Friday, February 24, 2012

George S. Schuyler: Portraits of the Writer and His Family

 

Schuyler as a relatively young man, circa 1930


 

Black No More 1989 cover


 

Black Empire cover


 

George Schuyler, photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1941


 

The Schuylers at home in Harlem, 1946, photo shot by Carl Van Vechten

 

Parents kissing Phillipa after a piano recital, mid-to-late 1940s


 

The Schuylers' daughter, Philippa, circa 1950


 

The photograph that accompanied the aging Schuyler's Courier columns, in his last years with the newspaper, when he was in his late sixties and early seventies. Although his hair was white in the phograph, it was an old picture, probably from when he was in his fifties.

 

George S. Schuyler, in a radio studio in his sixties


 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

How Black is It? Renaissance Man George S. Schuyler vs. the Harlem “Renaissance”

By Nicholas Stix

March 7, 2002
Toogood Reports/A Different Drummer

How black is Spike Lee? Are his movies the expression of an authentically black consciousness, or is Lee merely the marionette of the rich, powerful white men in Hollywood pulling his strings?

The questions I posed above regarding black authenticity are based on absurd premises. That is not because I asked the questions of Spike Lee, but because there is no such quality as “racial authenticity.” And of course, if one could question a black’s racial authenticity, one could — indeed, must — ask the same question of whites.

Being black is a matter of skin color, just as being white or oriental is. If blacks did not enjoy a veto right over discussions of race in America, white critics would be able to point out, within the mainstream culture, that all talk of racial authenticity is racist, and on a par with Nazism.

Most Americans assume that talk of “authenticity” and black “roots” began in the 1960s. In fact, this particular plague goes back to 1920s’ Harlem and Greenwich Village.

In the Gospel According to the Civil Rights Movement, the 1920s saw the greatest flowering of black creativity in America’s history. What was then known as the “New Negro Movement,” was later renamed by academics, the “Harlem Renaissance.”

And though racially correct, tenured academics, and racist black writers and editors have for generations airbrushed him out of the picture, George Samuel Schuyler was there, front and center, attacking the dogmas of the “renaissance”:

... the Aframerican is merely a lampblacked Anglo-Saxon. If the European immigrant after two or three generations of exposure to our schools, politics, advertising, moral crusades, and restaurants becomes indistinguishable from the mass of Americans of the older stock (despite the influence of the foreign-language press), how much truer must it be of the sons of Ham who have been subjected to what the uplifters call Americanism for the last three hundred years.

Harlem was the site of a seemingly unlimited supply of race-oriented, literary hack work, as urban negroes sought to plant “roots” in the cracks in the concrete. What black literature professors call a “renaissance,” was creatively speaking, a zombie jamboree. To borrow from the Chris Rock movie, CB4, one black writer after another said, in effect, “I’m black, and I’m black, and I’m black ...,”

One of the most oft-quoted poems of the Black Renaissance is Countee Cullen’s (1903-1946) “Yet Do I Marvel”:

I doubt not G-d is good, well-meaning, kind And did He stoop to quibble could tell why
The little buried mole continues blind,
Why flesh that mirrors Him must some day die,
Make plain the reason tortured Tantalus
Is baited by the fickle fruit, declare
If merely brute caprice dooms Sisyphus
To struggle up a never-ending stair.
Inscrutable His ways are, and immune
To catechism by a mind too strewn
With petty cares to slightly understand
What awful brain compels His awful hand.
Yet do I marvel at this curious thing:
To make a poet black, and bid him sing!”

Customarily, only the last two lines are quoted, and indeed, they are apparently all that mattered to Cullen, for whom the previous twelve lines were mere pretext. Cullen did write some good poetry, but he is revered for his racial hack work.

Langston Hughes (1902-1967), the poster boy for the “Renaissance,” wrote a, um, “poem” in 1924, “Theme for English B,” which today appears in countless literature anthologies:


The instructor said,

“Go home and write
a page tonight.
And let that page come out of you —
Then, it will be true.”

I wonder if it’s that simple?
I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.
I went to school there, then Durham, then here
to this college on the hill above Harlem.
I am the only colored student in my class.
The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem,
through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,
Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y,
the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator
up to my room, sit down, and write this page:

It’s not easy to know what is true for you or me
at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I’m what
I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you:
hear you, hear me — we two — you, me, talk on this page.
(I hear New York, too.) Me — who?
Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.
I like a pipe for a Christmas present,
or records — Bessie, bop, or Bach.
I guess being colored doesn’t make me not like
the same things other folks like who are other races.
So will my page be colored that I write?

Being me, it will not be white.
But it will be
a part of you, instructor.
You are white —
yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.
That’s American.
Sometimes perhaps you don’t want to be a part of me.
Nor do I often want to be a part of you.
But we are, that’s true!
As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me —
although you’re older — and white —
and somewhat more free.

This is my page for English B.

As sophomoric as the preceding exercise — really an essay in poetic drag — may seem, it represented a high point in Langston Hughes’ racial thinking. If at age 22, he realized that a purely “Negro art” was impossible in America, by the time he was 24, he had struck ebony, and was a prominent, “New Negro.” Hughes had by then adopted the view that any black poet not consciously striving to be “black,” was an Uncle Tom.

(Postscript 2011: At some point, a reader informed me that Hughes had actually written the foregoing doggerel over twenty years later than the, er, thing suggests. If that is so, so much the worse for Hughes and his promoters. What could be forgiven as a sophomoric exercise by a 22-year-old, is unforgivable amateurism in a middle-aged “poet.”)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain

By Langston Hughes

1926
THE NATION

(NS: This polemic was commissioned as a rebuttal to George S. Schuyler’s previously published polemic, “The Negro-Art Hokum.”)


One of the most promising of the young Negro poets said to me once, “I want to be a poet--not a Negro poet,” meaning, I believe, “I want to write like a white poet”; meaning subconsciously, “I would like to be a white poet”; meaning behind that, “I would like to be white.” And I was sorry the young man said that, for no great poet has ever been afraid of being himself. And I doubted then that, with his desire to run away spiritually from his race, this boy would ever be a great poet. But this is the mountain standing in the way of any true Negro art in America--this urge within the race toward whiteness, the desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American standardization, and to be as little Negro and as much American as possible.

But let us look at the immediate background of this young poet. His family is of what I suppose one would call the Negro middle class: people who are by no means rich yet never uncomfortable nor hungry--smug, contented, respectable folk, members of the Baptist church. The father goes to work every morning. He is a chief steward at a large white club. The mother sometimes does fancy sewing or supervises parties for the rich families of the town. The children go to a mixed school. In the home they read white papers and magazines. And the mother often says “Don’t be like niggers” when the children are bad. A frequent phrase from the father is, “Look how well a white man does things.” And so the word white comes to be unconsciously a symbol of all virtues. It holds for the children beauty, morality, and money. The whisper of “I want to be white” runs silently through their minds. This young poet’s home is, I believe, a fairly typical home of the colored middle class. One sees immediately how difficult it would be for an artist born in such a home to interest himself in interpreting the beauty of his own people. He is never taught to see that beauty. He is taught rather not to see it, or if he does, to be ashamed of it when it is not according to Caucasian patterns.

