I am a Southerner. Like most other white folks in the southern part of the United States, I am one of those terrible, prejudiced people you Canadians hear about when the subject turns to race.
To use an overworked expression, I don’t want my daughter— or your daughter, if she’s a white girl—to marry a Negro. My neigh| bors in the eleven Southern states and I go further. At this time in || history, and in the conditions that || prevail in our part of the world, we || don’t want our children to go to p§ school with Negroes.
A SOUTHERN EDITOR PROTESTS
We don’t think that mixing the || races in school on a vast scale || would be good for our children or || for their colored schoolmates.
| Why should this be so? The rea-
P sons are so deeply imbedded in if; the mores of Southern people that || it is difficult to reduce them to a || formula on paper. Volumes could be written on the psychological fácil tors of race. Some of the practical || considerations—and the catalogue |g by no means is complete—may be expressed as follows;
1. Health and cleanliness. For || whatever reasons — and white || Southerners are by no means persuaded they are entirely due to g economic and social causes — Negroes are frequently untidy. Many || are careless in personal hygiene; venereal disease is far more prevalent among Negroes. Since the U. S. Health Service quietly drop11 ped racial designations statistics are
hard to find. The 1952-53 South Carolina figures are a useful guide not only for Southern states but for congested Negro areas in the North. In a population sixty percent white and forty percent Negro, 6.315 cases of syphilis were reported in the period mentioned in South Carolina. Of these eightynine percent were Negro. In cases of gonorrhea Negroes led six to one. Some physicians say many Negro cases go unreported.
2. Home environment. A wide gap exists in cultural background and home life. The master-servant relationship may be disappearing but it has left deep marks. Even manner of speech, vocabulary and personal behavior and tastes show differences that Southern white people believe are not due altogether to educational separation.
3. Marital habits. Morals among many Southern Negroes are — to put it mildly — casual. Many couples do not bother with divorce because there was no actual marriage. Illegitimacy statistics show that on the average, one Negro child in five is illegitimate. The figure may be higher since illegitimate births are more likely to go unrecorded. No stigma attaches to illegitimacy among Negroes. Colored children learn about sex early and are precocious in this respect. White parents are afraid their more sheltered offspring will be subject to bad influence if not actual corruption.
4. Crime. For many years crime has been more prevalent among Negroes than whites in the South. Since colored migration became heavy the North is experiencing the same thing. Racial mingling, many Southerners fear, would increase juvenile delinquency among white children and set up new opportunities for violence among rowdies of both races.
T. R. WARING IS EDITOR OF THE CHARLESTON, S.C., NEWS AND COURIER.
5. Intellectual development. Negro children on the average seem to be about two grades behind whites in attainment. Some integrationists say the way to cure the difference is to mingle the children. The trouble with this theory — and many Southerners will not concede that difference in schooling is solely responsible for the lag — is that a single generation of white children would bear the brunt of raising Negro standards. While white civilization is rubbing off, Negro civilization may be transferring to white children. Many parents, though ardently wishing for improvement of Negroes, are unwilling to subject their children to the ordeal of doing what three centuries of association with white man's civilization has not yet accomplished.
continued on page 46
For the sake of argument continued from page 8
If this sounds snobbish, examine your own conscience. Which would you put first: Your theory of racial justice, or giving your own child the best possible opportunity in life?
“U. S. paratroopers in Little Rock may have signaled the death of the American Republic”
People in Canada may find these sentiments hard to accept.
Canada is white-man’s country. English and French settlers of Canada, as in the United States, exterminated the Indians or pushed them into far corners of the land. They did not set up a small ruling class of white men over a huge native population, as some colonial powers have done. Nor did they merge with them, as the Spanish and Portuguese did in some Latin-American countries.
Of the seventeen million people in Canada, only a tiny fraction is colored. The World Almanac, listing origins as estimated on population figures of 1951, lumps native Indians and Eskimos at 165,607, less than one percent of the total. All other origins are white. Neither Orientals nor Africans are sufficiently numerous to be included in this list.
