« AnteriorContinuar »
tion is often considered synonymous with industrial education. So that after all, considered as a problem of education solely, has the problem of training the negroes been adequately touched? The ideas involved have assumed an ultimate outcome based on an education the particulars of which were taken for granted to exist, regardless of basic principles of the genesis, application, and administration of such education. Again, no analysis or study of special processes, motor traits, or general qualities that may be developed, trained and adjusted in the negroes, has been made, no basis of industrial efficiency or citizenship has been worked out. Race development is advocated but no inquiry is made into the principles of eugenics or orthogenics applied to negro children. Education is recommended and discussed but pedagogical applications are not specially studied or adopted. There are few studies even of more elementary problems of school grades, progress or retardation in which negroes are compared with whites or other races. Experiments and special scientific inquiries such as are numerous in the study of modern school problems and education, are wanting in the study of negro education. The question here involved is whether or not negro education should be considered along with education in general, or whether or not it should be classed as a separate division in those cases where the question is primarily involved. And if recognized as a special aspect or separate problem, should it not then have the careful consideration, study and means usually accorded such a problem?
It would thus seem very imperative to apply the accepted methods of science and education to the problems of negro education even on its merits as an individual and as a separate problem. Whether it be for the purpose of ascertaining the exact status of the problem, for working out the difficulties which it offers, or for contributing to organized knowledge, the need is equally imperative. But there are still other important factors. Given a satisfactory solution of the problem as commonly viewed and discussed, the difficulties must be readjusted and solved again when the question involves two or more races directly and simultaneously. Heretofore, the problem of educating negroes, while complex in many ways, has been considered almost solely as a problem of educating a separate class without the difficulties that arise from applying accepted methods simultaneously and under the same school conditions, to both white and negro children. The negro has been thought of as a segregated unit. The negro can be educated or he cannot, he can have a liberal education or an industrial one. That is, given an accepted program of educating the negro, it has been assumed that the only thing needed was to carry it out independently of other factors. Now the problem of race conflict and adjustment enter largely and the question of different standards is thus raised, involving various phases of disproportion and adjustment. The growth and distribution of the negro population in northern cities leads to new and large developments of the situation. It is safe to predict that the larger problem of educating the negroes in the United States will involve to a large degree the principles which are predominant in the problem of mixed schools. The problem of educating the negroes alone is complex, the problem of educating negroes in schools with white children as in northern cities becomes both complex and compound. Thus the question of measuring negro development by educational standards is at present at most an experiment.
Following out the idea of measurement it is manifestly inaccurate to assume that because negro schools in the Southern states are not provided with money equal to that of the whites, that therefore, an injustice is being done to the negro; or that the negro does not want the schools; or to take such an objective standard of measurement as final without inquiring into the intimate conditions and essentials involved. The importance of these considerations is emphasized by the fact that no average relative estimate of the negro problem is possible, just as there is no average opinion concerning all aspects of the question. One portion of people may feel intensely and think constantly concerning the question while to another it is practically unknown. So also, comparisons of different relations may not be made because relations are not of like denominations. There are those who, separated from the problem, look upon the statement of its difficulties as a long-stated pedantic recital. There are others who believe that all difficulties are overestimated and that their adjustment is a matter of interest but of little special significance. Many others view the problem from the standpoint of theory, evolution, philanthropy, religion, politics, or personal interest. There are, moreover, those in the midst of the problem who are most optimistic concerning both the present situation and the ultimate outcome, while there are are at the same time those who hold extreme views in the opposite direction. There are those who believe the negro shall have all rights and many privileges and there are those who believe that he should have few rights and no privileges. There is a strong tendency on the part of many to view the entire problem with indifference, and the public is generally tired of the whole matter. Furthermore, each individual and, sometimes, groups of individuals are wont to view the various aspects of the subject through an already established subjective content of mind or through preconceived ideas which have formed an attitude not always open to conviction. Little intellectual charity is manifested in the general attitude toward the negro problem or studies of the problem, and undoubtedly experience justifies this to a large extent. Again, there is little coöperation in a common search after truth, whether because of the press of other things, lack of interest, or unwillingness. There is need to avoid the oversensitiveness so commonly found both North and South and the apologetic attitude toward the subject. But on the other hand there are those among both races who feel that the question is one of the very highest possible importance to them and their children. Many students in this country and some abroad, believe that America has no problem more disquieting and perplexing than that involved in the proper and permanent relations between the white and negro races.
And there are those strongly organized who expect to fight without compromise on the principle that either the negro has no right in this country, which is an avowed asylum for all the races of the world, or he has the right which carries with it all the other rights of humanity. They go further and say that the negro either has the fundamental privileges of other races or he has no right to existence; he must, they say, then be given these rights or be exterminated.
Again although the mode of feeling South and North is becoming more and more alike, it is a long way from the extreme southern view of relations between the races to the radical northern view, the significance of which few people recognize. There is a vast difference between the white man's view and that of the negro, or between the two extremes which are advanced by the negroes themselves. To attempt, then to harmonize the means and extremes and to strike as it were a mode or an average is scarcely possible. But in seeking the adjustment of conditions in which these difficulties are found it is possible to make careful analysis and because of this very complexity to leave nothing undone in the effort to establish the truth. Thus will be effected measurements of race condition and development which will be of practical value.
Enough has been said to illustrate both the complexity of the practical problem of the negro in the United States, and to indicate the lack of definiteness in methods of attempted estimates of conditions. This complexity however, will be illustrated more effectively by citing a number of traditional conscious and unconscious standards of estimating negro development in this country. In connection with mention of these methods some of the fallacies involved will be apparent, and the list itself is illuminating.
Perhaps the oldest and most common method of forming judgment has been that of abstract race estimate. On the one hand, there has been an assumption of the innate equality of mankind eliminating questions of inequality of mind, body, race and other conditions. On the other is the traditional assumption of race inferiority eliminating the question of development and environmental influences. In the United States the two most common illustrations of this attitude have been the extreme Northern view toward the negro, resulting in common assertions that the negro was the equal of the white, and in extreme cases the superior. This attitude, of course, has not been without its numerous exceptions. In the Southern states the attitude has been illustrated by the common assumption that the negro is in all respects inferior to the whites, and in extreme instances the assertion that he was little more than an animal. These views have been supported variously on the one hand by the abstract conceptions of philosophy, and life and citations of exceptional superiority; and on the other, by references to the achievements of civilization and practical experiences, together with citations of exceptional inferiority. Extreme references have been cited on both sides, and scriptures have been brought to bear, as evidence in measurements of race value. The chronicles of these various estimates constitute a peculiar literature in the history of the United States.
Among the most interesting of all estimates passed upon the negro has been the picturesque portrayal of the antebellum type as a standard of measurement for the whole
Such estimates have influenced the mass of opinions, and have constituted a literature of considerable wealth. This class of character portrayal is well illustrated by the works of Joel Chandler Harris, Thomas Nelson Page, and others, and reflects, not only, the true character of the negro in partial instances, but also the spirit of the time.
Perhaps, the most common attempts to estimate the character and achievements of the negro has been found in those opinions and studies which represent the whole of the race by a few of its members. There are three important divisions of this method. First: the development of the negro has been measured by the chosen few. Here the exceptional deeds of the exceptional individuals in this country and the world over have been cited as the standard of achievement, regardless of any mixture of white blood on the one hand, or of the great mass of the race on the other. Second: the development of the negro has been measured by the misdeeds of the submerged group, and the fact that this group was large and furnished an unusually