For racial culture the home of a self-styled “high-class” Negro has nothing better to offer. Instead there will perhaps be more aping of things white than in a less cultured or less wealthy home. The father is perhaps a doctor, lawyer, landowner, or politician. The mother may be a social worker, or a teacher, or she may do nothing and have a maid. Father is often dark but he has usually married the lightest woman he could find. The family attend a fashionable church where few really colored faces are to be found. And they themselves draw a color line. In the North they go to white theaters and white movies. And in the South they have at least two cars and house “like white folks.” Nordic manners, Nordic faces, Nordic hair, Nordic art (if any), and an Episcopal heaven. A very high mountain indeed for the would-be racial artist to climb in order to discover himself and his people.

But then there are the low-down folks, the so-called common element, and they are the majority---may the Lord be praised! The people who have their hip of gin on Saturday nights and are not too important to themselves or the community, or too well fed, or too learned to watch the lazy world go round. They live on Seventh Street in Washington or State Street in Chicago and they do not particularly care whether they are like white folks or anybody else. Their joy runs, bang! into ecstasy. Their religion soars to a shout. Work maybe a little today, rest a little tomorrow. Play awhile. Sing awhile. 0, let’s dance! These common people are not afraid of spirituals, as for a long time their more intellectual brethren were, and jazz is their child. They furnish a wealth of colorful, distinctive material for any artist because they still hold their own individuality in the face of American standardizations. And perhaps these common people will give to the world its truly great Negro artist, the one who is not afraid to be himself. Whereas the better-class Negro would tell the artist what to do, the people at least let him alone when he does appear. And they are not ashamed of him--if they know he exists at all. And they accept what beauty is their own without question.

Certainly there is, for the American Negro artist who can escape the restrictions the more advanced among his own group would put upon him, a great field of unused material ready for his art. Without going outside his race, and even among the better classes with their “white” culture and conscious American manners, but still Negro enough to be different, there is sufficient matter to furnish a black artist with a lifetime of creative work. And when he chooses to touch on the relations between Negroes and whites in this country, with their innumerable overtones and undertones surely, and especially for literature and the drama, there is an inexhaustible supply of themes at hand. To these the Negro artist can give his racial individuality, his heritage of rhythm and warmth, and his incongruous humor that so often, as in the Blues, becomes ironic laughter mixed with tears. But let us look again at the mountain.

A prominent Negro clubwoman in Philadelphia paid eleven dollars to hear Raquel Meller sing Andalusian popular songs.

But she told me a few weeks before she would not think of going to hear “that woman,” Clara Smith, a great black artist, sing Negro folksongs. And many an upper -class Negro church, even now, would not dream of employing a spiritual in its services. The drab melodies in white folks’ hymnbooks are much to be preferred. “We want to worship the Lord correctly and quietly. We don’t believe in ‘shouting.’ Let’s be dull like the Nordics,” they say, in effect.

The road for the serious black artist, then, who would produce a racial art is most certainly rocky and the mountain is high. Until recently he received almost no encouragement for his work from either white or colored people. The fine novels of Chesnutt’ go out of print with neither race noticing their passing. The quaint charm and humor of Dunbar’s’ dialect verse brought to him, in his day, largely the same kind of encouragement one would give a sideshow freak (A colored man writing poetry! How odd!) or a clown (How amusing!).

The present vogue in things Negro, although it may do as much harm as good for the budding artist, has at least done this: it has brought him forcibly to the attention of his own people among whom for so long, unless the other race had noticed him beforehand, he was a prophet with little honor.

The Negro artist works against an undertow of sharp criticism and misunderstanding from his own group and unintentional bribes from the whites. “Oh, be respectable, write about nice people, show how good we are,” say the Negroes. “Be stereotyped, don’t go too far, don’t shatter our illusions about you, don’t amuse us too seriously. We will pay you,” say the whites. Both would have told Jean Toomer not to write Cane. The colored people did not praise it. The white people did not buy it. Most of the colored people who did read Cane hate it. They are afraid of it. Although the critics gave it good reviews the public remained indifferent. Yet (excepting the work of Du Bois) Cane contains the finest prose written by a Negro in America. And like the singing of Robeson, it is truly racial.

But in spite of the Nordicized Negro intelligentsia and the desires of some white editors we have an honest American Negro literature already with us. Now I await the rise of the Negro theater. Our folk music, having achieved world-wide fame, offers itself to the genius of the great individual American composer who is to come. And within the next decade I expect to see the work of a growing school of colored artists who paint and model the beauty of dark faces and create with new technique the expressions of their own soul-world. And the Negro dancers who will dance like flame and the singers who will continue to carry our songs to all who listen-they will be with us in even greater numbers tomorrow.

Most of my own poems are racial in theme and treatment, derived from the life I know. In many of them I try to grasp and hold some of the meanings and rhythms of jazz. I am as sincere as I know how to be in these poems and yet after every reading I answer questions like these from my own people: Do you think Negroes should always write about Negroes? I wish you wouldn’t read some of your poems to white folks. How do you find anything interesting in a place like a cabaret? Why do you write about black people? You aren’t black. What makes you do so many jazz poems?

But jazz to me is one of the inherent expressions of Negro life in America; the eternal tom-tom beating in the Negro soul--the tom-tom of revolt against weariness in a white world, a world of subway trains, and work, work, work; the tom-tom of joy and laughter, and pain swallowed in a smile. Yet the Philadelphia clubwoman is ashamed to say that her race created it and she does not like me to write about it, The old subconscious “white is best” runs through her mind. Years of study under white teachers, a lifetime of white books, pictures, and papers, and white manners, morals, and Puritan standards made her dislike the spirituals. And now she turns up her nose at jazz and all its manifestations--likewise almost everything else distinctly racial. She doesn’t care for the Winold Reiss’ portraits of Negroes because they are “too Negro.” She does not want a true picture of herself from anybody. She wants the artist to flatter her, to make the white world believe that all negroes are as smug and as near white in soul as she wants to be. But, to my mind, it is the duty of the younger Negro artist, if he accepts any duties at all from outsiders, to change through the force of his art that old whispering “I want to be white,” hidden in the aspirations of his people, to “Why should I want to be white? I am a Negro--and beautiful”?

So I am ashamed for the black poet who says, “I want to be a poet, not a Negro poet,” as though his own racial world were not as interesting as any other world. I am ashamed, too, for the colored artist who runs from the painting of Negro faces to the painting of sunsets after the manner of the academicians because he fears the strange unwhiteness of his own features. An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he must choose.

Let the blare of Negro jazz bands and the bellowing voice of Bessie Smith singing the Blues penetrate the closed ears of the colored near intellectuals until they listen and perhaps understand. Let Paul Robeson singing “Water Boy,” and Rudolph Fisher writing about the streets of Harlem, and Jean Toomer holding the heart of Georgia in his hands, and Aaron Douglas’s drawing strange black fantasies cause the smug Negro middle class to turn from their white, respectable, ordinary books and papers to catch a glimmer of their own beauty. We younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, it doesn’t matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly too. The tom-tom cries and the tom-tom laughs. If colored people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, their displeasure doesn’t matter either. We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how,
and we stand on top of the mountain, free within ourselves.

(Thanks to the folks at Modern American Poetry.)

The Negro-Art Hokum

By George S. Schuyler

June 16, 1926
The Nation 122: 662–3.

(NS: The Nation showed Schuyler’s polemic to Langston Hughes, whom the magazine’s editors then commissioned to write a polemic in response to Schuyler, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain.”)

