Forces
  5. . . . And Afterwards?


Chapter 20. Underlying Factors 429

  1. The Negro in American Politics and as a Political Issue
  2. The Wave of Democracy and the Need for Bureaucracy
  3. The North and the South
  4. The Southern Defense Ideology
  5. The Reconstruction Amendments
  6. Memories of Reconstruction
  7. The Tradition of Illegality

Chapter 21. Southern Conservatism and Liberalism 452

  1. The. “Solid South”
  2. Southern Conservatism
  3. Is the South Fascist?
  4. The Changing South
  5. Southern Liberalism

Chapter 22. Political Practices Today 474

  1. The Southern Political Scene
  2. Southern Techniques for Disfranchising the Negroes
  3. The Negro Vote m the South
  4. The Negro in Northern Politics
  5. What the Neero Gets Out of Politics

Chapter 23. Trends and Possibilities 505

  1. The Negro’s Political Bargaining Power
  2. The Negro’s Party Allegiance
  3. Nemo Suffrage in the South as an Issue
  4. An Unstable Situation
  5. The Stake of the North Practical Conclusions


Chapter 24. Inequality of Justice 5*3

  1. Democracy and Justice
  2. Relative Equality in the North
  3. The Southern Heritage

Chapter 25. The Police and Other Public Contacts 535

  1. Local Petty Officials
  2. The Southern Policeman
  3. The Policeman in the Negro Neighborhood
  4. Trends and Outlook
  5. Another Type of Public Contact

Chapter 26. Courts , Sentences and Prisons 547

1 . The Southern Courts

  1. Discrimination in Court
  2. Sentences and Prisons
  3. Trends and Outlook

Chapter 27. Violence and Intimidation 558

1 . The Pattern of Violence

  1. Lynching
  2. The Psychopathology of Lynching
  3. Trends and Outlook
  4. Riots


Chapter 28 v The Basis of Social Inequality 573

  1. The Value Premise
  2. The One-Sidedness of the System of Segregation
  3. The Beginning in Slavery
  4. The Jim Crow Laws
  5. Beliefs Supporting Social Inequality
  6. The Popular Theory of “No Social Equality”
  7. Critical Evaluation of the “No Social Equality” Theory
  8. Attitudes among Different Classes of Whites in the South
  9. Social Segregation and Discrimination in the North

Chapter 0.%, Patterns of Social Segregation and Discrimination 605

  1. Facts and Beliefs Regarding Segregation and Discrimination
  2. Segregation and Discrimination in interpersonal Relations
  3. Housing Segregation
  4. Sanctions for Residential Segregation
  5. The General Character of Institutional Segregation
  6. Segregation in Specific Types of Institutions

Chapter ^Ov/Tiff ects of Social Inequality 640

  1. The Incidence of Social Inequality
  2. Increasing Isolation
  3. Interracial Contacts
  4. The Factor of Ignorance <. Present Dynamics


Chapter i*,/Caste and Class 667

  1. The Concepts “Caste” and “Class”
  2. The “Meaning” of the Concepts “Caste” and “Class”
  3. The Caste Struggle
  4. Crossing the Caste Line

Chapter 32. The Negro Class Structure 689

  1. The Negro Class Order in the American Caste System
  2. Caste Determines Class
  3. Color and Class
  4. The Classes in the Negro Community


Chapter 33. The American Pattern 0/ Individual Leadership and Mass Passivity 709

  1. “Intelligent Leadership”
  2. “Community Leaders”
  3. Mass Passivity
  4. The Patterns Exemplified in Politics and throughout the American Social Structure

Chapter 34. Accommodating Leadership 720

  1. leadership and Caste
  2. The Interests of Whites and Negroes with Respect to Negro I leadership
  3. In the North and on the National Scene
  4. The “Glass Plate”
  5. Accommodating Leadership and Class
  6. Several Qualifications
  7. Accommodating Leaders in the North
  8. The Glamour Personalities

Chapter 35. The Negro Protest 7,6

1 . The Slave Revolts

  1. The Negro Abolitionists and Reconstruction Politicians
  2. The Tuskegee Compromise
  3. The Spirit of Niagara and Harper’s Ferry
  4. The Protest Is Still Rising
  5. The Shock of the First World War and the Post- War Crisis
  6. The Garvey Movement
  7. Post- War Radicalism among Negro Intellectuals
  8. Negro History and Culture
  9. The Great Depression and the Second W T or!d War

Chapter 36. The Protest Motive and Negro Personality 757

  1. A Mental Reservation
  2. The Struggle Against Defeatism
  3. The Struggle for Balance
  4. Negro Sensitiveness
  5. Negro Aggression
  6. Upper Class Reactions
  7. The “Function” of Racial Solidarity

Chapter 37. Compromise Leadership 768

  1. The Daily Compromise
  2. The Vulnerability of the Negro Leader
  3. Impersonal Motives
  4. The Protest Motive
  5. The Double Role
  6. Negro Leadership Techniques
  7. Moral Consequences
  8. Leadership Rivalry
  9. Qualifications
  10. In Southern Cities
  11. In the North
  12. On the National Scene

Chapter 38. Negro Popular Theories 781

  1. Instability
  2. Negro Provincialism
  3. The Thinking on the Negro Problem
  4. Courting the “Best People Among the Whites”
  5. The Doctrine of Labor Solidarity
  6. Some Critical Observations
  7. The Pragmatic “Truth” of the Labor Solidarity Doctrine
  8. “The Advantages of the Disadvantages”
  9. Condoning Segregation
  10. Boosting Negro Business
  11. Criticism of Negro Business Chauvinism
  12. “Back to Africa”

13.” Miscellaneous Ideologies

Chapter 39. ‘Negro Improvement and Protest Organizations 8io

  1. A General American Pattern
  2. Nationalist Movements
  3. Business and Professional Organizations
  4. The National Negro Congress Movement
  5. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored ‘People
  6. the N.A.A.C.P. Branches
  7. The N.A.A.C.P. National Office
  8. The Strategy of the N.A.A.C.P.
  9. Critique of the N.A.A.C.P.
  10. The Urban League
  11. The Commission on Interracial Cooperation
  12. The Negro Organizations during the War
  13. Negro Strategy

