THEODORE ROOSEVELT ON THE WHITE MAN'S BURDEN
|Roosevelt on Safari (1909-1910)|
President Roosevelt believed in the white man's burden. His knowledge that whites were the natural born leaders of the human species caused him to believe God had laid upon us the incredible responsibility of teaching and guiding the "backward races."
In a 1905 speech, Roosevelt told a group of white Americans that by improving the moral behavior of the black man, the white race could rise even higher, but that if the white race sunk to destroying and abusing the Negro they would debase themselves in the process.
'Lincoln and the Race Problem'
New York City Republican Club
February 13th 1905
Every generous impulse in us revolts at the thought of thrusting down instead of helping up such a man. To deny any man the fair treatment granted to others no better than he is to commit a wrong upon him - a wrong sure to react in the long run upon those guilty of such denial.
The only safe principle upon which Americans can act is that of "all men up," not that of "some men down." If in any community the level of intelligence, morality, and thrift among the colored men can be raised, it is, humanly speaking, sure that the same level among the whites will be raised to an even higher degree; and it is no less sure that the debasement of the blacks will in the end carry with it an attendant debasement of the whites.
The problem is so to adjust the relations between two races of different ethnic type that the rights of neither be abridged nor jeopardized; that the backward race be trained so that it may enter into the possession of true freedom while the forward race is enabled to preserve unharmed the high civilization wrought out by its forefathers.
The working out of this problem must necessarily be slow; it is not possible in offhand fashion to obtain or to confer the priceless boons of freedom, industrial efficiency, political capacity, and domestic morality. Nor is it only necessary to train the colored man; it is quite as necessary to train the white man, for on his shoulders rests a well-nigh unparalleled sociological responsibility. It is a problem demanding the best thought, the utmost patience, the most earnest effort, the broadest charity, of the statesman, the student, the philanthropist; of the leaders of thought in every department of our national life. The Church can be a most important factor fin solving it aright. But above all else we need for its successful solution the sober, kindly, steadfast, unselfish performance of duty by the average plain citizen in his everyday dealings with his fellows.
Many of Roosevelt's predictions have come true. In 1960, when blacks were still being regulated by whites under segregation, the black illegitimacy rate was only 23%. With the end of segregation, however, those rates began to rise. Today, black illegitimacy stands at an astounding 73%! The debasement of blacks parallels that of whites. In 1960, the white illegitimacy rate was only 2.3%. Today, it stands at 29%.
White Americans need to take up the white man's burden once more. Not only to improve the lot of other races, but to fulfill a responsibility to God and our people.