An unfavorable symptom of Negro life in contact with current American opinion is the continuance of many of the old superstitions among the rank and file, such as are common to other ignorant people in America and elsewhere. The majority of these people, because of the tardy development of public schools for them, are still denied the view of the noble scroll of knowledge. In the past half century the Negro has struggled hard to free himself from ignorance and her twin offspring - superstition and poverty, but to many, the "rabbit foot" or voodoo bag about the neck or in the pocket is still a good luck token to ward off enemies and disease and to bring prosperity. Malaria and typhoid are still attributed to exposure to "night air." The paralyzing fear of beliefs in ghosts and haunted houses and places is still a millstone to progress.

Lack of thrift and industry is also a shortcoming which cannot be denied. Where lie the cause and the remedy? Mrs. Hammond, a discerning white woman, aptly says:1 "The two great assets of any country are the land and the people; and the people necessarily include those engaged in agriculture. ... In cities and factories we are finding that it pays, in dollars and cents, to care for 'the (white) human end of the machine.' It will pay in the country, too, and when the human end is black. Christ's law of brotherhood is universal in its workings, or it is no law at all".

1 Hammond, L. H., In Black and White, pp. 56, 58 ff.

The Development Of Racial Self-Respect

Another shortcoming has frequently been placed at the door of the Negro. Enemies and some friends complain that Negroes show a lack of belief in their own race; that apparently their highest ambition is to be white. These criticisms apparently have basis in fact. They overlook, however, three cardinal conditions which Negroes confront. First, Negroes are surrounded by white people, ten to one, whose idea of physical beauty is a white skin, sharp features, and straight hair. By a well known principle of group psychology the individuals in the minority tend to conform to the ideas and habits of the majority. David Livingstone, Dan Crawford, in his book, Thinking Black, and many other missionaries have testified that Africans regard Europeans as sickly, unnatural, and ugly, and in some tribes the devil is represented by white images. Black skin and native features are to them beautiful. Stanley said he blushed at his repulsion to the pale color of Europeans when he came out of the African forests where he had seen only dark skins and the "richer bronze color."1 It is significant that with the growing color consciousness among American Negroes, they are even buying Negro dolls for their children and are setting up race ideas of beauty in America.

In the second place, whoever has observed and reflected upon facts open to everyday inspection knows that, on the one hand, to have a white skin or to be known as a white man or woman is to have an open door to whatever ability and effort can achieve. On the other hand, to be dark-skinned or to be known as a Negro, is to be looked down upon and to be discounted by those who hold the key to the American kingdom of achievement. This was a barrier to advancement of Negroes which even such superior achievements as those of Booker Washington did not remove. It does not take a Negro philosopher to conclude that the world of advantage in America is on the side of him who approaches the appearance of the accepted white type. Negroes have had many of their attempts to set up their own standards blown to the winds by derision. The wonder is not that a few of them want to be white, but rather, that the race has so persistently clung to racial ideas and excellencies through so many generations.

1 Stanley, Henry M., Through the Dark Continent, Vol. II, pp. 462-65.

Finally, much of the white man's notion of what the Negro aspires to be is either an imaginative white man's construction of what he conjectures he would strive for, were he a Negro, or it is what some Negro has let the white gather in response to leading questions. The human mind is habitually seeing the thoughts and feelings of others in terms of its own. The Negro is a master in responding to the white man according to the tatter's wishes. The Negro already has a feeling for his own kind which draws the thousands together and holds them, just as similar feeling does Italians, Jews, Greeks, and others. What will give the Negro most impetus to a racial "self-sufficiency" is no longer to make a white skin the passport to free American opportunity, but to accord merit in a dark skin its just rewards.