J.R. Johnson

The Negro Question

(27 January 1940)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. IV No. 4, 27 January 1940, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The Anti-Lynch Bill will now go before the Senate. The S.W.P. must tirelessly work, by itself and with all other organizations, in order to bring all possible pressure upon the Senate to pass it. The working class movement must make this cause its own. It is the working class that will check and finally put an end to lynching. Only an idiot can fail to see that if the capitalist class wanted to put an end to it, it would have taken adequate steps long ago.

The Southern landowners and their satellites try to make out that lynching is the only safeguard for the “purity” of their women from Negro assault. Lie No. 1. Of four thousand cases of lynching during the last fifty years, in only one-fifth were the Negroes even charged with any sort of assault on white women. And how flimsy most of their charges were, the Scottsboro case proves.

But these very advocates of lynching, for that is what they are who oppose the anti-lynching bill, are the same odious hypocrites who will tell you how the Southern slave-owners went off to war and left their wives and children in the safekeeping of faithful slaves. So that, according to these theoreticians, the Negro’s appetite for white women began with Lincoln’s proclamation of the abolition of slavery. This is high science. But slavery has been abolished in other parts of the world. Where in any part of America, North and South and the West Indian islands, has any sort of lynch law been found necessary to protect white womanhood? Nowhere.

In the West Indies, where slavery has been abolished for one hundred years, there is not, as far as we know, one single case, not one, of assault upon a white woman by a Negro. Sir Harry Johnston, the great traveler, has put on record what is common knowledge, that the women of the comparatively small white population in the West Indies walk anywhere at any time among the Negro people with the utmost safety. And this Englishman states that a white woman can walk in the remote parts of the West Indies with far more safety than she can on some of the downs and the quieter country places of Great Britain.

Do Glands Change in the South?

And the Negro in the North and West and East of America? What transformation in his glands takes place that allows him to meet any number of women in the parks and lonely places on the outskirts of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles and not give vent to the uncontrollable lusts which are supposed to dominate him in the South?

No, let us once and for all chase from civilized society this monstrous myth, and wherever we speak, not only meet the question if it is raised, but bring it out into the open and show it up for the lying fraud that it is. No man knew more about Africa than Sir Harry Johnston. This was his conclusion on Negroes and white women:

“There is, I am convinced, a deliberate tendency in the Southern States to exaggerate the desire of the Negro for a sexual union with white women ... A few exceptional Negroes in West and South Africa, and in America, are attracted towards a white consort, but almost invariably for honest and pure-minded reasons, because of some intellectual affinity or sympathy. The mass of the race, if left free to choose, would prefer to mate with women of its own type. When cases have occurred in the history of South Africa, South-West, East and Central Africa, of some great Negro uprising, and the wives and daughters of officials, missionaries and settlers have been temporarily at the mercy of a Negro army, or in the power of a Negro chief, how extremely rare are the proved cases of any sexual abuse arising from this circumstance! How infinitely rarer than the prostitution of Negro women following on some great conquest of the whites or of their black or yellow allies! I know that the contrary has been freely alleged and falsely stated in histories of African events; but when the facts have been really investigated, it is little else than astonishing that the Negro has either had too great a racial sense of decency, or too little liking for the white women (I believe it to be the former rather than the latter) to outrage the unhappy white women and girls temporarily in his power ...”

Lynching Not a Sex Question

Among very highly developed urban people, particularly writers, artists, revolutionaries, intellectuals, stage-people, one finds a tendency towards interracial sexual relationships, but it is precisely among the large masses of workers or farmers that such tendencies are absent. When rapes do occur, they are the result of artificially stimulated mass hysteria working on the embittered imagination of a few subnormal, individuals. When they do occur – because over and over again, white women in the South, when their illicit relations with Negroes are discovered, either through fear or external pressure, raise the cry of Rape.

Lynching is not a sexual question, but a social and political question. Marxists have not only to know that themselves. They must propagate it with as much assiduousness and energy as the Southerners propagate their lies about the Negro’s desire for white women.

Last updated on 16 July 2018