Race

A Voyant Perspective of The Crisis and The Egoist

I compared two magazines, The Crisis and The Egoist. The Crisis is always an interesting magazine to look at because of its vast amount of magazine issues and its distinction as an NAACP house magazine that acted as a voice for the black community of America in the racially turbulent times of the 20th century. I wanted to compare it to The Egoist because though The Egoist put a focus on the promotion of modernist literature, according to MJP, it also continued in the vein of The Freewomen by addressing social and philosophical issues. I thought that perhaps The Egoist would discuss issues surrounding race in its social or political discussions. 

I decided to search these magazines for race-related words such as "colored" "negro" and "nigger." Not surprisingly, "colored" and "negro" are among the most frequently used words in The Crisis. "Colored"  and "negro" are almost always among the top five most distinctive words in each issue of The Crisis.

My word trend search of "Nigger" showed me that it is rarely used more than once per issue by The Crisis and from looking at its usage in context; I was able to determine it was never reflected as as an appropriate title for black people. 

The results from my search for race-related words in The Egoist were surprising. Though the magazine's most frequently used words are "life" and "man," hardly any mention is made of the "colored" man or the lives of a negro or negroes. "Colored" was not once used in reference to a person or people, and "negro" was used less than 15 times in the entire corpus and never used more than twice in an issue. "Nigger" was used twice in the entire corpus and it was difficult to tell from the context whether the writer using it was regarding it as an appropriate title for a black person or not. 

I wanted to look at the word usage of these words in the corpus containing all nine magazines, but I couldn't get the download to work.  I assume however that the majority of the usage of these words would be found in The Crisis.  

The Crowds in BLAST and The Crisis

As Peppis says in his article, the Vorticists "fight for a future in which Britannia rules not only waves, markets, and industry, but culture as well" (131).  Peppis's reading of BLAST II, specifically Lewis's "The Crowd Master," parallels a similar thematic presence regarding crowds in The Crisis.  "Lewis's text defines participation in a crowd as a state in which more primitive instincts subdue the promptings of reason," Peppis argues, and "participation in a crowd is an 'anesthetizing' of self that can inspire persons willingly to die for country" (111).  BLAST II blurs the strict boundaries between individual and community (crowd), which he established in BLAST I.  This Blast negotiates with community while trying to maintain the Vorticist's intellectual ivory tower.  In "Artists and the War," Lewis suggests, "The Public should not allow its men of art to die of starvation."  Here, he almost reaches out to the public for patronage.  He, then, distances himself from this implicit requests, somewhat passive-agressively, as he states, "But as the English Public lets its artists starve in peace time, there is really nothing to be said."  Peppis's argument and Lewis's "Artist in the War" reveal Lewis's, perhaps only momentary, contemplation of cooperatingpublicly.   

 

The June, 1918 issue of The Crisis similarly creates a tense negotiation between individual and public.  Du Bois positions the "Foreign" and "Ghetto" sections of "The Horizon" beside each other.  These news bulletins juxtapose foreign and domestic events for African Americans, creating a dialogue about race and war.  One item in the report recognizes Corporal V. E. Johns Lee for "conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty... Under heavy shell fire, he remained on duty at his post in a particularly exposed position."  Although the report mentions that Lee was with "the advanced troops" (or, the avant-garde), the article heightens the sense of his isolation by naming only him among the other members.

On the same page, in the "Ghetto" section, Dubois lists the lynchings that had taken place since the last recording.  These reports do not go into detail, but, I think, all lynchings carry connotations of mob madness/the crowd and individual isolation.  In Poplarville, Miss., "Claud Singleton, [was] hanged."  He "was accused of murdering a white man.  He had been sentenced to life imprisonment."  Du Bois intentionally positions these two sections in order to connect their thematic similarities.  In each report, an individual African American is surrounded by people.  The thematic work of these two reports subvert lynch mobs by making them synonymous with military (Prussian) aggression.      The presumably white lynch mob echoes the attack on Corporal Lee, thus making lynch mobs unpatriotic.  

We're On the Same Side: Unlikely Alliances in WWI Issues of BLAST and The Crisis

Both The Crisis and BLAST evince support for World War I as a general theme. However, both magazines also tie the war to their own existing causes. The Crisis ties fighting the Great War to fighting racism, and asserts that winning the war will mean a better place for African-Americans in society thereafter. BLAST II, meanwhile, claims that the war between England and Germany is a war between modernism and romanticism or passeism, and thus allies itself with the patriotic English cause.

