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- Sociology and Modern Social Problems - 30/45 -


biologically unfit.

_Conclusions from Negro Vital Statistics._ Three important conclusions may be drawn from the negro vital and population statistics which are well worth emphasizing. (1) The negro population is not increasing so fast as the white, owing largely to its high death rate, yet it is increasing, and there is no indication as yet that the negro population will decrease. It is probable, indeed, that at the end of the twentieth century the negro population of the United States will be between twenty and thirty millions. The view of some students of the negro problem that the negro is destined to an early extinction in this country is merely a speculative hypothesis, and as yet is not substantiated by any statistical facts.

(2) While the negro is destined to be with us always, so far as we can see, yet owing to the fact of intermixture of races he will be less and less a pure negro, so that at the end of the twentieth century the negroes in the United States will be much nearer the white type than at the present time.

(3) The high death rate among the negroes indicates that a rapid process of natural selection is going on among them. Now, natural selection means the elimination of the unfit,--the dying out of those who cannot adapt themselves to their environment. This selective process will tend toward the survival of the more fit elements among the negroes, and, therefore, towards bringing the negro up to the standard of the whites. The misery and vice which we see among the present American negroes are simply in a large degree the expression of the working of a process of natural selection among them. It would be preferable, however, if the white race could by education and other means substitute to some degree at least artificial selection for the miseries and brutality of the natural process of eliminating the unfit. This the superior race should do to protect itself as well as to raise the negro.

Industrial Conditions Among the Negroes.--Recently a committee of the American Economic Association estimated that all of the taxable property in the United States owned by negroes amounted to $300,000,000, or about $33.00 per head,--this estimate being based upon the 1900 census returns. Thirty-three dollars per head of the negro population seems of course very small when compared to the $1,000.00 per capita owned by the whites; but we must remember that the negro at his emancipation was in no way equipped to acquire property, and, with the exception of a few freedmen, the negro at the close of the war had no property whatsoever. In a few cases their old masters set up the emancipated negroes with small farms. In 1900 there were 746,715 farms occupied by negroes either as tenants or owners. Twenty-five per cent of these farms were owned by negroes and about ten per cent were owned unencumbered.

There are, of course, two ways of looking at these statistics. They are discouraging if we care to look at them in that way, but on the other hand, if we consider the disadvantageous position in which the negro was placed at the close of the Civil War, the statistics may be taken as showing a marked advance.

It must be said here that, as Booker Washington has urged, the negro problem is largely of an industrial nature. It is the unsatisfactoriness of the negro as a worker, as a producing agent, that gives rise largely to the friction between the two races. The negro has not yet become adapted to a system of free contract and is frequently unreliable as a laborer. This breeds continued antagonism between the races. It is only necessary here to remark that when the negro becomes an efficient producer and a property owner the negro problem will be practically solved.

Educational Progress Among the Negroes.--The educational progress among the negroes has been more satisfactory than their industrial progress. At the time of the emancipation 95 per cent of all the negroes in the United States were illiterate, since nearly all the slave states had laws forbidding the education of negroes. Since the emancipation there has been a rapid decrease of illiteracy. In 1880 seventy per cent of the negroes above the age of ten years were still reported as illiterate. In 1890, 56.8 per cent; and in 1900, 44.6 per cent. The number of illiterate negro voters in the United States in 1900 was 47.3 per cent of the total number of negro males above the age of twenty-one. The per cent of illiterate negro voters ranged all the way in former slave-holding states from 61.3 per cent in Louisiana to 31.9 per cent in Missouri, while in Massachusetts the percentage of negro illiteracy was only 10 per cent.

In the school year 1907-08, in the sixteen Southern states there were 1,665,000 negro children enrolled in the public schools, this number being 54.36 per cent of the negro population of the school age (five to eighteen). The number of white children enrolled was 4,692,000, or 70.34 per cent of the white population of school age. But these statistics fail to indicate the utter inadequacy of many provisions for the education of the negro children. In many districts of the South the negro schools are open only from three to five months in a year,--the equipment of the school being very inadequate and the teacher poorly trained. Nevertheless the sixteen Southern states have spent, since the emancipation, over $175,000,000 to maintain separate schools for negroes, a much larger sum than all that has been given by Northern philanthropy. In addition to the common schools for negroes there were in 1907-08 one hundred and thirty-five institutions for the higher education of the negro with an annual income of over $2,800,000. In these there were 4185 negro students receiving collegiate or professional training, 17,279 were receiving a high school course, and 23,160 industrial training. The latter figure is important because it indicates that in 1907-08 a little more than one per cent of the total number of negro children in school were receiving industrial training. The percentage is increasing, through the fact that industrial training is being introduced into a number of the city schools for negroes, both North and South; but at present not much over one per cent of the negro children are receiving industrial training.

