N.A.A.C.P. Advertisement Showing War Struggles of African Americans

The "Our Soldiers" section of an advertisment for the N.A.A.C.P on pages 75-76 posted in Vol. 16, No. 2 (the June 1st, 1918 issue) of The Crisis shows the discrimination and lack of respect that many African Americans dealt with. Many African American volunteers were relegated to the "'service' battalions" or forced to be "servadors and common laborers" instead of being allowed to fight. Many faced discrimination and suspicion, with the Crisis suggesting that some were being wrongfully accused or punished very harshly. The N.A.A.C.P. shows that they're fighting more than just physically by mentioning an attempt to get a Secretary to keep a Colonel from being retired, and talking about an ongoing case involving the arrest of a regiment of African American soldiers. Just getting volunteers into the military also seems to be an issue. African Americans sometimes weren't allowed to be in the same training camp as their white peers, and were forced to make and go to their own. "Railroad discrimination" is also mentioned, showing that transportation was made a problem for African Americans as well. Overall, both a general lack of respect and discrimination made life in the military difficult for African American soldiers, but the N.A.A.C.P. retains a hopeful tone throughout - you can see that they think things are getting better.

African American issues brought out by the article," The Late Major Walker"

In the magazine, "The Crisis", Vol. 16, No. 2 made on June 1st 1918, edited by Du Bois, and W.E Burghardt, an article titled,"The Late Major Walker" on page seventy-seven describes the life of James Walker before his death serving the military and some issues that blacks faced in World War One. The article goes on to talk about where he graduated, then becoming a principle for twenty four years. It then goes on to talk about his service in the military, in which he became First Lieutenant, then Captain, and then Major and his task was to guard the White House. He became sick and died at Fort Bayard. This then leads to one of the issues of African American people as even though he was a Major, he did not receive a proper military burial. This could speak to the racist tendencies of society at the time, even in World War One America. This article is also a good example of how the African American people strive to be patriotic and to prove themselves comes with how the Major taught patriotism in schools. His teaching helped a lot of kids along the way in that part of their adolescence. This aarticle overall speaks to the humanity of the African American people and how they strive for patriotism and signs of racial discrimination, in one article detailing the life of Major Walker.

African American Struggles during WWI

During World War I, African Americans were invested in fighting the war to gain the right to vote, however, their efforts led to a rise in racism concerning the recognition of their efforts as soldiers. In Vol. 16 No. 2 of The Crisis, from June 1918, an article called "The Looking Glass" contains a story under the subheading "The Awakening South," which provides a clear example of Americans' failure to recognize African American efforts for the war. In Albany, Georgia, some women decided to create "a service flag bearing a star for every white Albanian who has entered the military," not including the African American soldiers as well (69). The women are discrediting the African American men who enlisted because they do not want to recognize the effort that they have contributed to fighting. African Americans are more "patriotic" than ever at this point, and by devaluing them by not recognizing their worth as soldiers, the white ladies in Albany are displaying how racist the South is.

Under another subheading of "The Looking Glass," "The Negro Soldier," the author claims that African Americans "responded more universally and cheerfully" to enlisting than "the white men," confirming the patriotism that they felt during the war (68). They saw the war as a fight for equality, explaining why they were so eager to fight it; however, the white Americans disregarded everything that the African Americans worked for. Even though the African American community at the time wanted to fight for their equality, they would not receive it until decades later.

Issues Facing African Americans in WWI

   While African Americans faced lots of problem in American society at this time, these problems also carried into the war. Inside The Crisis Vol. 16 No. 2 published June 1st, 1918, the article "A Sonnet to Negro Soldiers" on page 64 helps show the problems faced by African Americans going into WWI. Many continued to face discrimination in training camps, but they also wanted to rise "from the blows cast down the thorn Of Prejudice" (64). By signing up for the military, many African Americans wished to show the patriotism and respect they have. They hoped to earn respect that would remove prejudice and give them more rights. While serving, many African Americans also wished to be "a glorious sign," for the other African Americans back home and give them hope of a brighter future. Those who didn't go to war also held hope that the African Americans that did will cause things to change socially for the better. Unfortunately, many of the prejudices held by society will continue for years after WWI which is disappointing when looking back upon this issue.