Within The Crisis, World War I is treated as a comeuppance for Germany and the evils of imperialism, as well as an opportunity for African-Americans to show their patriotism and secure a more comfortable role in American society through their service. This is hinted at in the issue of October 1914, but develops to a greater extent in the June 1918 issue. The first issue of The Crisis features two pieces that deal expressly and extensively with the war. 

The first, "Of the Children of Peace," is filled with antiwar sentiment. The author draws a comparison between the pretty rhetoric of wartime bravery with its images of "tall, handsome men, all gold and silver and broadcloth," and the realities of wartime brutality, in which men were "naked and dirty,with sodden, angry, distorted faces... they dragged, not pale and leaden guns, but pale and bounden women" (289). The piece claims that "The cause of War is Preparation for War," and that such preparation is caused by "the Hatred and Despising of Men" (290). Thus, though the piece is an anomaly among the others discussed here in that it finds no good in war at all, comdemning it as destructive and cruel, it ties war to considerations of racism, purporting that war is caused by hatred. 

"WAR" also depicts war as brutal and heartbreaking, with its "smoking houses and ravished daughters" (297). However, unlike the previous piece, which seems to call for an immediate end to war, the author of "WAR" ultimately states that the present war must continue, for though the people mourn their suffering, they also rejoice at the destruction of their enemy. Therefore, the Lord will let the fighting continue, for "As they have sowed/ So shall they reap" (297). Thus, the war is depicted as a necessary evil, which must be endured for the punishment of the nation's enemies. 

 

The June 1918 issue of The Crisis falls more strongly in favor of the war, with no pieces that are discernibly against the war. Moreover, the issue emphasizes the role of African-American soldiers in the war to a far greater extent. 

Within the Editorial section, the magazine not only praises the valiant efforts of black soldiers but claims that as a result of such efforts, "never again will darker people of the world occupy just the place they have before. Out of this war will rise... an American Negro, with the right to vote and the right to work and the right to live without insult" (60). Thus, the writers of The Crisis tie the war against Germany to their own more personal war against racism, both by suggesting they come from common causes, as seen in 1914's "Of the Children of Peace," and by suggesting that winning the Great War will be a victory for racial equality, as seen here. 

 

BLAST, similarly, ties its own efforts to create a Vorticist artistic movement to the war effort, arguing that modernism was allied with England and that the true enemy of both entities was German romanticism. Paul Peppin in his piece "'Surrounded by a multitude of other Blasts': Vorticism and the Great War" argues, "The war against Germany, now cast as the principal foreign enemy of the only true modernist empire, gives the Vorticists a new means of affirming their patriotism" (98). This bears out in an examination of BLAST II's contents.

The Editorial in BLAST II claims that Germany "has stood for the old Poetry...This paper wishes to stand rigidly opposed, from start to finish, to every form that the Poetry of a former condition of life, no longer existing, has foisted upon us... Under these circumstances, apart from national parizanship (sic), it appears to us humanly desirable that Germany should win no war against France or England" (5). The tone of the magazine, here allying modernism with England and France, differs greatly from its treatment of the same in BLAST I:

In BLAST I, two pages from which are displayed above, the authors both Blast and Bless England. They do not explicitly ally themselves with the nation. Rather, they see both modernist and antimodernist things about it. It is only with the coming of war that BLAST ties the cause of modernist art to England and to English victory in the war. 

 

Thus, both The Crisis and BLAST take an overall pro-war stance. However, both do so not just by a show of patriotism, but by tying the pro-war cause to the causes that each magazine is already deeply concerned with: for The Crisis, anti-racist work; for BLAST, the spread of Vorticism.

The "Color Line" and The Crisis

I read The Crisis 1.2 with the intention of looking at the ways the magazine discussed non-white or black people.  The Crisis reads more like a newspaper than the other literary journals I've browsed on the MJP.  Although its rhetoric is more factual than figurative, this issue provides information on what it meant to be "Negro" during 1910.  It also mentions Oklahoma a few times.

The first item I checked out was "Along the Color Line," which functioned as a quick list of various legal, educational, financial, and political activities across the nation that regarded "Negro" citizens.  The title itself refers to an imaginary line that supposedly separates people of color and white people.  Du Bois, the editor of the magazine, seems to use this title to expose the arbitrary and ambiguous ideology of racial identity in America that upholds this separation.  One of the newsclippings refers to "The District Court of Appeals in [DC]... wrestling with the problem of what constitutes 'Negro' under the law" (7).  This non-fictional piece explains how the daughter of Stephen Wall, an employee of the Government Printing Office, was expelled from a public school "on the allegation that the child had one-sixteenth Negro blood in her veins."  The court "fix[ed] the racial status of the girl" with a "vote of 5 to 8" and "she was declared a Negro, 'for school purposes.'"  