Negro art “made in America” is as non-existent as the widely advertised profundity of Cal Coolidge, the “seven years of progress” of Mayor Hylan, or the reported sophistication of New Yorkers. Negro art there has been, is, and will be among the numerous black nations of Africa; but to suggest the possibility of any such development among the ten million colored people in this republic is self-evident foolishness. Eager apostles from Greenwich Village, Harlem, and environs proclaimed a great renaissance of Negro art just around the corner waiting to be ushered on the scene by those whose hobby is taking races, nations, peoples, and movements under their wing. New art forms expressing the “peculiar” psychology of the Negro were about to flood the market. In short, the art of Homo Africanus was about to electrify the waiting world. Skeptics patiently waited. They still wait.

True, from dark-skinned sources have come those slave songs based on Protestant hymns and Biblical texts known as the spirituals, work songs and secular songs of sorrow and tough luck known as the blues, that outgrowth of ragtime known as jazz (in the development of which whites have assisted), and the Charleston, an eccentric dance invented by the gamins around the public market-place in Charleston, S. C. No one can or does deny this. But these are contributions of a caste in a certain section of the country. They are foreign to Northern Negroes, West Indian Negroes, and African Negroes. They are no more expressive or characteristic of the Negro race than the music and dancing of the Appalachian highlanders or the Dalmatian peasantry are expressive or characteristic of the Caucasian race. If one wishes to speak of the musical contributions of the peasantry of the south, very well. Any group under similar circumstances would have produced something similar. It is merely a coincidence that this peasant class happens to be of a darker hue than the other inhabitants of the land. One recalls the remarkable likeness of the minor strains of the Russian mujiks to those of the Southern Negro.

As for the literature, painting, and sculpture of Aframericans—such as there is—it is identical in kind with the literature, painting, and sculpture of white Americans: that is, it shows more or less evidence of European influence. In the field of drama little of any merit has been written by and about Negroes that could not have been written by whites. The dean of the Aframerican literati is W. E. B. Du Bois, a product of Harvard and German universities; the foremost Aframerican sculptor is Meta Warwick Fuller, a graduate of leading American art schools and former student of Rodin; while the most noted Aframerican painter, Henry Ossawa Tanner, is dean of American painters in Paris and has been decorated by the French Government. Now the work of these artists is no more “expressive of the Negro soul”—as the gushers put it—than are the scribblings of Octavus Cohen or Hugh Wiley.

This, of course, is easily understood if one stops to realize that the Aframerican is merely a lampblacked Anglo-Saxon. If the European immigrant after two or three generations of exposure to our schools, politics, advertising, moral crusades, and restaurants becomes indistinguishable from the mass of Americans of the older stock (despite the influence of the foreign-language press), how much truer must it be of the sons of Ham who have been subjected to what the uplifters call Americanism for the last three hundred years. Aside from his color, which ranges from very dark brown to pink, your American Negro is just plain American. Negroes and whites from the same localities in this country talk, think, and act about the same. Because a few writers with a paucity of themes have seized upon imbecilities of the Negro rustics and clowns and palmed them off as authentic and characteristic Aframerican behavior, the common notion that the black American is so “different” from his white neighbor has gained wide currency. The mere mention of the word “Negro” conjures up in the average white American’s mind a composite stereotype of Bert Williams, Aunt Jemima, Uncle Tom, Jack Johnson, Florian Slappey, and the various monstrosities scrawled by the cartoonists. Your average Aframerican no more resembles this stereotype than the average American resembles a composite of Andy Gump, Jim Jeffries, and a cartoon by Rube Goldberg.

Again, the Aframerican is subject to the same economic and social forces that mold the actions and thoughts of the white Americans. He is not living in a different world as some whites and a few Negroes would have me believe. When the jangling of his Connecticut alarm clock gets him out of his Grand Rapids bed to a breakfast similar to that eaten by his white brother across the street; when he toils at the same or similar work in mills, mines, factories, and commerce alongside the descendants of Spartacus, Robin Hood, and Erik the Red; when he wears similar clothing and speaks the same language with the same degree of perfection; when he reads the same Bible and belongs to the Baptist, Methodist, Episcopal, or Catholic church; when his fraternal affiliations also include the Elks, Masons, and Knights of Pythias; when he gets the same or similar schooling, lives in the same kind of houses, owns the same Hollywood version of life on the screen; when he smokes the same brands of tobacco and avidly peruses the same puerile periodicals; in short, when he responds to the same political, social, moral, and economic stimuli in precisely the same manner as his white neighbor, it is sheer nonsense to talk about “racial differences” as between the American black man and the American white man. Glance over a Negro newspaper (it is printed in good Americanese) and you will find the usual quota of crime news, scandal, personals, and uplift to be found in the average white newspaper—which, by the way, is more widely read by the Negroes than is the Negro press. In order to satisfy the cravings of an inferiority complex engendered by the colorphobia of the mob, the readers of the Negro newspapers are given a slight dash of racialistic seasoning. In the homes of the black and white Americans of the same cultural and economic level one finds similar furniture, literature, and conversation. How, then, can the black American be expected to produce art and literature dissimilar to that of the white American?

Consider Coleridge-Taylor, Edward Wilmot Blyden, and Claude McKay, the Englishmen; Pushkin, the Russian; Bridgewater, the Pole; Antar, the Arabian; Latino, the Spaniard; Dumas, père and fils,the Frenchmen; and Paul Laurence Dunbar, Charles W. Chestnut, and James Weldon Johnson, the Americans. All Negroes; yet their work shows the impress of nationality rather than race. They all reveal the psychology and culture of their environment—their color is incidental. Why should Negro artists of America vary from the national artistic norm when Negro artists in other countries have not done so? If we can foresee what kind of white citizens will inhabit this neck of the woods in the next generation by studying the sort of education and environment the children are exposed to now, it should not be difficult to reason that the adults of today are what they are because of the education and environment they were exposed to a generation ago. And that education and environment were about the same for blacks and whites. One contemplates the popularity of the Negro-art hokum and murmurs, “How-come?”

This nonsense is probably the last stand of the old myth palmed off by Negrophobists for all these many years, and recently rehashed by the sainted Harding, that there are “fundamental, eternal, and inescapable differences” between white and black Americans. That there are Negroes who will lend this myth a helping hand need occasion no surprise. It has been broadcast all over the world by the vociferous scions of slaveholders, “scientists” like Madison Grant and Lothrop Stoddard, and the patriots who flood the treasure of the Ku Klux Klan; and is believed, even today, by the majority of free, white citizens. On this baseless premise, so flattering to the white mob, that the blackamoor is inferior and fundamentally different, is erected the postulate that he must needs be peculiar; and when he attempts to portray life through the medium of art, it must of necessity be a peculiar art. While such reasoning may seem conclusive to the majority of Americans, it must be rejected with a loud guffaw by intelligent people.

[An opposing view on the subject of Negro art will be presented by Langston Hughes in next week’s issue.]

