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Problems of Humanity - Chapter IV - The Problem of the Racial Minorities
2. The Negro Problem

This problem is totally different to that of the Jews. In the first case you have an exceedingly ancient people who for thousands of years have played their part in the arena of world history and who have developed a culture and identified themselves with a civilization which has enabled them to take their place on equal terms with what we call the "civilized" peoples. In the case of the Negro, we are considering a people who have (during the past two hundred years) begun to rise in the scale of human endeavor and have, in that time, made amazing progress against great odds and much opposition. Two hundred years ago, the Negroes were all to be found in Africa and are still there in the millions; two hundred years ago, they were what the European and American regarded as "raw savages", divided into countless tribes, living in a state of nature, primitive, warlike, totally uneducated from the modern point of view, ruled by chieftains and under the guidance of [106] tribal Gods, controlled by tribal taboos, differing greatly from each other - the Pygmy and the Bechuanaland warrior would appear to have no point of resemblance except their color - constantly fighting among themselves and raiding each other's territory.

For centuries they have been exploited and driven into slavery, first by the Arabs, then later by those who purchased them from the slave-owners and carried them into slavery to the United States or to the West Indies. They have been exploited also by the European nations who seized vast territories in Africa and enriched themselves on the produce of those countries and the labor of their inhabitants - the French in the French Sudan, the Belgians in the Belgian Congo, the Dutch and the British in South Africa and the West Coast of Africa, the Germans in German East Africa and the Italians in Eastern Africa. It is a sorry story of cruelty, theft and exploitation on the part of the white race, though much good also came out of it for the black race. The story of these relationships is still unfinished, and unless it is conducted in the future with righteousness and justice, may terminate in tragedy. There is, however, much improvement in the internal history of these territories, and there is much reason for optimism.

The problem of the Negro falls into two divisions: the problem of the future of the African Negro and the problem of the future of the Negro in the western hemisphere.

Africa is potential and the destiny of its countless millions of inhabitants is still in the embryonic stage; the relationship of its true inhabitants to the alien races who seek to dominate them remains still in the realm of political maneuvering and commercial greed. It should, however, be recognized that in spite of the many attendant evils which follow ever on the trail of the exploiting white man, the impact of the white races [107] on the "black continent" has brought great evolutionary development and benefits - education, medical aid, the ending of the ceaseless tribal wars, sanitation, and a more enlightened religious system in the place of the barbaric cults and crude religious practices. Much evil followed the explorer, the missionary and the trader but much good also followed in their steps, particularly in those of the missionary. The Negro is naturally religious and mystically inclined, and the major tenets of the Christian faith have a definite appeal to his nature; the emotional aspects of the Christian presentation (with the emphasis upon love and goodness and the life hereafter) is understood by the emotionally focused Negro. Behind the many separative religious cults of that dark land, there emerges a fundamental and pure mysticism, ranging all the way from nature worship and a primitive animism to a deep occult knowledge and an esoteric understanding which may some day make Africa the seat of the purest form of occult teaching and living. This, however, lies several centuries ahead.

In considering the problem of the African Negro, it is the long range vision with which we must deal and the steady rising into power of millions of people who have, as yet, only made the first steps towards modern civilization and culture, but are taking others with an almost frightening rapidity. The undesirable aspects of civilization are present, but the benefits conferred far outweigh these, and the Negro, in spite of his natural and understandable antagonism, should recognize them as a debt he owes to the aggressive and acquisitive white nations. Contact with them has stimulated his intellectual perception; the white man's way of living has lifted the Negroes of Africa out of their primitive state into a more modern one; education and modern ways of thinking and planning are rapidly fitting the Negroes to take their place in a modern world; science, transportation [108] and knowledge - brought to them through the medium of the white races - are tying them closely into the developing scheme of modern history; the new world with its better ways of living is as much for the Negro as for the white man.

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