Tags: African Americans, america's race problem, black, Census Bureau, Clarence Page, current-events, ethnicity, European Americans, Hispanics, race, Race in America, skin color, slavery, The Oklahoman, TheRoot.com, U. S.Census, white
Confusion caused by the Census Bureau’s use of the term race along with color has been brought to public scrutiny again. This time in an article by national columnist, Clarence Page, entitled “Census race questions could stand an update.” (The Oklahoman 5/8/13) The problems associated with the Census and ethnic identity derives from the fact that the terms race and ethnicity are never defined with any accuracy and consistency. The problem Page presents was taken from an incident he read in TheRoot.com where a woman who had lived her life as a European American (white) discovered she had “an African American ancestor who long ago had passed for white. Now faced with census forms, among other documents that ask us Americans for our race, she was wondering which box to check.”
Her problem was not just the choice of a box, but went further:”’Do I check both, and come across as a liar to those who don’t know my history?’ she asked. ‘Or do I check just white, and feel like a self-loathing racist?’” Page stated that he “…sympathize with the suddenly mixed-race woman’s confusion. In changing times, government forms are often the last to catch up.” Unfortunately, Page’s comments did not help because he was still in the race box like many in America. The problem the woman experienced was created long ago, back during American slavery when society decided to create two races, one black, one white. Again, society created these races, not nature, not God, or some cosmic phenomena. Over the years, this concept of race was not challenged but underscored and offered as fact by individuals from science, religion, politics, education, and any possible arena that was accepted as valid. None of that changed the fact that these so-called races were created for the economic and social benefit of the ruling European American class.
One reason given for the Census Bureau’s use of the word race is for data collection which requires information about all Americans based on their ethnicity. The problem noted by Page that appeared on the last census form was “On question number 9 in the 2010 form, for example, there are check boxes for ‘White,’ ‘Black, African American or Negro,’ American Indian or Alaska Native,’ as well as 11 other choices that actually are ethnic nationalities from Asia and the Pacific islands.” He noted that Hispanics are listed as a separate ethnic group. He also noted that “…the new form left out mention of the entire Middle East, among other regions, leaving their ethnic groups to check ‘White’ or fill in the catchall box for ‘Some other race.’”
These problems could easily be eliminated by the Census Bureau removing the reference to race by color and allow people to use their ethnic, cultural or geographical identity. If that was to happen, people would not be confused about who they are or what box to check. The woman at the beginning of this blog was confused because she defined herself according to a race that does not exist, although it was believed to exist at one time. That time was when American recognized only those two races. People who were not recognized as black or white was simply called immigrants and denied rights. These current problems are presently being looked at, according to Page. He noted that “More extensive questions of ethnicity and ancestry have been asked since 2000 by another set of longer forms, the American Community Survey.” He added that “Unlike the 10-year census, the longer ACS is conducted among a sample of 250,000 people every month. That’s a good model, some experts say, for how the 10-year census could give a more complete and realistic picture of America’s changing demographic landscape.”
Page referred to the former Census Director, Kenneth Prewitt, who admitted that, the present system really effective. Prewitt, we were told has a book entitled “What is Your Race? The Census and Our Flawed Efforts to Classify Americans,” that “lays out a bold plan for the phasing out the current questions about race while phasing in a new set aimed at measuring differences in income, education and upward mobility and social assimilation—key questions in determining how well our fabled American ‘melting pot’ is still working.”
Prewitt’s plan will produce some interesting information about Americans, but unless the subject of race is cleared, the problem of identity will still remain. Most people know by now and have known for some time that the concept of America as a melting pot did not reflect the reality of American society because some Americans did not melt. Had they melted, we would not be faced with the problems created by race today. The Census Bureau should realize that nothing would be loss as for as ethnic data is concerned if the reference to identity by race and color were eliminated. The fact is that the data collected would be more accurate and factual than presently recorded.
That fact that many Americans see themselves as belonging to a race other than the human race is a sign that relevant information necessary to debunk the fallacy of multiple biological races has not been sufficiently disseminated to society. When we talk in terms of bi-racial or mixed-race people we show our ignorance of information that should change our self-perception as well as our perception of our society. According to Page, “Whether Prewitt’s scheme is widely embraced or not, it’s worth talking about. Americans are changing too much for us to squeeze ourselves into the old boxes.” With respect to the European American woman selecting a box, she could choose the one she feels best reflects her life currently based on her culture. As far as her race is concerned, she could simply cross out the “Some other” and write in Human.
Tags: African Americans, Charlie LeDuff, Civil Rights, Congress, Conservatives, current-events, Democrats, European Americans, Prejudice, President Obama, Race in America, Republicans, rightwing conservatives, Tea Partiers, Tea Party, Theda Skocpol, Thomas Magstadt, white
The 2008 election of Barack Obama, an African American, as President of the United States was a monumental experience in America. His election was extremely significant because it represented a major acknowledgement in the progress of social change. That social change for many people represented progress towards America achieving a higher level of positive movement in the direction of its democratic principles. Not all Americans, however, viewed Obama’s election as progress or even as positive. Thomas Magstadt, in an article entitled “Angry White Guys: The Roots of Reactionary America,” in “NationofChange.org “discussed his reasons for the negative reactions of some “White Guys.” The reason for the anger, according to Magstadt, can be viewed as political anger.
In describing the anger of the European American guys, Magstadt first took a look at Charlie LeDuff’s book, Detroit, An American Autopsy, and made the statement that “It’s a powerful book that speaks volumes not only about Detroit but also about most big cities in America today—cities where petty crime, gang violence, drug addiction, prostitution, poverty, vandalism, filth, abandoned buildings, arson, and despair have been on the rise for decades.” LeDuff was angry because for him Detroit is a “city suffering from a chronic condition that has taken an ugly turn and become terminal.” Basically, we are told that LeDuff’s anger was “with leaders who don’t lead and politicians who make promises they don’t even try to keep.” He blamed both political parties for the problems. So, we recognize one level of anger.
