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By Mary White Ovington
Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “The Vengeance of the Gods,” by William Pickens. Published by The A. M. E. Book Concern. 631 Pine St., Philadelphia, Pa. Price $1.25 postpaid, Mr. Pickens is well known to Ameri cans as a public speaker and an essay writer, but he is new to the world oi fiction. The Vengeance of the Gods is a slight volume containing four stories, or to be more exact, two stories and two sketches of veritable happenings. I confess to finding reality better than fiction. The talc of the colored man who didn’t take the upper berth for which he had paid and who thereby got its occupant, a white man, a good thrashing and placed the white man who had planned to attack the Negro in a false and ludicrous position, is al most too good to be true. It laughs at white prejudice, and the finest at tack that we can make on white prejudice, is the attack of ridicule. And the last sketch of the colored soldiers in France, "Tit for Tat.” is the best of all. It is the story of the 370 Regi ment encamped at Grand Villars. I cannot resist repeating the gist of it. At Grand Villars, France, the first American regiment to be stationed was a colored one. The French saw these soldiers and learned to like them heart ily. The colored men were on their best behavior and were polite and gentle to the women and hearty to all men. They pushed the baby carriages, they carried up the water for the girls from the spring, they were genuinely democratic, helping rich and poor alike. The girls of course all took to them, the doors of every home- ? As soon as the white soldiers saw that the French girls had been inviting colored soldiers into their homes, they were shocked and they at once in structed the French in race prejudice. But they overdid it. They overdid it so much that they gave the colored soldiers their chance. One of their lieutenants from New Orleans got the French folk of the town out to hear him, and then explained to them that these. new soldiers were not real Americans. Could they not see it? Had they not violated all those ideals of democracy of which they had hcari so much? "We allow them to lrv in our country, hut they hate us Many of them arc the descendant of the Germans and Austrians am have much of the arrogance of thei forbears. We do not associate witl them in our country; we call then crackcfs and pecks 1” And cracker and pecks they were to the end of thei stay, outcasts, unable to receive reeog nition from any of the French pcoph of Grand ViHars, Mr. Pckcns says in his preface tha “if the Negro wants to be idealize! he must idealize himself. * * * A ran must present its own case and ennobh its own ideals.” He offers these fom stories as a beginning in this direction In the tales the colored arc the heroci and the heroines and the whites oecupj a subordinate and by no means an at tractive place. It is a question whether we can gel artistic writing if it is undertaken on this method. Rather We shall get the sort of writing that we dislike in the whites, special pleading. Those who follow the custom, as Mr. Pickens puts it, of showing the Negro cither as a down or a villain, have their propa ganda, and it is because we see the propaganda that we dislike the story. So if we are conscious that the colored writer represents his heroes as virtu ous and heroic because he w'atits to teach us a lesson, we shall sense the propaganda and just so far distrust the story. When the Negro begins to write great fiction, and he will before long, he will write out of tile intense cre ative impulse of the artist. He will show us the Negro in his strength and his weakness. And despite all the weakness, the truth of the life of the Negro in America is so terrible, that he will tear at our heart strnigs. Put such a writer must give all his life to his work. He must be content "to live in a garret aloof, to have few friends, and go poorly clad.” No creative work can be done at odd, tired min utes. But I am reviewing a volume of four stories, not the great novel of the fu ture. The stories arc entertaining and the presage of larger things. We hope that we shall have more of them. wcrsw* mmrz:r.yvmt'- -r ACCROl The Wonder Hair Dressing for men, ^ women and children. 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OPPOSED TO HIGHER TAXES Executive in AdcK’ss to Department j Heads Says “Our Country Is One of Few In World Which Is Pay ing Its Way as It G:es.” Washington, "■ . —Again stress ing the need for the utmost economy in governmental expenditure, Presi dent Harding warned the budget mak ers of JOi’4 that they mast use their pruning knives. "I sav frankly to you.” the Presl- | dent asserted, "that I will not send to congress estimates exceeding the probable receipts of the government, and I must warn you hat unless you use your pruning knives the execu tive will he compelled to cut deeply Into the estimates presented. “Our country is one of tlie few in the world which is now paying Its way as it . oes, and I must regard j with disfavor any tendency to Inter-1 fere with tills condition or to in crease taxes." Addresses Department Heads. The President spoke io several hun dred departmental heads and bureau chiefs, organized into “the business , establishment of the government” by i Gen. Charles G. Danes. Following j his address, the new director of the j budget, Gen. H. M. I.ord, outlined thej, work of the next year and also j stressed the need for economy. Praises Budget Makers. President Harding congratulate 1 f the budget makers for reduction e j footed in the past year and then said: I “The prospective net deficit of 11'.". ]£ 000,000 for the current fiscal year la j a challenge to us all. We must here j! resolve that through our efforts ex- l penses will he kept within Income. J There must he utmost economy. I j There tin e been established these , business principles which are cnpahlo J of bringing further economy during [ the current year. I “The business head of the govern ■ mont does not and cannot contem • plate or expect that expenditure- i this year will exceed Income." Estimatas Racclpts. The President said that the best ! estimates of receipts for 1021 arc ; $3,108,000,000 arm that expenditures j must lie kept within that figure. “The blazing of the path of econ- , or y," said the President In cnnelit- j slon, “is no easy task. Expenditure [ Is too often applauded, where earnest I j watchfulness for economy goes tin j! | noticed except for complaint. Put !' j (her is groat compensation for scrv- ;! ! ice done. It lies in the eonsetou -ness \ j of doing the thing necessary to make [ the government amre stable.” Read THE WHIP w i I Jay Hawk Radio Service i | DEALERS IN RADIO SUPPLIES AND ACCESSORIES * " . ~ i . . . « J Selling and Installing Radio Apparatus for Receiving i $ Opera, Concert, Speeches, Stock and j Market Reports and News f ► I Buy Your Parts From IJs At Wholesale Prices : s. Complete Radio Sets, including Aerial I $2500 And Up. 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