- Books, Literature, and Writing
The White Man's Burden: My Take
To get the full understanding of “The White Man’s Burden,” you first must understand the author. Rudyard Kipling was born in British India in 1865. He became educated in England before return to India where his father worked s a museum director as well as an authority on Indian arts and crafts. This allowed Rudyard to become even further educated in his culture. He had written over 80 stories by 1890, virtually all of them were unknown outside of India. After suffering great financial misfortune, he moved to Vermont with his wife. Here in Vermont is where he wrote his infamous “Jungle Books.” Once he returned to England he published “The White Man’s Burden” in 1899. This was a response to the United States forcing their selves and ideals upon the Philippines shortly after the Spanish-American War. This poem expressed how the United States decided to take it upon them to cure the world of uncivilizations. Shortly after that poem was published came along a rebuttal from the other side of the spectrum. “The Black Man’s Burden.” Written by H. T. Johnson in 1899 as well, this piece of work displayed the mistreatment of the people whilst in the process of “civilization.”
“Rather poor poetry, but a good sense from the expansion point of view,” (T. Roosevelt). This was a response to Kipling’s piece. “The White Man’s Burden” was not only directed towards America in response to the Philippines, but it is also directed to the European countries to share their wealth and their medicines to reduce illnesses and famines that are polluting Africa. This is more commonly known as imperialism that is just to generalize it. Imperialism is derived from this because of the expansion of a country’s particular ideals into new worlds/country’s. The sound of imperialism now days seems very striking at first but it can have many different definitions in the way it can be executed. One way for example is the idea that “The White Man’s Burden” is conveying. Basically it is saying share the wealth with the rest of the world.
Johnson’s response with “The Black Man’s Burden” seems to come off as ignorant. It addresses race and only race. It seems to be a response to only the title of “The White Man’s Burden.” It comes off as if Johnson never read past the title and got his feathers ruffled and wrote a response. What Johnson wrote was the mistreatment of Indians and Blacks. “In vain ye seek to end it, With bullets, blood death.” (H. T. Johnson). With this excerpt it comes off as the white man killing what they do not like. Conquer with little recourse. These two pieces of literature are not even close to being on the same level.
On the other hand, this imperialism the “The White Man’s Burden” is pointing out could be for the best, that is if it were to be executed correctly. Correctly being a way that could preserve the cultures of the people that the white man would be helping. Not like the time Europe took over Africa and just start depleting natives like it “ain’t no thang.” Kipling was on the right track, his point of view came from outside of the situation and maybe that is why it was so highly revered. Johnson’s work just seemed to be another black man that was offended and holds very little value compared to Kipling’s work. Like was once mentioned before, if there was a way to preserve cultures while sharing our wealths (medicines, healthy practices) yeah, go ahead Imperialism. It seemed to be a problem with doing that. Civilization was defined by the wealthy, and the white man is stubborn. Stubborn people are always hard to convince of methods that are not their own. In the end, imperialism at this point in time in history is a terrible idea for the world’s civilizations and cultures.