Next, Magstadt shifted to a work by Theda Skocpol, Obama And America’s Political Future, which took a look at the Tea Party and its objective to move the county in a certain direction. Although she praised the party as committed, dedicated “and unstinting in their effort to move society in the direction they desire,” she noted that much of the Tea Party’s criticism of Obama “is unrealistic.” To this charge of criticism of Obama being unrealistic, Magstadt wrote that “If so, the main reason it’s unrealistic is that Obama has, quite simply, run into a brick wall erected by rightwing Republicans in the U.S. Congress. These Republicans–including the Tea Party Caucus—are nothing like traditional Republicans.” Magstadt contended that the “extreme right-wing Republicans in Congress are not taking their cues from the grass-roots Tea Party rank-and file but are in fact cynically using them, manipulating symbols and issues that move this mass of disenchanted gray hairs, embattled blue-collar workers, anxious job –seekers, financially stressed homeowners, and beleaguered taxpayers to accomplish other aims altogether.”
After some reflection, Magstadt noted “The question is not how they [Republicans, conservatives, and Tea Partiers] can believe the nonsense they spout. The question is, why are they so damn mad? What is the source of this seeming inexhaustible wellspring of anger?”He presented a number of theories that reflected politicians, and political issues from civil rights to global warming, health insurance and Obama. He talked about the changes in America during the 1960s and ‘70s and even Ronald Reagan of the 1980s. Then he stated: “Ask yourself who [during this time] stood to gain the most? Answer: the very people who in the past had always been the losers. And who stood to lose the most?”He came to the conclusion that we Americans were led to believe that the “…tectonic shift in American society in the 1960, and 70s was not simply about rich versus poor. It was not about ‘class warfare,’ and it still isn’t.” He goes on to tell us that the biggest losers are the “..white males who dominated the home, professions, business, banking, unions , politics, sports, entertainment, higher education, radio and television—well, just about everything worth dominating.”
Magstadt brought his discussion home when he said that things in America are not “fair or equal or just, but much different from the society of the 1950s.” In effect, the changes that have occurred and are still occurring are the cause of the anger:
The angry white guys who dominate the Republican Party in Congress represent all the angry white men in America who cannot accept what they’ve lost forever—namely the exclusive right to take all the best jobs, run everything, make all the decisions, and oh yes, keep everybody who doesn’t look, act, and talk the way they do out of the good old boys club. Even Augusta National and the Masters have finally bowed to the inevitable.”
We can certainly agree with Magstadt’s assessment of why some European American males are angry, but not on his timeline. The realization of the loss of power was felt by the ruling European American male in America after the Revolutionary War by extending the vote to the un-propertied males. Since each state established it own voting requirements the laws were not uniform. The actual loss of domination by the European American males was not the same as the fear of loss. The fear became a concern right after the Civil War and the passage of the 13th and 14 Amendments. The fear of the loss of dominance showed itself during the Reconstruction period in America when many law were created by the states that served to re-enslave the African Americans; social conventions kept the women from enjoying many freedoms. Sharing the rights and liberties of America with all Americans was not the concept of freedom many European American males possessed.
The fear began to change into anger in 1954 when the Supreme Court ruled that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. Change had come to their European American male dominated society that took away their power to segregate in public schools. Naturally, efforts were made by the losers to regain control of their schools, but the law prevailed. The changes in American society that Magstadt makes reference to in the 1960, and 70s had a devastating affect on the European American male; his dominance was not only being challenged, but also the loss of it was being threatened.
One of the major changes that affect the European American male that Magstadt did not focus on had to do with Obama’s election to the Presidency. As long as the biased European American male did not have to acknowledge his loss of dominance, he could still, to a degree, save face. However, when Obama was elected president, this loss became a reality. If he accepted Obama as President, then he could no longer claim superiority by color. So, regardless of the excuses used to denigrate Obama, his administration, his policies, his character, his leadership, etc…all these antics and more are simply expressions of the anger and fear of the European American males represented by the rightwing Republican Party, Tea Party, conservatives and other biased groups lamenting their great loss and the fact that all their efforts to regain their dominance are forever gone.
If Magstadt had known about this blog, he could have arrived at the point he makes regarding the angry white guys a few years earlier, but, better late than never. Nevertheless, we appreciate his efforts.
Tags: ABCA7 gene, African Americans, black, current-events, Dr. John Hardy, ethnicity, European Americans, european ancestry, Gina Kolata, Maimi Herald, race, Race in America, research, science, society, The New York Times, white
Two articles reporting on “Alzheimer’s disease in blacks” arrived at different conclusions about the study’s affect on African Americans. The first article discussed here in the last blog was written by Daniel Chang in the Miami Herald (4/11/13) entitled “Researchers identify possible new gene linked to Alzheimer’s disease in blacks.” The earlier article in The New York Times (4/9/13) written by Gina Kolata is entitled “In Blacks, Alzheimer’s Study Finds Same Variant Genes as in Whites.” We find some interesting similarities as well as differences in comparing these two articles that focused on the same topic: Alzheimer’s disease in blacks.
Actually, the similarities are few; first, they include a reference to “Alzheimer’s disease in blacks” in their headlines. Next, they both discuss the gene ABCA7. Other similarities might exist, but these two are the major ones. The Chang article suggested that the important concern is that this ABCA7 gene is found in blacks and is also linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Of course, we had problems with the use of the word blacks. The only reference to blacks by Kolata appears in the headline. Obviously, someone else could have written the headline for Kolata’s article without fully reading or appreciating the text.