Only about eighteen thousand Negroes live in Canada. The percentage is too small to bother about computing. More than twice as many Negroes live in my home city of Charleston, S.C., as inhabit the whole vast expanse of Canada.
A couple of years ago I visited Toronto to appear on a CBC program about segregation of schools. During the twenty-four hours I was in Toronto I twice saw a Negro. It was the same Negro. When I enquired, I was told that colored people seldom were seen and created no problem.
The proportion of Negroes in the United States is about ten percent. They are concentrated most heavily in eleven Southern states. For the whole Southern region the percentage of Negroes is about twenty-five percent.
But proportions vary greatly by locality. In some counties seventy-five percent or more of the people are Negroes. And in some school districts the proportion would be ten to one.
How can a Southerner, living in a heavily Negro area, explain race segregation to Canadians who may have seen only a handful of Negroes in their lives?
Is it true what they say about Dixie? Are most Southern white people heartless brutes in dealing with their colored brothers? Or are Southerners just ignorant? Haven’t they heard about the rising tide of color? What about the statement in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal”?
Who is it?
Poll today’s Canadiennes í
and she’d be the leading ij| vote-getter. Turn to page 52 |
to find out who she is. |
Southerners are, in some respects, different from other citizens of the U. S. They have tasted the bitter medicine of defeat in war. They have lived through years of grinding poverty while other regions grew rich.
For many years now a campaign of
propaganda has smeared the South. The metropolitan newspapers and nationally circulated magazines have set up a paper curtain over views that clash with their notions of proper race relations. They have taken the position that segregation is wrong, arid that integration — though flagrantly violated in many ways in the North — is right, at least in principle.
Southerners are overwhelmingly opposed to the mingling of white and colored pupils in public schools. They believe their system is best for both races. Until the Supreme Court decision of 1954 it had the full sanction of federal law. It still has the sanction of state law.
Who has a right to say that all thirty million white Southerners are guilty of bigotry because they do not agree with other people’s notions?
Southerners would like to be understood. When they try to explain, their views are not accepted by persons whose minds already have been conditioned to believe that it is morally wrong to separate human beings according to race. Separation has come to mean discrimination, and discrimination has been made a sin.
The troops at Little Rock dramatized the public-school phase of the vast race problem, Because they crossed longestablished lines of state and federal authority, U. S. paratroopers in a state capital may have signaled the death of the American Republic.
If armed occupation of states resisting forced integration becomes a fixed policy of Washington, the South will be no more than a conquered province, as it was after the Civil War.
Forcing people to conform to patterns of living they regard as hateful not only is abhorrent to citizens of a republic; it is, in the long run, impractical in a free country. Though Canada lacks the Negro problem, it long ago recognized differences among citizens of French and English descent and made allowances for them. Dual language is only one symbol of difference. But differences of language, religion and national heritage among white people are as nothing compared to differences of race and color.
What are those differences? The relative effects of heredity and environment imong human beings are not yet fully understood.
But Southern people understand, ihrough personal experiences, differences between white and colored people, and ihe reasons why they live together in peace and harmony only when socially separated. These differences include home environment, morals, intellectual tastes and general culture. Economic factors of course affect all these and other qualities. But economics, in the opinion of white Southerners, is by no means the only factor. Most white people look forward to the day when Negroes will earn and produce greater wealth.
In the South, schools and churches are social as well as educational and religious institutions. The mingling of such institutions inevitably leads to social mingling. Over all hangs the conviction that eventually miscegenation—the amalgamation of the races—would be the result. Looking at the results of mixing the races in some Latin-American republics, the white Southerner wants none of it for his home territory.
When the Negro slaves were freed by Civil War, the victorious North made no provision for their training and support. Their former masters were now' dead or impoverished. The South lay in ruins. Slowly and painfully, the region rebuilt and developed. In freedom the Negro had to make his own way. He still is in the learning stage. Meanwhile, the white man has both carried him and depended on him. The destinies of white and black are too closely bound together either to separate or to mingle by federal force.
Once before the U. S. tried force in the name of morals. Prohibition was called an experiment that was noble in motive. Nobility was not enough to make it work. Citizens found there were worse things than alcohol. The day may come when Southerners have to bootleg segregation. Already it is being done in the North.