Chapter 40. The Negro Church 858

  1. Non-Political Agencies for Negro Concerted Action
  2. Some Historical Notes
  3. The Negro Church and the General American Pattern of Religious Activity
  4. A Segregated Church
  5. Its Weakness
  6. Trends and Outlook

Chapter 41. The Negro School 879

1 . Negro Education as Concerted Action

  1. Education in American Thought and Life
  2. The Development of Negro Education in the South
  3. The Whites’ Attitudes toward Negro Education
  4. “Industrial” versus “Classical” Education of Negroes
  5. Negro Attitudes
  6. Trends and Problems

Chapter 42. The Negro Press 908

  1. An Organ for the Negro Protest
  2. The Growth of the Negro Press
  3. Characteristics of the Negro Press
  4. The Controls of the Negro Press
  5. Outlook


Chapter 43. Institutions 927

  1. The Negro Community as a Pathological Form of an American Community
  2. The Negro Family
  3. The Negro Church in the Negro Community
  4. The Negro School and Negro Education
  5. Voluntary Associations

Chapter 44. Non-Institutional Aspects of the Negro Community 956

  1. “Peculiarities” of Negro Culture and Personality
  2. Crime
  3. Mental Disorders and Suicide
  4. Recreation
  5. Negro Achievements


Chapter 45. America Again at the Crossroads in the Negro Problem 997

  1. The Negro Problem and the War
  2. Social Trends
  3. The Decay of the Caste Theory
  4. Negroes in the War Crisis
  5. The War and the Whites
  6. The North Moves Toward Equality
  7. Tension in the South
  8. International Aspects
  9. Making the Peace
  10. America’s Opportunity

Appendix 1. A Methodological Note on Valuations and Beliefs 1027

  1. The Mechanism of Rationalization
  2. Theoretical Critique of the Concept “Mores”
  3. Valuation Dynamics

Appendix 2. A Methodological Note on Facts and Valuations in Social Science ro3 5

  1. Biases in the Research on the American Negro Problem
  2. Methods of Mitigating Biases in Social Science
  3. The History and Logic of the Hidden Valuations in Social Science
  4. The Points of View Adopted in This Book

Appendix 3. A Methodological Note on the Principle of Cumulation 1065

Appendix 4. Note on the Meaning of Regional Terms as Used in This Book 1 07 1

Appendix 5. A Parallel to the Negro Problem 1073

Appendix 6. Pre-lf’ar Conditions of the Negro Wage Earner in

Selected Industries and Occupations 1079

  1. General Characteristics of Negro Jobs
  2. Domestic Service
  3. Other Service Occupations
  4. Turpentine Farms
  5. Lumber
  6. The Fertilizer Industry
  7. Longshore Work.
  8. Building Workers
  9. Railroad Workers
  10. Tobacco Workers

1 1 . Textile Workers

  1. Coal Miners
  2. Iron and Steel Workers
  3. Automobile Workers
  4. The Slaughtering and Meat Packing Industry


Appendix 7. Distribution of Negro Residences in Selected Cities 1125

Appendix 8. Research on Caste and Class in a Negro Community 1129

Appendix 9. Research on Negro Leadership 1 1 33

Appendix 10. Quantitative Studies of Race Attitudes 1136

  1. Kxisting Studies of Race Attitudes
  2. The Kmpirical Study of Valuations and Beliefs
  3. “Personal” and “Political” Opinions
  4. The Practical Study of Race Prejudice

List of Rooks, Pamphlets, Periodicals, and Other Material Referred to in This Hook 1 144 Numbered Footnotes 1 181

Index 1 44 1


Chapter j

Table t. Carey’s Estimates of the Number of SlavesImported into the United States at Various Time Periods 118

Footnote 59. Comparison of Variabilities of the American Negro Population with the American White

Population and with the West African Negro Population in Twenty-three Selected Traits 1211

Chapter J

Table 1. Net Reproduction Rates by Color and Urban-Rural Residence, for the United States, by

Regions: 1930 and 1940 160 Footnote 24. Net Reproduction Rates in Southern Regions:

1940 1222

Chapter 11

Table 1. Negro and White Agricultural Workers in the South, by Tenure: 1930 236

Chapter 12

Table 1. Number of Farm Operators in the South, by Tenure and Color: 1930, 1935, and 1940 253

Footnote 3. Index Numbers for Gross Cash Income from Marketings 1 244

Footnote 13. Counties in Selected Southern States by Increase or Decrease in Number of Colored and White Owners, Tenants (Other Than Croppers), and Croppers: 1930- 193 5 1246

Footnote 2>Z- Number of Motor Trucks and Tractors on.

Farms: 1930 and 1940 1248

Chapter /j

Table 1. Number of All Male Workers and of Negro Male Workers in Nonagricultural Pursuits, by Section: 1 890-1930 285

Table 1. Changes in Population and in Male Labor Force in Selected Northern and Southern Cities: 1930- 1940 288

xl List of Tables

Table 3. Number and Proportion of Nonwhite Workers in Selected Industries, 1940; and Negroes as a Percentage of the Gainful Workers, 1930 — in the South 290

Table 4. Negro and W T hite Male Workers in Nonagricultural Pursuits by Social-Economic Status, in the North and in the South: 1930 296

Table 5. Total Persons and Labor Force in Nonfarm Areas of the United States, by Employment Status, Sex, and Race: 1940 298

Table 6. Labor Force as a Percentage of All Persons, 14 Years of Age and Over, and Unemployed Workers as a Percentage of Total Labor Force, in Selected Large Cities, by Sex and Race: 1940 300

Chapter 14

Table 1. Negro Workers in Business, Professional, and White Collar Occupations, by Sex: 1910, 1920, and 1930 306

