Monday, April 11, 2016

The Goddess of the White Man

Rudyard Kipling's "The White Man's Burden" was written on the occasion of the American invasion of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War. Shortly after it came out, an American author wrote a scathing satirical response to it, noting a point of some significance: it was never the white man who actually had to carry the white man's burden.

The Black Man’s Burden
by Edgar Rice Burroughs


Take up the white man’s burden,
The yoke ye sought to spurn;
And spurn your father’s customs;
Your father’s temples burn.
O learn to love and honor
The white God’s favored sons.
Forget the white-haired fathers
Fast lashed to mouths of guns.

Take up the white man’s burden,
Your own was not enough;
He’ll burden you with taxes;
But though the road be rough,
“To him who waits,” remember,
“All things in time shall come;”
The white man’s culture brings you
The white man’s God, and rum.

Take up the white man’s burden;
‘Tis called “protectorate,”
And lift your voice in thanks to
The God ye well might hate.
Forget your exiled brothers;
Forget your boundless lands;
In acres that they gave for
The blood upon their hands.

Take up the white man’s burden;
Poor simple folk and free;
Abandon nature’s freedom,
Embrace his “Liberty,”
The goddess of the white man
Who makes you free in name;
But in her heart your color
Will brand you “slave” the same.

Take up the white man’s burden;
And learn by what you’ve lost
That white men called as counsel
Means black men pay the cost.
Your right to fertile acres
Their priests will teach you well
Have gained your fathers only
A desert claim in hell.

Take up the white man’s burden;
Take it because you must;
Burden of making money;
Burden of greed and lust;
Burden of points strategic,
Burden of harbors deep,
Burden of greatest burdens;
Burden, these burdens to keep.

Take up the white man’s burden;
His papers take, and read;
‘Tis all for your salvation;
The white man knows not greed.
For you he’s spending millions —
To him, more than his God —
To make you learned, and happy,
Enlightened, cultured, broad.

Take up the white man’s burden
While he makes laws for you,
That show your fathers taught you
The things you should not do.
Cast off your foolish feathers,
Your necklace, beads, and paint;
Buy raiment for your mother,
Lest fairer sisters faint.

Take up the white man’s burden;
Go learn to wear his clothes;
You may look like the devil;
But nobody cares who knows.
Peruse a work of Darwin —
Thank gods that you’re alive —
And learn the reason clearly: —
The fittest alone survive.

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