News & Politics

The Wages of Whiteness


Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.

April 13, 1960, Vol. V, No. 25

The Last Chance

There is a curious notion abroad that the colored peoples of the world are waiting to learn how much equality we are going to give them. This misreading of reality can only have the dire consequences it deserves.

If any group of whites – from real-estate operators to supporters of apartheid – think they can stop the movement toward equality anywhere in the world for more than a quick moment, they are arrogating to themselves an authority they have irretrievably lost. What might in the past have been a gift is today a debt long overdue.

Wisdom should advise us to divest ourselves of the vanity that allows us still to believe that we can convert our private prejudices into social custom, our private sickness into “our way of life.”

Further, in terms of the crudest realism, it must be obvious that the weapon of racialism in all its small and large manifestations must now be rooted out. If not, it will surely be the very instrument of our own destruction. The signs of this are beginning to appear. After all, there is nothing inherently superior in the color “white” that can prevent it from becoming a badge of inferiority.

If the moral and material resources of the whites are not used at this point in history enthusiastically to advance the cause of the colored peoples, there will never be a second chance to build one sane world.

The picket lines, indeed, march for us all.

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]


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