Einstein: The Negro Question (1946) – Albert Einstein

December 5, 2014

Society/Living, USA

With the present backsliding to America’s default mode of permanently-enshrining injustice towards her African-American population, I am sharing a paper I received from someone who must have in mind America’s present dilemma of unleashing savagery leading to deaths comparable to Jim Crow era, on African-American males.

Please read the thoughts, voiced aloud, after World War II, at a particularly difficult period for African-Americans before the civil rights era by one of the greatest minds to have ever lived:

Thanks, Mr. Taiwo Akinola.


I am writing as one who has lived among you in America only a little more than ten years. And I am writing seriously and warningly. Many readers may ask:

“What right has he to speak about things which concern us alone, and which no newcomer should touch?”

I do not think such a standpoint is justified. One who has grown up in an environment takes much for granted. On the other hand, one who has come to this country as a mature person may have a keen eye for everything peculiar and characteristic. I believe he should speak out freely on what he sees and feels, for by so doing he may perhaps prove himself useful.

What soon makes the new arrival devoted to this country is the democratic trait among the people. I am not thinking here so much of the democratic political constitution of this country, however highly it must be praised. I am thinking of the relationship between individual people and of the attitude they maintain toward one another.

In the United States everyone feels assured of his worth as an individual. No one humbles himself before another person or class. Even the great difference in wealth, the superior power of a few, cannot undermine this healthy self-confidence and natural respect for the dignity of one’s fellow-man.

There is, however, a somber point in the social outlook of Americans. Their sense of equality and human dignity is mainly limited to men of white skins. Even among these there are prejudices of which I as a Jew am clearly conscious; but they are unimportant in comparison with the attitude of the “Whites” toward their fellow-citizens of darker complexion, particularly toward Negroes. The more I feel an American, the more this situation pains me. I can escape the feeling of complicity in it only by speaking out.

Many a sincere person will answer: “Our attitude towards Negroes is the result of unfavorable experiences which we have had by living side by side with Negroes in this country. They are not our equals in intelligence, sense of responsibility, reliability.”

I am firmly convinced that whoever believes this suffers from a fatal misconception. Your ancestors dragged these black people from their homes by force; and in the white man’s quest for wealth and an easy life they have been ruthlessly suppressed and exploited, degraded into slavery. The modern prejudice against Negroes is the result of the desire to maintain this unworthy condition.

The ancient Greeks also had slaves. They were not Negroes but white men who had been taken captive in war. There could be no talk of racial differences. And yet Aristotle, one of the great Greek philosophers, declared slaves inferior beings who were justly subdued and deprived of their liberty. It is clear that he was enmeshed in a traditional prejudice from which, despite his extraordinary intellect, he could not free himself.

A large part of our attitude toward things is conditioned by opinions and emotions which we unconsciously absorb as children from our environment. In other words, it is tradition—besides inherited aptitudes and qualities—which makes us what we are. We but rarely reflect how relatively small as compared with the powerful influence of tradition is the influence of our conscious thought upon our conduct and convictions.

It would be foolish to despise tradition. But with our growing self-consciousness and increasing intelligence we must begin to control tradition and assume a critical attitude toward it, if human relations are ever to change for the better. We must try to recognize what in our accepted tradition is damaging to our fate and dignity—and shape our lives accordingly.

I believe that whoever tries to think things through honestly will soon recognize how unworthy and even fatal is the traditional bias against Negroes.

What, however, can the man of good will do to combat this deeply rooted prejudice? He must have the courage to set an example by word and deed, and must watch lest his children become influenced by this racial bias.

I do not believe there is a way in which this deeply entrenched evil can be quickly healed.

But until this goal is reached there is no greater satisfaction for a just and well-meaning person than the knowledge that he has devoted his best energies to the service of the good cause.

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4 Comments on “Einstein: The Negro Question (1946) – Albert Einstein”

  1. emotanglobal Says:


    Einstein’s empathy remains green, and as a Jew, it is without doubt lacking in hypocrisy.

    Africans ran into the path of Caucasian Other-Value-Destroying Violence only in the 15th Century and Jewry has taken more than a Millenium of bestiality and degradation from the Western European and North American (WENA) Caucasian.

