Immigration and Race Attitudes

Chapter 7: Media of Race Friendliness

Emory S. Bogardus

Table of Contents | Next | Previous

Many persons feel racially friendly toward a number of races without having had many actual contacts with representatives of these peoples. There have been few direct experiences and contacts. The existence of deep-seated racial good will, however, cannot be questioned. When this good will is traced back to its earlier sequences, a variety of derivative experiences or indirect contacts is found. Members of a person's family group, his school and church groups, for instance, have themselves experienced favorable contacts with the races in question, or have heard favorable reports, and hence give pleasing accounts. In consequence the listener gains a favorable impression and responds in friendly ways when he meets representatives of the given races. His friendly attitude elicits a similar response, which in turn stimulates the original attitude of friendliness.

The favorable reports are mediated or conveyed through many factors, chief of which are: (1) home contacts, (2) religious contacts, (3) school and college contacts, and (4) foreign travel and study contacts.

Home Contacts. - Most homes are centers where racial antipathy in some fashion or other thrives. But racial good will also finds inception in many homes. Good will toward the family's race and associated races is commonly engendered. As one travels out toward the circumference of races remotely different from the given family's race, he finds his own race friendliness attitudes diminishing. In only a few homes does one find no race aversions.

( 95)

Sometimes in homes where persecution and bitter experiences have been felt, one discovers a home atmosphere favorable to all persecuted races. Sometimes in a home a single member may represent a tolerant attitude toward all races. In homes where religion (see next section) possesses a brotherhood of man hue, where the members are mutually interested in culture and race history, where catholicity of attitudes prevails, there the home atmosphere is most likely to generate race friendliness. The sympathetic study of the culture history of races leads a person to toleration and then to understanding and fellow feeling, to the judging of immigrants as persons, each on his own merits rather than as a mere member of " a despised or low-down race."

66. My father never seemed to hate any race. I do not recall that he ever said anything against any immigrants. Sometimes my mother would speak out against the Irish or the Jews, but he always sat and looked at her in wonderment. I often raised the question in my mind why father didn't agree with mother. I would start to get stirred up against some race, and then my father's calmness and bigness of spirit would check me, and I would finish up by pondering over my father's self-control. It seemed to me that somehow there was a larger viewpoint than just hating the other races. My father never spoke against a race so far as I know. He often said what he thought of certain persons, but he did not connect them with their races. I'm pretty much the same way, and I think that my father's calm assurance that there is something similar about all human nature affected me more than I know. Through his influence more than any other way did I get my present race standpoint.[1]

67. I pride myself on my democratic attitude toward all races, but deserve no special credit, for I was brought up at home that way. My father was a prominent ember of our little community, and although he was Scotch, he always treated the Belgian renters like human beings. They were treated as neighbors the same as anybody else. When they came to town, they were invited to our house as dinner guests. I remember hearing them tell how well they were treated and how they appreciated coming to our

( 96) home. Other people were often mean to them, because they were not educated, or were poor, or were Catholics. I remember that "hired girls" were treated the same way in our home, and I have always tried to do the same. I recall father saying many times that a person who is honest and hardworking and trying to get ahead is worthy of receiving the same friendly spirit that is shown any one, and he lived what he preached.[2]

Religion Contacts. -Religious idealism is a common source of race friendliness. The doctrine of brotherhood of man is at least a theoretically sound principle for developing racial good will. Organizations of an " interdenominational " order, such as the Young Women's and the Young Men's Christian Associations, generate race friendliness. Mission study classes conducted from ethnological and culture history viewpoints promote race understanding. Wherever religious motivation is coupled with acculturation principles, there religion functions distinctly well in building race friendliness.

College men attending Y. M. C. A. conferences describe striking experiences. The racial atmosphere is decidedly friendly. Preliminary lectures and talks have emphasized the principles of the brotherhood of man. The foreign students who come have been selected; moreover they come expecting to show themselves friendly. The constructive Christian environment is altogether favorable for helpful racial contacts. Typical of numerous accounts are the experiences of a young man at Asilomar, California, beginning with the " candle ceremony " and ending with a growing friendship with one of the foreign students who was present. The candle ceremony had as its theme the building of a world outlook; the addresses stressed race relations; the study group was led by an American who had been in goodwill work in Japan for nineteen years. Last but not least, this young man and his friends admitted into their circle

( 97) a Chinese student. " He returned on the train with me, and our friendship has been steadily growing."