Table 2. Number of Negro Entrepreneurs and White Collar Workers in Selected Trade and Service Industries: 19 10 309

Table 3. Principal Groups of Negro Professional Workers: 1910 and 1930 319

Chapter 13

Footnote 19. Median Expenditure for Teachers’ Salaries in Counties with Specified Proportion of Negroes in the School Population, Aged 5-19: 1930-1931 1271

Footnote 57. “Paupers” in Almshouses in 1890 1277

Chapter 16

Table 1. Median Incomes of Negro and Native White Families in Selected Cities: 1935-1936 365

Table 2. Per Cent Distribution of Total Family Consumption Items, for Normal Nonrelief Families in Selected Community and Income Groups, by Race: 1935- 1916 369

Table 3. Percentage of Normal Nonrelief Families Who During a Survey Period of One Week in 1936 Failed to Consume Specified Foods 372

Table 4. Average Value (in Cents) per Meal per Food-Expenditure-Unit in Small and Large Normal Nonrelief Families, by Race 374

Table 5. Diets of Normal Nonrelief Negro and White Families in the Southeast Classified by Grade: I936-J937 375

List of Tables xli

Table 6. Percentage of Urban Families Showing Various Degrees of Crowding, by Region and Race:

I93.v>93″ ” ‘ . 378

Footnote 1. Median Incomes for Negro and White Farm Families in Three Southeastern Sample Areas: 1935-193″ . … 1284

Footnote 34. Percentage of Negro and White Families in the Southeast with Diets Furnishing Less than Optimum Requirements of Specified Nutrients: 1936- 1 937 1290

Footnote 40. Large Families Living in Homes with More Than 1.5 Person per Room as a Percentage of All Large Farm Families, by Color and Tenure: 1935 1936 1291

Chapter iS

Footnote 4.

Chapter iq

Footnote 1.

Chapter <?.? Table 1.

Chapter 40 Table 1.

Chapter 43 Table 1.

Percentage Increase in Number of Wage Earners in Virginia Manufacturing Industries, 1930-1939; and Percentage of Nonwhitc Wage Karners, 1930 1939 1296

Percentage of Nonwhitcs in the Total Population, 1940, am] among Recent In-migrants According to Surveys Made during the Latter Half of 1941, in Selected Cities 1301

Per Cent of Major 1’arty Vote for Roosevelt, 1932, r 93″. 1940, in Kach Ward Having More Than Half Its Population Negro, Selected Cities

Negro Membership Denomination: J 930 in Harlem Churches by

Number and Rate of Illegitimate Births, by Nativity, Section and Rural-Urban Residence: ] 93 6 .

Table 2. Proportion Broken Families of All Families: 1930

Table 3. School Attendance in the United States, Ages 5-20, by Race: 18 50- 1940

Table 4. School Attendance, Ages 7-20, by Race and Region: 1930

Table 5. Years of School Completed, by Persons 25 Years Old and Over, by Race, for the United States, Rural and Urban Areas: 1940 496 865 932 934 942 943 944

xlii List of Tables

Table 6. Ratio of Negro to White Pupils in Public Schools by Grades, in 18 Southern States: 1933-1934 944

Footnote 20. Organizations and Activities of 609 Urban Churches 1427

Chapter 44

Table 1. Prisoners Received from Courts by State and Federal Prisons and Reformatories by Sex, Race and Nativity: 1939 971

Table 2. Male Felony Prisoners Received from Courts by State and Federal Prisons and Reformatories, by Geographic Areas and by Race and Nativity: 1939 97 1

Table 3. Distribution of Arrests according to Race and Type of Offense (Excluding Those under Fifteen Years of Age): 1940 973

Appendix 4

Table 1. Various Definitions of the South 1072

Appendix 6

Table 1. Nonagricultural Industries and Service Groups Having 15,000 Negro Workers or More: 1930 1081

Table 2. Percentage of Nonrelief White Families, in Selected Income Groups, Who Had Expenditure for Household Help: 1935-1936 1084

Table 3. Range between Local Wage Rates for Domestic Work, in Selected States, according to Estimates by State Employment Offices: January, 1939 1085

Table 4. Average Earnings and Hours of Work for Lumber Workers in the South by Type and Branch of Industry and by Color: 1939-19^0 1093

Table 5. Percentage Distribution of Logging and Sawmill Workers by Average Hourly Earnings, by Type and Branch of Industry and by Color, in the South: 1939-^1940 1093

Table 6. Occupations in Lumber Mills (Sawmills, Logging, Maintenance and Service Branches) by Average Hourly Earnings of White Workers, and Difference between Average Earnings of White and Negro Workers, in the South: 1939-1940 1094

Table 7. Percentage of Negroes among Longshoremen and Stevedores in Selected States: 1910 and 1930 1097


Figure i. Negro Population of the United States: 1790 to 1940 158

Figure 2. Ratio of Nonwhite to White Mortality Rates for

Selected Causes of Death, United States: 1920-1931 173

Figure 3. The Proportion of Negroes in the Population, by States: 1940 184

Figure 4. ‘J he Northward Migration 192

Figure 5. Average Size of Farm, and Average Value of Land and Buildings per Acre and per Farm, by Color and Tenure, in the South: 1920 and 1940 239 ylm


  1. The Negro Problem as a Moral Issue

There is a “Negro problem” in the United States and most Americans are aware of it, although it assumes varying forms and intensity in different regions of the country and among diverse groups of the American people. Americans have to react to it, politically as citizens and, where there are Negroes present in the community, privately as neighbors.

To the great majority of white Americans the Negro problem has distinctly negative connotations. It suggests something difficult to settle and equally difficult to leave alone. It is .embarrassing. It makes for moral uneasiness. The very presence of the Negro in America* j his fate in this country through slavery, Civil War and Reconstruction; his recent career and his present status; his accommodation; his protest and his aspiration; in fact his entire biological, historical and social existence as a participant American represent to the ordinary white man in the North as well as in the South an anomaly in the very structure of American society. To many, this takes on the proportion of a menace — biological, economic, social, cultural, and, at times, political. This anxiety may be mingled with a feeling of individual and collective guilt. A few see the problem as a challenge to statesmanship. To all it is a trouble.