See also:

"If We Must Die": Claude McKay Limns the "New Negro"

The Harlem Renaissance: Zora Neale Hurston's First Story

My thanks go out to the folks at History Matters.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Views and Reviews

By George S. Schuyler

MAR 6 – 1965
(The opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and do not necessarily express the policy or opinions of The Pittsburgh Courier.)
A package of dynamite is “The Great Deceit” by my old friend, Zygmund Dobbs, a demon researcher, whose writings are no comfort to many of the luminaries of liberalism in the U. S. A. In his latest book, which bears a foreword by the distinguished










Mr. Schuyler
Archibald B. Roosevelt, son of the former president Theodore, Mr. Dobbs does one of the greatest debunking jobs since the days of the muckrakers at the turn of the century. His special target is the social pseudo sciences, and those who teach them and write the textbooks. In the first place, they are not sciences at all, in the sense of exactitude. They better might be called socialist sciences, since the name science was attached to this socialist propaganda, in order to make it more palatable and acceptable to those already not brainwashed, but eager to be “educated.”

* * *

Mr. Dobbs expresses our present educational system and the Socialist-Communist hierarchy behind it, which was weaned on Marxism, and founded, promoted and developed a dozen socialist fronts to carry on the work. At first, these outfits honestly proclaimed their collectivist mission, like the Intercollegiate Socialist Society. But taking a leaf from the British Fabian experience, they changed that name after World War I, to the League for Industrial Democracy, which carried on as before, with the same leaders, but a more respectable cognomen. There were only a few of these people, but they were strategically placed and zealous in their deceit. It was these people who organized the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP, the National Urban League, the Americans for Democratic Action, and a dozen other socialist fronts, working for collectivism or the new slavery. This element, virtually, has taken over the management of most of the big funds and foundations, with a bankroll of about seven billion dollars, to subvert our society.

* * *

Presently, large numbers of Federal legislators, Cabinet officers, Supreme Court and Federal District Court judges, state legislators and others belong to the apparatus which is far more sinister than the John Birch Society. The last presidential election was a goldmine for them, and they now, are well burrowed into the fabric of government.
As proof of the hypocrisy of many of these socialists, Mr. Dobbs quotes what they have said privately about the Negroes whom they profess they want to save, and other minorities. Although a converted Jew himself, Karl Marx was violently anti-Jewish, and Hitler never said worse things about the Jews than Marx and Engels did. Beatrice Webb talked about Negroes like Thomas Dixon. Friedrich Engels spoke of the “superior development of the Aryans,” as did all of the German socialists. A French socialist, Albert Regnard, classed the Aryans as “the only race to possess the notions of “justice, liberty and beauty.” To him, the Jewish race was “deplorably inferior.” U.S. socialists, in the post-Civil War era, espoused Aryanism through the Populist movement.
Victor Berger, of Milwaukee, first Socialist Congressman (1911), called the Negro “inferior,” saying “There can be no doubt that the Negroes and mulattoes constitute a lower race.” John M. Work, once Socialist party secretary, promised that “Socialism will relieve you from having to associate with black people.” Franz Boas, the socialist anthropologist, held the Negro brain was smaller than the white.
There is much more to that effect in “The Great Deceit,” which you can get from the Veritas Foundation, West Sayville, N. Y., cloth; paper). It will dispel many of your illusions.

* * *


Nicholas Stix:

This column was sent to me, in scanned form, by Joel T. Lefevre, who is himself what the great Schuyler would have called a “demon researcher.”

I first met Joel at the American Renaissance conference in February, 2008. At the Preserving Western Civilization conference one year later, he handed me one of the last existing copies of the handsomely bound, paperback, The Great Deceit. Among other things, Zygmund Dobbs was the first researcher to show that Franz Boas was a fraud, and may be the only one to likewise expose Gunnar Myrdal. One of Dobbs’ lessons is that where race is concerned, the socialist/communist distinction is a distinction without a difference.

Joel T. Lefevre was for several years Sam Francis’ successor as editor of the Council of Conservative Citizens’ newspaper, The Citizens Informer. More recently, he has served as the Webmaster for several extraordinary sites which, together, comprise a University in Inner exile, containing a treasure trove of knowledge that was banished from the Antiversity and most public libraries so long ago that most of the racial socialists—they call themselves “multiculturalists,” “liberals,” etc., but used to be known as “communists”—today controlling those institutions have never even heard of them.
 

Keynes at Harvard: Economic Deception as a Political Credo

This is the companion work to The Great Deception, which Joel has downloaded, in complete form, to the Internet, and can be read at no cost! (Joel is presently at work, downloading The Great Deception.)
 

Manning Johnson

I had never heard of Manning Johnson until a couple of weeks ago, when Joel told me about him, and directed me to the site he had set up. Johnson was a brilliant and fearless black anti-communist. At this site, Joel has downloaded Johnson’s entire work, Color, Communism, and Common Sense, and both a recording and a transcript of Johnson’s farewell address.
 

Selected Works of R. Carter Pittman

Carter Pittman was a lawyer—but don’t hold that against him—constitutional theorist, and George Mason scholar.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Story of George S. Schuyler

NRO Weekend, February 3-4, 2001
Forgotten One

By Nicholas Stix, a New York-based freelance writer

During Black History Month, mainstream and black media outlets will ignore many important names. Names like Samuel I. Brooks, Rachel Call, Edgecombe Wright, John Kitchen, William Stockton, Verne Caldwell and D. Johnson.

Who were those people? Why, they weren't "people" at all, but rather pseudonyms used by George S. Schuyler.

George Samuel Schuyler (1895-1977) was the most prolific, influential journalist of the golden age of what was known as the Negro press, and one of the most important journalists America has ever produced. From 1924-1966, he dominated the pages of the weekly Pittsburgh Courier, America's leading black newspaper. And yet, you'll hear Schuyler's name mentioned during February — if at all — only in passing, and accompanied by a warning, say, "conservative columnist George S. Schuyler."

In a typical 1930s edition of the Courier, Schuyler would have written his column, "Views and Reviews," the paper's unsigned editorial, and might have contributed a dispatch from South America, the Caribbean, Africa, or the Deep South, or a chapter of a serialized novel using one of the above-listed pseudonyms. All for $50 per week.

Meanwhile, Schuyler also wrote for the most prestigious black journals, including A. Philip Randolph's The Messenger, and W.E.B. DuBois's The Crisis.

During the same period, Schuyler's work also appeared in leading white publications, e.g., the New York Evening Post (now known as the New York Post), Washington Post, The Nation, and The American Mercury. One of the stories that made him famous beyond the black press was a series he wrote, from Liberia, on slave labor. As Schuyler wrote, that was "the first time anything like this had happened to a Negro newspaperman…. So far as I know a colored writer had never before served as a foreign correspondent for an important metropolitan newspaper."

H.L. Mencken, who frequently published Schuyler's essays in The American Mercury, said of him, "I am more and more convinced that he is the most competent editorial writer now in practice in this great free republic."

The discovery, after his death, that Schuyler was the author of the serialized novels that were the Pittsburgh Courier's most
popular feature, should have heightened the fame of the man known in his day as the "Negro Mencken." But Schuyler will not be lionized. A socialist as a young man, by his forties, he'd gotten it "right." In the title of his 1966 autobiography, Schuyler proclaimed himself Black and Conservative.

Today's conformist, multicultural vision is blind to George Schuyler's heroic talent.

Already in 1926, in his famous essay, "The Negro Art Hokum," in The Nation, Schuyler argued that there could be no separate, "black" aesthetic. Returning to that theme in 1936, he observed, "As the mountain labored and brought forth a mouse, so all of this hullabaloo about the Negro Renaissance in art and literature did stimulate the writing of some literature of importance which will live. The amount, however, is very small, but such as it is, it is meritorious because it is literature and not Negro literature. It is judged by literary and not by racial standards, which is as it should be.