68. I lived near the beet fields in which Mexicans were employed. They were peons of the lower class and were not clean or pleasant to look on. Perhaps the long beet knives which they carried added to their formidable appearance. However, I formed an unfavorable impression of Mexicans in general.

Then I became acquainted with a few Mexicans who were customers in the store where I worked. After this I attended some mission study classes in which we studied the Latin Americans both above and below the border. From these classes a different attitude arose; an understanding of the different Latin temperament, of how one family had a piano but no chairs, and why this was so. This fuller knowledge coupled with an acquaintance with a Mexican preacher and several others of varying classes has changed my entire idea of the Mexicans. Instead of an unpleasant lot, I now see a human people with the same hopes, fears, and ambitions as our own and with a deep desire to become educated and to better their status .[3]

69. My home is in the very heart of the raisin district of California, in the central part of the San Joaquin Valley. In that section, as in many others of our state, every little town, not to mention the cities, has its " Jap town." In my childhood experiences, " raisins " and the "Jap town " held a very large place. Oriental labor, as a large factor in that soul-trying, heartbreaking round of hard labor and uncertainty that is the raisin industry, has made me well acquainted with, if not a part of, the problem known as the "Japanese problem in California." Also, the echoes of the Russo-Japanese War impressed upon me the idea of a superior being, against whom nothing nor no one might prevail.

But early in my school days I began to feel some of the unreasonableness of the more unthinking and unbridled animosity of the whites toward the Japanese. I soon saw some of the faults of the whites in dealing with them, some of their bold inconsistencies; and so came to occupy a sort of neutral position, which, had I been asked to characterize, I should have called a desire to see " fair play." In strict honesty I must say that, since being able to form my own judgments to any extent at all, I have not been able to hold any violent prejudice against. any race.


But to get to the heart of my story. About two years ago or a little more, the missionary forces of my church started a Japanese mission in the " Jap town " of my home town. Through my more or less active church work I soon became - I might say automatically - interested in this mission. I was prevailed upon to take a class of boys and young men. I did so, and found myself taking a deep interest, though I had to speak through an interpreter. Changes in the labor situation caused the disbanding of this class, and I took over a group of older grammar-school and younger high-school students. At about the same time I assumed the superintendency of the Sunday school. I have not time to give a detailed account of my association with those people, common hard-working folk all. But let it suffice for me to say that I have yet to find kinder, better-hearted, more considerate, or open-hearted and friendly folk than this little group, a part of the " yellow peril." [4]

School and College Contacts. - College and university life affords young people of other races opportunities of meeting under favorable conditions. Personal friendships lead to racial good will. The question may be raised, of course, as to how deeply fixed this good will becomes in college and how long it remains after a person's college days are ended. A college training, however, if one "majors " in the social sciences and takes work in social anthropology, race psychology, and immigration, affords a breadth of view that is favorable to the inception of race friendliness.

Knowledge of one or two high-class, dependable members of another race leads to favorable conclusions toward the entire race. This is an interesting start toward, but not a substantial ground upon which to construct enduring race attitudes of good will.

The college atmosphere is likely to be idealistic. The environmental controls are alive with tendencies fostering good will on broad, theoretical grounds. Behavior patterns favoring a widening outlook on life are inaugurated.

Instead of meeting immigrants of the least developed and

( 99) narrowest types, the college student in his daily contacts meets immigrants (students) on their higher, plastic, active-minded, " cultured " levels. Race friendliness thus is more " natural." A college student reports that he now has a very different feeling for practically all the races of a color different from his own, because of his experiences in college in meeting members of intelligent young men and women of the various races and because of his study of the music, art, and religion of these races in the social-science courses. " All these factors have led me to a more tolerant attitude and a more sympathetic understanding."