These and many other mutually inconsistent attitudes are blended into none too logical a scheme which, in turn, may be quite inconsistent with the wider personal, moral, religious, and civic sentiments and ideas of the Americans. Now and then, even the least sophisticated individual becomes aware of his own confusion and the contradiction in his attitudes. Occasion- ally he may recognize, even if only for a moment, the incongruence of his state of mind and find it so intolerable that the whole organization of his moral precepts is shaken. But most people, most of the time, suppress such threats to their moral integrity together with all of the confusion, the ambiguity, and inconsistency which lurks in the basement of man’s soul. This, however, is rarely accomplished without mental strain. Out of the strain comes a sense of uneasiness and awkwardness which always seems attached to the Negro problem.

The strain is increased in democratic America by the freedom left open “The word America will be used in this book u a synonym for continental United States.

— even in the South,* to a considerable extent — for the advocates of the Negro, his rights and welfare. All “pro-Negro” forces in American society, whether organized or not, and irrespective of their wide differences in both strategy and tactics, sense that this is the situation. They all work on the national conscience. They all seek to fix everybody’s attention on the sup- pressed moral conflict. No wonder that they are often regarded as public nuisances, or worse — even when they succeed in getting grudging concessions to Negro rights and welfare.

At this point it must be observed that America, relative to all the other branches of Western civilization, is moralistic and “moral-conscious.” The ordinary American is the opposite of a cynic. He is on the average more of a believer and a defender of the faith in humanity than the rest of the Occidentals. It is a relatively important matter to him to be true to his own ideals and to carry them out in actual life. We recognize the American, wherever we meet him, as a practical idealist. Compared with members of other nations of Western civilization, the ordinary American is a rationalistic being, and there are close relations between his moralism and his rationalism. Even romanticism, transcendentalism, and mysticism tend to be, in the American culture, rational, pragmatic and optimistic. American civilization early acquired a flavor of enlightenment which has affected the ordinary American’s whole personality and especially his conception of how ideas and ideals ought to “click” together. He has never developed that particular brand of tired mysticism and romanticism which finds delight in the inextricable confusion in the order of things and in ineffectuality of the human mind. He finds such leanings intellectually perverse.

These generalizations might seem venturesome and questionable to the reflective American himself, who, naturally enough, has his attention directed more on the dissimilarities than on the similarities within his culture. What is common is usually not obvious, and it never becomes striking. But to the stranger it is obvious and even striking. In the social sciences, for instance, the American has, more courageously than anywhere else on the globe, started to measure, not only human intelligence, aptitudes, and personality traits, but moral leanings and the “goodness” of communities. This man is a rationalist; he wants intellectual order in his moral set-up} he wants to pursue his own inclinations into their hidden haunts; and he is likely to expose himself and his kind in a most undiplomatic manner.

In hasty strokes we are now depicting the essentials of the American ethos. This moralism and rationalism are to many of us — among them the author of this book — the glory of the nation, its youthful strength, perhaps the salvation of mankind. The analysis of this “American Creed” and its * The mew precise meaning of the -words, South, North, and other terms for region* in

America wQI be explained in Appendix 4.

implications have an important place in our inquiry. While on the one hand, to such a moralistic and rationalistic being as the ordinary American, the Negro problem and his own confused and contradictory attitudes toward it must be disturbing; on the other hand, the very mass of unsettled problems in his heterogeneous and changing culture, and the inherited liberalistic trust that things will ultimately take care of themselves and get settled in one way or another, enable the ordinary American to live on happily, with recognized contradictions around him and within him, in a kind of bright fatalism which is unmatched in the rest of the Western world. This fatalism also belongs to the national ethos.

The American Negro frobletn is a -problem in the heart of the American. It is there that the interracial tension has its focus. It is there that the decisive struggle goes on. This is the central viewpoint of this treatise. Though our study includes economic, social, and political race relations, at bottom our problem is the moral dilemma of the American — the conflict between his moral valuations on various levels of consciousness and generality. The u American Dilemma,” referred to in the title of this book, is the ever-raging conflict between, on the one hand, the valuations preserved on the general plane which we shall call the “American Creed,” where the American thinks, talks, and acts under the influence of high national and

Christian precepts, and, on the other hand, the valuations on specific planes of individual and group living, where personal and local interests; economic, social, and sexual jealousies; considerations of community prestige and conformity ; group prejudice against particular persons or types of people; and all sorts of miscellaneous wants, impulses, and habits dominate his outlook. The American philosopher, John Dewey, whose immense influence is to be explained by his rare gift for projecting faithfully the aspirations and possibilities of the culture he was born into, in the maturity of age and wisdom has written a book on Freedom and Culture, in which he says:

Anything that obscures the fundamentally moral nature of the social problem is harmful, no matter whether it proceeds from the side of physical or of psychological theory. Any doctrine that eliminates or even obscures the function of choice of values and enlistment of desires and emotions in behalf of those chosen weakens personal responsibility for judgment and for action. It thus helps create the attitudes that welcome and support the totalitarian state. 1

We shall attempt to follow through Dewey’s conception of what a social problem really is.

  1. Valuations and Beliefs

The Negro problem in America would be of a different nature, and, indeed, would be simpler to handle scientifically, if the moral conflict raged only between valuations held by different persons and groups of persons. The essence of the moral situation is, however, that the conflicting valuations are also held by the same person. The moral struggle goes on within people and not only between them. As people’s valuations are conflicting, behavior normally becomes a moral compromise. There are no homogeneous “attitudes” behind human behavior but a mesh of struggling inclinations, interests, and ideals, some held conscious and some suppressed for long intervals but all active in bending behavior in their direction.