Although contemptuous of all racial chauvinism, the mercurial Schuyler's own nationalistic feelings sometimes bubbled to the surface, as when, in 1936, Mussolini invaded Ethiopia, and he called for a black expeditionary force to wreak revenge on the Fascists. And Schuyler, who observed the fall of Back-to-Africa black supremacist Marcus Garvey, and the rise of the Nation of Islam, entered into the black nationalist mindset with ease. His black nationalist serial novellas, The Black Internationale and Black Empire, which ran from 1936-1938, caused the Courier's circulation to double to 250,000.

The stories chronicle the machinations of evil genius Dr. Henry Belsidus, who is part Marcus Garvey, part Dr. Mabuse, and part Nation of Islam-founder, Wallace Fard. A debonair doctor and abortionist to white society ladies by day, Belsidus is the diabolical leader of a black church/business/criminal/military empire, with which he plans to free Africa from white colonialism, and eventually, in a racial Armageddon, conquer the world.

As Belsidus confides to his protege, reporter Carl Slater, "It sounds mad, doesn't it?"

"Yes, rather Garveyistic…"

"My son," he continued gravely, "all great schemes appear mad in the beginning. Christians, Communists, Fascists, and Nazis were at first called scary. Success made them sane…. My ideal and objective is very frankly to cast down the Caucasians and elevate the colored people in their places….

"I use their women to aid in their destruction. As long as they succeed in carrying out my mission, I spare them. When they fail, I destroy them…."

In Dr. Belsidus' Church of Love, his mouthpiece, the Rev. Samson Binks sermonizes, "Leave your so-called Christian churches. Force them to close their doors. Christianity is a religion for slaves. You are no longer slaves. You are free men. You are warriors. You are rulers…. You longer bow down to the white man…. You no longer turn the other cheek when smitten. You no longer forgive your enemies."

George S. Schuyler likened race relations in America to a "lunatic asylum." Using his own name, in 1931 he published to critical acclaim his satirical, H. G. Wells-inspired novel, Black No More.

Black No More's protagonist, Dr. Junius Crookman, invents a machine that turns black folks white. In short order, Crookman becomes a millionaire, as eventually all blacks, Crookman included, undergo the treatment. Adopting new names, they all marry unsuspecting whites. Comic complications ensue when Crookman's treatment fails to change his patients' genetic racial code, which reappears unexpectedly in their children.

Black No More lampooned black nationalists and civil rights activists' claims to racial solidarity, the lunacy of white supremacists, and the progressive pretenses of wealthy white females, who only seek out sex with black men, in order to scandalize their parents. I believe Black No More is also the source for the Nation of Islam's "Myth of Yacub," which insists
that the white race was created by an evil black scientist 6,000years ago.

In 1964, when Martin Luther King Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize, Schuyler gored him:

"Neither directly nor indirectly has Dr. King made any contribution to world (or even domestic) peace. Methinks the Lenin Prize would have been more appropriate, since it is no mean feat for one so young to acquire 60 communist front citations…. Dr. King's principle contribution to world peace has been to roam the country like some sable Typhoid Mary, infecting the mentally disturbed with perversions of Christian doctrine, and grabbing fat lecture fees from the shallow-pated.

The Courier's editor-publisher, Robert L. Vann, refused to publish Schuyler's attack on King; William Loeb ran it instead in the Manchester Union-Leader.

As if to ensure his exile from the black press he had once dominated, Schuyler had a dead reckoning with Malcolm X:

"It is not hard to imagine the ultimate fate of a society in which a pixilated criminal like Malcolm X is almost universally praised, and has hospitals, schools, and highways named in his memory!… We might as well call out the schoolchildren to celebrate the birthday of Benedict Arnold. Or to raise a monument to Alger Hiss. We would do well to remember that all societies are destroyed from within — through weakness, immorality, crime, debauchery, and failing mentality.

We would do well to remember…George S. Schuyler.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Black No More: A Novel

by George S. Schuyler
Reviewed by Nicholas Stix

Life is a Con

George Schuyler's (1895-1977) novel, Black No More, is a deliciously wicked satire on 1920s American racial mores. First published in 1931, it was initially reissued during the late 1980s as part of The Northeastern Library of Black Literature.

Like many satires, Black No More takes a common, controversial idea, gives it form in flesh and blood, and plays it out to its logical conclusion: "What if white America didn't have any more negroes to kick around?"

This idea is realized by "Dr. Junius Crookman" (most of the characters have similarly "subtle" names), who invents an operation for turning black folks white. In lightning speed, the nation becomes monochromatic, as its entire black population "disappears."

No lack of comic – and dramatic – complications ensue, when it becomes clear that the operation doesn't change the genetic program for the pigmentation of one's offspring.

George Schuyler worked from a few basic premises: Most of humanity is a damned sight closer to the Devil than to the angels; most men are con artists; and the few who truly believe in anything are even worse!

For Schuyler, W.E.B. DuBois' (1868-1963) "talented tenth" of bourgeois negro society was of no more help to the average black than were the leaders of the racist, white order. Indeed, Schuyler saw those who made a living railing against Jim Crow as having the strongest interest in its preservation: every lynching brought in more money from rich, white reformers.

Thinly veiled caricatures portray DuBois ("Dr. Shakespeare Agamemnon Beard") as a hypocrite, and Marcus Garvey (1887-1940; "Santop Licorice"), the founder of the "Back-to-Africa" movement and Universal Negro Improvement Association, as a common swindler (for which Garvey was, in fact, convicted in 1920, and deported in 1924).

For Schuyler, black nationalist rhetoric was merely a smokescreen to obscure its practitioners' class contempt for their erstwhile constituents, whose pockets they were busy picking. (Has anything changed in the meantime?!)

Down deep, Schuyler says, we're all the same -- and God save us! Ultimately, he surmises, if there weren't a color line, men would have had to invent one! His metaphor for American race relations was that of an "insane asylum." (Already in 1929 -- 60 years before Dinesh D'Souza -- Schuyler had written a pamphlet arguing that total miscegenation, eliminating all distinct races, was the sole cure for America's racial madness.)

Though many of Schuyler's characters are -- as per his genre -- stereotypes, the central pair of "Max Discher/Matthew Fisher" and "Bunny Brown" are as engaging a couple of rogues as any you're likely to be fleeced by, this side of Rudyard Kipling or Chester Himes, their banter generously peppered with the black vernacular of the day.

George Schuyler was a great lover of science fiction, especially the then stupendously popular novels of H.G. Wells. He is the only notable black American novelist to smoothly incorporate science fiction motifs into his work. (To Samuel R. Delany fans: I said "notable" and "smoothly.")

In addition to Schuyler's great story, there are two other reasons for reading Black No More.

First, as by far the most influential black newspaperman this nation has ever seen, George Schuyler bestrode the negro press, and thus, negro America, like a colossus.
From 1924-1966, Schuyler worked at black America's most influential newspaper, the Pittsburgh Courier. But George Schuyler didn't "write" for the Courier; he WAS the Courier. He wrote the weekly, unsigned house editorial; a weekly column, “News and Views”; wired in scoops and exposes from around America and the world so amazing as to catch the attention of the day's most respected, white newspapers, who also published his work; penned the pseudonymous, serialized pulp novels and short stories that were the Courier's most popular features; and engaged other prominent contemporaries to write for the Courier. It was Schuyler, for instance, who engaged pop historian J.A. Rogers to write the Courier's immensely popular cartoon feature on black history.

