Southern Illinois University Carbondale Daily Egyptian Diversity News Archive (Southern Illinois University Carbondale)
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Item IDegyptian 1944 0211 vol 25 #17.tif
Descriptiondiscussing the caste system
Original Publication SourceDaily Egyptian
Date1944 February 11
Digital File Format.TIF (Tagged Image Format)
Digital File PublisherSpecial Collections Research Center, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Rights StatementAll copyrights held by Southern Illinois University Carbondale. For permission to reproduce, distribute, or otherwise use this image, please contact the Special Collections Research Center, Morris Library, Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Phone: + 1 (618) 453-2516. Email:
CollectionDaily Egyptian Diversity News Archive (Southern Illinois University Carbondale)


A glaring evil of the whole caste system is that any Negro, however intelligent, cultured, or prosperous, is at the mercy of any white man, however ignorant or disreputable. The president of a university or the director of a bank may be insulted with impunity by the lowest white. It is the lowest classes that revel in hurting and insulting Negroes. In this way they get the glow of Superiority. Often people have said that they resented the ill treatment of Negroes, but that if they intervened they made themselves conspicuous. However, it is the failure of the leading white men to stand up against abuse that tends to break the Negro's confidence in any fair play from the dominant race.
Enlightened unselfishness and good sportsmanship both call for a better deal for the Negro. That race makes up a tenth of the population. The nation can reach its proper place in health and education, in orderliness and prosperity only through satisfactory progress by all groups.
Except for a few poor whites, this great nation of a hundred and ten million white people is surely no longer afraid of a tenth of that number of Negroes. There is no reason to hate Negroes, for Negroes were brought here against their free will and have responded to the demands as best they could with labor and also with song and picturesque gifts to the American folkways.
We have an opportunity to perfect our social order. Race conflict, primitive taboos, sadistic lynchings, community sloughs of crime and disease—all these impede the common progress.
It is hard enough for any race, under the most favorable conditions, to climb the rough road of modern civilization. This the American Negro has tried to do in a single century. He has had one great advantage—that of living in immediate association with another racial group which is notably successful in its industrial accomplishments. But with this stimulating association have come disadvantages; enslavement, discrimination, the relegation to certain limited places in the dominant civilization.
Prejudice is shown in different ways by two classes of white people. There is on the one hand the bitterness of the competitive struggle by poor whites. Any group, desperate for existence and survival, fears and hates its competitors and will resort to every unfairness in order to climb upward upon the defeated backs of its rivals.
Quite another kind of discrimination has come from the old aristocracy. These people have been considerate of the Negro personally and helpful to him in his first struggles upward. The difference in status was so great that there was no question of competition. But with this sympathy has gone a patronizing and paternalistic attitude. and the assumption that the Negro is clearly and inevitable inferior. "They are only children; we must be kind and patient with them." Unfortunately when people say this of another race, they always assume that these children will never grow up, that they are pleasantly feeble-minded. This attitude has helped the Negroes to build churches and has smiled at their excessive pity and fervor. It has even consented somewhat astonishingly to their demands for schools and has been amused as they ape the white man's scholarship. This patronizing attitude is really more damning than the competitive struggle. It is hard to keep ambition alive and to maintain morale when those for whom you have fondness and respect keep thinking and saying that you are only children, that you are cast by God in an inferior mould. However, America is coming to realize that the cast of prejudice and segregation is
great, both in money and in the use of energy. There is extra expense in having to maintain two school systems, dual libraries, separate parks; in building two sets of waiting rooms and maintaining separate passenger ears even on little frequented routes; in supporting white and colored public nurses and welfare agents. However, inadequate and poor the provisions for Negroes, they represent some added defense to the Nation. All this America is more and more coming to realize.

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