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CHAPTER IV - THE PROBLEM OF THE RACIAL MINORITIES - Part 2

The problem of the Negro in the western hemisphere constitutes a very ugly story, seriously implicates the white man and provides an outstanding disgrace. Brought to the United States and to the West Indies more than two centuries ago and forced into slavery, the Negro has never had a fair deal or any true opportunity. Under the constitution of the United States, all men are regarded as free and equal; the Negro, however, is not free or equal, particularly in the southern states. The situation in the West Indies more closely resembles that in the northern states, where conditions are somewhat better but where there is still no equality of opportunity and much racial discrimination. The treatment of the Negro in the southern states is a blot upon the country; there the fight is to keep the Negro consistently down, to refuse him equality of education and of opportunity, to keep his standard of living at the lowest possible level and well below that of the white, to refuse him political recognition and, in a democratic country where all men are entitled to vote, he is prevented from sharing in this constitutional privilege. In the northern states these conditions do not exist to the same extent, but the Negro is steadily discriminated against, is refused equal opportunity and has to fight [112] for every privilege. A few corrupt and ignorant senators consistently outrage the good intentions of the mass of American people by perpetuating these evil conditions and fighting by every possible means to prevent their being changed; they play upon the fears of their constituents and block every move made to bring about a better and cleaner situation which would be in line with the constitution. These shortsighted politicians attempt to sidetrack the issue and throw dust in the eyes of their constituents by fighting for the freedom of distant small nations in Europe; at the same time they steadily defy their own constitution by refusing freedom and liberty to the Negroes of their own country. For their attitude and conduct there is today no possible excuse. It remains a mystery in the minds of other enlightened nations why the broad-minded people of the United States—vociferous in their demand for their own personal freedom and insistent upon the defense of the constitution—permit this condition to exist and perpetuate in office these men who bring about a constant infringement of the constitutional rights of American citizens.

The cry of the south that the Negro is not educationally fitted to vote is negated by the fact that he can and does vote in the northern states, in many cases as wisely as his white brother, and though his vote can often be purchased by electioneering politicians so also can that of the white voter; the cry that white women must be protected from the animal instincts of the Negroes means nothing, for they need equal protection from the animal instincts of the white man, and this statistics will adequately prove; the cry that paternalism is what the Negro needs and that only the southerner understands how to handle the Negro is disproved by the Negro himself who wants none of it; his repudiation of it demonstrates a sound sense of values and that he knows the distinction between paternalism (which keeps the [113] Negro backward, uneducated and under obligation to the white) and the freedom which he wants to share with all men in the world.

The Negro is naturally easy, accommodating, kindly and anxious to like people and be liked; if today so many Negroes are arrogant, vindictive, full of hate and anxious to assert themselves it is because they have been made so by the white people. The white people face a grave responsibility and it lies in their hands to change conditions. When they do so, they will find the Negro as responsive to good and fair treatment, equal opportunity and right living conditions as he is responsive sometimes in the wrong way to the evil educational, political and living conditions under which he now labours. This applies to the entire Negro problem in the western hemisphere.

The Negro cannot be discriminated against for all time; he cannot be asked to defend his country and then have his country refuse him the ordinary rights of citizenship. Public opinion is on the side of the Negro and there is a steadily growing determination among the white citizens of the western hemisphere that he be given his constitutional rights, equal commercial and business opportunities, equal educational facilities and equally good living conditions. It is for the people of America to speak with a clear voice and demand that Negroes be given their just rights. Every white American should shoulder his responsibility for this minority and study the Negro problem; he should learn to know the Negro personally as a friend and a brother; he should see to it that he plays his part in changing the present condition.

On the subject of intermarriage, the best and soundest thinkers in both the white and black races at this time deplore mixed marriages. They mean no happiness for either party. When considering this subject [114] it should be remembered, however, that intermarriage between the white peoples and the yellow races (the Chinese and the Japanese) is equally unfortunate and—with the rarest exception—seldom proves successful and is never satisfactory where the children of such unions are concerned. The world war (1914-1945) has itself produced a great admixture of races. Where marching armies go there is inevitable promiscuity and a resultant new population; the world today is producing and will produce the results of these (so-called) illicit unions between the soldiers of all nations and the peoples of the countries in which they find themselves. These children of mixed race, as well as the half-castes and the Eurasians may be the answer to a large part of the problem. There will be hundreds of thousands of these children of mixed parentage, forming part of the world population in the next generation and immediate cycle and they are a group with which we will have to reckon.

The Solution

It will be obvious that a finding of a solution to the problem of the minorities is essentially the finding of a solution to the great heresy of separateness. This is immensely difficult not only because of humanity's predisposing tendency in this direction, but because that same human nature cannot be easily or rapidly changed. Also, this change and the breaking down of the spirit of separateness has to be brought about in a world of men which is today full of distrust and fear and hardly aware of what is really needed—able only to cry in unison: Give us peace in our time!

