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238 Conclusion In individual and personal relations, as well as in political and international relations, we must apply the principles which underlie consent, and, still better, cooperation and struggle of the fruitful and invigorating type . . . We have made but the merest beginnings in the highest of human arts, that of living and working together on the plane of consent and cooperation without coercion. —Emily Greene Balch, 1919 Always there is a race relations question in the atmosphere . . . Since there can be no world peace without right local and national relations, we believe that this may after all be one of our chief concerns. —Addie Hunton, 1932 Middle-class reform-minded African American and white women held much in common during the interwar years. Foremost, they shared a deep belief in the vital importance of women’s contributions to the future development of the nation and the world. As women who came of age during the Progressive Era and the Woman’s Era, they believed that through public education and active political participation women could change society. Women like Balch and Hunton encouraged the understanding that the route to peace lay in women’s ability to rehabilitate all forms of relationships from the most personal and intimate to the institutional and international. They believed that the social hierarchies of race, gender, and nation harbored the conditions for war and that these divisions needed to be replaced with new forms of relating based upon mutuality, cooperation, and respect. They turned to the WILPF as a practical forum for exploring the possibility of living out these ideals. As such, Conclusion | 239 peace women’s postwar interracial engagement became a testing ground for the belief that eliminating racism and encouraging interdependence were central to the production of peace. The US WILPF came of age in an era rife with racial tensions at home and abroad. From the postwar race riots and rise in lynching, to the denial of freedom to colonial subjects and the generation of Pan-African consciousness , to the US occupation of Haiti, race infused the spaces black and white women traversed in their work as peacemakers. The early mission statements of the international and US WILPF indicated the organization ’s awareness of the complex dynamics of race and articulated the link between racism and war. A 1922 resolution by the US section proposed that because “race prejudice creates distrust, suspicion, antagonism, and hatred towards the people of other nations,” it “encourage[d] the war spirit.” The antidote to the war spirit was to “collectively” and “individually ” uproot racism and in its place foster an “international spirit” and habits of cooperation and coexistence.1 As such, the WILPF’s hallmark ideals , its community-based internationalism and drive to replace national allegiances with allegiances based in the acknowledgment of a common humanity, were rooted in part in its response to early twentieth-century American racism. Race was, of course, always present in the fabric of the women’s peace movement. As this study has shown, to think about the trajectories of race in women’s social movements we need to take into consideration the different dimensions of race and racism at work at any historical moment. As Michael Omi and Howard Winant encourage, we need to think about “race as a phenomenon.”2 It is expressed, practiced, contested, and transformed within myriad interactions and spaces that include but are not limited to the personal, the institutional, the cultural, the ideological, and the political. And of course race does not stand alone; it is expressed, experienced, understood, and regulated in concert with other sociohistorical categories, most important for this study the categories of gender and class. From early contemplation about the significance of the racial underpinnings of World War I to the consideration of the racial politics of the movement itself, race gave shape to the women’s peace movement in complex ways. 240 | A Band of Noble Women As racial modernists, peace women advanced the attack on the ideology of scientific racism that dominated much of early twentieth-century thought and public policy. They did this work from various vantage points. Through curricular reform, the teaching of world-mindedness in schools, and the promotion of JILs, the WILPF hoped to inspire the nation’s youth to believe in a common humanity and walk away from the nativism and American exceptionalism that dominated American society. As social settlement house leaders and critics of anti-immigrant legislation and forced assimilation, peace women contested the argument...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780815651444
Related ISBN
9780815632573
MARC Record
OCLC
785782983
Pages
296
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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