The unity of a culture consists in the fact that all valuations are mutually shared in some degree. We shall find that even a poor and uneducated white person in some isolated and backward rural region in the Deep South, who is violently prejudiced against the Negro and intent upon depriving him of civic rights and human independence, has also a whole compartment in his valuation sphere housing the entire American Creed of liberty, equality, justice, and fair opportunity for everybody. He is actually also a good Christian and honestly devoted to the ideals of human brotherhood and the Golden Rule. And these more general valuations^ — more general in the sense that they refer to all human beings — are, to some extent, effective in shaping his behavior. Indeed, it would be impossible to understand why the Negro does not fare worse in some regions of

America if it were not constantly kept in mind that behavior is the outcome of a compromise between valuations, among which the equalitarian ideal is one. At the other end, there are few liberals, even in New England, who have not a well-furnished compartment of race prejudice, even if it is usually suppressed from conscious attention. Even the American Negroes share in this community of valuations: they have eagerly imbibed the American Creed and the revolutionary Christian teaching of common brotherhood; under closer study, they usually reveal also that they hold something of the majority prejudice against their own kind and its characteristics.

The intensities and proportions in which these conflicting valuations are present vary considerably from one American to another, and within the same individual, from one situation to another. The cultural unity of the nation consists, however, in the fact that most Americans have most valuations in common though they are arranged differently in the sphere of valuations of different individuals and groups and bear different intensity coefficients. This cultural unity is the indispensable basis for discussion between persons and groups. It is the floor upon which the democratic process goes on.

In America as everywhere else people agree, as an abstract proposition, that the more general valuations— those which refer to man as such and not to any particular group or temporary situation— are morally higher. These valuations are also given the sanction of religion and national legislation. They are incorporated into the American Creed. The other valuations — which refer to various smaller groups of mankind or to particular occasions — are commonly referred to as “irrational” or “prejudiced,” sometimes even by people who express and stress them. They are defended in terms of tradition, expediency or utility.

Trying to defend their behavior to others, and primarily to themselves, people will attempt to conceal the conflict between their different valuations of what is desirable and undesirable, right or wrong, by keeping away some valuations from awareness and by focusing attention on others. For the same opportune purpose, people will twist and mutilate their beliefs of how social reality actually is. In our study we encounter whole systems of firmly entrenched popular beliefs concerning the Negro and his relations to the larger society, which are bluntly false and which can only be under- stood when we remember the opportunistic ad hoc purposes they serve. These “popular theories,” because of the rationalizing function they serve, are heavily loaded with emotions. But people also want to be rational. Scientific truth-seeking and education are slowly rectifying the beliefs and thereby also influencing the valuations. In a rationalistic civilization it is not only that the beliefs arc shaped by the valuations, but also that the valuations depend upon the beliefs.”

Our task in this inquiry is to ascertain social reality as it is. We shall seek to depict the actual life conditions of the American Negro people and their manifold relations to the larger American society. We must describe, in as much detail as our observations and space here allow, who the American Negro is, and how he fares. Whenever possible, we shall present quantitative indices of his existence and of the material conditions for his existence. But this is not all and, from our point of view, not even the most important part of social reality. We must go further and attempt to discover and dissect the doctrines and ideologies, valuations and beliefs, embedded in the minds of white and Negro Americans. We want to follow through W. I.

Thomas’s theme, namely, that when people define situations as real, they are real. 2 We shall try to remember throughout our inquiry that material facts in large measure are the product of what people think, feel and believe. The actual conditions, as they are, indicate from this point of view the great disparities between the whites’ and the Negroes’ aspirations and realizations. The interrelations between the material facts and people’s valuations of and beliefs about these facts are precisely what make the Negro a social problem. It is sometimes assumed to be the mark of “sound” research to disregard the fact that people are moral beings and that they are struggling for their conscience. In our view, this is a bias and a blindness, dangerous to

* The theory of human behavior and its motivation, which is sketched in the text and is basic to our approach to the Negro problem, is explained in Appendix i, “A Methodological Note on Valuations and Beliefs.” the possibility of enabling scientific study to arrive at true knowledge. Every social study must have its center in an investigation of people’s conflicting valuations and their opportune beliefs. They are social facts and can be observed by direct and indirect manifestations. We are, of course, also interested in discovering how these inclinations and loyalties came about and what the factors are upon which they rest. We want to keep free, however, at least at the outset, from any preconceived doctrine or theory, whether of the type making biological characteristics, or economic interests, sexual complexes, power relations, or anything else, the “ultimate” or “basic” cause of these valuations. We hope to come out with a type of systematic understanding as eclectic as common sense itself when it is open-minded.

When we thus choose to view the Negro problem as primarily a moral issue, we are in line with popular thinking. It is as a moral issue that this problem presents itself in the daily life of ordinary people; it is as a moral issue that they brood over it in their thoughtful moments. It is in terms of conflicting moral valuations that it is discussed in church and school, in the family circle, in the workshop, on the street corner, as well as in the press, over the radio, in trade union meetings, in the state legislatures, the Congress and the Supreme Court. The social scientist, in his effort to lay bare concealed truths and to become maximally useful in guiding practical and political action, is prudent when, in the approach to a problem, he sticks as closely as possible to the common man’s ideas and formulations, even though he knows that further investigation will carry him into tracts uncharted in the popular consciousness. There is a pragmatic common sense in people’s ideas about themselves and their worries, which we cannot afford to miss when we start out to explore social reality. Otherwise we are often too easily distracted by our learned arbitrariness and our pet theories, concepts, and hypotheses, not to mention our barbarous terminology, which we generally are tempted to mistake for something more than mere words. Throughout this study we will constantly take our starting foint in the ordinary man’s own ideas, doctrines, theories and mental constructs.

In approaching the Negro problem as primarily a moral issue of conflicting valuations, it is not implied, of course, that ours is the prerogative of pronouncing on a priori grounds which values are “right” and which are “wrong.” In fact, such judgments are out of the realm of social science, and will not be attempted in this inquiry. Our investigation will naturally be an analysis of morals and not in morals. In so far as we make our own judgments of value, they will be based on explicitly r.tated value premises, selected from among those valuations actually observed as existing in the minds of the white and Negro Americans and tested as to their social and political relevance and significance. Our value judgments are thus derived and have no greater validity than the value premises postulated.

