The Colour Bar
[The Spectator does not necessarily agree with all the views of the writers contributing to this series on the Colour Bar. Our object in publishing the series is to attempt some explanation of why the Colour Bar exists, and to emphasize the importance of the problem for the British Commonwealth. The article next week will be on " The Missionary Attitud3 to the Colour Bar," and Will be by Mr. Basil Mathews. Our correspondence columns are open at all times to letters which eeem.to us to add to the interest of this discussion.; and such correspondence is cordially invited.—En. Spectator.] Mixed Marriages and the Colour Bar BY J. W. GREGORY. F.R.S.
rJlHE great improvements in recent times of domestic I. animals and farm crops has been effected mainly by cross-breeding, as when the mates are judiciously selected the best features of both are inherited by their offspring, which are often larger, stronger, and more vigorous. As all the living varieties of mankind are regarded as be- longing to one species, the intermarriage of even the most different nations might be expected to secure the beneficial results of ordinary cross-breeding. Mankind is usually divided into three races—the Caucasian, in- cluding most Europeans, the wavy-haired people of Northern Africa and South-Western Asia and the Aus- tralian aborigines ; the Mongolian, the lank-haired people of Asia, the American Indians and some Europeans such as the Hungarians and Lapps ; and the woolly-haired Negroes and Melanesians. Colour is often used as if it were the essential racial distinction, as it is easily observed ; but it is so variable that it is not an adequate criterion of race. The hair is the most reliable charac- teristic. Colour helps to distinguish the two sub-races, the White and Dark Caucasian ; but this colour line is indefinite and inconvenient as it does not coincide with the political and cultural divisions, for the Dark Cauca- sians range from the Southern Italians to the Semites of South-Western Asia, the Aryans of India, and the Hamites of North-Eastern Africa.
The question of mixed marriages in reference to the colour bar is not concerned with those of adherents of different religions or members of allied nations ; such unions may give rise to social and domestic difficulties, but are free from objection on the more fundamental physical grounds. The problem is whether intermarriage between people so alien that they have different colours is likely to secure in the progeny the benefits of hybrid vigour. That quality is, however, secured only by interbreeding between parents who are alike in their predominant characteristics. When they are markedly dissimilar the progeny are usually handicapped by some deficiency. The offspring may be infertile or the second generation may be quite barren : or they may grow at first exube- rantly, but the growth may be rank, and so urn ta.)le and unreliable that their special feature may be missing in their descendants ; or, if it appear in one of them it may not recur, so that the effort to perpetuate the develop. ment in a new variety or breed may fail.
. The problem whether the intermarriage of members of three different races is likely to be beneficial can be judged by analogy with the cross-breeding of animals and plants or by observation of the results of human intermarriage. The evidence of cross-breeding is the more abundant and probably the more reliable, for it can be tested by experiment and the results are more easily classified into the successful and the failures. Most cross- breeders arc emphatic that a strong, durable, improved breed cannot be produced by mating animals that are too unlike. Herbert Spencer in 1892 claimed that con- clusion as prOved by overwhelming testimony, and it has been reasserted in recent times by such authorities as Professors C. B. Davenport, E. M. East and D. F. Jones in America and, amongst others, by Prof. Carr-Saunders and Professor Crew in this country.
Observation of the results of interracial marriage has yielded some contradictory results. The Chinese-European half-caste children in America and Australia have been described as above the average of their class, and in the United States the mulattoes have yielded many indi- viduals of exceptional physical and intellectual ability. The Chinese parent in these cases was probably a man of superior type, and owing to social isolation made _a devoted and careful parent ; his children often had a better chance than those of women of the same class. The mothers of the United States mulattoes have been chosen, generation after generation, from the most attractive and intelligent of the Negro women ; and the high quality of their children is the result of a long process of sexual selection. The conditions in such cases are exceptional, owing to the unfavourable factors having been overridden. Some authorities declare that the number of hybrid populations which have been carefully investigated is insufficient for any scientific conclusion.
The biological result can be better judged from simpler cases, such as that of the rural population of Northern Scandinavia, where some of the purest strains of the White Caucasians have crossed with the Lapps, who are Mongolian. The interbreeding has taken place on a con- siderable scale and the hybrids and pure bred live under similar and relatively simple conditions. The authorities who have studied this field most closely— Prof. Mjoen in Sweden and Dr. Bryn in Norway—are emphatic that the hybrids are inferior to either of the parent races, and have given rise to a troublesome class who show the defects of ill-balanced cross-breeds. The inferiority of the half-caste, though not so marked as to be demonstrable without examination of a large number of cases, has been claimed by competent observers of different racial mixtures in many parts of the world, including those of the West Indies, South America, India and the Arab-Negro hybrids in Eastern Africa.
The evidence is too uncertain to justify legislation against racial intermarriage on biological grounds. It would be manifestly impossible as well as undesirable to prohibit intermarriage between the Northern Italians and the Southern Italians on the ground that the Lom- bards are Xanthochroii (White Caucasian) and the Neapolitans Melanochroii (Dark Caucasian). Where inter- racial marriage has been prohibited by law as in many States in the United States the laws are based on social and political grounds, and the presence of people who have only a small trace of Negro blood is recognized as a serious practical difficulty. Only those who know the country intimately can judge whether the laws were enacted on valid grounds or simply from colour bar prejudice, whether the political instability of some of the South American States is due to the individual instability of interracial hybrids or to the bulk of the population belonging to races unused to parliamentary government.
The problem as regards man is especially complex, owing to the ingenuity with which he counteracts adverse influences. Nevertheless, the weight of opinion, based on the results of the cross-breeding of plants and animals and of human experience, is that intermarriage between the three human races should be avoided as far as possible. Major Leonard Darwin in 1903 stated as a common belief that " interbreeding between widely divergent races may result in the production of types inferior to both parent stocks." Lord Bryce repeatedly expressed his conviction that though the intermarriage of races psychologically akin yields satisfactory results the mix- ture of whites and Negroes, or of white and Hindus, or of American aborigines and Negroes seldom shows good results. As it is impossible to prevent miscegenation between races when intermingled by work or residence the safer policy is to restrict the mass association of the different races.