A discriminating young woman states that previous to her college days she had received the impression that the Chinese were dirty, dishonest, and two-faced. In college she met some Chinese girls and found that they did not conform to her preconceived notions. In fact, these contacts led her " to think that as a race the Chinese are very worthy." One of these Chinese girls acquired a fluent and correct use of the English language in an incredibly short time, which created " a very favorable impression." Moreover, " she really had a keen sense of humor." Many interesting conversations followed concerning the social, economic, and political problems of the Chinese, which resulted in a keen interest in the Chinese.

A series of racial discussion meetings now being conducted under the auspices of the Y. W. C. A. of the University of Southern California illustrates a technique for developing racial friendliness that has both religious and college backgrounds. The general secretary of the Y. W. C. A. selects, for example, two American college women of breadth of view and frankness and two Japanese college women of similar training. The four are invited to the home of the secretary for informal dinner and to remain afterwards for a conversation in front of the fireplace, at which mutual racial impressions are discussed. For instance, one of the

( 100) American girls will lead off with a frank statement of her impressions of the Japanese race as a whole. Then a Japanese girl follows with a description of her impressions of Americans as a people. And so on. Personal experiences and hearsay reports, true and false statements alike are examined. At times, the discussion grows excited and, again, subsides into mutual regrets for human misdeeds. The secretary raises a question now and then or relates a portion of her own racial experience. One experience leads to the recital of another by another member of the group. Thus the discussion goes on. Another topic is announced for the next meeting, such as: " What do my friends think of your race? " As a result of a series of meetings of this type, racial understanding, sympathy, and good will are multiplied. At the same time, another series of discussion conferences is being held by two white girls and two Negro girls with the Y. W. C. A. secretary in charge. Still other racial combinations as bases for discussion meetings are planned. In this way widespread discussions of a constructive nature are fostered.

70. Before I came to the university I had really never known any Jews, at least not those of the best type. In high school and junior college I knew one girl, a Jew, who was the joke of all my friends. Her personality was far from pleasing. I tried to get better acquainted with her and to persuade her to come to Y meetings, but, the better I knew her the less I liked her, till finally I gave up in disgust.

There was also a Jewish boy in junior college, who, like the girl, was the butt of every one. His personality was not quite so disagreeable, but he rather lacked in gray matter and was always doing ridiculous things. Moreover, I noticed several times that he cheated in exams. I believe I judged the whole Jewish race by this girl and fellow, and by unpleasant stories I had heard about Jews.

After I came to the university I met a number of lovely Jewish girls at the Y, girls with high ideals and pleasing Personalities. My prejudice against their race began to fade. I met one or two

( 101) Jewish fellows who impressed me with their fine character and keen intellect. I find that my prejudice now has almost disappeared.

An article I read on the Jews and their social isolation made a big impression on me. I realized as never before how remarkable the Jews have been to keep their distinctive characteristics.

When I entered the university a colored girl came and took the seat next to me. All I noticed was that she was colored, and I decided to take another seat the next day.

When I went to my next class, which was in sociology, the professor took up the question of race prejudice. The next day when the colored girl came and sat beside me, I looked at her. She had a very pleasant, smiling face and I, perhaps in an effort to assure myself that I was not prejudiced, talked to her. Several weeks passed by; we exchanged books, and I decided that I rather liked having her sit next to me.

Within the first month after the semester had started, I was invited to the home of some friends for luncheon; the man was a professor at one of the universities, with a Ph.D.; the wife was a graduate of an eastern university. They both represented the highest type of intellectually active people. The table was set for four. I wondered who the other guest was, since I saw no one else there. Dinner was served, or rather luncheon, and to my surprise my colored girl who sat next to me in class took the fourth place. She worked for my hosts after university classes. I don't suppose my hosts will ever know how the first few bites of food almost choked me, but I am quite certain now that I will not move away or even want to if a colored person eats at my table, or sits next to me.[5]

71. There is one thing of inestimable value that language study has done for me. It justifies whatever time and study I may have put upon it. The study of Spanish, in other words, has given me as no other thing has, a new viewpoint on Mexico.

