Howling as Usual

February 6, 1897


The Planet analyzes the Richmond Dispatch and its tendencies to belittle the black man.


The Richmond, Va., Dispatch never misses an opportunity to belittle the citizen of African descent or to “rap the knuckles” of those white men who refuse to disregard the solemn oaths in the waves of prejudice. Under the caption of “The Negro in Society,” it says:
“The race question is to the fore again, both in Massachusetts and West Virginia.
In West Virginia, one Christopher Columbus Payne, who is a member of the House of Delegates, from Fayette county, is the cause of the trouble. In Massachusetts “the Hon. Isaac B Allen,” a member of the Governor’s Council, is the “casus belli.”
Night before last a ball was given to the Legislature in the State-House at Charleston, W.Va. The Committee of arrangements refused to send an invitation to Payne. They did not wish Payne to be present, and, accordingly, declined to enter his name upon the list of persons to whom invitations were to be sent. Payne became angry and indignant at this, we may presume, inasmuch as a number of his political frater refused to attend the ball, because of the “slight” put upon him.
It ironically says:
“However, the ball went on, all the same, and was very enjoyable, we have no doubt. But some of the Republicans are making a great howl over the “slight” to Payne. We suppose that they have a constitutional right to howl, and we hope that no one will attempt to stop them. The only other thing we can do is to have another ball, to which Payne shall be incited, and the society folk shall be “cut.” This ought to even up things.”
And again:
“Governor MacCorkle is to give a reception to his successor in office Governor Atkinson, tomorrow night, and it is conjectured that another “slight” will then be put upon Chris Payne.
The trouble in Massachusetts is that the Hon Isaac B. Allen wishes to accompany the Governor and staff and councilors to Nashville during the Tennessee Exposition. Very naturally, his company is not desired. The way it is proposed to get rid of him is that the legislature shall make provision only for the expenses of four members of the council, to be selected by the Governor; and it seems quite certain that Allen will not be one of these four. But Allen claims the right to go. He claims it, of course, because he is a Negro. If he were a white man he could not claim the right.”
It should not be forgotten that democratic white men elected Mr. Allen. It then adds:
“It has never occurred to Payne, in West Virginia, nor to Allen in Massachusetts, that they are seeking to enter into the social realms where they are not wanted. Delicacy of feeling is unknown to them, and thus, instead of doing their race good by their silly assertiveness, they are doing them harm.”
Oh, yes whenever the citizen of African descent advances beyond the realms of a servant, he does his race harm. Whenever he is elevated to official position and fails to disappear at the dictation of some prejudiced white man who does not know what good society is, then he is doing his race harm.
If he does not go out the backdoor, when a white man goes in the front one, then he is doing his race harm.
In other words, we are asked to display a badge of inferiority upon all occasions, where social conditions exist, even if we be present in an official capacity. We are told to ignore the fact of position and come cringing before white men on account of our color.
Regardless of our official station, we must wear forever, the habiliments of a lacky, the badge of a servant.
Mr. Dispatch, we will never do it, sir. CH Payne should not have been invited as a Negro, but as a legislature from Fayette Co. His own personal self should have been lost sight of in the position he occupied. This is equally as true as Isaac B Allen of Massachusetts. Personal feeling, racial antagonisms and the like should give away before the demands of official station and the observance of those rules which obtain among people of good breeding.
Not to do this, is to belittle yourselves, not the colored men upon whom the vials of your displeasure are turned.
To be slaves to caste is to be victims of our baser passions.
Had the white men of Charleston gone into the ball-room, or the place of reception, and paid no attention to the presence of the distinguished divine further than speak to him, nothing would have been thought of it and less said. The Dispatch says:
“Neither at the North nor at the South is the Negro welcome in the society of white people. And this he ought to know. Whenever an attempt is made by him to take advantage of an official position to thrust himself where his individual standing would not entitle him to go, he does himself and his race harm.”
The society of the white people is not sought by any of us as individuals, but upon any occasion where our official position requires our presence, we would be wanting in manhood and deficient in the self-respect for the people we represented not to respond to the demands made upon us.
If failing to bow to prevailing prejudices, and announcing our inferiority to those with whom we come in contact does the race harm, then the race will have to stand it.
Suffice it to say, that sooner or later the harm referred to, will result in the dawn of a brighter day, the breaking down of the walls of prejudice, which long since should have been blown away.
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Brian Schrott


“Howling as Usual,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed June 7, 2020,