July I, IQ16 THE NEW REPUBLIC the past, but they help to expose the ineptitude of two-partyism and counteract the dangers of a merely class political agitation. Administration will become that part of the government upon which citizens who are interested in constructive political, social and educational work, as contrasted with real or sham political agitation, will pin their hopes and concentrate their efforts. It will provide the center of loyalty for Americans who want democratic politics to be something more than a struggle for office among individuals and for power among classes. The Negro Migration W HEN Austria found the Serbian reply inadmissible, the American Negro, who had never heard of Count Berchtold, and did not care whether Bosnia belonged to Austria or Siam, got his " chance." It was not the sort of chance that came to the makers of munitions—a chance to make millions. It was merely a widening of a very narrow foothold on life, a slightly better opportunity to make his way in the industrial world of America. Since the Civil War the Negro has had to choose hetween ordinary political and civil rights and a chance to live. In the South he has been deprived of these, and in the North he has lacked industrial opportunity. According to Alfred Holt Stone, " there is but one area of any size wherein " the Negro " race may obey the command to eat its bread in the sweat of its face side by side with the white man. That area Is composed of the 9outhem United States." In the South the Negro is industrially indispensable, because immigrant labor cannot be had. In the North, the immigrant and the native white workman, with hetter industrial training and greater numbers, have shut out the Negro from the more remunerative employments. Held down to menial and badly paid jobs, the northern Negroes could not rapidly increase their numbers, and could not exercise pressure by withholding their labor. Though industrially useful, they were not irreplaceable, and were, therefore, exploited and held in small esteem. This industrial position of the northern Negrt) was, indeed, not unlike that of the southern poor whites before the war. So long as they were ren(Jered superfluous hy slavery, the " poor whites " decayed economically and intellectually, and not until slavery disappeared and industry came to the South did the " white trash " hecome ambitious, active citizens. Their rise was due to a demand for their lahor, in turn the gift of an industrial evolation. 213 To-day the shutting down of immigration, due to the war, has created just such a demand for the Negroes. Colored men, who formerly loafed on street comers, are now regularly employed. Negro girls, who found it difficult to get good jobs at domestic service, have leaped into popularity. The market for labor has taken up all the slack. There is a demand for all, for skilled workers, unskilled, semi-unemployables, Negroes. The employment agencies cannot meet the demand. Construction camps, which formerly relied on Italian or Polish laborers, noiv seek to secure an alternative supply of Negroes. Formerly the big; contractor in the North could pick a few " hunkies " from a long line of eager applicants for work. He could get Poles, Italians, Greeks, in any number. To-day he is willing to take black men, and finds it hard to get even themHe can get them only from the South. There are some nine million Negroes there as against a round million in the North. The chief industrial and commercial opportunities being in the North, and our normal net immigration of from seven to eight hundred thousand persons per year being shut off, the North is forced to draw upon the Negroes of the South. Such a draft is likely to be heavy. If in the ten years ending 1924, our net immigration Is only three millions, as compared with seven millions for the decade ending 1914, there -.ill result a gross deficit of four million people, or, if we assume a lessening of the demand for immigrant lahor equal to half the diminution of the supply, a net deficit of two millions. Over ninetenths of this loss will fall on the North. Assuming that the relative industrial demands of North and South will not change, hut that as heretofore the North, with its preponderance in manufacturing, mining and commerce, will be able to pay more for its labor than does the South, a northern movement of a million or even of a million and a half of Negroes during the next ten or twelve years becomes quite possible. In the beginning such a migration of Negroes would increase the present race friction in the North. Within certain limits a racial minority is unpopular directly in proportion to its numbers. Only as it increases to the point where political and economic power makes it formidahle, does it overcome opposition. The Negro's competition for jobs and homes would probably exacerbate relations. As the Negroes increased in numbers they would not only seek menial and unskilled work hut also strive to enter skilled trades where they would meet with the antagonism of white workers. Moreover, the Negroes would be forced to seek homes in what are now regarded as " white " neighhorhoods, and 214 THE NEW REPUBLIC a clamor would be raised at each new extension of their dwelling area. When the Negro moves into new neighborhoods, more