  1. A White Man’s Problem

Although the Negro problem is a moral issue both to Negroes and to whites in America, we shall in this book have to give primary attention to what goes on in the minds of white Americans. To explain this direction of our interest a general conclusion from our studies needs to be stated at this point. When the present investigator started his inquiry, his preconception was that it had to be focused on the Negro people and their peculiarities. This is understandable since, from a superficial view, Negro Americans, not only in physical appearance, but also in thoughts, feelings, arid in manner of life, seemed stranger to him than did white Americans. Furthermore, most of the literature on the Negro problem dealt with the Negroes: their racial and cultural characteristics, their living standards and occupational pursuits, their stratification in social classes, their migration, their family organization, their religion, their illiteracy, delinquency and disease, and so on. But as he proceeded in his studies into the Negro problem, it became increasingly evident that little, if anything, could be scientifically explained in terms of the peculiarities of the Negroes themselves.

As a matter of fact, in their basic human traits the Negroes are inherently not much different from other people. Neither are, incidentally, the white Americans. But Negroes and whites in the United States live in singular human relations with each other. All the circumstances of life — the “environmental” conditions in the broadest meaning of that term — diverge more from the “normal” for the Negroes than for the whites, if only because of the statistical fact that the Negroes are the smaller group. The average Negro must experience many times more of the “abnormal” interracial relations than the average white man in America.” The more important fact, however, is that practically all the economic, social, and political power is held by whites. The Negroes do not by far have anything approaching a tenth of the things worth having in America.

It is thus the white majority group that naturally determines the Negro’s “place.” All our attempts to reach scientific explanations of why the Negroes are what they are and why they live as they do have regularly led to determinants on the white side of the race line. In the practical and political struggles of effecting changes, the views and attitudes of the white Americans are likewise strategic. The Negro’s entire life, and, consequently, also his opinions on the Negro problem, are, in the main, to be considered as secondary reactions to more primary pressures from the side of the dominant white majority.

*Thw is less true, of course, in communities where the rat’o between the numSei of Negroes and the number of whites diverges sharply from the average ratio of one to ten ff>r the whole nation.

The Negro was brought to America for the sake of the white man’s profit. He was kept in slavery for generations in the same interest. A civil war was fought between two regional groups of white Americans. For two years no one wanted Negroes involved in the fighting. Later on some two hundred thousand Negro soldiers fought in the Northern army, in addition to all the Negro laborers, servants, spies, and helpers in both armies. But it was not the Negroes’ war. As a result of the war, which took a toll of some half million killed and many more wounded, the four million Negro slaves were liberated. Since then the Negro’s “place” in American society has been precarious, uncertain and changing j he was no longer so necessary and profitable to the white man as in slavery before the Civil War. In the main, however, the conflicting and vacillating valuations of the white majority have been decisive, whether the issue was segregation in the schools, discrimination with reference to public facilities, equal justice and protection under the laws, enjoyment of the franchise, or the freedom to enter a vocation and earn an honest living.

The Negro, as a minority, and a poor and suppressed minority at that, in the final analysis, has had little other strategy open to him than to play on the conflicting values held in the white majority group. In so doing, he has been able to identify his cause with broader issues in American politics and social life and with moral principles held dear by the white Americans. This is the situation even today and will remain so in the foreseeable future. In that sense, “this is a white man’s country.”

This stress in the formulation of our problem, it must be repeated, is motivated by an ambition to be realistic about the actual power relations in American society. It should not be taken as a doctrinaire approach. In the degree that the Negro people succeed in acquiring and institutionalizing footholds of power in society with the help of interested white groups — for example, if they can freely use their votes, as they can in the North, or press themselves into the industrial labor market and the trade unions — they will increasingly be able to act and not only to react. Under all circumstances, in fact even in slavery, the attitudes and activities of the

Negro people do, to a certain extent, influence the attitudes and policies of the white majority group in power, as account is taken by the whites of the Negro’s reactions. Even if the prevailing power situation is reason enough to look for the primary responsibility for what happens in the valuations of the white people, these same valuations are themselves the product of a two-way interracial relationship.

  1. Not an Isolated Problem

Closely related to the thesis that the Negro problem is predominantly a white man’s problem is another conclusion, which slowly dawned upon the author, though it undoubtedly is not news to many of his American readers: The Negro -problem is an integral fart of, or a special phase of, the whole complex of problems in the larger American civilization. It can- not be treated in isolation. There is no single side of the Negro problem — whether it be the Negro’s political status, the education he gets, his place in the labor market, his cultural and personality traits, or anything else — which is not predominantly determined by its total American setting. We shall, therefore, constantly be studying the American civilization in its entirety, though viewed in its implications for the most disadvantaged population group.

There is a natural tendency on the part of white people in America to attempt to localize and demarcate the Negro problem into the segregated sector of American society where the Negroes live. This tendency is visible even in many scientific treatments of the Negro problem. The Negro spokesmen, on their side, are often equally tempted to stress the singularity of their grievances to the extent of not considering the broader setting. The fact of segregation also often makes them less familiar with the American society at large. The Negro social scientists have their special opportunity in knowing intimately the Negro community and will — with a few outstanding exceptions* — treat their problems in isolation.

The assumption underlying the approach in this book is, on the contrary, that the Negro problem exists and changes because of conditions and forces operating in the larger American society. Establishing this integration is thought to make the analysis more realistic. This will explain and, the author believes, justify the fact that in all parts of this inquiry attention is given to the characteristics of the American society at large in which the Negro becomes a problem.

The relationship between American society and the Negro problem is not one-sided. The entire structure of American society is itself greatly conditioned by the presence of the thirteen million Negro citizens. American politics, the labor market, education, religious life, civic ideals, art, and recreation are as they are partly because of the important conditioning factor working throughout the history of the nation. New impulses from the Negro people are constantly affecting the American way of life, bending in some degree all American institutions and bringing changes in every aspect of the American’s complex world view. While primary attention will be focused on the Negro people and on the influences from the larger society working on them, their influence back on white society will not be ignored.