The differences between the Chang article and Kolata’s are many, but the major ones verify the comments made in the last blog by Chang regarding the use of blacks as an identity. Nowhere in Kolata’s article does the reference to blacks appear. Because of this deliberate act, the readers are spared any confusion about the study or who it involves “African-Americans have a slightly higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease than people of largely European ancestry, but there is no major genetic difference that could account for the slight excess risk, new research shows.” In effect, no major concerns for African Americans acquiring Alzheimer’s disease were detected as a result of this study. This statement is contrary to the Chang statement:”University of Miami medical school researchers working with geneticist and physicians from other institutions have identified a new gene associated with Alzheimer’s disease in blacks, a finding that doctors say could help them prescribe more effective drugs for patients affected by the disease.”
The Kolata article does not place emphasis on blacks as does the Chang article, but on the disease; it says that “The results are from one of the only large studies ever done on Alzheimer’s in African-Americans. Researchers identified the same gene variant in older African-Americans that they had found in older people of European ancestry.” Chang’s article never mentions people of European ancestry. Kolata’s article continued, noting that the study “…found that African-Americans with Alzheimer’s disease were slightly more likely to have one gene, ABCA7 that is thought to confer risk for the disease.” In addition, the Kolata article noted that “Another gene, AP0E4, long known to increase Alzheimer’s risk in older white people, was present in about the same proportion of African-Americans with Alzheimer’s as it is in people of European ancestry.”This quote mentions the word “white” for the first and only time in the article.
So, what is the point being made here? The point is when ethnic identity is used and clearly defined, such as in African American and European ancestry or European Americans little confusion occurs. When color is used as ethnic identity, no one knows for certain who is being identified. The fact that the Chang article used blacks only suggested that some biological difference appeared in African Americans that did not exist in European Americans. The use of color, be it black or white, always suggest race and different races at that. Using the terms African American and people of European ancestry in her article, Kolata avoids the confusion associated with the color words.
We can compliment Kolata on her avoidance of suggesting a so-called racial difference in the Alzheimer’s study when she commented that “The researchers calculated that ABCA7 increased Alzheimer’s risk by about 80 percent in African- Americans, compared with about 10 percent to 20 percent in people of European ancestry. “ She added that “Those are considered modest increases; a gene that carries a significant risk would increase the chances of getting a disease by well over 200 percent.” She continued by noting that “…ABCA7 was not very common, still leaving most Alzheimer’s risk unexplained. About 9 of every 100 African-American with Alzheimer’s had the gene, compared with 6 out of 100 who did not have the disease.”
All the attention to blacks paid by Chang was totally unnecessary. One Alzheimer’s researcher, Dr. John Hardy, commented on the study by applauding the participants for their focus on minorities then “cautioned that the difference in risk between African-Americans and those of European ancestry who had ABCA7 was unlikely to be meaningful.” Actually, the Chang article seemed to promote race and racial differences as the focus of his article when the information did not support it. The Kolata article presented the study information in a clear and unbiased way. Her article is a good example of how ethnic identities rather than race can be used positively and effectively. Other journalists would do well to follow her example
Tags: African Americans, Alzheimer's study, black, Confronting Myths, Daniel Chang, DNA, ethnicity, European Americans, human genome study, medical school researchers, Miami Herald, miami medical school, Race in America, science, The Human Genome Project, University of Miami, university of miami medical school, white
The need for our society to divorce itself from the use of color as an identity becomes more apparent every day. For example, an article by Daniel Chang in the Miami Herald (4/11/13) titled “Researchers identify possible new gene linked to Alzheimer’s disease in blacks” creates more questions than it answers. What good is a study that uses unreliable information? We are certainly not against studies that can be beneficial to society and strongly support them, but not studies that seem a waste of time and money such as the one mentioned above.
Chang states that “University of Miami medical school researchers working with geneticist and physicians from other institutions have identified a new gene associated with Alzheimer’s disease in blacks…” Let us stop here and ask the question—how are blacks defined? Did the study select African Americans to participate in the study and refer to them as blacks? We are not told. If the study uses the word black as an identity does it refer to only people with black or dark complexions? If the study used African Americans and referred to them as blacks, how does the study account for the African Americans of light or fair complexions? If the study refers to people with black skin or dark complexions, then it would not be limited to people in America. Since we are not told just who the study subjects are except for the word blacks, we are at a loss to understand the value of the study.
One of the major discoveries of the Human Genome study involving DNA was that all human beings are 99.9% alike. They discovered that since all humans belong to one race that discerning a race from DNA was not possible: “DNA studies do not indicate that separate classifiable subspecies (races) exist within modern humans. While different genes for physical traits such as skin and hair color can be identified between individuals, no consistent patterns of genes across the human genome exist to distinguish one race from another. There also is no genetic basis for divisions of human ethnicity. People who have lived in the same geographic region for many generations may have some alleles in common, but no allele will be found in all members of one population and in no members of any other.” (genonics.energy.gov) For some reason the people working on this study did not get the memo.
The article continued by noting that “While Alzheimer’s occurs as frequently in blacks as other populations, researchers say there are important differences in the molecular mechanisms of the disease among people of different races and ethnicities.”What and who are we to believe? The study on DNA says that race cannot be determined, yet, this Miami study says it can. We need all the helpful information we can get to help in treating and curing Alzheimer’s disease, but we also need reliable information. When confusion regarding the existence of race is in question, the results of any study that does not clearly define its subjects will be suspect. We are told by Chang that “The study that led researchers to identify the gene, called ABCA7, will be published …in the Journal of the American Medical Association this month. Why?
The Miami study seems to directly undermine the findings of the Genome Project when it makes reference to “different races” and when it apparently identifies blacks as a race. One must question the logic of their statement that “Identifying these differences could help researchers develop treatments and drugs that are more likely to be effective because they’re tailor-made for an individual’s genetic make-up.” The individual in reference to the statement belongs to a black race? We thought that the study focused on a group of people—black people with the same gene, but now we are told that drugs will be “tailor-mage for an individual’s genetic make-up.” Are the people in question black complexioned or just called black rather than African American? The confusion continues because the subjects of the study were not clearly defined.