(The various strategies of silence and misrepresentation, which are today used -- for instance, by alleged journalist Jill Nelson and her “documentarian” brother, Stanley, and by Henry Louis Gates Jr. -- to erase or diminish Schuyler's legacy, belong to contemporary black studies and black journalism's many scandals.)

The second reason for reading Black No More (together with the serialized novels published in book form as Black Empire), is to see Schuyler's role as unwitting intellectual godfather of the Nation of Islam. The Nation stole its theory of the "myth of Yacub," which claims that the white man was created 6,000 years ago by an evil black scientist, from Schuyler's Black No More, except that the Nation, as was its wont, turned Schuyler's story on its head. (Schuyler, for his part, was reworking H.G. Wells' story, The Island of Dr. Moreau.)

So read Black No More, enjoy some belly laughs, and learn some history in the bargain.

Black No More has an overly informative foreword by James A. Miller, which is best read as an afterword (so as not to ruin your enjoyment of the book), to clarify historical questions.

Originally published in spring, 1992 in A Different Drummer magazine.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

George S. Schuyler, All-American

by Nicholas Stix
15 March 2004



If we are to honestly understand black history, and thus, American history, we must understand the life and work of George S. Schuyler.


Well, here it is the third Black History Month, and I'll bet you haven't heard one thing about George S. Schuyler (1895-1977). What's that, you say -- there's only ONE Black History Month? Where have you been?


Nowadays, New Year's Day signals the beginning of Black History Month I, and last summer in New York, for several weeks, some Harlem institutions held celebrations that certainly made it sound like we were in BHM. And on March 8, Newsday published a typical BHM puff piece, by Associated Press reporter William Kates, on the call, by descendants of “underground railroad” heroine Harriet Tubman (1822-1913), “the Moses of her people,” for a national holiday in her honor in March.


About 12 years ago, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) said that every month should be Black History Month, and we're well on our way towards realizing that dubious goal. Note, too, that while for years, racist black activists and second-rate comics have complained, “You see that they give us the shortest month!,” the celebration was founded in 1926 by black nationalist scholar-activist Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950) as Negro History Week in February, to coincide with the Great Emancipator's birthday. That all that time devoted to celebration and alleged learning has led to racist myths rather than enlightenment, is typical of contemporary racial “progress.”


George S. Schuyler was, simply, the greatest black journalist this country has ever produced. From 1924-1966, he bestrode the negro press like a colossus. Working for Robert Lee Vann's (1879-1940) Pittsburgh Courier weekly newspaper, under his own name, Schuyler penned a column, “Views and Reviews,” of which H.L. Mencken remarked, “I am more and more convinced that he is the most competent editorial writer now in practice in this great free republic.” Schuyler was in turn known as “the Negro's Mencken.” Schuyler wrote the Courier's weekly unsigned, house editorial. He traveled the world, investigating stories, which he wired back to the Courier, such as his world scoop on the return of slavery to Liberia, which had been founded in 1847 by American freedmen. (He was also the first black journalist to write, as a freelancer, for leading white publications, such as the New York Evening Post (now the New York Post), Washington Post, The Nation and Mencken's The American Mercury). And under no less than seven pseudonyms, in addition to occasional work under his own name, he wrote the serial pulp fiction that proved to be the Courier's most popular feature (Samuel I. Brooks, Rachel Call, Edgecombe Wright, John Kitchen, William Stockton, Verne Caldwell and D. Johnson).


Schuyler was also the greatest racial satirist this country has ever seen, whose classic 1931 novel, Black No More has twice been reprinted in the past 15 years.


In the same year that Black No More appeared, Schuyler's novel, Slaves Today: A Story of Liberia, was published, in which he presented, in fictional form, his discovery of the very real Liberian slave trade.


As a journalist, I can't carry Schuyler's jock strap. And yet, on some days, this giant has fewer google entries than even I do! Usually, the only time he gets noticed during one of the Black History Months, is when I write about him. And when Schuyler does get mentioned by what journalist Tony Brown calls, in The Truth According to Tony Brown, the “Black Unaccountable Machine” (B.U.M.), it is to slight him, to insult him, to misrepresent him.


George Schuyler's problem was that he was (gasp) … a conservative!


In the mid-1990s, the New York Times hired Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr. to do a hit piece on Schuyler in the Book Review, in which Gates, who fancies himself the second coming of W.E.B. DuBois (1868-1963), derided Schuyler as a self-hating black, a “fragmented” man.


And so, when the alleged newspaper of record commissioned Phyllis Rose to review Kathryn Talalay's 1995 biography of Schuyler's daughter, Philippa, Composition in Black and White, the reviewer devoted only one sentence to the father, whom she reduced to a crank. But when Philippa Schuyler died in 1967 in a helicopter crash, during a humanitarian mission in Vietnam, she was working as a journalist, following in her father’s footsteps, both professionally and politically. How, then, could Rose deride the father as a crank, while praising the daughter?


In 1998, when Long Island University gave a special George Polk Award to the Pittsburgh Courier (not the black newspaper that currently uses its name), and feted its few living former staffers, LIU, the New York Times and the Daily News (and Daily News columnist E.R. Shipp) celebrated aged mediocrities, while assiduously refusing to so much as mention the one person responsible for the award: George Schuyler. (The newspapers both refused, as well, to publish my letters mentioning Schuyler.)


And in 1999, the PBS “documentary,” The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords, written by Jill and Stanley Nelson, Lou Potter and Marcia A. Smith, and directed by Stanley Nelson, reduced Schuyler's connection to the Courier to the phrase, “conservative columnist George Schuyler.” Note that Stanley Nelson is an officially accredited “genius,” as per the MacArthur Foundation.


Given that black journalism and black studies are today dominated by privileged incompetents, political hacks, and other “geniuses” who write and teach – in one of Schuyler’s favorite words -- hokum, I suppose it is fitting that they either disparage or ignore George S. Schuyler. After all, they hold the greatest of all black Americans, Booker T. Washington, in contempt, so why should Schuyler fare any better?


George Samuel Schuyler was born in 1895 in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of a chef, and grew up in Syracuse, New York. He served six years in the U.S. Army (1912-1918), eventually attaining the rank of First Lieutenant. However, Schuyler went AWOL when a Greek immigrant shoeshine man in Philadelphia refused to shine his shoes, calling him the “n”-word, even as Schuyler wore the nation’s uniform. “I’m a son-of-a-bitch if I’ll serve this country any longer!”


Later, after Schuyler turned himself in, he was convicted by a military court, and sentenced to five years in prison, but released after serving nine months for being a model prisoner. He never talked or wrote about his time in prison. Until recently, people were ashamed of having spent time in jail, failing to see it as an opportunity to cash in.


Schuyler came to New York City, where he did menial jobs for a few years, while studying on his own. He began associating with socialists, less out of conviction than because they gave him a social circle in which he could discuss ideas. Such circles brought him to the magazine, The Messenger, which was published by A. Philip Randolph (1889-1979) and Chandler Owen (1889-1967), to Randolph and Owen’s intellectual salon, the Friends of Negro Freedom, and from there, in 1924, to the New York office of the Pittsburgh Courier, an office Schuyler would eventually run.