Political Conditions.--Not much need be said concerning the political condition of the negro. The movement to disfranchise the negro by legal means came in 1890 when the new Mississippi constitution adopted in that year provided that every voter should be able to read or interpret a clause in the constitution of the United States. Since then a majority of the Southern states and practically all of the states of the "Black Belt" have embodied either in their constitutions or laws provisions for disfranchising the negro voter. Louisiana made the provision that a person must be able to read and write or be a lineal descendant of some person who voted prior to 1860. This is the famous "Grandfather Clause," which has since proved popular in a number of Southern states. While these laws and constitutional provisions have evidently been designed to disfranchise the negro voter, the Federal Supreme Court has upheld them in spite of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution.

Regarding all of this legislation it may be said that it has had perhaps both good and bad effects. In so far as it has tended to eliminate the negro from politics this has been a good effect, but it has oftentimes rather succeeded in keeping the negro question in politics; and the evident injustice and inequality of some of the laws must, it would seem, react to lower the whole tone of political morality in the South. Again, the very provision of these laws to insure the disfranchisement of the illiterate negro has tended in some instances, at least, to discourage negro education, because the promoters of these laws in most cases did not aim to exclude simply the illiterate negro vote, but practically the entire negro vote. It is evident that a party designing to disfranchise the negro through this means would not be very zealous for the negro's education.

Proposed Solutions of the Negro Problem.--Among the various solutions proposed from time to time for the negro problem, more or less seriously, are: (1) admission at once of the negroes to full social equality with the whites; (2) deportation to Africa or South America; (3) colonization in some state or in territory adjacent to the United States; (4) extinction by natural selection; (5) popular education. Regarding all these solutions it must be said at once that they are either impossible or fatuous. They may be dismissed, then, without further discussion. Mr. Booker T. Washington has said that the negro is bound to become adjusted to our civilization because he is surrounded by the white man's civilization on every hand. This optimistic view, which seems to dismiss the negro problem as requiring no solution, is, however, not well supported by many facts, as we have just seen. Everywhere we have evidence that the negro when left to himself, reverts to a condition approximating his African barbarism, and the statistics of increasing vice and crime which we have just given show quite conclusively that the negro is not becoming adjusted to the white man's civilization in many cases in spite of considerable efforts which are being put forth in his behalf. While we are very far from taking a pessimistic view toward this or any other social problem, we believe that most of the solutions that have thus far been tried or urged are failures, and that more radical methods need to be adopted if the negro becomes a useful social and industrial element in our society.

As we have already seen, the negro is still essentially unadjusted to our civilization, and it would not be too much to say that the masses of negroes in this country are still not far removed from barbarism, though living in the midst of civilization. Slavery failed, as we have already seen, to render the mass of negroes capable of participating in our culture, and all that has been done for the negro since emancipation has likewise failed to adjust the mass of the race to the social conditions in which they find themselves. We may say, then, roughly, without any injustice to the negro, that the negro masses of this country are still essentially an uncultivated or a "nature" people living in the midst of civilization. The negro problem, in other words, is not greatly different from what it would be if the present negroes were descendants of savage aborigines that had peopled this country before the white man came. The problem of the negro and of the Indian, and of all the uncivilized races, is essentially the same. The problem is, how a relatively large mass of people, inferior in culture and perhaps also inferior in nature, can be adjusted relatively to the civilization of a people much their superior in culture; how the industrially inefficient nature man can be made over into the industrially efficient civilized man.

Undoubtedly the primary adjustment to be made by the American negro is the adjustment on the economic side. Only when the negro becomes adjusted to the economic side of his life will there be a solid foundation for the development of something higher. People must be taught how to be efficient, self-sustaining, productive members of society economically before they can be taught to be good citizens. The American negro in other words must be taught to be "good for something" as well as to be good. The failure of common-school education with the negro has been largely for the reason that it has failed to help him in any efficient way to adjust himself industrially. Oftentimes indeed it has had the contrary effect and the slightly educated negro has been the one who has been least valuable as a producer. The common-school education has not been such a failure with the white child, for the reason that the white child has been taught industry and morality at home, but these the negro frequently fails to get in his home life. Moreover, the common-school education of the white child has usually been simply the foundation upon which after school days he, as a citizen, has built up a wider culture. But the negro, on account of his environment, if not naturally, has proved incapable of going on with his education and building on it after getting out of school. Moreover, as we have already noted, under the present complex conditions of our social life the common school is no longer an efficient socializing


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