Dispatch 145: The Work of African American Sociologist E. Franklin Frazier

Poster from Office of War Information. Domestic Operations Branch. News Bureau, 1943

Poster from Office of War Information. Domestic Operations Branch. News Bureau, 1943

E. Franklin Frazier stands out as one of the early pioneers especially in the field of sociology. His scholarship covering topics ranging from the black family to social reality to social change and race relations continues to inform the work of current-day sociologists and social psychologists.

Among his varied scholarly works, his analysis of racism in his work “The Pathology of Race Prejudice” stands out:

From a practical viewpoint, insanity means social incapacity. Southern white people afflicted with the Negro-complex show themselves incapable of performing certain social functions. They are, for instance, incapable of rendering just decisions when white and colored people are involved; and their very claim that they "know" and "understand" the Negro indicates a fixed system of ideas respecting him, —whereas a sane and just appraisal of the situation would involve the assimilation of new data. The delusions of the sane are generally supported by the herd, while those of the insane are often antisocial.

Yet, — from the point of view of Negroes, who are murdered if they believe in social equality or are maimed for asking for an ice cream soda, and of white people, who are threatened with similar violence for not subscribing to the Southerner's delusions—such behavior is distinctively antisocial. The inmates of a madhouse are not judged insane by themselves, but by those outside.

The fact that abnormal behavior towards Negroes is characteristic of a whole group may be an example illustrating Nietzsche's observation that "insanity in individuals is something rare — but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs it is the rule."

The Pathology of Race Prejudice by Edward Franklin Frazier, The ForumJune 1927, pp. 856-861. (See also The Unz Review direct article link)

In addition to his many accomplishments, he also became the first African American to assume the presidency of the American Sociological Association.

For more information on his life and scholarly contributions, go to here and here.