Racism in Modernist Magazines

It could be surprisingly difficult to find items discussing racism (or lack of it) in modernist magazines. Interestingly, it was also more difficult to find articles centered around black people than I anticipated; I found a lot more articles on other races. I found a decent amount of material in The Masses and The New Age, however. Both Volume 1, No. 7 of The New Age (article "A New Outlook in India") and Volume 6, No. 3 of The Masses ("Race Nonsense Again") had articles against racism. 

Both A New Outlook in India and Race Nonsense Again use a mixture of pathos, logos, and ethos. A New Outlook in India argues its case by using mostly logos and a little pathos, throwing out enough facts, figures, and names to overwhelm the reader. It also tries to make the reader feel pity for the Indians under Britain's rule by talking about how hopeless it's gotten, and makes its point (that the Secretary of State is to blame) by directing the audience's frustration and anger at them. Race Nonsense Again uses mainly pathos and a little ethos. The author tries inciting the audience by talking about the slurs and insults used against the "negroid" black Portuguese. The author also uses ethos by discrediting and insulting their opponent, implying that the generalizations made in the article show that the author of the article they're talking about is incompetent.

Brief Rhetorical Analysis of "British West African Association"

Unlike women's issues, issues of race are avoided in most modernist magazines. However, in a letter to the editor of New Age, Vol. 8 No. 10, H. O. Newland appeals to the editor's pathos by affirming that the West African Natives deserve to be educated by the British Empire. Newland displays a colonizer mindset, which he also wants the editor to agree with. He begins his letter by stating that the British West African Association was formed to "further the interests- educational, political, and commerical- of the West African Colonies" (237). He believes that the West Africans need to be civilized and educated, in turn, claiming that they need pity from Britain. Further, Newland states that there is a British "ignorance" concerning the education of the Africans and that they all should be educated, not just the coastal natives. Newland resorts to making the editor question whether he was ignorant to the issue as well, further driving his emotional response to the issue. Newland wants the editor to inform other readers about the poor African natives, driving the effort to colonize them, as he claims the letter is an "invit[ation] to help" (237). By displaying the natives as helpless to educate themselves, Newland effectively displays the British empire as the "White Savior," as well as convinces the editor that the association needs help and support to educate them.

Rhetorical Analysis of Race in Modernist Magazines

            Like feminism, the topic of race also had a large impact on modernism, and this is evident within both Coterie no. 4 published April 1st, 1920, edited by Chaman Lall and in The Wide World Magazine vol. 25 no. 146 published June 1st, 1910, edited by Andrew Pitt-Kethley. Through the entries “An African Love Song” by Charles Beadle and “Travel and Adventure on African Borderlands” by Lieut.-Colonel R. G. T. Bright, C. M. G., of the Rifle Brigade, it is evident that there was mixed reception to those with a darker skin tone or of different culture. By showing the culture of Africans, these articles embrace the different culture, but diction choices bring into question the sincerity of these praises.

            Charles Beadle describes infatuation using African related similes that can feel awkward and R. G. T. Bright describes his positive experience in Africa using degrading diction at times. As he describes a woman’s beauty, Beadle compares her body to “a young giraffe” or even “small ant-hills,” which are understandable, but makes the reader feel uneasy (Beadle 21). Comparing beauty to nature is not a new concept, but typically animals or anthills aren’t used in these similes. These objects of comparison are generally not though of as beautiful which makes the comparison awkward on top of the feeling of cultural appropriation. R. G. T. Bright, on the other hand, describes his experience in Fort Portal “memorable” and how he is thankful for the experience, but he also mentions how the ceremony was “semi-barbaric” and one fashion style as “grotesque” (Bright 169-172). While Bright does appreciate the culture and is thankful for the kindness he was offered, his more offensive word choices counteract his previous praise. The environment and culture of Africans was curiously shown and could have been sincere if some diction was chosen to be less offensive.

