Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"Keeping The Troubles"

Booker T. Washington's Up From Slavery is one of the classics of black literature--a very Horatio Alger story of how hard work and good character were rewarded, even for a black kid who was born a slave, and grew up in the South after the Civil War.  I recently ran into something else quite interesting in Booker T. Washington's My Larger Education: Being Chapters From My Experience (1911):

There is another class of coloured people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs — partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do do not want to lose their jobs.
A story told me by a coloured man in South Carolina will illustrate how people sometimes get into situations where they do not like to part with their grievances. In a certain community there was a coloured doctor of the old school, who knew little about modern ideas of medicine, but who in some way had gained the confidence of the people and had made considerable money by his own peculiar methods of treatment. In this community there was an old lady who happened to be pretty well provided with this world's goods and who thought that she had a cancer. For twenty years she had enjoyed the luxury of having this old doctor treat her for that cancer. As the old doctor became — thanks to the cancer and to other practice — pretty well-to-do, he decided to send one of his boys to a medical college. After graduating from the medical school, the young man returned home, and his father took a vacation. During this time the old lady who was afflicted with the "cancer" called in the young man, who treated her; within a few weeks the cancer (or what was supposed to be the cancer) disappeared, and the old lady declared herself well.
When the father of the boy returned and found the patient on her feet and perfectly well, he was outraged. He called the young man before him and said: "My son, I find that you have cured that cancer case of mine. Now, son, let me tell you something. I educated you on that cancer. I put you through high school, through college, and finally through the medical school on that cancer. And now you, with your new ideas of practising medicine, have come here and cured that cancer. Let me tell you, son, you have started all wrong. How do you expect to make a living practising medicine in that way?"
I am afraid that there is a certain class of race problem solvers who don't want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public.
Now you know why Al Sharpton keeps the race hustling racket going.


  1. That book says the things that if we said them we would be called Nazis, Klansmen or worse!

    But it does hit the nail on the head. If a true Black Messiah (hint that sure ain't Obama) came along Al, Jesse, Barry, et. al. would crucify him for taking away their racket!

    I'm assuming that those books are NOT required reading in any Black Studies program....or if they are then they are viewed negatively...

  2. There is a possibility that I will teach a black history class in the next several semesters; if I do, I may well include this excerpt from Washington, along with excerpts by his ideological opponent, W.E.B. DuBois.

  3. Hey listen, pal! I'm a Super-Hero! I don't want to stop crime. I just
    want to fight it.
    -- The Tick

  4. "If a true Black Messiah (hint that sure ain't Obama) came along Al, Jesse, Barry, et. al. would crucify him for taking away their racket!"

    A true Black Messiah did come along, and he was crucified. He goes by the name of Bill Crosby.