Before such study my ideas of Mexicans were chiefly drawn from the people who dig ditches and repair our car tracks. Through a Spanish organization I was drafted into the work of making a program characteristically Mexican for the purpose of advertising the real Mexico and not the Mexico as people think it is. The program when finally finished consisted of a two-act play, several dances, a skit from a Zarzuela, a musical comedy, and some songs by a quartet in costume.

( 102)

It was during rehearsals that my long-held prejudices against these people vanished. I have never worked with people who are so inventive, clever, and willing. The much-mentioned Latin temperament did not rise up half so readily as the American temper. On the part of the men there was politeness, chivalry, and fascination. I learned to know several of the charming people of Mexico City who were here for one reason or another, and I found that they were just as delightful as any one could wish. They seemed to go out of their way to be nice to me. This was true whether they were the Castilian type or the Mestizo, mostly Indian, type. I came to love them dearly, and I also learned through the medium of their language that they were as full of high principles and deep purposes as any of my countrymen. There was always on their part an expressed wish for conciliation and understanding. It is a shame that we don't meet them half way and that we confine our ideas to what we see up and down our railroad tracks and in the poorer parts of our city .[6]

Foreign Travel and Study Contacts. - Travel brings a cosmopolitan attitude to many people, providing they are already open-minded and interested in cultural diffusion as well as in scientific assimilation. Otherwise, travel easily brings an increase of race antipathy. Travel that covers the historic spots, art centers, or that seeks business gain leads frequently to increase of race antipathy, but travel that seeks out people and strives to know their circumstances and their culture history commonly arouses friendliness.

Exchange of students between countries, student parties traveling in foreign countries, international houses such as the splendidly equipped International House in New York City-all these foster racial understanding. Apropos of this theme, an " international college " might be proposed where native students would be limited to 25 per cent of the total, where fellowships for other countries would bring together at least four students from each of the nations of the world, with the larger nations contributing substantial quotas.


72. During the past ten years, my impressions and sentiments of England and the English have been completely changed. At the age of seven I was so prejudiced against the English that I would not play checkers with red checkers, because the British soldiers had worn red coats in the American Revolution. I cannot imagine any one having any more bitterness and hatred toward a race than I had. This was probably because I had already commenced to read stories of the Revolution, had heard lots of them, and acquired the idea that all things English were products of the devil. When I started to school, my opinions were strengthened by stories of the persecution of the Puritans and finally the war against the mother country. History was presented in a way to make the pupils think that everything we did was all right, completely just with the direct sanction of God, and that everything some other nation did was inspired from the opposite source. Now I cannot sufficiently condemn this detestable practice of filling children's minds with lies. It is meant to produce patriots, but often produces bigots.

Further, my impressions may have been influenced to some extent by older people (none too well educated or broadminded) with whom I came in contact and who had had unfavorable experiences with a poor type of English immigrant or tourist.

When the World War began, my sympathies were all with Germany, as it seemed a good opportunity to overthrow England and " punish the wicked nobles and king " that I pictured in my perverted imagination.

About 1915 a French-Italian-Swiss schoolmate began to change my opinions. This precocious youth explained as well as he could the issues at stake, and gradually I came to see right on the allied side. By reflection England came to seem less and less a bad country. Then association with English people gradually dispelled my bitterness and hatred, and I came to love England next to my own country. It seemed that the " English kids " I played with were decent chaps, played square, were clean and very little different from what I thought Americans to be, except in accent. As I grew older and read and observed, I lost practically all my prejudice.

Then in 1921 I had an opportunity of going to England for three years study. If an Englishman cared enough for Anglo American friendship to provide for one hundred American scholars to be in residence at Oxford all the, time, surely I owed it to

( 104) justice to judge his race fairly and to throw overboard prejudice in coming to a final decision. " Hands across the sea," " English-speaking university," " Anglo-Saxon coöperation," etc., were being much talked of just after the war. I would go and live among them and see for myself. And so I went to England.

