Liberty.me | In pointing out errors and mistakes common among ourselves, I shall run the risk of incurring displeasure; for no people with whom I am acquainted are less tolerant of criticism than ourselves, especially from one of are own number. We have been so long in the habit of tracing our failures and misfortunes to the views and acts of others that we seem, in some measure, to have lost talent and disposition of seeing are own faults, or of seeing ourselves as others see us. And yet no man can do better service to another man than to correct his mistakes, point out his hurtful errors, show him the path of truth, duty and safety.
One of the few errors to which we are clinging most persistently and, as I think, mischievously, has come into great prominence of late. It is the cultivation and simulation among us of a sentiment which we are pleased to call race pride. I find it in all our books, papers, and speeches. For my part I see no superiority or inferiority in race or color. Neither the one nor the other is a proper source of pride or complacency. Our race and color are not of are own choosing. We have no volition in the case one way or another.
The only excuse for pride in individuals or races is the fact of their own achievements. Our color is the gift of the Almighty. We should neither be proud of it or ashamed of it. But we may well enough be proud or ashamed when we ourselves achieved success or have failed of success. If the sun has curled our hair and tanned our skin let the sun be proud of its achievement, for we have done nothing for it one way or the other. I see no benefit to be derived from this everlasting exhortation by the speakers and writers among us to the cultivation of race pride.
On the contrary, I see in it a positive evil. It is building on a false foundation. Besides, what is the thing we are fighting against, and what are we fighting for in this country? What is the mountain, the lion in the way of our progress? What is it, but American race pride; an assumption of superiority upon the ground of race and color? Do we not know that every argument we make, and every pretension we set up in favor of race pride is giving the enemy a stick to break our own heads? Read Entire Article
The Nations Problems (1889)