bitter antagonism is aroused than when he forces his way into new jobs. Rents in the new neighhorhood fall; the innocently intruding Negro and his family are boycotted, if riot actively persecuted; and in the end the white people move away, though not until they are thoroughly infected with race prejudice. The lower the grade of the Negro, the wider this prejudice is likely to reach. And, in the beginning at least, a lowering of tone of the Negro colonies in the North is not unlikely. The present colored population of our northern cities represents a selected group, adapted to new and difficult urban conditions. To dilute this group with hundreds of thousands of crude, unskilled Negro workers from the South would increase the internal difficulties of the Negro population and would intensify racial opposition and prejudice. The antidote to persecution, however, is power, and if the northern Negroes are more numerous and more urgently needed in our industrial life, they could protect themselves from the worst forms of discrimination. If by 1930 the Negro population of the North has become tbree millions—instead of the fraction over one million which it is to-day—and if these three millions live better and save more and spend more per capita than to-day, they will profit more than they will lose from their greater numbers. Their custom will be more valuable, their political power greater and, as wageearners, they will be strong enough to strike. Once they have completely filled a new neighborhood, opp<Kition will cease. Moreover, the industrial competition with white workmen, while severe at certain crucial points, should not be permanently dangerous, since the very conditions which bring the Negro north also make for higher wages for the white workers. What the white wage-earner desires is not an industrial exploitation of the Negro, but merely the maintenance of the white man's superiority of position. For the nation as a whole, such a gradual dissemination of the Negroes among all the states would ultimately be of real advantage. If at the end of half a century, only 50 or 60 per cent, instead of 89 per cent of the Negroes, were congregated in the southem states, it would end the fear of race domination, and take from the South many of its peculiar characteristics, which to-day hamper development. To the Negro it would be of even more obvious benefit. The race would be far better educated, considerably richer, and with greater political power. Success for the Negroes of the North would mean better conditions for southem Negroes. For if the southem Negro,findingpolitical and social conditions intolerable, were able July J, igi6 to migrate to the North, he would have in his hand a weapon as effective as any he could find in the ballot box. This weapon of the southern Negro is all the more formidable because it can be used quietly and without open threats. Against the opposition of the preponderant white population, the southem Negro has few defenses. He has no vote; he has no wealth; and as for the protection of the law, that is a sword held by the white man, with the edge towards the Negro. He cannot better his conditions by political action or armed revolt. His one defense is—to move away. If in a certain county or state conditions become very bad, the Negro, by emigration, can put so heavy a burden upon tbe white employer and upon the whole white population as to force them to change their policy. Today there is a steady drift of Negroes from country districts, where they are oppressed—and above all bored—to the southern cities. If to this altemative there is added a new chance in the North, with high wages and greater liberty and more fun, the South will be hard put to it to keep its full complement of workers. It will be compelled either to make concessions or face economic stagnation. Thus the Negro, a half century after emancipation, is to-day entering upon a new stage in his progress " up from slavery." In fifty years he has reduced his illiteracy, has slowly increased his earning capacity, and bas accumulated here and there a little property. His problem to-day is to widen his economic opportunities, to find more openings and more kinds of openings in the industrial North. If he succeeds, if he adequately fills the new positions which would in the past have gone to white immigrants, he will secure in North and South a more secure economic position, without which all other progress is of little permanency or value. RE P U B L I C A Joumai of Opinion IBUSHED WEEKLY AND COPYRIGHT, 1 9 1 6 , IN THE UNITED OF AMERICA BY T H E REPUISI.IC PUBLISHING CGMTANV, STRFRT, N E W YORK, N . V. RBERT CROLY, PRESIDEN' EDITORS . - ^ w J R T CROLY PHILIP LITTELL WALTER E. WEYL WALTER LIPPMANN FRANCIS HACKETT ALVIN S. JOHNSON VEARLY SUBSCRIPTION, FIFTY-TWO ISSUES, FOUR DOLLARS IN ADVANCE. SINGLE COPIES T E N C E S T S . CANADIAN S U B SCRIPTION FOUR DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS PER YEAR IN ADVANCE. FOREIGN SUBSCRIPTIONS FOR COUNTRIES HI T H E POSTAL UNION, FIVE DOLLARS PER YEAR I N ADVANCE. REMITTANCE TO B E MADE BY INTERNATIONAL POSIAL MONEY ORDER. ENTERED AS SECOND CLASS MATTER, NOVEMBER 6 , 1 9 H , AT THE PO9T OFFICE AT NEW TORK, N . Y . , UNDER T H E ACT QF UARCa 3, 1879.
© Copyright 2019 ExploreDoc