Chang does provide the following information:”The research project that led to the discovery of the new gene is believed to be the largest genome-wide association study conducted on late-onset Alzheimer’s disease in blacks.” Again, we must assume that blacks is a reference to what or who? He continues “It [the study] included 1,968 cases and 3,928 controls collected at multiple sites between 1989 and 2011. We do not know anything about these cases except some were controlled.
The ridicule made regarding this Miami study is not directed to Daniel Chang, he simply reported the story. The complaint falls to the creators of the study for not clearly defining their subject by ethnicity or by referring to people having the same “new” gene ABGA7. Since race is not possible to discern except by color, restricting the treatment to blacks could negatively affect other people, non-blacks with the “new” gene from receiving needed treatment. If the creators of studies involving human beings would focus on the problem rather that the supposed race of the subjects, more people might benefit from the study. Nothing prevents these study creators from using ethnicities or ethnic groups as the focused population to study, but using race and color dooms the study from the start.
So, what are we to make of this important study that focused on blacks? The ethnic make-up of American society is changing so quickly that the old form or system of identifying an individual based on his or her color is no longer effective. Many countries do not consider the skin complexion of their citizens as part of their personal identity. So, when any of these people come to America, they comes using their own unique identity, not one of black or white etc… The sooner we as a society stop using color and the concept of multiple races as valid or factual, the better off we will be, and studies that focus of specific cultural or ethnic groups will provide some benefit.
Paul R. Lehman,The concept of a post-racial society conceals the misdeeds of America’s past and present.April 14, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Posted in Affirmative Action, African American, American Bigotry, American Racism, blacks, Civil War, college admission, desegregation, discrimination lawsuit, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, identity, integregation, justice, minority, Race in America, segregation, skin color, Slavery, The Thirteenth Amendment, The U.S. Constitution, U.S. Supreme Court, University of Texas, whites | 2 Comments
Tags: Affirmative Action, African Americans, america's race problem, American History, black, Civil Rights, current-events, discrimination, European Americans, history of racism, homer plessy, plessy v ferguson 1896, Plessy v. Ferguson, politics, Prejudice, race, racism, segregation, skin color, slavery, society, Supreme Court, U. S. Laws, university admissions, white
An article that appeared in the grio posed the questions:”has the nation lived down its history of racism and should the law become colorblind?” (4/1/13) These questions were asked in conjunction with the two cases before the Supreme Court, one case deals with affirmative action, the other focuses on voting rights. Although both questions involve some aspect of the same topic, race, they need to be addressed separately, and in a different context from the general public concept. Let us look first at the question about racial preference and racism.
The first thing we need to address is the fact that America and the government created race based on color. Two races were created, one black and the other white. These races were not created on anything other than the color for a person’s skin. Later many scientists, scholars, ministers, and a host of other players tried to justify race from a biological perspective, to no avail because any person who looked white could be white. So, while the definition protected people with fair complexions, it was no guarantee that the race of these people was correct or valid. So, society added ancestry to the definition of race via color, but only African Ancestry. In other words, if a person had any African ancestry, that person was considered black regardless of how they looked. The problem with race defined by color was finally addressed by U. S. law in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) but proved to be something of a joke– Homer Plessy’s complexion was so light, that his arrest for sitting in a seat reserved for white-only had to be staged. None the less, the law was kept in place.
America made these two races distinct in that they represented opposite values. The so-called white race was given power, privilege, and prestige. If one was upper-classed white, wealthy or educated, then he or she was considered normal. Otherwise, being white just placed one above all other non-whites. For the so-called black race or Negroes, as they were also called, they represented negative stereotypes that included ignorance, laziness, worthlessness, untrustworthiness, and repulsiveness along with a host of other despicable characteristics. All these elements were promoted by the so-called white race to be biological features of the so-called black race. Society created, promoted and enforced laws and practices that discriminated against and segregated people of the so-called black race.
Before and during the time of the Civil War many people, European Americans as well as African Americans worked towards eliminating slavery and discrimination of African Americans. Once the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments were passed by Congress with pressure from President Lincoln and others, African Americans were recognized as citizens of the United State of America. That meant that only whites and blacks were citizens since no other race was recognized.
For African Americans, being citizens of the United States did not end discrimination, hatred and bigotry. As a matter of fact, negative feelings against African Americans began to manifest in acts of violence by so-called white vigilante gangs that included acts of lynching. Although America has always been a diverse society, it acted like a monolith of European Americans. They still held on to the philosophy of Manifest Destiny—this country belongs to them because God gave it to them to take and possess. Although many diverse societies existed in America, the country projected two so-called races—black and white, under the rubric of one country, America. The so-called black race was never treated fairly nor equally by society until the laws of the country was challenged in courts, and especially, the Supreme Court. The 1954 Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Topeka began the change in the social structure of America. According to the law, African Americans could no longer be treated as unequals in public facilities. Unfortunately, the change in the law did not affect the minds of many American who saw the law as a form of discrimination against their rights. Therefore, they continued to maintain and enforce an atmosphere of segregation and discrimination against African Americans until the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, 1965, 1968.
During the time from the beginning of America creating to two races until the Civil Rights Acts, the race America called white enjoyed the liberties of freedom, life and the pursuit of happiness without reservation. Now that America has decided to live up to its promise of fair and just treatment for all its citizens, the so-called white race wants to cry discrimination because it cannot continue to discriminate on the basis of its so-called race. The court case involving university admissions at the University of Texas is said to be based on racial preference for African American students. Actually, if the University of Texas did not show some preference to African American students, it would still be discriminating against them based on past social history and practice. They were formerly denied admission based on their so-called race, so not to consider their so-called race for admission would be seen as unjust or unfair.