As Negroes move into Northern cities seeking higher wages and (to a lesser degree) the joys of integration, they bring race problems with them. Mixed schools have produced "blackboard jungles.” Juvenile delinquency, not confined to any race, has taken on new terrors in the tension of race mixture. Regardless of denials in the North, Southerners associate these troubles with race mingling.
Segregated Negro schools in the South are virtually free of disorder. Interracial strife in the past has been negligible. Negro teachers understand how to handle Negro children. More Negro teachers are employed in South Carolina than in all of New England, New York and New Jersey. They maintain discipline, the first requisite for learning.
If the quality of education for Negroes has not been as high as for whites in the South, it is improving by leaps and bounds. Mingling the races at this stage of development would hold back white children without bringing forward Negroes. This is the opinion of the overwhelming majority of white Southerners.
I he results so far in Washington, D.C., where large numbers of Negroes have been mixed with whites, have not caused these white Southerners to change their minds.
Northern people who settle in the South—and I am speaking now from personal acquaintance with many of them —usually come to the conclusion that the Southern pattern is best for both races. The pattern is changing with the times. One of the greatest changes—completely voluntary, without threat of courts or troops—of recent years is the acceptance of Negro customers in Southern stores. Where once they were discouraged, because white customers would object, they now are welcomed as a matter of course. The Negro in the United States represents in dollars a market about as large as Canada—the best customer for U. S. exports. t here is no color line in cash. It's all green. As manpower, too, the Negro is a necessary asset to industrial progress in the South.
Left free to develop in his own way, the Negro will progress naturally. Many new avenues for enjoyment of the rights and privileges of citizenship, which he already has in theory, are opening in practice. The use of pressure, however, is costing the Negro the most valuable asset he has in the South—the good will of the white man.
A minor example of what happens under forced integration is a cafeteria at the Charleston Naval Base. Until five years ago, the cafeteria served more than a thousand meals daily at the lunch hour. White and Negro patrons ate in separate dining rooms. The food came from the same kitchen. On Oct. 19, 1953. the cafeteria was integrated on orders from Washington. The patronage dropped the first day to about four hundred and subsequently to a hundred and twenty—the present figure. White workers refused to eat there.
In keeping separate from Negroes, Southern white people are following the traditions of their ancestors. They observe a similar tendency among white people elsewhere when confronted with race-in-the-mass. Maclean's Magazine has printed many articles about race consciousness, touching on such matters as the exclusion from barber shops and restaurants at Dresden, Ont., a town with three hundred Negroes among a population of seventeen hundred, and the Japanese problem in British Columbia.
Southerners also note the expulsion of the Dutch from Indonesia. The movement has undertones of race as well as nationalism. In the light of Indonesia and anti-white movements elsewhere among yellow, brown and black peoples. Southerners are skeptical about the charge that separation of the races in the Southern states feeds Communist propaganda throughout the world. They recognize that people of similar blood strains have a natural affinity for their own brothers. They defend their own desire to keep the races separate in the South as much as they can, while dealing justly with their colored neighbors.
As to legal aspects of racial separation in the U. S., constitutional lawyers by no means are agreed on what is "the law of the land." The 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, upsetting fifty-eight years of judicial precedent, is still not accepted as the last word on all phases of race relations.
As a people who have fought for freedom—and as a minority of U. S. citizens who have tasted defeat on their home soil ■—Southerners have a special fear of the oppressive power of superior military force. The bayonets at Little Rock brought back memories of Reconstruction. the aftermath of the Civil War in 1866-1876. Military occupation then placed Negroes and radical whites in charge of Southern state governments. The decade was a period of frightful waste, degradation and chaos.
While granting the right of Negroes to vote and enjoy all the rights and privileges of citizenship, the white Southerner v/ants no repetition of mixed government, especially in areas where he is himself in the minority. He believes that much more time is necessary for develop ment of the Negro people as a group. How much time is a matter for speculation. Attempts to speed up the process by laws, backed up with prison bars and bayonets, have delayed progress in the opinion of many sober Southerners. ★
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