A. Philip Randolph would in 1925 found the nation’s first successful black labor union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, in 1941 get FDR to integrate the defense industry and the federal bureaucracy, and in 1948, succeed in getting Pres. Truman to integrate the armed forces. In 1963, Randolph led the Poor People’s March on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr. would give his “I Have a Dream” speech. According to Randolph’s biographer, Jervis Anderson, he said “Schuyler was a socialist when I met him. But he never took it seriously. He made fun of everything – including socialism. But he had an attractive writing style.”


Schuyler hobnobbed with blacks of every rank. Jeffrey Leak, the editor of a recent collection of Schuyler’s essays, Rac[e]ing to the Right, cites scholar Arthur P. Davis, who said of Schuyler, “With the possible exception of Langston Hughes, he knew more about the Negro lower and working classes than any other major writer of the twenties and thirties.”


Though Schuyler joined the Socialist Party, and would experiment with some allied ideas, such as cooperatives, he would never be a true believer, and would always be an anti-communist. In the late 1930s he finally broke with socialism altogether. As time went on, and black Americans became less and less hostile towards socialism in general, and leading communists, in particular, as attested to by the acceptance of the circle around the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., anti-communism would become more and more influential in Schuyler’s thinking.


Writing for The Nation magazine in 1926, Schuyler attacked the New Negro Movement’s (which would come to be known as the Harlem Renaissance) claim that there could be such a thing as a “black” aesthetics. In “The Negro-Art Hokum,” Schuyler famously (or notoriously, if you’re an academic or a mainstream journalist) wrote, “the Aframerican is merely a lampblacked Anglo-Saxon.”


“Negro art ‘made in America’ is as non-existent as the widely advertised profundity of Cal Coolidge, the ‘seven years of progress’ of [New York] Mayor Hylan, or the reported sophistication of New Yorkers. Negro art there has been, is, and will be among the numerous black nations of Africa; but to suggest the possibility of any such development among the ten million colored people in this republic is self-evident foolishness.”


Schuyler was denying that blacks and whites lived in fundamentally different cultures and would produce fundamentally different art. He pointed out that leading black American intellectuals and artists (e.g., scholar-activist W.E.B. DuBois and sculptor Meta Warwick Fuller) were predominantly influenced by European thinkers and artists.


Unfortunately, Schuyler’s hyperbole got the better of him, when he denied the differences between the negro and white cultures of the time. And yet, in denying that there could be a black American “aesthetics,” Schuyler was right.


The magazine’s editors then showed Schuyler’s broadside to Langston Hughes (1902-1967), who had gained early fame as a “poet” for some racial scribblings, most famously, the essay pawned off as a poem, “Theme for English B.” Hughes’ response to Schuyler, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain,” has been forced on students ever since by racially correct professors and teachers, most of whom never even read Schuyler’s essay.


Hughes makes no argument. He simply insists that every black artist be provincial, and browbeats any black who disagrees with him with ad hominem attacks, implicitly charging him with being an Uncle Tom.


“So I am ashamed for the black poet who says, ‘I want to be a poet, not a Negro poet,’ as though his own racial world were not as interesting as any other world. I am ashamed, too, for the colored artist who runs from the painting of Negro faces to the painting of sunsets after the manner of the academicians because he fears the strange unwhiteness of his own features.”


After telling black artists that they must be slaves to the race, Hughes engages in shameless sophistry, saying “An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he must choose.” (Hughes’ pompous style may have influenced novelist James Baldwin, who in 1979 wrote a similarly incoherent piece of self-righteous bombast for the New York Times, “If Black English isn’t a Language, Then Tell me, What is?” In Baldwin’s essay, the novelist, who had gained fame as an “integrationist” and civil rights advocate, insisted on racial educational segregation. Just as Hughes, while insisting on black artistic segregation, failed to offer any arguments supporting a uniquely black aesthetics, Baldwin, while insisting that only blacks may teach black students, offered no arguments supporting his title’s implicit claim.)


Writing in the Courier in 1936, Schuyler gave, I think, a more sober appraisal of the issue of race and aesthetics, while again slapping down Hughes: “As the mountain labored and brought forth a mouse, so all of this hullabaloo about the Negro Renaissance in art and literature did stimulate the writing of literature of importance which will live. The amount, however, is very small, but such as it is, it is meritorious because it is literature and not Negro literature. It is judged by literary and not by racial standards, which is as it should be.”


In 1929, Schuyler’s pamphlet, Racial Intermarriage in the United States, called for solving America’s race problem through miscegenation, which was then illegal in most states. (Note that Schuyler and his wife, the former Josephine Cogdell, were the nation’s most famous interracial couple. Cogdell, a lily-white, blonde, Texas heiress, and Schuyler, believed in eugenics, albeit of a kind diametrically opposed to the regnant white supremacist type promoted by the likes of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger. The Schuylers believed that the hybrid created by racial intermarriage would be a stronger type than a “pure” race. And their brilliant daughter, Philippa Duke Schuyler (1931-1967), “Harlem’s Mozart,” was Exhibit A in their defense.)


In 1931, Schuyler, who was America’s first and greatest black science fiction writer, published Black No More, a satire heavily influenced by H.G. Wells. In Black No More, "Dr. Junius Crookman" invents a machine for turning black folks white. Schuyler mocked blacks’ obsession with wanting to be white, whites’ obsession with blacks, and the way black leaders such as DuBois and Marcus Garvey exploited the black masses. To appreciate how times have changed since then, in his magazine, The Crisis, W.E.B. DuBois (1868-1963) wrote a review praising the book!


“The book is extremely significant in Negro American literature, and it will be – indeed it already has been – abundantly misunderstood…. But Mr. Schuyler’s satire is frank, straight forward and universal. It carries not only scathing criticism of Negro leaders, but of the mass of Negroes, and then it passes over and slaps the white people just as hard and unflinchingly straight in the face…. At any rate, read the book. You are bound to enjoy it and to follow with joyous laughter the adventures of Max Disher and Bunny, Dr. Crookman and -- we say it with all reservations -- Dr. Agamemnon Shakespeare Beard.”


If only DuBois’ wannabe heir, Henry Louis “Skip” Gates Jr., had such generosity of spirit, and the ability to poke fun at his own pretensions.


I believe that Black No More is the source for the Nation of Islam's “Myth of Yacub,” which insists that the white race was created by an evil black scientist 6,000 years ago.


In the early 1930s, Schuyler denounced the communists who had taken over the movement to free the “Scottsboro Boys.” The Scottsboro Boys were nine black boys and young men who in 1931 had been falsely accused of rape by two white prostitutes, Victoria Price and Ruby Bates, and who were initially being sentenced to die by racist, Alabama juries. It was not until 1950, after years of trials and retrials, unjust prison sentences, and in one case, a daring jail break, that all of the Scottsboro Boys had regained their freedom. (The Scottsboro Boys were Haywood Patterson, Clarence Norris, Andy Wright, Roy Wright, Willie Roberson, Charles Weems, Ozie Powell, Olen Montgomery and Eugene Williams.)


In 1933, Schuyler’s expose of conditions in Liberia, including slavery, “Uncle Sam’s Black Step-Child,” was published by H.L. Mencken in the latter’s The American Mercury, based on Schuyler’s 1931 investigation.