    Einstein however misses two points: the first is that Jewish suffering has, and remains cushioned, softened, and soothed by the Jews’ ability to . “… disappear” into the pink called white( the color of light, of everything supposedly good) – mass-assumed physical peculiarities, notwithstanding. This capacity for disappearance has helped and facilitated benefitting participation in the Caucasian world in a way it has not been possible for the brown cast as black (the color of darkness, of everything evil).

    A recent placard in Missouri, USA, agonised “MY COLOR IS NOT A CRIME”, but it is, and as Einstein implied, this “crime” of being different, being considered inferior and GAME, to all, has become everywhere but especially in the USA, A TRADITION, A BELIEF and a FAITH.

    The second point that Einstein also misses is the fact that Jewry has, and continues to weaken – even neutralising the TRADITION with its excellence in every human field in a way the African is still achieve, even in the USA amidst excellent opportunities.

    Fifteen percent of the population of the USA – the African-Americans – cannot/do not command 2% of the national wealth of the USA. It cannot do this because it had chosen, or not been able to excel like the Jews in the acquisition of education and skills which ensure and enhance human civilisation. Unfortunately this applies to the African out of the USA, from its oldest Republic, Haiti, to the newest in South Sudan.

    What all Africans, wherever they may be need to understand, is that the world is a BATTLEGROUND as in the Yoruba world-view in its benign form, the perfectly competitive FREE MARKET and COMPETITIVENESS.

    That, in my opinion IS the answer.




    • emotan77 Says:

      Dear Mr. Tao,

      What is there more to say; how very right!

      The inadequacy, call it failure, of Nigeria to seize the role of leadership of the African world by virtue of her God-given resources IS the reason why blacks everywhere, especially blacks in America, will continue to be maliciously treated. There is no shining example of a black nation to hold up as example to people’s of African descent everywhere, and African-Americans are therefore in the unwholesome – nay, nasty – situation of considering enslaved past as being superior to Africans’ situation.




  2. Adegoke FALADE Says:

    Great Albert Einstein. This is the first time I came across this powerful and sobering writing from the most intelligent man in the 20th century, and also in the 21st century. There is another great attribute of Einstein that is not known to many : intuitiveness!

    The choke-hold of defenceless Eric Garner and his appeal for release with the words – I can’t breathe – literally made me feel choked. In the past almost four decades as a practicing doctor, I have seen patients, and more especially children, panting for breaths, but never had I felt so disturbed as I experienced this broad daylight MURDER in the New York City of 21st century America!

    Somebody should do a critical analysis of the frequency of willful murder of African-Americans now, compared with about 10 years ago. May be a pattern will emerge.

    But, above all, we’re in the End of Time, and cycles are closing fast!



    • emotanglobal Says:

      Dear Prof.,

      Thanks for this.

      First, like you, I had never read or heard of this deep insight by the genius.

      The enmity and deep-ingrained hate – even of a few – that the American Whites harbor against the African-American population which never really went away with winning civil rights because the VOTE of Blacks – and FEAR – of Whites finally boiled over when Obama won the presidency in spectacular fashion. Closet white extremists of Ku Klux Klan (White hate group) merely started fearing BLACK TAKE OVER OF AMERICA.

      To understand this a bit, the African-American population – and the effort to suppress the Black votes must be understood as I see these as giving rise to the regression to the era of Whites killing Blacks, especially the males, in recent times.

      On August 22, 2004 – over ten years ago when Barrack Obama was running for the U.S. SENATE – I presented an essay to readers of my weekly essays in [Nigeria’s] The Comet on Sunday from which the following may be of relevance here:

      [In 1860, there were 31.4 million Americans of which 4.4 million (14%) were African-Americans. Forty years later, there were 9 million out of 76 million Americans. This means the African-American population about doubled. Twenty years later in 1920, there were 105 million Americans of which 10.5 million or 10% were African Americans: the African-American population that grew from 4.4 to 9 million the previous 40 years grew by a measly 1.5 million in twenty years!]

      The whole essay can be checked it out here as I posted it on my earlier blog,, in January 2012:

      The whole world need to go at this matter the way America would go at it if the same problem has persisted in other parts of the world.

      (Professor Adegoke is a professor of paediatrics at Nigeria’s premier University Teaching Hospital, Ibadan.)

      Regards, as always.



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