This plan of keeping the entire American culture within the focus of our study will, of course, increase the difficulties of our task. There are some ideas concerning the larger society, in which our special problem has its play, which are so general that they are hard to grasp and give definite form and, in any case, almost impossible to prove. Everyone has .«”ichideas, and of necessity, they determine the scientific treatment of a specific social problem. In few instances is it possible to check them by present-day scientific tools. It is still less possible to check one’s ideas about the larger society within the frame of a specialized investigation. In the main, they remain unchecked, as they are derived by common sense intuition and everyday reflection. They are generalized inductions from a vast mass of unassorted, scientifically uncontrolled personal experience. Few of them are obtained from books dealing with the larger society. But since they determine the study, they should be accounted for as far as possible. This is usually difficult, as these ideas — in the degree they conform to the cultural milieu — do not stand out clearly in the consciousness of an investigator.

No doubt most social scientists honestly believe they have no such pre- conceptions. Their prevalence becomes obvious, however, when time has passed and the milieu has changed. Then we see how the scientists in the past period unconsciously worked under certain preconceptions, which we now find erroneous Or not adequate for the present situation. These general ideas can also become explicit when one becomes acquainted with a different civilization and views one’s own society through the prism of such an alien milieu.

The present writer has been looking not only at the Negro people but at all America from the outside. In fact, it has been his chief and sometimes overwhelming difficulty in this work that he had to start from the beginning and try to understand not only the Negro problem but the entire American culture in which it is encompassed. Comparatively little in American civilization is natural to him. He is constantly reminded of the preconceptions he utilizes to understand the larger American society. The difference is not that he has preconceptions and his American colleagues do not. The difference is that, being an outsider, he is compelled to be more conscious of them, and has had to try to reach them by deliberate intellectual efforts.

In this situation he is tempted to turn a deficiency into a virtue. At any rate, he is under the pressure to state to himself what he thinks about this somewhat strange culture. He can then attempt an experiment in more rigorous social science methods in the interests of objectivity by laying open even this type of preconception. He is thereby attempting rationally to assist his critics. Not only in the next few chapters but everywhere in the book I express general views on the larger American society j many general statements about the Negro and race relations belong to the same type of judgment.

Some readers may disagree with many of my preconceptions of America. All will probably disagree with some. Just because in this experiment the preconceptions are not hidden but are openly set out, the reader is offered a guide to the specific mistakes which, in pursuing the study, might have been committed on account of false preconceptions about the larger American society and the Negro problem. If the reader is equally careful he will, however, also remember that, at least in the present stage of social research, it is next to impossible to judge rationally our most general assumptions concerning a civilization. The possibility always remains, therefore, that on some points he is wrong, and I am right. But a good result will in any case be reached, as we shall have determined the locus of fundamental disagreement, and thus we shall be better prepared to direct further research toward its scientific solution.

These assumptions are all, in a sense, subjective. I have, naturally, tried to acquire as objectively true an understanding of America and the American Negro as I am capable of reaching. And, equally naturally, it would be most fortunate to the investigation if these main assumptions approached objective truth and were relevant to the problems under study. But they are, of course, not proved; they are not part of scientifically verified truth.

The only definite statement I can make is that the picture is subjectively “true” j that is, that it faithfully represents what the author, upon careful consideration, believes to be true.

  1. Some Further Notes on the Scope and Direction of this Study

This book is an analysis, not a description. It presents facts only for the sake of their meaning in the interpretation. Since, however, an attempt at a comprehensive analysis was made, the scope of the facts, even when com- pressed into outline form, is extensive, though, we hope, selective. The author had available not only the vast existing published literature, but also some specially prepared research memoranda, a portion of which are being published, and all of which are made available to the inquiring reader.’

On the theoretical b side> the aim of this book is to formulate tentative generalizations on the basis of known facts. A corollary of this scientific task is to indicate gaps in knowledge. These gaps will be noted in passing, and in some respects positive suggestions for investigation will be offered. Undoubtedly, we shall sometimes be found to have overlooked existing sources. In view of the scope of the investigation this is inevitable but, nevertheless, regrettable.

As the known and verified facts are scarce, a courageous use will be made of the writer’s own observations. Their conjectural character will always be made explicit. They are the author’s best judgments, when published data

* A list of these will be found in the Preface. The unpublished memoranda can be consulted in the Schomburg Collection of the New York Public Library.

“The terms theoretical and practical (or folitical) are used in this hook as in the discipline of philosophy. The former word implies thinking in terms of causes and effects) the latter words imply thinking in terms of means and ends. (See Appendix 2, Section 4.) are insufficient, as to what is the truth, and they should be taken only for what they are. For the outlining of further research they may serve as the projection of plausible hypotheses.

On the practical side, the aim of this book is to throw light on the future, and to construct, in a preliminary way, bases for rational policy. This is one reason why the theoretical analysis will stress interrelations and trends. Even though reliable prognoses cannot be made in many respects, various possibilities can be presented and their probabilities estimated.

Explicit value premises will be introduced, usually in the beginning of each main part of the inquiry. As a source for the value premises, the relatively comprehensive and definite body of political ideals contained in the “American Creed” will be usedj we shall sketch the historical origin of the American Creed in the first chapter. The use of explicit value premises serves three main purposes: (i) to purge as far as possible the scientific investigation of distorting biases which are usually the result of hidden biases $ (2) to determine in a rational way the statement of problems and the definition of terms for the theoretical analysis; (3) to lay a logical basis for practical and political conclusions.”

Our aim is to organize the entire treatise around one single sequence of thoughts. We shall proceed from the American scene at large to the facts and problems of Negro life, to the trends, to the specific policies, to their final integration into the structure of national policies. This plan is, within limits, the basis of organization for each major part of the inquiry.