Another problem exists regarding this case, that is, how will race be defined since color is not a reliable indicator of race and DNA will show that all people have some African ancestry? The fact that America created two so-called races based on color has come back to haunt and trouble us since the European Americans no longer control the definition of race in America. Race should have been replaced by ethnic group and ethnicity since the 1940s, but to do that would have meant a loss of power, privilege and prestige for the European Americans. What society could not bring it to do; Mother Nature is doing for it. In a few more years, the ethnic minority in America will become the majority and the concept of a black race and white race will become so complex and confusing that it will have to become a thing of the past.
So, if the court wants to avoid the problem of having to deal with race, it should simply look at the people who have been denied social and economic justice in our society and do the fair and just thing by them without regard to a so-called race. The idea of a post-racial society is just a way of trying to avoid the realities of discrimination and bigotry that have been a part of America’s history. America created the problem; it can resolve it.
Tags: African Americans, black, Civil Rights, current-events, employment lawsuit, ethnic discrimination, European Americans, Hispanics, Michael Myers, mixed-marriage, prejudice discrimination, President Obama, Race in America, Southern Poverty Law Center, The Oklahoman, Tim Willert, white
We sometimes get complacent these days when thinking that ethnic discrimination is disappearing from society. The fact that some positive changes have been made regarding the recognition of diversity in our society does not mean that prejudice, discrimination, and bigotry have been eliminated. Far from it. According to recent reports from the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of hate group membership has increased since the election of Barack Obama to the presidency. So, rather than eliminating the problems, they are on the increase. However, unlike the obvious situation of European Americans discriminating against African Americans, the instances of European American discriminating against other European Americans with ties to ethnic Americans have increased or become more noticeable.
A recent headline in The Oklahoman read “Mixed-race marriage at center of discrimination lawsuit.”(3/30/13) The article, written by Tim Willert, began with the statement: “A white man who is married to a black woman is suing his former employer for racial discrimination and retaliation.” Why would a European American sue his European American employer simply because he is married to an ethnic American woman? One reason has to do with the mindset of some of the people involved who cannot accept people who do not look like them as valued members of society. In bringing the lawsuit, Michael Myers noted that “he was fired by M-D Building Products of Oklahoma City because he complained about a co-worker’s racist remarks.” In effect, rather than action taken by the company against the co-worker for his racist remarks, Myers was fired.
Myers said he considered his workplace to be a hostile environment for over a four month period: “Myers claims in the filing the co-worker subjected him to ‘racial slurs and offensive racial remarks regarding African Americans approximately every one to two days’ after Myers disclosed to him and another co-worker that his wife was black.” Myers stated further that “The co-worker ‘frequently and regularly’ used derogatory words to refer to African-Americans, Mexicans and Asians.” According to Myers, he was never given a reason for his termination or told of any problems associated with his job performance.
What Myers experienced was something that African Americans have lived with all their lives—ethnic prejudice and bigotry. The co-worker apparently still believes he lives in a pre-Civil Rights time. Like many European Americans he sees America as belonging to European Americans and thinks that having a light skin complexion given him the right and privilege to denigrate non-European Americans. When bigots are in the company of European Americans they take the liberty of using ethnic slurs and other derogatory remarks without fear of repercussions because they believe no European American will challenge them. If ethnic Americans are present when these remarks or slurs are made, the bigot feels no obligation to conceal his prejudice. His actions, he believes, go to underscore his sense of privilege and the arrogance of pride. The co-worker actions serve to inform Myers of his lack of respect for him and his African American wife. His bigotry is like the old bone a dog bits on that does nothing but produces saliva, but the dog still bites on it because it feel good in his mouth even though it provides no nutritional value.
Too often Americans think that the kind of bigotry Myers experienced is a thing of the past. Unfortunately, bigotry in America is still alive and well. Part of the problem of bigotry comes from society’s unwillingness to confront it. The fact that the headlines uses the term “Mixed-race” underscores the media part in keeping the readers in the past. Certainly the media know that science has debunked to concept of multiple biological races, so why do they continue to use the out-dated terms? Bigots in America have no reason to change the way they think, talk, and act if their biased actions do not come with a cost. If they tell an ethnic joke in mixed company, chances are no one will complain, and if someone does complain, he or she will be made to look like the “goodie two shoes.”
As a society we need to step up and recognize that change will not simply happen on its own, we have to be the agents of that change. For example, the article stated that “On one occasion, about two weeks after Myers was hired, the co-worker allegedly said, ‘I ain’t trying to be racist, but them black guys and Mexicans are lazy.’” The co-worker knew that his comments were not socially accepted before he spoke them, that is why he made the statement about not being racist before he made the statement. Someone should have told him that he, indeed, is not racist, but he is bigoted. The co-worker needed to be informed that his idea of belonging to a so-called white race is no longer valid and acceptable in our society.
One of the additional problems Myers face during his situation on his job was the attitude of his supervisor or employer. Rather than addressing the problem created by the co-workers bigotry, the employer fired Myers. Fortunately, today, because of Civil Rights laws, Myers has the right to challenge his termination in court. If the court decides in Myers’ favor, this discussion will send a message, we hope, to other employers about protecting the rights of their employees in hostile and biased environments. Most often in cases like Myers, the burden of proof falls to the victim. He has to provide enough evidence to win over the judge or jury. As Americans, we are all entitled to pursue our life, liberty, and happiness without prejudice. That includes a workplace free of ethnic hostilities.
Tags: African American Museum of History and Culture, African Americans, American Indian, Asian American, black, black and white race, Chief Justice John Roberts, color, Confronting Myths, current-events, ethnic groups, ethnic identity, ethnicity, European Americans, Hispanics, politics, race, Race in America, science, Smokey Robinson, society, The Boston Globe, white
Some African Americans do not like the term African American because they believe it links them directly to Africa. Basically, what they generally think of Africa is not very complimentary because of the images of Africa that American society created when ethnic bias was fashionable. Rather than picture it as the diverse continent it is, Africa was described as a dark, mysterious, cannibalistic, dangerous place where ignorant savages lived. The natives were so ignorant that the fictional white man who ruled the African natives, Tarzan, had a chimp as a partner rather than an African man. Tarzan was called “King of the Jungle” although he was not born there and was raised by apes. That image of Africa was created to discourage African Americans from wanting to embrace it as their homeland. The idea promoted was that it was better to be a slave in America than a savage in Africa. Of course, anyone with an elementary education knows what a tremendously important Africa is to the world and its history. Unfortunately, many people still hold on to the negative concept of Africa.