Works Cited

Bright, R. G. T. “Travel and Adventure on African Borderlands.” The Wide World Magazine, 1 June 1910, https://modjourn.org/issue/bdr472761/

Beadle, Charles. “An African Love Song.” Coterie, 1 April 1920, https://modjourn.org/issue/bdr456288/

 

 

Feminism in The Masses

                 Feminism had heavy influence on modernist works and this is evident even in magazines that are not specifically targeting this subject. While The Masses mainly tackled worker’s rights and socialist problems, it also has feminism in some of it works. Notably, The Masses vol. 1 no. 12 edited by Horatio Winslow published December 1st, 1911, and The Masses vol. 4 no. 10 edited by Max Eastman published Augus 1st, 1913. In vol. 1 no. 12 of The Masses, Winslow writes his own piece titled The Cheapest Commodity on the Market where he talks about how women are unfairly treated as exchangeable goods. After describing how jewels may be fine but serve no practical uses, Winslow claims how women are “the cheapest commodity on the market. You can buy ten women for the price of a good ruby” (Winslow 5). This argument is justified through logos for it is logical that rubies serve no practical purpose and that women can do more than rubies. Yet rubies are valued higher and held with more respect than women despite the differences. Even in vol. 4 no. 10 of The Masses, there is a poem title Any City written by Louis Untermeyer that similarly shows how women are objectified without trying. He describes a woman casually walking but she is “[l]uring, without a lure; She is man’s hunger and prey – His lust and its hideous cure” (Untermeyer 25). Though she is just walking, she cannot escape the judgements of a patriarchal society and how men see her as an object for desire. This compares similarly to the aforementioned ruby, but the tone here implies the immorality of this mindset. While both pieces of media explain it differently, both of them shun the idea of objectifying women into expendable scrap.

Evaluating The Chastity of Women in The Egoist

In Vol. 1 No. 3 of the Egoist (shown in February 2nd, 1914) there's an article in the Views and Comments section called The Chastity of Women, written by an unknown author. It is reviewing Christabel Plankhurst's book, The Great Scourge and How to End It. The book itself is about the "scourge" of syphilis and gonorrhea in London, usually spread through prostitutes. The book claims that one of the two ways to keep the "scourge" from spreading is to make men adopt the same sexual habits as women - that is, they should be chaste. I happen to agree with the review, which cites this fix as shortsighted and probably not that effective. The reviewer makes a wonderful point about how chastity is relative, and how "sex" takes so many different forms that it's ridiculous to expect everyone to follow a single one of them. While, technically speaking, forcing everyone to be truely "chaste" would solve STD spreading, it is a shortsighted solution. But the reviewer doesn't seem very interested in discussing the realities of trying to enforce such a policy, or the potential issues that arise when both sides of a then-typical marriage (that's expected to result in a few kids) have no idea what they're doing (or, at least, have all their experience second-hand from literature and gossip). Instead, the reviewer quickly devolves into an objectively interesting discussion about purity in women and what "purity" even means and how it relates to women's relationship with men that does little to expand upon the original points raised by the author. In conclusion, though the reviewer initially writes down some excellent points, the review doesn't argue its claim very well; the lack of expanding on those points and the expansion into another area that (though related and interesting) doesn't do much to keep the review focused means that the review's argument is long, winding, and not very effective.

Evaluating, "Rebuke" in Good Housekeeping Magazine

In the text, "Rebuke" by L. H. W in the modernist magazine, "Good Housekeeping Magazine" Vol. 51, No 2, made in August first 1910 on page one hundred twenty-seven, it ineffectively displays a social situation in that time period. The passage briefly talks about how a old Clergy-men on the way back from a vacation is trying to help a thirteen or fourteen year old girl with boredom after they are being transported for over a day. In the text itself, it describes this benevolent clergyman, that could not bear this young girl looking out of a window for twenty-four hours by trying to give her something to read. It is a confusing message as the only thing that comes out of the story was the man asking,"Wouldn't you like something to read?" And then the girl obstinately reacted with,"She drew herself up stiffly."(modjourn). It is hard to describe the exact subtext of the story as it is so short, and the same time the actual message of the story. The author seems to be claiming that the Clergy men is being rejected from helping the girl even though he had good intentions. It could be assumed that the social context would be that a young girl by herself traveling is not a good situation for her, and that she seems to be distrusting of the clergyman. It is ineffective in it confusing presentation, and the shortness being a downfall of the story whether that be the author's fault or not, still hinders the narrative of the story as a whole. Maybe there is a underlying societal context that is needed to understand the text more clearly at a first glance, but looking at it through a more modern lens through the lack of knowledge makes it difficult.

Citation

“Modernist Journals: GOOD Housekeeping. VOL. 51, No. 2.” Edited by James Eaton Tower, Modernist Journals | Good Housekeeping. Vol. 51, No. 2, https://modjourn.org/issue/bdr472197/.

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