The main axes to be drawn through our subject and in accordance with which we shall organize the materials are pretty much determined by the object under study. Those of most general relevance are: color, region, urban-rural residence, social class, education, sex, and age. Comparisons between Negroes and whites — in such things, for example, as vital indices, criminality, family patterns — will not be made indiscriminately but, as far as possible, will be standardized by comparing Negroes with a duly defined control group of whites, or by comparing subgroups of Negroes and whites of equal social, economic, and educational status. This attempt is, however, all too often frustrated through insurmountable difficulties due to the scarcity of available data.

The book concentrates on present conditions but does not neglect the future. While it would add to our comprehension to examine the historical development behind the existing situation, this is beyond the scope of our inquiry. In a sense and to a degree present conditions and trends can be analyzed without consideration of their antecedents. This should not be

* The problem of bias, of theoretical anil practical research, and of the utilization of the scientific technique of explicit value premises are treated in Appendix 2, “A Methodological

Note on Facts and Valuations in Social Science.” The author may be allowed to point out that a critical study of this inquiry assumes the reading’ of Appendix z. taken to mean that the author has not tried — within the time available — to familiarize himself with the history of the Negro problem in America, but merely that this book has a limited scope and does not intend to give the history of the Negro problem. Where, in the course of the presentation, it is deemed necessary to review some aspect of the past in order to under- stand present problems, historical outlines will be offered. We are, however, not concerned with the past for its own sake, but merely in so far as important happenings in the past have influenced present situations and trends. Even in this narrower sphere we do not have the historian’s interest in the “uniquely historical datum” but the social scientist’s interest in broad and general relations and main trends.

Other problems of race relations in the United States and the Negro problem in areas outside of the United States will be left entirely outside the scope of the present inquiry. Good reasons could be given for stretching the boundaries of the study considerably in both directions. Unquestionably it could contribute vastly to a more complete understanding of the Ameri- can Negro problem. Obvious restrictions of space and capacity, however, stand in the way.

The book has grown to considerable length, and the author realizes that some readers cannot afford the time or energy to read it all. The main parts have, therefore, been arranged so that they can be read independently. This has involved some repetitions of facts and main viewpoints. Even for the reader who reads the whole book, the repetitions have been thought to be less burdensome than the risk of obscurity. When he surveyed a wide field of American culture, James Bryce said:

Whenever it has been necessary to trace a phenomenon to its source or to explain the connection between several phenomena, I have not hesitated, knowing that one must not expect a reader to carry in his mind all that has been told already, to re-state a material fact, or rc-enforce a view which gives to the facts what I conceive to be their true significance.

4 Technical terms will be avoided except when they are necessary for clarity. Words will be used in their common sense meaning unless the danger of ambiguity forces us explicitly to restrict the meaning of the term. Some of the main terms which are understood to be value loaded — such as discrimination, disfranchisement, caste, and class — will be expressly denned in relation to our set of value premises. 11

If we have departed from the usual techniques of style in minor respects, we have done so with the hope of helping the reader. One thing may be mentioned here: We have classified footnotes into two groups. Those marked by letters of the alphabet are placed at the bottom of the page; we believe that they should be read with the text since they are integral

* See Appendix 2, Section *..

parts of it, but would make the text clumsy if they were to be inserted in it Those marked by numbers are placed at the end of the book} they are mainly for scholars who wish concrete evidence of sources, but we believe the general reader will wish to skim over them. Our classification is subjective and does not rigidly follow any rules.

  1. A Warning to the Reader

Before embarking upon the study, the simple old reminder should be repeated that no person or culture can be judged solely by its imperfections. The subject of this book — American attitudes and actions with respect to the Negro and the disparity between American ideals and behavior in this field — forces us to dig in dark corners and to wash dirty linen in public. But we wish to warn the reader that we do not, and he should not, regard our analysis as a complete evaluation of America.

As interests in social studies are often concentrated on problem groups and areas, a delusion is easily created that the situation in America is worse than it actually is. “Moral statistics” consist traditionally of a recording of all the negative items in a culture: crime, illegitimacy, suicide and so on.

This tradition has arisen because data for abnormalities are available. Figure? on divorces have been calculated in all countries — and, of course, America ranks among the highest — but there has never been any comprehensive enumeration of the happy marriages. There are statistics on crime— and they are ugly for America–i>ut none on civil decency. The method of measuring moral levels by statistics and descriptions of what is extremely bad and wrong in a society is thus heavily loaded against a nation with a particularly wide range of moral behavior. This is a fact not always taken into account even by the American specialists on the evils and the wrongs of society.

In setting out upon investigating a subject matter, which is bound to deal for the most part with various forms of social pathology in America, the author must stress that, in his opinion, large groups of the American population probably live a more “righteous” life, measured by whatever standard one chooses, than any large group of people anywhere else in the Western world. Even in the large cities with a shocking amount of political corruption, crime, and vice, by far the greater part of the population has no more contact with these phenomena than if they lived in another country. The moral latitude is so very wide in America: if there is abnormolly much that is very bad, there is also unusually much that is extremely good.

Thus a study of America centered upon the Negro problem must not be expected to give a comprehensive and balanced cultural analysis of the nation any more than would a study centered on crime or political corruption. Under a broader perspective the Negro is only a corner — although a fairly big one — of American civilization. This corner is one of the least clean in the national household: we shall see plenty of law-breaking, crime and corruption, poverty and distress, heartlessness and ignorance. We shall continuously be dealing with the frictions, worries and shortcomings of America.

Studying the Negro problem gives a “frog-perspective” of the cultural situation, not a bird’s eye view. Although the frog-perspective does reveal some of the real virtues of a society, as we shall find, it focuses more completely on its faults. For a general purpose, it is not a true perspective.” I am eager to have the warning expressly stated in the introduction to this book, that anyone who uncritically utilizes the viewpoints and findings of this inquiry on the American Negro ‘problem for wider conclusions concerning the United States and its civilization than are warranted by its direction of interest is misusing them.