How people view themselves has a direct impact on what they say about themselves and especially how they act. For example, if someone is called a thug and accepts that identity, then he will use the language associated with being a thug. In addition, his behavior will reflect his idea of how a thug acts. The same thing applies to people who identify themselves as black or white—they speak and behave the way they belief they are expected to speak and behave. Most often their examples are passed on to their children and family. In this way ignorance about race and identity is embraced and promoted.
We know for certain that no such thing as a pure 100% black or white person exist on the planet. Yet, we bought into the absurd concept of “one drop” of blood changing a person’s so-called race from white to black. When America created and enforced the concept to two races—black and white, the other associated concepts like racism, biracial, mixed race, racial etc… were not challenged successfully. However, today we know better, but keep doing and saying the things that reinforce the false and negative concepts of race. For example, some scientist will conduct studies using as subjects black and white people. The problem with those kinds of studies is that black and white is never defined. In effect, does the terms black refer to only people with very dark skin or was the term used to suggest all African Americans? If it was the latter, then were light-skinned African Americans included? Many Americans with dark complexions are not African Americans. Would they be included in such a study? If they were not, then of what value was the study?
Most social scientists and historians know that in America, social and economic status along with ethnic identity play a major role in people achieving their American Dream. Historically, non-European Americans have encountered a more challenging experience is striving for and achieving their dream because of ethnic prejudice. Since the late 1960’s more non-European ethnic Americans have achieved success because the Civil Rights Acts have removed some of the social barriers that obstructed success. Unfortunately, many of those barriers remain, but in a subtle state. Part of the problem has to do with how people view themselves and each other. When Americans view themselves as black and white, they simply reflect the ideology of America’s past that embraced two races. The terms African American and European American eliminate the two race concept and underscore the one family of man concept. When all people belong to the same race or family, comparisons relating to superiority or inferiority of race will decline. However, prejudice among ethnic groups will also exist, but not on a biological race bases. If all people belong to the same family, they can express differences in beliefs, culture, religion etc…but not racial differences.
We create problems for ourselves and our children when we send mixed messages to them regarding a so-called racial identity. For example, when a child has been taught in a General Science class that all people belong to the same race, how do the parents who maintain an identity based on color resolve the conflict for the child? Interestingly enough, CNN had a series of programs about who is black in America. Unfortunately, the program caused problems for a number of young African American ladies because they did not know who they were, thinking that they were either black or white. Seemingly, the majority of people with this problem of identity in America are the African Americans. Other people of color use their cultural or geographical identity like Cuban, Jamaican, Haitian, Puerto Rican, etc… The identity conveyed by these identities leaves no doubt about the culture and geography of the individual. Black and white, on the other hand, give no information whatsoever other than color. Even if American is added to these words, they still provide little meaning until the history of American slavery is brought into the picture.
If we need evidence that the word black is no longer applicable as a reference to African Americans, we can look at the recent comments made by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, during the hearing of arguments concerning voting rights:”At one point in the oral argument held Feb. 27, 2013, Roberts asked Verrilli, “Do you know which state has the worst ratio of white voter turnout to African-American voter turnout?”(The Boston Globe.com) Roberts used the term African American on numerous occasions during the hearing rather than the word black. (Now we need to get him to use the term European American instead of white)
In addition to the Roberts use of the term African American, we need to know that efforts have been underway for a number of years now to build a museum in Washington, D.C. to house and exhibit information relative to the African American experience in America. The name of this museum is The National Museum of African American History and Culture. Our world and society are changing and either we change with them or be left behind.
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Tags: African Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans, black, Black and Proud, Black Power, current-events, Hispanics, James Brown, Negroes, Prejudice, Race in America, slavery, Stokely Carmichael, white
Many Americans do not like to talk about race in America because of what they know or what they do not know about it. If most people rely on what they were taught in school for their understanding and knowledge of race then they would be in trouble trying to holding a reasonable conversation with someone who is knowledgeable. For example, when someone says he or she is black or white, what exactly is he or she saying? These words have one consistent meaning beyond all others—they represent colors. If either of these words are used my people to identify themselves, the words are useless unless they are associated with American history and American slavery. Let’s be specific regarding this matter.
When Africans came or were brought to America they arrived using their personal identity which carried with it an example of their culture, history and geography. Those Africans that were brought to America were captured Africans who were later made slaves. The first order of business required to enslave a people is to re-create them without a history or past identity; in essence, they must be stripped of any positive value or self worth. The easiest way to accomplish this act is to take away their names and give them new ones using their enslaver’s language. Next, separate them from any kinsmen so they cannot continue to use their native language. Finally, make them see themselves as worthless, despicable, ignorant, and hopeless non-human beings.
One thing history does not readily tell us is that while the slave masters stripped away all elements of their slaves’ identity, the masters retained some important information that would help in asking a better price for the slaves at auction. For example, the slave masters knew the geographical area of Africa the slaves resided in as well as their skills and talents; many were farmers, fishermen, artists, builders etc… This information helped the slave master get a better price for the slaves with experience and knowledge that could help enrich their owners.
In any event, the African captives were made to be slaves and given the name slaves, blacks, Negroes and a variety of other names. The objective was to create the slaves’ new beginning in an environment where they were powerless to do anything for themselves, and dependant on the master for everything. In addition, the slaves were forced to view each other as the master viewed them, at least on the surface. So, the words black and white were employed to serve a number of purposes—white to represent power, privilege, and normalcy, and black to represent the opposite, inferiority, powerlessness, animal-like being. In addition, these two words were interwoven with the false concept of races—multiple biological races. Each so-called race learned to view themselves through their biased concepts. Africans were not called blacks just to deprive them of their identity and culture but also to serve as a contrast to whites.
