Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 83.djvu/372

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388
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL FACTOR IN SOUTHERN RACE PROBLEMS
By JAMES BARDIN, M.D.
UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA

WITH the increasing complexity of society in the southern states, the Negro problem is taking on a correspondingly complex character, and is coming more and more into the foreground of southern consciousness. Immediately after the civil war—in fact, during the entire epoch in which the south was in the grip of reconstruction—the Negro did not give rise to the same problems that he does to-day; that is to say, the fact that he was a Negro was not the fundamental element in the situation; at that time, the problem most in the minds of southerners was the presence of the reconstructionists and the reconstruction governments, and the Negro was feared only because he was the tool and the weapon of the latter. But with the gradual rehabilitation of southern political liberties and the reestablishment of stable local governments, the period of economic and social expansion began in the south, and southern men, freed from the necessity of combating ceaselessly for political life and social integrity, set about developing the long neglected natural resources of the country. With this change in conditions and this alteration of profound interests there came a change in the status of the various groups forming the southern social organism. And the Negro, no longer a political bête noire, began to come to attention in a more normal way as an organic member of society; and southerners, secure in their hard-won political and social ascendancy, began to be interested in him as a Negro and to attempt to bring about his better adaptation to southern social institutions. This attempt on the part of southerners to help the Negro adapt himself to southern social conditions has a peculiar significance to the average southern man; it implies an attempt to increase the social efficiency and the economic value of the Negro rather than his elevation to a higher social rank. Thus, in the thought of the average southerner, the uplift of the Negro has a radically different significance, usually, from that which it has in the thought of those living outside the south, who do not altogether understand southern social conditions.

First and foremost, the southern man is interested in raising the economic value of the Negro. To accomplish this various means have been adopted, all designed to train the Negro in things of practical usefulness. Concomitantly, the churches and philanthropical institutions are working toward the same end by attempting to teach the Negroes