From the first I felt very much at home and easily fell into harmony in my new surroundings. An American should never feel like a foreigner in England-he isn't treated nor considered as such. They still think of us as one of the family of British nations and take great pride in our accomplishments, for they started us on our course and gave us our language, law, and most of what is best in our literature, religion, and tradition. I found that I was never thought of as a foreigner-that a person from Los Angeles, seven thousand miles away, is considered " one of us " more than a person from Paris three hundred and eighty-five miles away. Thus differences are ironed out and disappear. One comes to feel his Americanism less poignantly and to acquire sympathy for the English-speaking world. From this there is only a step to Christian fellow feeling and on that may be built world citizenship.

As I progressed in the study of English history, literature, and traditions, my prejudice changed to open-mindedness and then to sympathy and love. This process was helped along by relations with the people with whom I came in contact. They were cordial to me and went out of their way to make me feel at home in their country. British coldness was exploded. I observed that no one cheated and that high standards of action prevailed among my associates in business and conversation. Surely they could not be as bad as the history books made out. No underhand trickery was condoned in games of any kind, and this made a strong appeal. Their common sense was a wonderful thing. The humblest seemed able to weigh values. A man could execute the king in Hyde Park without going to jail. People tolerated it because there must be a few crooks in every society, and no harm would come of it anyway. Things were done just as needed. No high-flown phrases and theories were worked out to take care of cases that never arose. Courtesy from my servant, from my tutor, from the policeman, postman, in fact from every one with whom I had dealings impressed me that the English had evolved the art of social life further than we have. The respect of all for excellence struck me forcefully. The scholar there emulates the learned profcssor; the general run of people look up to a university man.

( 105) The accomplished and well-born command respect even without money!

Three years of these impressions quietly playing on my mind changed me from feeling friendly toward England to becoming more than generous, even devoted. I came to understand that to know all is to pardon all, to understand all is to sympathize with all.

I believe racial prejudice disappears with the growth of mutual experience and am more firmly convinced than ever that our future depends on our public school system where this mutual background is possible .[7]

The home atmosphere early influences children to express either favorable or unfavorable racial attitudes, because of the uncritical ability of children. They accept generalities without much question. Where the home is tolerant racially, the children respond similarly. Religious idealism is often coupled with a tolerant home atmosphere. It is effective because of its broad swing and frequent remoteness from direct racial contacts. School and college experiences are significant because of the constructive atmosphere and of the opportunities for making contacts with fine types of young people of many races. Travel and study that provide opportunities for natural life conditions generally result in broad racial reactions. Culture studies and universitydirected conferences regarding inter-racial relations produce racial tolerance and good will.


1. Compare the conditions when " the home atmosphere " is likely to be conducive to racial friendliness and when conducive to racial antipathy.

2. Account in as many ways as you can for race intolerance and prejudice on the part of many religious people who profess a brotherhood-of-man principle.

3. Work out a set of procedures for insuring the permanency of racial good will based on contacts made in college.

( 106)

4. Outline a plan whereby sympathetic travel and study abroad might be greatly expanded.

5. Compare home atmosphere, religious idealism, school and college contacts, and travel and study abroad regarding their relative merits in furthering racial good will.

6. Develop a plot for a scenario or a work of fiction in which racial good will is indirectly furthered.

7. Compare the media of race friendliness with the media of race antipathy.


BRIDGES, H. J., On Becoming an American. Jones, 1919.

DANIELS, JOHN, American Via The Neighborhood, Chaps. VI-IX. Harper, 1920.

FURMAN, LUCY, The Quare Woman. Atlantic Monthly Press, 1923.

INQUIRY, THE, All Colors. New York, 1926.

-----, And Who is My Neighbor? New York, 1924.

RAVAGE, M. E., An American in the Making. Harper, 1917.

STEINER, E. A., The Broken Wall. Revell, 1911.


  1. Social Distance studies.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Mexican Immigrant Survey of the Southwest. L
  4. Pacific Coast Race Relations Survey
  5. Social Distance Studies.
  6. Mexican Immigrant Survey of the southwest.
  7. Social Distance Studies.

Valid HTML 4.01 Strict Valid CSS2