The problem of identifying fixed racial statuses emerges in other places in "Along the Color Line."  On the same page, another clipping states, "In Oklahoma judicial decision upholds the grandfather clause, but broadens its application so as to except Indians and certain Negroes from the educational qualification and to include some foreigners."  The grandfather clause was an example of Jim Crow Laws that prevented various people, including some whites, from voting.  This clipping also reveals the attempt to define racial identity as legal processes expand and contract the "color line."  The Opinion section mentions that Native Americans, in some states, were exempted from the  grandfather clause.

In "Talks About Women," Mrs. John E. Milholland argues that progressive women are fighting for the vote in "the same spirit of justice" that made black citizens a "factor in the political affairs of the nation" (28).  She argues, however, that these black voters are obviously not completely free.  The discussion of female suffrage would be mutully beneficial to black male voters and female women wanting to vote because it is "a useful weapon for bringing about not only her own enfranchisement, but also for securing to the Negro of the South the political freedom to which he is justly entitled."  The inclusion of this article seems to suggest that women are on the same side of the color line as black voters.  That's not to say that they share the same experiences entirely, but they nevertheless find their political and social situations a common ground for discussion.

The last item I looked at was a letter "From a Northern White Man."  He writes that he "grew up with a personal repugnance to black folks and Jews.  Since I learned to recognize the groundlessness of all class distinctions I have never come sufficiently close to either Negroes or Jews to entirely rid myself of this physical feelings" (29).  Despite this response, though, he argues that prejudice against other races is the "most persistent" of the white American's "savage traits."  Here, he not only converges Jewishness with blackness [or really Negritude, which the magazine has been actively destabilizing, it seems], but also suggests that savagery, a frequent accusation against African Americans, is a behavior that all people are capable of committing.  This letter attempts to overlook race completely and focus only on actions.  This letter seems to be included for the message it conveys, but it nevertheless reveals the unsurety of racial identity in America.  I'm curious to learn why Jews are so frequently connected with African Americans in The Crisis.  When searching "Jew" in the MJP, 845 of the 854 search results lead back to The Crisis [I didn't actually scroll through each page to double check, but I got decently far].  I'd like to know why Jewishness seems almost completely ignored in the MJP archive by all the magazines except for The Crisis.  How does this relate to the "color line" that W.E.B. Du Bois began to expose?  

 

American Jewishness in Magazines

"The American Jew" by W.E.B. Dubois in The Crisis 24.4, p. 152-152.
                      Content keywords: Jews, "Negroes," race, American, higher education, essay.

"Salutation the Third" by Ezra Pound in Blast #1, p. 45-45.
                      Content keywords: Jews, newness, anti-Semitism, conventionality, poetry.

I chose these items because I'm interested in constructions of Jews and Jewishness in American print culture during the early twentieth century.  Ezra Pound's poem conveys the well-known anti-Semtitic sentiments during modernism.  His poem "blasts" tradition, popular culture, and "smug" conventions, all of which he aligns with Jewishness.  Dubois, on the other hand, considers the Jews' location in America similar to that of the African Americans.  In "The American Jew," Dubois describes the effort of American universities to prevent the admittance of Jewish or black students.  He argues that these two groups do not reflect the idealized "real American," who "must be of English descent or pretend that he is."  Dubois argues that the Jew "is now being objected to for excess of brains and over-keen mentality," while the "Negroe has apparently been objected to for lack of brains and for low culture."  Dubois praises the Eastern European "new" Jew that "refused to forget his blood, his religion, his racial consciousness."  

This fits into my research interests because I would like to see all the different ways that Jewishness was constructed during modernism.  I would like to go beyond the anti-Semitism that has already been discussed and look at ways that Jewishness and American culture converge and co-evolve.        

Nationalism, Race and WWI

by Michal Mechlovitz, Kim Velez, and T. Noelle Williams

Under Construction

The commencement of World War I possessed great influence over national sympathies around the world. From 1914, through the duration of the war in 1919, people's nationalistic identities were strongly affected due to the circumstance of crisis and turmoil that proved rampant throughout the international strata. Not only were feelings swayed in regard to people's own native lands, but they were respectively moved when considering foreign cultures, and the races therein as well. Whether positive, negative, or indifferent, nationalistic and race oriented views became evident throughout the literary and artistic world, which hold true to be apparent in Blast, The New Age, The Owl, Poetry, Scribner's, and Wheels magazines. Each of these literary magazines had published issues at some point during the war itself, (some had existed before and after the fact as well,) and each possess context that, while unique to the individual, parallels the inner thought process of authors and artists of the era in regard to the subjects of Nationalism and Race in a time when international tensions and weariness of cultural identity thrived.

