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Worlds of Color

Courtesy Reuters

ONCE upon a time in my younger years and in the dawn of this century I wrote: "The problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line." It was a pert phrase which I then liked and which since I have often rehearsed to myself, asking how far was it prophecy and how far speculation? Today, in the last year of the century's first quarter, I propose to examine this matter again, and more especially in the memory of the great event of these great years, the World War. How deep were the roots of this catastrophe entwined about the color line? And of the legacy left, what of the darker race problems will the world inherit?

THE LABOR PROBLEM

Most men would agree that our present Problem of Problems is what we call Labor: the problem of allocating work and income in the tremendous and increasingly intricate world-embracing industrial machine which we have built. But, despite our study and good-will, is it not possible that our research is not directed to the right geographical spots and our good-will too often confined to that labor which we see and feel and exercise right around us rather than to the periphery of the vast circle and to the unseen and inarticulate workers within the World Shadow? And may not the continual baffling of our effort and failure of our formula be due to just such mistakes? At least it will be of interest to step within these shadows and, looking backward, view the European and white American labor problem from this external vantage ground--or, better, ground of disadvantage.

With nearly every great European empire today walks its dark colonial shadow, while over all Europe there stretches the yellow shadow of Asia that lies across the world. One might indeed rede the riddle of Europe by making its present plight a matter of colonial shadows and speculate wisely on what might not happen if Europe became suddenly shadowless--if Asia and

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