The title of this work is sufficiently explicit, I take it, to
leave no room for doubt as to its general character, though there
is a disposition in some quarters to use other terms than negro to
designate that class of our people derived from African origin. For
ordinary purposes, the inhabitants of this country may be fairly
divided into white and colored classes. Nevertheless, such racial
grouping is neither an exact nor a true ethnological designation of
the American people, for the reason that it does not agree with
known facts. For example, many persons of negroid ancestry, but
white in color, are classed with the white race in communities
ignorant of their negro origin. On the other hand, many Italians,
Portuguese, Mexicans, and Indians, are dark complexioned, but
without the least strain of negro blood. Therefore, as there is
such a thing as a distinctively negro people, and as it is in
indisputable evidence that the American freed people were primarily
derived from a genuine negro stock, there is ample warrant for
using the terms negro and negroid in designating the person, as
well as the forms of thought and action, characteristic of the
descendants of such ancestors. The normal color of the negro is
black, but that color is neither his exclusive property nor his
only hue. As a matter of fact, variant shades of color are found in
his racial existence. Hence, neither the phrase, "negro people,"
nor its kindred appellatives, as employed in these pages, are to be
understood as invariably implying a black segment of mankind, but
rather as a uniform designation of a pronounced set of
characteristics, specifically exemplified in the physical, mental,
and moral qualities of a type of humanity. Color, then, apart from
defined negroid characteristics, in nowise enters into the
questions under consideration, though the characteristics
themselves are manifest in white, black, yellow, brown, and other
variable tints of racial color. My contentions on this point are
that any man, of whatever hue, who exhibits the characteristic
traits which I shall hereafter describe is a negro; otherwise, he
is not. For example, I have some relatives who are fair in color,
but negroes in every sense of the word, and other relatives, who,
though dark in complexion, are in other respects comparatively free
from negro idiosyncrasies. I have also personal knowledge of many
individuals, representing all shades of color, who are manfully
engaged in a struggle to free themselves from all visible trace of
racial traits. Having submitted these observations, I hope to have
made it clear that this contribution to American sociology deals in
a fundamental sense with specific traits of character, and with
color only in so far as it is incidental to ethnological
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