The expose, which is republished in Rac[e]ing to the Right, is a cautionary tale on the folly of most aid to “developing countries,” that in 71 years has lost none of its relevance.


In 1936, Schuyler called for a black expeditionary force to free Ethiopia from the grip of the Italian Fascists, who under Mussolini had attacked the country in October, 1935, and successfully invaded and annexed it in May, 1936.


From 1936-38, Schuyler penned the serialized novellas, The Black Internationale and Black Empire, under the pseudonym Samuel I. Brooks. The novels helped double the Courier’s circulation to 250,000. In 1991, the novellas were published in book form for the first time, by Northeastern University Press, under the title, Black Empire.

(Note that the Courier was distributed throughout the South by a network of black Pullman car porters, who would smuggle the paper, which was the scourge of racist white sheriffs, hidden in the floors of railroad cars, and drop off a total of 100,000 issues each week in bundles on the outskirts of every major southern city. The newspaper gained the cooperation of union leader A. Philip Randolph.)


The novels both centered on the work of ruthless, evil genius "Dr. Henry Belsidus," successful abortionist to and lover (and sometimes, murderer) of wealthy, white socialites, whom he uses to build his empire of criminal enterprises, legitimate businesses, black Church of Love, and secret, black expeditionary force, which he would use to win back Africa from white colonialists, and eventually to cast whites asunder in a racial Armageddon.


“… all great schemes appear mad in the beginning. Christians, Communists, Fascists, and Nazis were at first called scary. Success made them sane…. My ideal and objective is very frankly to cast down the Caucasians and elevate the colored people in their places….


“I use their women to aid in their destruction. As long as they succeed in carrying out my mission, I spare them. When they fail, I destroy them…. "


In Belsidus' Church of Love, his front man, the Rev. Samson Binks, sermonizes, “Leave your so-called Christian churches. Force them to close their doors. Christianity is a religion for slaves. You are no longer slaves. You are free men. You are warriors. You are rulers…. You no longer bow down to the white man…. You no longer turn the other cheek when smitten. You no longer forgive your enemies.”


In the case of the Black Internationale, Schuyler was clearly influenced by the Black Muslims (now known as the Nation of Islam), just as surely as he influenced them in Black No More.


Although Schuyler (almost) always mocked black nationalists such as Marcus Garvey (1887-1940), and referred to his pulp novels in a letter to P.L. Prattis as “hokum,” he easily moved in and out of the nationalist mindset. Recall that at the time, the terms “journalist,” “publicist,” and “propagandist” were often interchangeable, and though the latter term may have fallen into disrepute since World War II, the underlying reality of someone who can enter into the mind of his audience, in order to manipulate it, remains unchanged.


From March, 1933-July, 1939, writing under seven pseudonyms, in addition to his own name, Schuyler published 63 short stories and 19 serialized novellas in the pages of the Pittsburgh Courier. Schuyler’s favorite noms de plume were Samuel I. Brooks and Rachel Call. And so, Schuyler was not only America’s greatest black journalist and science fiction writer, but also -- for what it’s worth -- her greatest black pulp fiction writer.


Schuyler frequently crisscrossed the country, investigating stories, giving public lectures, and promoting the Courier, in black communities large and small. No journalist knew negro America as Schuyler did, a world in which he was a celebrity.


Later in Schuyler’s career, with the rise of the civil rights movement, American Negroes (as they were known in elite – media and political -- discourse and by the upper classes, black and white, until well into the 1970s; during the same period, the word “colored” was perfectly proper and typically used by most blacks and whites) became less tolerant of intellectual diversity; Schuyler had no patience for such lockstep “discipline.” Or rather, America’s Negro elite became less tolerant, and passed their intolerance down the line.


In 1964, when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Schuyler wrote, in “King: No Help to Peace,”


“Neither directly nor indirectly has Dr. King made any contribution to world (or even domestic) peace. Methinks the Lenin Prize would have been more appropriate, since it is no mean feat for one so young to acquire 60 communist front citations…. Dr. King's principle contribution to world peace has been to roam the country like some sable Typhoid Mary, infecting the mentally disturbed with perversions of Christian doctrine, and grabbing fat lecture fees from the shallow-pated.”


In what was surely the beginning of the end for Schuyler at the Courier, and thus in the Negro press, the Courier refused to publish the editorial; instead, white publisher William Loeb ran it in the conservative Manchester Union-Leader newspaper. Note, however, that just as the negro press rejected Schuyler, the black press itself, in part through its own civil rights agitations, became irrelevant, as blacks began reading white-owned newspapers, and talented and not-so-talented young black journalists began working for white organizations.


After King’s 1968 assassination, Schuyler wrote, “The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., tragically emphasizes again the fact that non-violence always ends violently.”


Schuyler submitted the preceding essay, “Dr. King: Non-Violence Always Ends Violently,” to the North American Newspaper Alliance, which would not publish it. In his last years, Schuyler increasingly had difficulty selling his work, and when he did sell it, it was often to conservative white publications, particularly those published -- American Opinion and the Review of the News -- by the John Birch Society. Hence, did he go from being read almost exclusively by blacks to a virtually lily-white readership. The essay is, however, published – as are most of the essays I’ve quoted in this article, along with a wealth of biographical information – in the 2001 collection, Rac[e]ing to the Right: Selected Essays of George S. Schuyler.


Schuyler felt even less sympathy for Malcolm X (Malcolm Little) (1926-1965). In 1973, in his last published piece, “Malcolm X: Better to Memorialize Benedict Arnold,” Schuyler was his old, acerbic self:


“It is not hard to imagine the ultimate fate of a society in which a pixilated criminal like Malcolm X is almost universally praised, and has hospitals, schools, and highways named in his memory!… We might as well call out the schoolchildren to celebrate the birthday of Benedict Arnold. Or to raise a monument to Alger Hiss. We would do well to remember that all societies are destroyed from within — through weakness, immorality, crime, debauchery, and failing mentality.”


Schuyler’s career at the Courier ended in 1966, with the purchase of the newspaper by John H. Sengstacke, the biggest owner of negro newspapers, who also owned the Chicago Defender. That year, Schuyler published his autobiography, Black and Conservative.


In recent years, several of George S. Schuyler’s works have been republished or published for the first time in book form: Ethiopian Stories, Black Empire, Black No More, Rac[e]ing to the Right. Hopefully, Black and Conservative will be reprinted, and some of Schuyler’s thousands of newspaper columns and editorials will be published in book form, and/or perhaps posted to an Internet library of Schuyleriana. At least one unpublished Schuyler biography has been written in dissertation form, and a history professor contacted me a year or so ago, asking about a Schuyler essay I’d promised my readers (but had failed to produce), as a possible source for a Schuyler-biography he is writing.

We live in a time in which pygmies are celebrated as giants, and giants are either blacked out of history or their stories revised beyond recognition. But if we are to honestly understand black history, and thus, American history, we must understand the life and work of George S. Schuyler. And so, we must toss out the dogmas we have been taught, and continue to be taught about American history. And we must understand Schuyler -- he was that important.

This version originally published by Intellectual Conservative.

New York-based freelancer Nicholas Stix has written for Toogood Reports, Middle American News, the New York Post, Daily News, American Enterprise, Insight, Chronicles, Newsday and many other publications. His recent work is collected at The Critical Critic.