Prior to the start of the World War I feeling of nationalism could be seen within mangy publications. Within the First issue of Blast the one is exposed to the extreme thoughts of the Manifesto I of Vorticism. The writers combine their thoughts on all countries together and bring their readers their opinions on the how one country compare to another. At first glance the writer seems to criticizes England and France on pages 11-14  describing how naive and they were and set in their ways which did not allow other to succeed in their own light. The narrator disagrees with the Victorian outlook of he English people as vampires who suck the life out of others and police the world so others would not over ride them in any shape or form. England was a machine, which others must obey, if not cursed thoughts that went against it. Once England was blasted for its position of power France was then criticized for set ways as well.

“Complacent young man,
so much respect for Papa
and his son ! –Oh ! Papa
is wonderful: but all papas
are! (pg 13)

The respect for ones country was described through the comparison of a son to his father. The thought process of the French and English people was no country was greater than theirs. The narrator depicts the feeling of nationalism the people held for their countries. Even though he described them as naïve and empty, the land, which they reside, is never wrong in their action only those who surround them are at fault.

Within the Second Manifesto within Blast’s fist issue a combination of writers described how battles are fought on the basis of which side one is on. http://dl.lib.brown.edu/jpegs/1143210060500013.jpg 

“We fight first on one side, then on the other
but always for the same cause, which is
neither side or both sides and ours” (pg 30).

The narrator describes the use of nationalism once again for the reason one fights for any cause within time of war or focal point in that matter. Even with the success of developing new views and strives for equality and peace primitive thoughts still lived on. The cause is not revaluate in many cases due to the face that the cause can not be seen by thoughts who fought. “ Our cause is NO Man’s (pg 35). He then goes on describing how England produces the greatest artist due to the style compare to that of the Americas or Russia ect.. The sense of Nationalism is felt through out the Manifesto when describing the success of the modern world. http://dl.lib.brown.edu/jpegs/1143210160781264.jpg . The Englishmen where thought to have own influenced the European world in modern technology as France on did to the world of Art. The Modern world was the product of Anglo Saxon genius and the success of others could never be compared. 

With in The New Age the reader was overcome with many different aspects of the war and what it brought to the home front. With in the weekly section "Notes of The Week" many of its main focal point was an incite on government issues including nationalism and the conflicts on foreign policy. With in the Feb Issue of "The New Age" 1918 the editor The editor includes a quote which sets the tone for the whole issue. He states “ It is difficult, of course, for good – nature Englishmen such as we will allow our pacifists to be, to conceive that there can exist in modern civilized State  like Prussia a ruling class rhar does not mean weill in their sense of the world” ( Vol XXII No. 17 pg 331). The sense of pride and superiority of Great Britain was felt the thought of was continuation of the article in when discussing the socialist government and the independence of the Ukraine.

  With in the article Land Power or Sea Power Ramiro de Maeztu  in the February 18,1918 issue of New Age the debate between the effectiveness of German army to the armies of Britain, Japan and The United States. The feel of nationalism with in this article is seen when the Maeztu begins to discuss how the aim of the Allies is to prevent Germany from making use of the people of other nations such as the Slav race. Even with the fact that Germany as a result of war expanded and expanded their influence over the slave nations its land power dose not compare to the power brought by the Sea. The Northern armies remained convinced that these armies were able to arrive in time because sailing vessels to move at the speeds five or six times greater than armies which proceeded at the place of an infantry march. Even with Germany’s influence over the Slavic nations and their home front advantage Maeztu still proved his argument of the effectiveness of the English sea power. He praised their tactics and embraced the greatness of  the Allies and Great Britain.
   
The literary magazine Poetry was first published by author and poet Harriet Monroe in 1911. Based out of Chicago, Poetry put hundreds of poetry works into print, with issues published monthly, through the duration of World War I. The magazine appears to take a somewhat pacifist approach towards the war, despite the national cry for disunion from foreign correspondence. In several of the works published in the war's earlier years, the concept of feeling the nationalistic need to separate from foreign races is not only defied, but is somewhat portrayed as ignorant arrogance. In Amy Lowell's poem "The Foreigner", the poet depicts a battle scene from the perspective of a soldier from the opposing end of the war. He discusses how he was ill spoken of by the white natives, but still is certain of his own profound human qualities. The narrator is confident and certain of his cunning, as well as his superiority to the negativity he finds himself the target of. Indeed, he rises above because he is certain he will have the last word: "You Apes! You Jack-Fools!/ You can show me the door,/ And jeer at my ways,/ But you're pinked to the core./ And before I have done,/ I will prick my name in,/ With the front of my steel,/ And your lily- white skin/ Shall be print with me./ For I've come here to win!" Lowell includes a description of the foreigner's unusual attire, as well as his awkward hair, stature, and the shape of his nose. It is clear that she does not see this character as a lesser human being whatsoever, and that she does not necessarily hold a firm belief in the cause of the war, if she should say the opposing end has more courage and advantage.

