The Rising Tide of Color
Against White World-Supremacy

by Lothrop Stoddard, A.M., Ph.D.

PART I - The Rising Tide of Color


BLACK MAN'S LAND is primarily Africa south of the Sahara Desert. Here dwell the bulk of all the 150,000,000 black men on earth. The negro and negroid population of Africa is estimated at about 120,000,000 - four-fifths of the black race-total. Besides its African nucleus the black race has two distant outposts: the one in Australasia, the other in the Americas. The Eastern blacks are found mainly in the archipelagoes lying between the Asiatic land-mass and Australia. They are the Oriental survivors of the black belt which in very ancient times stretched uninterruptedly from Africa across southern Asia to the Pacific Ocean. The Asiatic blacks were overwhelmed by other races ages ago, and only a few wild tribes like the "Negritos" of the Philippines and the jungle-dwellers of Indo-China and southern India survive as genuine negroid stocks. All the peoples of southern Asia, however, are darkened by this ancient negroid strain. The peoples of south India are notably tinged with black blood. As for the pure blacks of the Australasian archipelagoes, they are so few in numbers (about 3,000,000) and so low in type that they are of negligible importance. Quite otherwise are the blacks of the Far West. In the western hemisphere there are some 25,000,000 persons of more or less mixed black blood, brought thither in modern times as slaves by the white conquerors of the New World. Still, whatever may be the destiny of these transplanted black folk, the black man's chief significance, from the world aspect, must remain bound up with the great nucleus of negro population in the African homeland.

Black Africa, as I have said, lies south of the Sahara Desert. Here the negro has dwelt for unnumbered ages. The key-note of black history, like yellow history, has been isolation. Cut off from the Mediterranean by the desert which he had no means of crossing, and bounded elsewhere by oceans which he had no skill in navigating, the black man vegetated in savage obscurity, his habitat being well named the "Dark Continent."

Until the white tide began breaking on its seafronts four centuries ago, the black world's only external stimuli had come from brown men landing on its eastern coasts or ascending the valley of the Nile. As time passed, both brown and white pressures became more intense, albeit the browns long led in the process of penetration. Advancing from the east and trickling across the desert from the north, Arab or Arabized adventurers conquered black Africa to the equator; and this political subjugation had also a racial side, for the conquerors sowed their blood freely and set a brownish stamp on many regions. As for the whites, they long remained mere birds of passage. Half a century ago they possessed little more than trading-posts along the littorals, their only real settle- ment lying in the extreme south.

Then, suddenly, all was changed. In the closing decades of the nineteenth century, Europe turned its gaze full upon the Dark Continent, and within a generation Africa was partitioned between the European Powers. Negro and Arab alike fell under European domination. Only minute Liberia and remote Abyssinia retained a qualified independence. Furthermore, white settlement also made distinct progress. The tropical bulk of Africa defied white colonization, but the continent's northern and southern extremities were climatically "white man's country." Accordingly, there are today nearly a million whites settled along the Algerian and Tunisian seaboard, while in South Africa, Dutch and British blood has built up a powerful commonwealth containing fully one and one-half million white souls. In Africa, unlike Asia, the European has taken root, and has thus gained at least local tenures of a fundamental nature.

The crux of the African problem therefore resolves itself into the question whether the white man, through consolidated racial holds north and south, will be able to perpetuate his present political control over the intermediate continental mass which climate debars him from populating. This is a matter of great importance, for Africa is a land of enormous potential wealth, the natural source of Europe's tropical raw materials and foodstuffs. Whether Europe is to retain possession depends, in the last analysis on the character of the inhabitants. It is, then, to the nature of the black man and his connection with the brown world that we must direct our attention.

From the first glance we see that, in the negro, we are in the presence of a being differing profoundly not merely from the white man but also from those human types which we discovered in our surveys of the brown and yellow worlds. The black man is, indeed, sharply differentiated from the other branches of mankind. His outstanding quality is superabundant animal vitality. In this he easily surpasses all other races. To it he owes his intense emotionalism. To it, again, is due his extreme fecundity, the negro being the quickest of breeders. This abounding vitality shows in many other ways, such as the negro's ability to survive harsh conditions of slavery under which other races have soon succumbed. Lastly, in ethnic crossings, the negro strikingly displays his prepotency, for black blood, once entering a human stock, seems never really bred out again.