If by an act of immediate legislation the Negro minority gained its full rights the problem would remain the same, for the hearts and minds of men would not have been altered and the solution would be entirely [115] superficial; although the Jews have gained their desire and Palestine was handed over to them the anti-Semitic feeling present—with practically no exception—in every nation remains exactly the same as before, plus the bloodshed in Palestine.

The problem goes far deeper than is often estimated; it is inherent in human nature and is the product of countless centuries of fostered growth and the wrong type of education of the masses. Nation is still pitted against nation in the political arena, group against group and (within the nations) party against party and man against man. The wise and the farseeing, those prompted by a sane and unselfish commonsense, the idealist and the men and women of goodwill are everywhere and are struggling to find a solution, to build a new world structure of law, order and peace, which will insure right human relations; but they are, in turn, a tiny minority in comparison to the vast multitude of human beings peopling our earth; their task is hard and from the point at which they must work, appears to them at times as presenting well-nigh insuperable difficulties.

Certain questions inevitably arise in the minds of the men of goodwill everywhere:

Can the Great Powers be trusted to function selflessly in the interests of the Little Powers and of humanity as a whole?

Can power politics and the various national imperialisms be forgotten and ended?

Can a world policy be devised which will insure justice for all whether great or small?

Can world opinion be sufficiently strong in the interests of right human relations that it can tie the hands of the selfishly aggressive and open the door of opportunity to those who have as yet had little?

Is the hope of establishing an era of right human relations within nations as well as internationally, an [116] impossible dream, a waste of time to consider or an evidence only of wishful thinking?

Does the goal of right human relations, equal rights and opportunity for all men everywhere provide an entirely possible goal for which all well-intentioned men can work with some hope of success?

What are the first steps which should be taken to promote such right endeavours and to lay a secure foundation of world goodwill?

How can public opinion be sufficiently aroused so that the many steps to promote right human relations will be faced by legislators and politicians everywhere?

What should the minorities do in order to gain their just demands, without promoting more differences and feeding the fire of hatred?

How can we abolish the great lines of demarcation between races, nations and groups, and the cleavages that are to be found everywhere, working in such a manner that the "one humanity" emerges in the arena of world affairs?

How can we develop the consciousness that what is good for the part can also be good for the whole and that the highest good of the unit within the whole guarantees the good of that whole?

These and many other questions arise and clamour for an answer. The answer comes in the form of a generally accepted platitude and is unfortunately in the nature of an anti-climax: Establish right human relations by developing a spirit of goodwill. Then and only then shall we have a world at peace and ready to move forward into a new and better era. Though a platitude is, in the majority of cases, the statement of a recognizable truth, it is difficult in this case to make people admit its feasibility. Nevertheless, because it is a truth, it is bound eventually to demonstrate as such, not only in the minds of a few people here and there but on a large [117] scale throughout the world. People are looking eagerly for the unexpected and the unusual, for an anticipated miracle and for God (whatever they mean in their own minds by that term) to take action, thus relieving them of responsibility and doing their work for them.

Not by such methods do men move forward; not by shifting responsibility do they learn and progress. The miracle may happen and the beautiful and the unexpected appear but only when men have themselves created the right setting and by the wonder of their own achievement made it possible for a still more wonderful expression of rightness to manifest. We can have no further expression of divinity until men act more divinely than at present; we shall have no "return of Christ" or a downpouring of the Christ consciousness until the Christ in every man is more awake and alert than is at present the case; the Prince of Peace or the Spirit of Peace will not make the presence of peace felt on earth until the peaceful intentions of men everywhere are changing the aspect of world affairs. Unity will not be the distinctive characteristic of mankind until men have themselves pulled down the separating walls, and have removed the barriers between race and race, between nation and nation, between religion and religion and between man and man.

The wonder of the present situation and its outstanding opportunity is that for the first time, and on a planetary scale, men are aware of the evil which must be eliminated; everywhere there is discussion and planning; there are meetings and forums, and conferences and committees, ranging all the way from the great deliberations of the United Nations down to the tiny meetings held in some remote village.

The beauty of the present situation is that even in the smallest community a practical expression of what is needed on a worldwide scale is offered to the inhabitants; [118] differences in families, in churches, in municipalities, in cities, in nations, between races and internationally all call for the same objective and for the same process of adjustment: the establishing of right human relations. The technique or method to bring this about remains everywhere the same: the use of the spirit of goodwill.

Goodwill is the simplest expression of true love and the one most easily understood. The use of goodwill in connection with the problems with which humanity is faced releases the intelligence along constructive lines; where goodwill is present, the walls of separation and of misunderstanding fall.

