The Negro Race and European Civilization

The Negro Race and European Civilization

American Journal of Sociology
Volume 11, Number 2 (September 1905)
pages 145-167

Paul S. Reinsch  (1869-1923), Professor
University of Wisconsin

While in the past century populations and racial elements which had formerly been far distant from each other have been brought into intimate contact, the twentieth century will witness the formation of new mixed races and the attempt to adjust the mutual relations of all the various peoples that inhabit the globe. The recent great advance in the safeness and rapidity of communication has made the whole world into a community whose solidarity of interests becomes more apparent day by day. Closer contact with the more advanced nations of the Orient will have a profound influence upon European civilization, because these nations, though ready to adopt our industrial methods, are determined to maintain their national beliefs and customs. Though from the races that stand on a lower level of civilization no such deep-going influence upon European and American life is to be expected, their relations to the peoples of more advanced culture will nevertheless be a matter of great moment. Some of them, the weakest and lowest in organization, may indeed continue to fade away before the advance of European power; but this is not likely to be the fate of the negro race. The negroes have come in contact with the worst side of European civilization; yet their buoyant, vigorous constitution and their fundamental common sense carry them safely through dangers which have proved fatal to other races. They are therefore destined to be a permanent element in the composite population of the future, and when we consider the extent and fertility of the regions which they hold, the necessity of their ever-increasing co-operation in the economic life of the world becomes apparent…

…The physiological aspects of race-mixture have lately attracted much attention. Mr. James Bryce, in his recent lecture on “The Relations of the Advanced and Backward Races,” carefully reviews the experience of mankind in this matter, and adds his support to the current assumption that mixed breeds are morally and physically weak when the parents belong to widely disparate races and civilizations. However, it would seem that this assumption is true only in cases where the two societies to which the parents respectively belong maintain a repugnant attitude to each other, so that the mestizos form an outcast class and suffer a total loss of morale. Where friendly relations exist, the mixed races produced by Europeans and negroes exhibit some very fine qualities. The rich yet delicate beauty of the mulatto women in Martinique, their sweetness of temper and kindness of heart, so excited the admiration of visitors that they all, lay and clerical, French and British, join in the chorus of admiration and declare the women of Martinique the most charming in the world. Intellectually, the mulatto race has produced a number of remarkable men, and the liberality of mind among the leaders of this class in Martinique is certainly most noteworthy. Still it is generally true that the men of a mixed race will exhibit fewer pleasing qualities of character than the women: they must make themselves useful often by activities not conducive to sweetness of temper and honesty of mind; while the women naturally develop more gentle and attractive characteristics…

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