Negro fecundity is a prime factor in Africa's future. In the savage state which until recently prevailed, black multiplication was kept down by a wide variety of checks. Both natural and social causes combined to maintain an extremely high death-rate. The negro's political ineptitude, never rising above the tribal concept, kept black Africa a mosaic of peoples, warring savagely among themselves and widely addicted to cannibalism. Then, too, the native religions were usually sanguinary, demanding a prodigality of human sacrifices. The killings ordained by negro wizards and witch-doctors sometimes attained unbelievable proportions. The combined result of all this was a wastage of life which in other races would have spelled a declining population. Since the establishment of white political control, however, these checks on black fecundity are no longer operative. The white rulers fight filth and disease, stop tribal wars, and stamp out superstitious abominations. In consequence, population increases by leaps and bounds, the latent possibilities being shown in the native reservations in South Africa, where tribes have increased as much as tenfold in fifty or sixty years. It is therefore practically certain that the African negroes will multiply prodigiously in the next few decades.

Now, what will be the attitude of these augmenting black masses toward white political dominion? To that momentous query no certain answer can be made. One thing, however, seems clear: the black world's reaction to white ascendancy will be markedly different from those of the brown and yellow worlds, because of the profound dissimilarities between negroes and men of other stocks. To begin with, the black peoples have no historic pasts. Never having evolved civilizations of their own, they are practically devoid of that accumulated mass of beliefs, thoughts, and experiences which render Asiatics so impenetrable and so hostile to white influences. Although the white race displays sustained constructive power to an unrivalled degree, particularly in its Nordic branches, the brown and yellow peoples have contributed greatly to the civilization of the world and have profoundly influenced human progress. The negro, on the contrary, has contributed virtually nothing. Left to himself, he remained a savage, and in the past his only quickening has been where brown men have imposed their ideas and altered his blood. The originating powers of the European and the Asiatic are not in him.

This lack of constructive originality, however, renders the negro extremely susceptible to external influences. The Asiatic, conscious of his past and his potentialities, is chary of foreign innovations and refuses to recognize alien superiority. The negro, having no past, weIcomes novelty and tacitly admits that others are his masters. Both brown and white men have been so accepted in Africa. The relatively faint resistance offered by the naturally brave blacks to white and brown conquest, the ready reception of Christianity and Islam, and the extraordinary personal ascendancy acquired by individual Arabs and Europeans, all indicate a willingness to accept foreign tutelage which in the Asiatic is wholly absent.

The Arab and the European are, in fact, rivals for the mastership of black Africa. The Arab had a long start, but the European suddenly overtook him and brought not only the blacks but the African Arabs themselves under his sway. It remains to be seen whether the Arab, allying himself with the blacks, can oust his white rival. That some such move will be attempted, in view of the brown worId's renaissance in general and the extraordinary activity of the Arab peoples in particular, seems a foregone conclusion. How the matter will work out depends on three things:

  1. the brown man's inherent strength in Africa;
  2. the possibilities of black disaffection against white tutelage;
  3. the white man's strength and power of resistance.
The seat of brown power in Africa is of course the great belt of territory north of the Sahara. From Egypt to Morocco the inhabitants are Arabized in culture and Mohammedan in faith, while Arab blood has percolated ever since the Moslem conquest twelve centuries ago. In the eastern half of this zone Arabization has been complete, and Egypt, Tripoli, and the Sudan can be considered as unalterably wedded to the brown Islamic world. The zone's western half, however, is in different case. The majority of its inhabitants are Berbers, an ancient stock generally considered white, with close affinities to the Latin peoples across the Mediterranean. As usual, blood tells. The Berbers have been under Arab tutelage for over a thousand years, yet their whole manner of life remains distinct, they have largely kept their language, and there has been comparatively little intermarriage. Pure-blooded Arabs abound, but they are still, in a way, foreigners. To-day the entire region is under white, French, rule. Algeria, in particular, has been politically French for almost a hundred years. Europeans have come in and number nearly a million souls. The Arab element shows itself sullen and refractory, but the Berbers display much less aversion to French rule, which, as usual, is considerate of native susceptibilities. The French colonial authorities are alive to the Berber's ethnic affinities and tactfully seek to stimulate his dormant white consciousness. In Algeria intermarriage between Europeans and Berbers has actually begun. Of course the process is merely in its first stages. Still, the blood is there, the leaven is working, and in time Northwest Africa may return to the white world, where it was in Roman days and where it racially belongs. In the anti-European disturbances now taking place in Algeria and Tunis it is safe to say that the Arab element is making most of the trouble.

It is Northeast Africa, then, which is the real nucleus of Arabism. Here Arabism and Islam rule unchecked, and in the preceding chapter we saw how the Senussi Order was marshalling the fierce nomads of the desert. These tribesmen are relatively few in numbers, but more splendid fighting material does not exist in the wide world. Furthermore, the Arab-negroid peoples which have developed along the southern edge of the desert so blend the martial qualities of both strains that they frequently display an almost demoniacal fighting-power. It is Pan-Islamism's hope to use these Arab or Arabized fanatics as an officers' corps for the black millions whom it is converting to the faith.

Concerning Islam's steady progress in black Africa there can be no shadow of a doubt. Every candid European observer tells the same story. "Mohammedanism," says Sir Charles Elliott, " can still give the natives a motive for animosity against Europeans and a unity of which they are otherwise incapable." (A. R. Colquhoun, "Pan-Islam," North American Review, June, 1906.) Twenty years ago another English observer, T. R. Threlfall, wrote: "Mohammedanism is making marvellous progress in the interior of Africa. It is crushing paganism out. Against it the Christian propaganda is a myth.... The rapid spread of militant Mohammedanism among the savage tribes to the north of the equator is a serious factor in the fight for racial supremacy in Africa. With very few exceptions the colored races of Africa are preeminently fighters. To them the law of the stronger is supreme; they have been conquered, and in turn they conquered. To them the fierce, warlike spirit inherent in Mohammedanism is infinitely more attractive than is the gentle, peace-loving, high moral standard of Christianity: hence, the rapid headway the former is making in central Africa, and the certainty that it will soon spread to the south of the Zambezi." (T. R. Threlfall, "Senussi and His Threatened Holy War," Nineteenth Century, March, 1900.)

The way in which Islam is marching southward is dramatically shown by a recent incident. A few years ago the British authorities suddenly discovered that Mohammedanism was pervading Nyassaland. An investigation brought out the fact that it was the work of Zanzibar Arabs. They began their propaganda about 1900. Ten years later almost every village in southern Nyassaland had its Moslem teacher and its mosque-hut. Although the movement was frankly anti-European, the British authorities did not dare to check it for fear of repercussions elsewhere. Another interesting fact, probably not unconnected, is that Nyassaland has lately been the theatre of an anti-white "Christian" propaganda - the so-called "Ethiopian Church," of which I shall presently speak.

Islam has thus two avenues of approach to the African negro - his natural preference for a militant faith and his resentment at white tutelage. It is the disinclination of the more martial African peoples for a pacific creed which perhaps accounts for Christianity's slow progress among the very warlike tribes of South Africa, such as the Zulus and the Matabele. Islam is as yet unknown south of the Zambezi, but white men universally dread the possibility of its appearance, fearing its effect upon the natives. Of course Christianity has made distinct progress in the Dark Continent. The natives of the South African Union are predominantly Christianized. In east-central Africa Christianity has also gained many converts, particularly in Uganda, while on the West African Guinea coast Christian missions have long been established and have generally succeeded in keeping Islam away from the seaboard. Certainly, all white men, whether professing Christians or not, should welcome the success of missionary efforts in Africa. The degrading fetishism and demonology which sum up the native pagan cults cannot stand, and all negroes will some day be either Christians or Moslems. In so far as he is Christianized, the negro's savage instincts will be restrained and he will be disposed to acquiesce in white tutelage. In so far as he is Islamized, the negro's warlike propensities will be inflamed, and he will be used as the tool of Arab Pan-Islamism seeking to drive the white man from Africa and make the continent its very own.

