Sunday, May 1, 2011

Lasch-Quinn - Black Neighbors

Lasch-Quinn, Elisabeth. Black Neighbors: Race and the Limits of Reform in the American Settlement House Movement, 1890-1945. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993.

Taking a broader (than merely Progressive Era) view of the settlement house movement, Lasch-Quinn reveals that contrary to the simplistic assessment of reformers ignoring black issues while black leaders were divided by Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois, many settlement houses did strive to address racial issues. The problem was, however, the vast majority of settlement houses failed to recognize their role in the community presented them with the power to address segregation, and instead of taking the lead they tacitly approved segregation out of fear (probably correct to an extent) that their success in reaching the white immigrant community would suffer.

The National Federation of Settlements is the most significant example of the failure of settlement houses to address race issues until after World War II. Part of the problem was a resistance to engage with black churches which were also performing similar roles to settlement houses because of the modern antipathy to propaganda and evangelism for any one particular religion, thus excluding church settlement/missions.

But in the South, Lasch-Quinn finds a few key examples of Southern School-Settlements which, often (and most successfully) under white leadership, strove for an integrated ideal of a stronger community. White women played important roles in these schools. YWCAs also provided similar roles throughout the nation.

Paula Pfeffer - JAH
"Her dual aim is to "explain the tragic fail- ure" of the mainstream settlement houses to redirect their services from immigrants toward the African Americans who moved into their neighborhoods and to demonstrate how the void created by that neglect was filled by other institutions not customarily considered part of the settlement movement"

"Faced with changing neighorhoods and un- willing to commit themselves to integrated services, most settlement houses chose one of four courses of action, according to Lasch- Quinn: total exclusion of blacks, segregated activities, removal to white enclaves, or com- plete closure. She concludes that the failure of the movement to extend its mission to encom- pass African Americans led to its decline and to the fragmentation of its all-encompassing functions due to its replacement by various institutions that dealt separately with social service and civil rights activities."

RAH - Arnold Hirsch
"The problem was
not a social blindspot or ignorance, but rather a cold, reasoned judgment that
grew from their perceived reality. They accepted the liberal environmentalism
of the age, but accepted in corollary fashion environmentally induced "cultural"
explanations for black inferiority and moral weakness in place of the
crude biological determinism popular elsewhere. Such conclusions could lead to a benevolent paternalism on the one hand, or, even more frequently, to the
judgment that blacks and immigrants were somehow different and that the
former were irrelevant to the settlement's raison d'etre"

The connection to Race Experts is Lasch-Quinn's concern with the failure of certain social activists to fully pursue a holistic community ideal. Among the Settlement Houses, their flaw was neglecting America's racial problems. Among Race Experts, the problem was an utter dismissal of MLK, Jr's egalitarian ideal in favor of a divisive, therapeutic solution.

No comments:

Post a Comment