Another characteristic expression of Negro mind in race relations may be called its attitude of patient tolerance and sustained optimism. These are illustrated in Negro forbearance under opposition, restriction, and oppression, in his method of meeting difficult problems and situations, and in the hopefulness and loving kindliness of his folk-songs and in his enthusiasm. The tolerance can best be illustrated by contrast with corresponding reactions of other racial groups under similar conditions. For instance, the people of southern Ireland for nearly seven hundred and fifty years have been under conditions of restriction less irksome and with less limitation upon liberty and property of the individual than the Negro under American slavery and partial freedom during more than three hundred years. The difference in the action of the two groups is too well known to need recounting. The Irish have argued, conspired, and fought with tongue and pen and sword and fire. The Negroes have worked and prayed and awaited "times and seasons".

The American Indian confronted the same white men in America under many conditions similar to those of the African Negro. But besides being a poor worker under compulsion and succumbing quickly to the white man's diseases, the Indian often used the tomahawk and scalping knife. The Negroes who survived the battles of the slave raids in Africa and the suicide, disease, and cruelty of the slave ships, learned to use the hoe, the plow, and the white men's ways of living and working. They bowed their bodies to the toil, they survived, they multiplied, they achieved.

Carping critics have said that this action of the Negro was due to a lack of courage. A mass of evidence shows the contrary to be true. For illustration, South African Boer and Briton know the prowess and courage in war of the Zulus.1 The story is told of the cry of the Ashantis in their disastrous uprising against the British who were pushing them from their native territory: "To go back is to die, to go forward is to die: we will go forward and die".

1Compare also accounts of slave insurrections in America between 1712 and 1832; Brawley, B. G., Social History of the American Negro.

Patient tolerance is shown also by Negroes in the face of difficult situations. Anglo-Saxon nerves under similar conditions try either to remove the obstacle, to go through it, or to smash either it or themselves in the attempt. The Negro does not have the smashing attitude of mind. He tries to find a path around the obstacle, to climb over it, or tolerantly to sit down and wait until time or tide removes it. His attitude of mind enables him "to labor and to wait" and to achieve his ends by "indirect approach" rather than by "feverish pursuit." It has enabled him to succeed alongside of the white man, from the scorching heat of Africa to the Arctic climate of North America. The Negro has worked and waited and got what he has gone after from the days before the Egyptian pyramids were built.

Their optimism and kindliness shine through their songs. Prof. Work of Fisk University says the "spirituals" that "grew" during the generations under slavery and serfdom breathe hope, love, faith, triumph, sorrow, but no word or note of despair, malice, or revenge. The hopefulness of the slaves for freedom in the darkest days is equaled by the enthusiasm of their descendents for opportunity to achieve. One Southern white man has aptly expressed what many are seeing: "It is not possible to work with these people and not feel for them sympathy, admiration, and respect. The sacrifices they are making for the education and enlightenment of their people, their kindly disposition, and the sincere appreciation they show for the smallest service rendered them, their patience, the philosophical way they generally take discourtesy and brusque treatment, their cheerfulness even in adversity - all of these things make it a source of never-ceasing wonder to me that for so many years I lived among these people and knew them not, that for so many years I saw in them only the faults that are-bred of ignorance, depravity, and neglect and not the inherent good qualities with which our Almighty Creator has endowed them."1