As to specific anti-white sentiments among negroes untouched by Moslem propaganda, such sentiments undoubtedly exist in many quarters. The strongest manifestations are in South Africa, where interracial relations are bad and becoming worse, but there is much diffused, half-articulate dislike of white men throughout central Africa as well. Devoid though the African savage is of either national or cultural consciousness, he could not be expected to welcome a tutelage which imposed many irksome restrictions upon him. Furthermore, the African negro does seem to possess a certain rudimentary sense of race-solidarity. The existence of both these sentiments is proved by the way in which the news of white military reverses have at once been known and rejoiced in all over black Africa; spread, it would seem, by those mysterious methods of communication employed by negroes everywhere and called in our Southern States "grape-vine telegraph." The Russo-Japanese War, for example, produced all over the Dark Continent intensely exciting effects.

This generalized anti-white feeling has, during the past decade, taken tangible form in South Africa.

The white population of the Union, though numbering 1,500,000, is surrounded by a black population four times as great and increasing more rapidly, while in many sections the whites are outnumbered ten to one. The result is a state of affairs exactly paralleling conditions in our own South, the South African whites feeling obliged to protect their ascendancy by elaborate legal regulations and social taboos. The negroes have been rapidly growing more restive under these discriminations, and unpleasant episodes like race-riots, rapings, and lynchings are increasing in South Africa from year to year.

One of the most significant, not to say ominous, signs of the times is the "Ethiopian Church" movement. The movement began about fifteen years ago, some of its founders being Afro-American Methodist preachers - a fact which throws a curious light on possible American negro reflexes upon their ancestral homeland. The movement spread rapidly, many native mission congregations cutting loose from white ecclesiastical control and joining the negro organization. It also soon displayed frankly anti-white tendencies, and the government became seriously alarmed at its unsettling influence upon the native mind. It was suspected of having had a hand in the Zulu rising which broke out in Natal in 1907 and which was put down only after many whites and thousands of natives had lost their lives. Shortly afterward the authorities outlawed the Ethiopian Church and forbade Afro-American preachers to enter South Africa, but the movement, though legally suppressed, lived surreptitiously on and appeared in new quarters.

In 1915 a peculiarly fanatical form of Ethiopianism broke out in Nyassaland. Its leader was a certain John Chilembwe, an Ethiopian preacher who had been educated in the United States. His propaganda was bitterly anti-white, asserting that Africa belonged to the black man, that the white man was an intruder, and that he ought to be killed off until he grew discouraged and abandoned the country. Chilembwe plotted a rising all over Nyassaland, the killing of the white men, and the carrying off of the white women. In January, 1915, the rising took place. Some plantations were sacked and several whites killed, their heads being carried to Chilembwe's "church," where a thanksgiving service for victory was held. The whites, however, acted with great vigor, the poorly armed insurgents were quickly scattered, and John Chilembwe himself was soon hunted down and killed. In itself, the incident was of slight importance, but, taken in connection with much else, it does not augur well for the future. (For details, see The Annual Register for 1915 and 1916.)

An interesting indication of the growing sense of negro race-solidarity was the "Pan-African Congress" held at Paris early in 1919. Here delegates from black communities throughout the world gathered to discuss matters of common interest. Most of the delegates were from Africa and the Americas, but one delegate from New Guinea was also present, thus representing the Australasian branch of the black race. The Congress was not largely attended and was of a some what provisional character but arrangements for the holding of subsequent congresses were made.

Here, then, is the African problem's present status: To begin with, we have a rapidly growing black population, increasingly restive under white tutelage and continually excited by Pan-Islamic propaganda with the further complication of another anti-white propaganda spread by negro radicals from America.

