The haunting flow of Crisis' October 2014 "The Children's Number" issue (Blog 4/8)

Something I kept looking for when I first started studying "The Children's" issue of Crisis was an explanation for the baby photos. That didn't readily appear, but it didn't take too long to see the pattern once I started paying attention to the order of the content itself. 

This issue starts off normally, but there is a noticeable amount of content dedicated to fathers, mothers, and the protection and advancement of children. Pages 275-276 for example feature two small stories about two notably charitable people known for their contributions to child protection and advancement. The "Lynching" article in the "Opinions" portion on pages 279-281 includes a story about a Black man enacting justice on a 17-year-old white boy for raping his 12-year-old niece: "If the boy had been arrested and tried in any white man's court it is not conceivable that he would have been sent to pay the penalty for his crime and his death should be looked upon as a blessing to the community which he lived" (281). "Mothers in Council" on page 285 is a story about a group of philanthropic and altruistic Black women centering their efforts around kindergartens, orphanages, and nurseries. By now, these articles have created a kind of domestic safe place for children, offering protection, education, justice, and nurturing. 

"Of the Children of Peace" on page 289 starts out promising enough with the story-time framework of the first paragraph, but it transforms into something grotesque and uncomfortable. Coupled with real-life photos of babies, toddlers, and children, these harsh depictions where children are stripped from their protectors grasp to be "strangled and crushed and maimed and murdered" contrast greatly the previous stories (289-290). I wonder if this, along with the terrifying wartime backdrop both in the story and in real life, amounts to an effect the exact opposite of what Keene's article explains. While the propaganda mentioned in Keene's article sought to reconcile the government and black communities in the interest of war efforts, this issue relies less on propaganda--less on the war for that matter--and more on the importance of protecting children and what happens to them when their fathers/guardians/providers are sent off to fight and die in a war, leaving their families behind to ration cornmeal, skip meals, and work 6 days a week in the name of patriotism.

In ordering this issue the way that it was, the impact of “Of the Children of Peace” is made all the more spine-chilling with the presence of baby photos and the previously established ‘safe space’ that was ultimately compromised.




I also found myself seeking answers to the baby pictures as I was reading. When Dr. Drouin described this as the "children's issue," I was imagining that it was like a special issue, almost like a Highlights Magazine version of The Crisis with content geared toward an adolescent crowd. I actually re-checked that I was reading the correct issue! I quickly realized that it was the pictures that "for the kids" is different than "for the kids," and I should have been interpreting it as "on behalf of the children." You are right that the content does build to that powerful end. Our focus in reading has been seeing the faces of children throughout the states, seeing how they are beautiful and innocent, and then finishing strong with: “Surely we can find in the faces of these children, not simply argument against war, but argument against the greatest modern cause of war,— race prejudice” (300). In juxtaposing these forms of war, backdropped with the content of the issue until this point, it feels, as you say, "spine-chilling" to imagine fathers, brothers, uncles leaving one war (the one they fight daily on behalf of their families and children) for another (on behalf of a country who does not seem to care for their rights at all). In that light, entering war for the USA looks like the ultimate betrayal.