Courtesy Reuters

Inter-Racial Implications of the Ethiopian Crisis

A Negro View

THE hands which the Land of Burnt Faces is today stretching forth to the God of Things-that-be are both physical and spiritual; and today, as yesterday, they twine gnarled fingers about the very roots of the world. Physically, Ethiopia's fingers are those rough mountain masses of Northeast Africa which form the defensive rampart of the continent and against which Egyptian and Persian and Turk, British and French and Italian, have so far hammered in vain. It is a great pear-shaped mountain mass, cut into island-like sections which are separated by deep gorges and ravines. "It looks," says the traveller, "like a storm-tossed sea, suddenly solidified." In these highlands both the Blue Nile and the Atbara rise, and thus Abyssinia commands a full half of the waters of the Nile. It was a German who said that the power which held the Abyssinian highlands could dominate the imperialism of Europe in Africa. On these stark physical facts is built a spiritual history almost as old as man and yet half forgotten even in the recent revival of strained interest in the Land of the Blacks.

Why, for instance, is Haile Selassie Emperor of "Ethiopia" and not of "Abyssinia," as his predecessors often called themselves? Abyssinia is a word of Semitic origin, but Ethiopia is Negro. Look at the pictures of Abyssinians now widely current. They are as Negroid as American Negroes. If there is a black race they belong to it. Of course there are not and never were any "pure" Negroes any more than there are "pure" whites or "pure" yellows. Humanity is mixed to its bones. But in the rough and practical assignment of mankind to three divisions, the Ethiopians belong to the black race. In the mountains of Abyssinia the black hordes from the region of the Great Lakes have been mixed with Semitic strains from the shores of the Red Sea, where Asiatic upheavals have driven Jews and Arabs to Africa. The trading station at Axum, near modern

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