The African situation is thus somewhat analogous to conditions in Asia. But the analogy must not be pressed too far. In Asia white hegemony rests solely on political bases, while the Asiatics themselves, browns and yellows alike, display constructive power and possess civilizations built up by their own efforts from the remote past. The Asiatics are to-day once more displaying their innate capacity by not merely adopting, but adapting, white ideas and methods. We behold an Asiatic renaissance, whose genuineness is best attested by the fact that there have been similar movements in past times.

None of this applies to Africa. The black race has never shown real constructive power. It has never built up a native civilization. Such progress as certain negro groups have made has been due to external pressure and has never long outlived that pressure's removal, for the negro, when left to himself, as in Haiti and Liberia, rapidly reverts to his ancestral ways. The negro is a facile, even eager, imitator; but there he stops. He adopts; but he does not adapt, assimilate, and give forth creatively again.

The whole of history testifies to this truth. As the Englishman Meredith Townsend says: "None of the black races, whether negro or Australian, have shown within the historic time the capacity to develop civilization. They have never passed the boundaries of their own habitats as conquerors, and never exercised the smallest influence over peoples not black. They have never founded a stone city, have never built a ship, have never produced a literature, have never suggested a creed.... There seams to be no reason for this except race. It is said that the negro has been buried in the most 'massive' of the four continents, and has been, so to speak, lost to humanity; but he was always on the Nile, the immediate road to the Mediterranean, and in West and East Africa he was on the sea. Africa is probably more fertile, and almost certainly richer than Asia, and is pierced by rivers as mighty, and some of them at least as navigable. What could a singularly healthy race, armed with a constitution which resists the sun and defies malaria, wish for better than to be seated on the Nile, or the Congo, or the Niger, in numbers amply sufficient to execute any needed work, from the cutting of forests and the making of roads up to the building of cities? How was the negro more secluded than the Peruvian; or why was he 'shut up' worse than the Tartar of Samarcand, who one day shook himself, gave up all tribal feuds, and, from the Sea of Okhotsk to the Baltic and southward to the Nerbudda, mastered the worId? . . . The negro went by himself far beyond the Australian savage. He learned the use of fire, the fact that sown grain will grow, the value of shelter, the use of the bow and the canoe, and the good of clothes; but there to all appearances he stopped, unable, until stimulated by another race like the Arab, to advance another step." (Townsend, op. cit. pp. 92, 356-8.)

Unless, then, every lesson of history is to be disregarded, we must conclude that black Africa is unable to stand alone. The black man's numbers may increase prodigiously and acquire alien veneers, but the bIack man's nature will not change. Black unrest may grow and cause much trouble. Nevertheless, the white man must stand fast in Africa. No black "renaissance " impends, and Africa, if abandoned by the whites, would merely fall beneath the onset of the browns. And that would be a great calamity. As stated in the preceding chapter, the brown peoples, of themselves, do not directly menace white race-areas, while Pan-Islamism is at present an essentially defensive movement. But Islam is militant by nature, and the Arab is a restless and warlike breed. Pan-Islamism once possessed of the Dark Continent and fired by militant zealots, might forge black Africa into a sword of wrath, the executor of sinister adventures.

Fortunately the white man has every reason for keeping a firm hold on Africa. Not only are its central tropics prime sources of raw materials and foodstuffs which white direction can alone deveIop, but to north and south the white man has struck deep roots into the soil. Both extremities of the continent are "white man's country," where strong white peoples should ultimately arise. Two of the chief white Powers, Britain and France, are pledged to the hilt in this racial task and will spare no effort to safeguard the heritage of their pioneering children. Brown influence in Africa is strong, but it is supreme only in the northeast and its line of communication with the Asiatic homeland runs over the narrow neck of Suez. Should stern necessity arise, the white world could hold Suez against Asiatic assault and crush brown resistance in Africa.

In short, the real danger to white control of Africa lies, not in brown attack or black revolt, but in possible white weakness through chronic discord within the white world itself. And that subject must be reserved for later chapters.

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