These two words, black and white, if they are not referencing their respective colors must be associated with something else. The one thing American society has been conditioned to think of when one of these words is used is the other word. Therefore, when some people say that they are black, they are also inferring that they support the concept of multiple biological races and that the so-called white race is superior to the others. Unfortunately, a similar experience is not encountered by people who say they are white. They do not think of themselves as members of a race; they see themselves as just normal people. The only two races recognized in America until after the Civil War was black and white.
Before the Civil War African Americans were not in a position to change what they were called because they never had enough social power to effect a change until the late 1960s and the 1970s. Unfortunately, when an opportunity did arise for African Americans to change what they had been called since being brought to America, they missed the opportunity. In effect, during the Cultural Revolution the young African American civil rights activists opted to change the word black from a negative concept to a positive one. Examples of the process changing the value of the identity word from negative to positive can be seen in songs like “Say it Loud! I’m black and I’m Proud!” by James Brown, or phrases like “Black Power” by Stokely Carmichael. Although this change made a significant difference in the way African Americans looked at themselves, however, because the word black is the same word used by the slave masters for Africans Americans, the change only affected African Americans. European Americans (whites) did not have to change anything. For European Americans, blacks are still blacks, often with the same sentiment.
One additional problem with using color words as part of an identity is that one word does not fit all, if it is to be inclusive; that is, what does it mean to be a member of a white or black race? Are all the people in each race the same color? If not, what makes the difference in the race? If the color is not the main element, then what is? All people with black complexions are not black by identity nor are all people with light (white) skins white by identity. Therefore, the use of each word, black and white, for identity purposes is inaccurate and useless. Again, if these words are used as identity, they must be associated with something other than color.
As America continues to become more diversified the used of the term race will of necessity give way to the use of ethnic groups and ethnicity. Ethnic identity is necessary in America because of the population diversity and the problems caused by the use of the words black race and white race. The U.S. Census already experienced problems with the 2010 census when people of ethnic groups were given the option of selecting white as their racial identity. Rather than loosing cultural and geographical history by using and ethnic identity, these elements of identity are enhanced by it. No one is forced to identify him or herself by using the common ethnic terms like African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, and European American etc.., but the use of the words black race and white race will soon serve no useful purpose with regards to personal identity. The history of the African/African American presence in American did not end when the word black was given a different connotation. Race defined by color will decline as diversity increases.
Tags: African Americans, black, Confronting Myths, current-events, ethnicity, European Americans, eye shapes, politics, race, racism, research, science, society, U.S.Census, white
A number of articles recently focused on the topic of racism and how it negatively affects the mind and body of its victims. Studies ranging from stress and depression to heart problems have been conducted showing the detrimental effects of racism. As interesting and informative as these studies and articles are in bringing this awareness to the public eye, nothing has been said about avenues of approach to try and eliminate the problem of racism. Most articles and studies treat racism as if it is an indestructible social phenomenon that is with society to stay. If that is the considered sentiment, then what use are the studies and articles complaining about it? We have some alternatives that can be considered if we are sincere about wanting to address the issue.
Yes, we know that race is a social construct, but that does mean we must accept it as a permanent feature of American society. Polio was a problem in society until penicillin was discovered. What we as a society must do in addressing racism are to understand its cause; we know its affects. One of the causes of racism is our acceptance, support, and promotion of it. Since we know that the concept of biological races is made-up, we also know that it’s divertive, racism is also made-up. So, why do we continue to accept them as though they are legitimate features of our society? Maybe we think that if we continue talking about them, they will go away. So far that approach has not and will not work. We need to start with our conception or view of race first, before we can address the problems associated with racism.
Because we readily accept the idea of multiple biological races as a certainty, we can easily convince ourselves that superficial physical differences such as skin color, eye shapes, hair texture and numerous other physical elements constitute a so-called racial difference. They do not. The fact that we know that race is a social construct does not come from someone’s idea or suggestion. Science has offered empirical data to support that fact through DNA. For a number of years now, especially since the O.J. Simpson trial, we know that the science of DNA has provided us with conclusive data that can be duplicated time and again to underscore its reliability. So, when the scientists tell us that all human beings belong to one race, why do we not accept, believe, and communicate that concept- changing information? The fact that race by color has never been accurate or trustworthy does not seem to be enough to cause us to change our so-called racial stereotypes. We need to communicate to our society and the world that we recognize and agree with our scientists that the concept of multiple biological races is formally debunked. Knowing the truth and accepting it, however, are two different and challenging things.
Once we accept the concept of a one race world, we will then be in a position to understand that the concept of racism is equally false. We certainly cannot and should not ignore cultural and other man-made differences, but we cannot identify those differences as racial or biological. Along with the acceptance of a one race world comes the change of our own self-concept and of others as being a part of a world family. DNA scientists tell us that if we selected two people from opposite geographical locations on the planet, we could go back only six generations before we discover a common ancestry between those two people. That fact alone should tell us how much alike we are to one another. Still, we prefer to hold on to our old, false concepts of race. If we no longer identified people according to their color, how would we identify them?
The answer to that question came in 1945 from a group of world-renowned scientists assembled by the United Nations under the rubric of UNESCO. They decided that the word race was not suitable for use as a social identity because it was not accurate and reliable. They offered instead, the words ethnic group and ethnicity to be used instead of race, not a replace for it. However, during that time, American society was very much involved with the concept of race because of the privileges and opportunities it provided for those who eugenics identified as being of the white race. Many American immigrants from Italy, Poland, Russia, and Greece, along with Jewish people, were not favorably or readily welcomed here. Most were not yet considered white or America n because at that time America recognized only two races—white and black (Negro). The fact that UNESCO suggested the use of ethnic group and ethnicity instead of the word race was bad new, however, had it been accepted, the change would have negatively affect those immigrants who desperately wanted the white identity in order to enjoy all the rights and privileges of that segment of society. So, today in spite of all the data to the contrary, the U.S. Census still include on its form two races black and white.