Love and understanding will eventually follow upon a practical expression of goodwill as a factor in every type of human relation and as a mode of contact between groups, between nations and their minorities, between nation and nation and also in the field of international politics and religions. The expression of true love as a factor in the life of our planet may lie very far ahead, but goodwill is a present possibility and the organizing of goodwill an outstanding necessity.

There is today much talk about goodwill and a constant use of the word; there is a real intention to employ it in every field of human thought and in relation to every human problem; there is evidence that there is a real effort at this time to make goodwill an effective agent in negotiating world peace and understanding and in bringing about right human relations.

The major need is an immediate campaign, carried forward by all men of goodwill everywhere throughout the world to interpret the meaning of goodwill, to emphasize the practical nature of its expression, to gather together into an effective and active world group all men and women of goodwill and to do this, not in order to create a super-organization, but to convince the unhappy, [119] the distressed and the abused of the magnitude of the intelligent aid which stands ready to assist them. They must also demonstrate their ability to strengthen the hands of all workers who are struggling to bring about right human relations and prove to them the potency of the force of an educated and alive public opinion (educated by the men of goodwill) upon which they can draw. Thus there will be established in every nation, in every city and village, men of goodwill—with trained understanding, practical commonsense, a knowledge of world problems and a willingness to spread goodwill and find the men of like mind in their environment.

The work of the men of goodwill is an educational one. They hold and advocate no miraculous solution of world problems but they know that a spirit of goodwill, particularly if trained and implemented by knowledge, can produce an atmosphere and an attitude which will make the solving of problems possible. When men of goodwill meet, no matter what their political party, nation or religion, there is no problem which they cannot eventually solve and solve to the satisfaction of the various parties involved. It is the production of this atmosphere and the evocation of this attitude which is the principal work of the men of goodwill and not the presentation of some cut and dried solution. This spirit of goodwill can be present even where there is fundamental disagreement between parties. But this is seldom the case today. There is a real spirit of goodwill controlling quite a few of the discussions of the United Nations organization on quite difficult and touchy points, and this is becoming increasingly apparent.

There is absolutely no reason to believe that the growth of goodwill in the world need be a slow and gradual affair. The reverse can be the case if the men and women who today feel within themselves a genuine [120] goodwill and who are free from prejudice will seek each other out and work together to spread goodwill. A prejudiced person, a religious fanatic, or a staunch nationalist have a hard task in developing true goodwill within themselves. They can accomplish it if they care enough for their fellowman, and seek to leave him free, but they will have to seek for the dark area in their own minds where a wall of separativeness exists and tear it down. They will have to develop (with deliberation) true goodwill (not tolerance) towards the object of their prejudice, towards the man of an alien religion and towards the nation or race to which they feel antagonistic or upon which they look down. A prejudice is a first brick in a separating wall.

Goodwill is far more widespread throughout the world than people think; it simply needs to be discovered, educated and set to work. It must not be exploited, however, by groups working for their own ends, no matter how honestly, correctly or sincerely. It would, if that was done, be diverted into a partisan effort. The men of goodwill stand midway between opposing groups where such exist, in order to create a condition in which discussion and compromise can become happily possible. They tread constantly the "noble middle path" of the Buddha which runs between the pairs of opposites, straight to the very heart of God; they tread the "narrow way" of love of which Christ spoke, and they indicate they are treading it by an expression of the only aspect of love which humanity can at present understand: Goodwill.

When goodwill is expressed and organized, recognized and used, world problems, no matter what they may be, will in due time reach solution; when goodwill is a true and active factor in human affairs, we shall then pass on to a fuller and richer understanding of the nature of love and to an expression of some still higher [121] aspect of that divine love; when goodwill is widespread among men, we shall see the establishing of right human relations and a new spirit of confidence, trust and understanding will be found in mankind.

Men and women of goodwill exist in every nation and in all parts of the world in their innumerable thousands. Let these be found, reached and put in touch with each other; let them be set to work to create a right atmosphere in world affairs and in their own communities; let them know that associated they are omnipotent and that they can so educate and train public opinion that the world attitude to world problems will be right and correct and in line with the divine plan; let them realize that the solutions of the critical problems with which humanity is faced at the portal of the New Age will not be found by deciding upon some line of action and forcing it on public attention by propaganda and by campaigning. It will come by advocating and developing a spirit of goodwill (with its results: a right atmosphere and a sound attitude) and an understanding heart.

The Christian era was ushered in by a mere handful of men, the twelve Apostles, the seventy disciples and the five hundred who recognized the message of the Christ. The new era in which Christ will "see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied", is being ushered in by the hundreds of thousands of the men of goodwill now active in the world and who can become still more active if recognized, reached and organized.