In the next month's issue, Harriet Monroe includes an editorial commentary titled "The Enemies We Have Made." A note to her fervent subscriber's four years after the first publication of the magazine, and well into the early months of World War I, Monroe's commentary discussed the vitality of friends from various cultures. Monroe discusses her wide international readership base with a grateful tone, one that reads success to her cause. She writes: "From France, Italy, and England, from India, China, and New Zealand, and even from our next-door neighbors, these salutations have come; from poets laurelled and obscure, from editors and critics, classicists and radicals. To all who send them, much thanks; their greetings have power to change paper and ink into flesh and blood." Such an outlook is one that is truly humanist; a sympathizer to all humanity, Monroe puts forth these issues with the need to reach beyond a national level. It is evident in her contribution to Poetry that despite the war, communications and interactions with other cultures and races remain a vital aspect of what makes Poetry thrive. While the war may have affected the contents of the medium of poetry, the intention of it remains universal and cosmopolitan.

The Owl is another literary magazine based out of London from around the same era; however, only three were ever printed, and each of the three printed in a different season four years apart. The first issue was published in 1915, a good year into the war. It is difficult to derive what kind of emotional charge The Owl had towards other races. The magazine itself is filled with poetry of a light-hearted nature, mostly clever bits of optimism, or rhyming, sing song like poems on general topics such as love and nature. It seems as though it's opinion is somewhat ambivalent; in fact, it is stated that the aim of the magazine was not to be political, nor was it geared to any particular Modernist movement. Its purpose was a simple one: to publish and share art. Due to the minimal number of issues, very few works can be found that have any relevance to the issue of race. It is not a particularly well founded theme of The Owl. Still several unusual drawings can be found; one a watercolor called "The Indian", and the other a drawing titled "Gyp." Both works are portraits of people that would seem out of the norm, or somewhat exotic to a youthful poetic magazine from London. Both works possess aspects of these people being foreign; however, neither are viewed in a delicate sense. Both drawings seem only to be studies, an ambiguous observance of a different life than one familiar to artists.

The copies of Scribner's that we have available to us through the MJP fall on interesting dates. The first magazine, dated January 1915, is a year after WWI started and the last issue, dated December 1916, is a year before the US entered combat and three years before the end of the war. From the first issue available the war is a popular issue for the magazine. After wading through many many advertisments - the first and last third of each issue seems to be ads - the reader will find six articles in the first issue alone that deal with the war. One story in this issue, "Coals of Fire" by Mary R.S. Andrew, disscusses the issues of Nationalism verses the Suffragist cause. The main character stands at a suffrage rally agruing for the women to put aside the cause to stand up for the English men who are dying. When an older lady states that the war is not thier cause, she replies "Aren't we English before anything else?" The story illustrates discussions that must have been going on at the time. While some suffragettes believed that England came before the movement others felt they were women above all else. It is an interesting discussion in Nationalism verses the individual.

The magazine Wheels was mainly a way for a few poet friends to publish their work. The magazine was first published just three years before the end of the war and stops running three years after the end. During the war Wheels mentions the war very little if at all, yet its influence, the overall dark and disheartened pitch that the world was in during the war is evident in the poetry that is published in it. One would be hard pressed to find a happy poem in Wheels. For instance the poem, "The Mother" by Edith Sitwell, begins very sweetly, yet with a single line at the end of the second stanza the caring is sucked out of the poem. The poem has waves of sweetness - the care that goes into creating and raising a child - and bitterness - "They live to curse us; and they die." This dark look at motherhood is born out of a world that is losing its sense of humanity which is what many people saw in WWI. Wheels also takes on the war after its end in the issue that is dedicated to Wilfred Owen, a poet who died in battle. The poetry in this issue is full of thoughts against the war and there is no blame placed on any nation nor is there a rally cry to help one. To the poets in Wheels the evil seems to be the war itself.

In some instances the writers of the time saw nationalism as a reason to go to war orto put aside other causes during war, yet we also see that a great deal of writers during the time saw the war as an evil towards the entire human race. For every article found praising the war and calling people towards the war effort, there were three denouncing the war, sometimes within the same article. The authors of the time showed that no matter how much a person loved their country, some things were to atrocious to seam reasonable.