Today in America some people hold on to their so-called racial identity and beliefs more than their religion. They do so because it might be the only positive thing of social value they have even if it is only make-believe. To many of those people, they believe it is their right to be biased and discriminate against people who do not look like they look. Because of the many negative stereotypes created about non-European ethnic Americans over the years, many people grow up in America embracing that negative stereotypes. A recent statistic concerning the practice of “Stop and Frisk” showed that out of the total number of people stopped, 88% were innocent. In addition, out of that 88%, African Americans represented 87% (check the MHP Show 3-16-13). If we as a society refuse to communicate the facts and truth about the falsity and inaccuracy of race and racism, nothing will change.
The fact that articles appear on a fairly regular basis dealing with the injustices of race and racism is evidence enough that it still exists. Because of the fact that we do not seek aggressively to debunk these concepts, we cause measurable harm to the mind and body of innocent people who do not yet know that they do not belong to a white, black, brown, yellow or any other color race. They do not need to agonize over what race is theirs—it is human. They can pick and choose their ethnic identity based on their culture and ancestry, American Indian, African American, Asian American, and Hispanic (Specify) American, or some other, but under no circumstances should it be black or white because that is where the concept of race and racism in America began. More on this topic later.
Tags: African Americans, Antoni Scalia, Civil Rights, current-events, ethnicity, European Americans, Fourteenth Amendment, government, Jon Stewart, politics, public scrutiny, Rachel Maddow, Supreme Court, supreme court justice, third word, U.S. Constitution, Voting Right Act, white
When Supreme Court justice Athoni Scalia made a comment concerning voting rights last week, he readily got the attention of many people, including a number of his colleagues. He got their attention when he used a certain phrase that created cause for concern in how he looks at the right to vote. Part of his comments were:”I think it is attributable, very likely attributable, to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement. It’s been written about. Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes.”
The phrase that caused concern is “perpetuation of racial entitlement” because it opened the door to a number of interpretations. Depending on how one interprets the word “entitlement” the fact that the U.S. Constitution protects the right of every citizen to vote would not make voting an entitlement. On the other hand, if one interprets the word “entitlement” as a “right,” then the question of his use of the word “racial” comes into play; that is, he would be suggesting that a racial right exists. If, however, someone interprets the words “racial entitlement,” as a reference to a group of people receiving special privilege, then the third word “perpetuation,” becomes more significant in that the entire phrase can be interpreted as a continuation of giving special privilege to a certain group of people based on their ethnicity.
The problems involving voter registration before and during the last election brought to public scrutiny how some states were attempting to prevent some citizens from voting. Scalia’s use of the phrase “racial entitlement” does not have a place in the discussion on voting rights. The Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution is very clear on who can vote and where they can vote: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” The wording of the Amendment note specifically that “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Nowhere in this Amendment is there a reference to race or entitlement. So, why would he use such a phrase?
On a number of occasions, Justice Scalia has made statements that could be interpreted as having an ethnic bias. With that in mind, we learned that Rep. Jim Clyburn reacted “on the latest Supreme Court’s hearing on the Voting Rights Act and he had some harsh words for conservative Justice Antonin Scalia saying that his criticism of the landmark civil rights legislation is rooted in the fact that he is ‘white and proud.’”(Fox Nation) In essence, Clyburn sees Scalia as having a bias towards non European Americans.
One wonders why Justice Scalia would possess any inkling of bias against minority Americans seeing that his father was an immigrant from Sicily, and his wife’s parents were immigrants from Italy as well. The fact that most Italians prior to 1952 were viewed along with other ethnic minorities as non-white, led to the immigration of people from Italy, Poland, Russia and Greece being drastically cut. One must assume that Scalia as a youth was not subjected to the ethnic discrimination that would have created for him some memorable experiences that might serve as a base for dealing with prejudice.
If Jim Clyburn’s statement has any creditability regarding Scalia being “white and proud,” then we have an idea of why he might view ethnic Americans in a different light from the way he views so-called whites. The self-conception of European Americans after World War II as being the only true Americans must have been the philosophy adopted by Scalia, since he see himself as white. The idea for “white” being the true Americans and superior to all other Americans must have been a comforting through to Scalia. Unfortunately, those concepts were false along with the concept of multiple, biological races. Nonetheless, bigots still hold on to their beliefs and display them at opportune times.
Rachel Maddow on the Jon Stewart show (3-1-13) talked about the fact that the Rosa Parks statue was being unveiled during the time the Supreme Court was meeting on the Voting Right Act. She noted that Scalia used that time to make his suggestive statement. She said:
“He’s a troll. He’s saying this for effect. He knows its offensive and he knows he’s going to get a gasp from the courtroom, which he got, and he loves it. He’s like the guy on your blog comment thread who is using the n-word. ‘Oh, it made you mad? How about if I say this? Does it make you mad? Did it make you mad? Did it make you mad?’ He’s that guy! He’s that kind of guy! When we’re all shocked that he said something so blatantly racially offensive while talking about the cornerstone of the federal Civil Rights Act, he’s thinking, ‘Oh yeah!’”
In his language and behavior, Scalia seems to be saying that he is not only white but also a Supreme Court Justice, so he can say anything he want to say without fear of reprisal. To not be aware of our country’s history on race is not good for a Judge. For a justice to display a biased character from the bench is worse.
According to Maddow, Scalia loves to make people angry by making these uncalled for remarks, but they get him the attention he wants. Let us hope he does not influence any of the other judges. That would be a disaster for the country.