Tags: African American celebrities, African Americans, American Education, current-events, European Americans, media, meetings with the President-elect Trump, politics, President Trump, President-elect Trump, representation, subjective interpretation
Once President Trump won the nomination and set up his office in Trump Tower, he had numerous individuals coming to pay him a visit. Among some of these visitors were a number of popular African Americans. Because of the baggage that President Trump brought with him from his campaign that was seen as ethnically biased against African Americans, many people questioned the reasons for African Americans going to Trump Tower. Regardless of their reasons for visiting with then President-elect Trump, the photo opportunity after the meetings of these African Americans with Trump sent a message that he was using them to show the country and the world that he was not biased. The problem with that interpretation is that these African American individuals represented only themselves, not the national community of people of color.
Some years ago, a European American politician in Oklahoma was asked why he did not come into the African American community to campaign for votes. He answered that he had met with all the important African Americans in the community and paid them off for the community’s vote. So, there was no need to try to win the votes of individuals when he already had the community vote in his pocket. In other words, all this politician had to do was to meet with a few popular African American and pay them to publicly support his campaign. So, although we are not questioning the rights and integrity of the individual African Americans who visited with Trump nor their reasons for the visit, we do not want the lasting impression from their visits to be that they were making a deal with him on behalf of the African American people. The African American citizens have not given their voting power or influence to any popular African American individual nor can they because African Americans and people of color do not represent a monolith.
When America saw various African Americans of note having their pictures taken with President-elect Trump and saying words in praise of him, that occasion gave many of them an opportunity to pause and think about what they saw. Why, after a campaign that was filled with disparaging and negative things about people of color, not to mention the “birther” campaign that was conducted for several years, would a prominent African American want to be photographed with Trump? Regardless of their reasons, meeting with and being photographed with the President-elect was their right and privilege. However, the implications associated with such meetings bring to awareness some conundrums—did the President-elect cut any deals or make any promises with these individuals? If so, what were they, who did they impact, how will they be implemented, and when? One certainty we know from experience—deals and promises made with individuals acting as individuals are not binding to the people these individuals seemingly represent.
In addition, the photo opportunities of the African Americans with the President-elect Trump gave the viewers the suggestion that some type of negotiations might have taken place. Whether deals or promises were part of the conversations, only the parties involved know what transpired because the people were not privy to them. Again, the problem that needs to be resolved is whether the individual African Americans were representing themselves, or were they speaking on behalf of a group of people. If they were at their meetings as individuals only, then no problem exists. However, if they gave the impression that they were speaking on the behalf a group of people, then they should have said so. No single individual can know and communicate the needs and wants of every community in America specifically; that is why organizations of concerned and active people exist. The meetings with individuals create a problem of perception, not one of individual rights and privileges.
One problem with individuals meeting with Trump and having the meeting seen as an individual representing the African American community is when organized national and community organizations request meeting with Trump to discuss some concerns, his response could be that he had already discussed those concerns with one or two individuals earlier. Evidently, the organizations did not get the memo about the meetings. The fact that the photo opportunities with the African Americans and the President-elect Trump serve as evidence that he met with them could be used as proof of his concern for some of the challenges in the various communities, and then suggest that anyone with a concern seek out these African Americans for answers to their questions.
Some people might suggest in defense of these individual Africans Americans if they are not representing an organization, that Martin Luther King, Jr. met individually with leaders, so that proves the acceptance of this type of activity. No so! King always spoke as a representative of a group of concerned citizens, and he was seldom alone at such meetings. Throughout history the media has taken the opportunity, on occasion, to create spoke persons for the African American community by simply showing them again, and again responding to questions asked by the media. Booker T. Washington became a national leading figure for the African American community when the media took a quote from a speech he delivered at the 1895 Atlanta Cotton Exposition focusing on “separate but equal” status for African Americans and broadcast it nationwide. Because of that nationwide coverage, Washington became the most influential African American of his day. So, we know what exposure to the media can do for individuals.
The American public has been conditioned to think incorrectly that one person can speak for all people of color. So, when an individual of color is shown by the media making a statement or responding to a question, the public could easily view that individual as representing an entire group. Unfortunately, that perception is what comes to mind when an African American celebrity is shown in a photo opportunity with President Trump. If such meetings between Trump and African American celebrities involve problems and concerns facing African Americans and other people of color and deals are made, the strength of the groups and organizations whose purpose is to address these problems with the President or his representatives is greatly weakened.
All individual have a right to meet and speak with anyone they choose, especially if that person is the President of the United States. However, all individual do not have the right to speak for a group of people they do not officially represent or to give that impression to the public. These individuals certainly have the right to speak on any topic they choose as long as they represent only themselves.
Tags: African Americans, American Bigotry, bigotry, black, communication, Confronting Myths, current-events, Dr. Robin DiAngelo, ethnicity, European Americans, FORSETTI'S JUSTICE, Prejudice, race, Race in America, skin color, skin complexion, white
People from famous writers to Supreme Court Justices to presidents and even to everyday people have acknowledged the fact that America continues to be separated by color, and try as we may, little progress has been made to bridge that gap. Certainly, strides have been made to bring the two groups together, but nothing seems to work for very long. The fact that ethnic bigotry was instituted at the very beginning of this American experience and continues today underscores its strength. The social conditioning of Americans to respect the power and privilege of skin color manifests itself in everyday life in all of our society’s institutions. Why cannot the gap that separates the two groups be filled? Actually, it can be filled; we just have to decide that we want to come together as one unified un-bigoted nation.
When a group of European Americans was asked if it were possible would they like to live their lives as African Americans? They were asked to raise their hand if the answer was yes. Not a single European American raised his or her hand. Why? Two reasons come to mind, one is that European Americans realize the privilege and power they experience because of their skin color and do not want to lose anything. Another reason is that European Americans know how American society treats African Americans and they do not want any parts of that treatment. These two questions also represent the reason many European Americans do not like to talk about race. One question that these two reasons bring to mind relative to European Americans is since they know how they feel and know how African Americans are treated in society, why do they not speak out against it as unjust and unfair? One answer is a lack of effective communications between the European Americans and the African Americans.
One of the main points of contention involving effective communications between African Americans and European Americans is the fact that they have different perceptions of reality. The European American cannot tell the African American how to address his problems because he does not perceive the problem as does the African American. For example, the problem involving a lack of good relations between the police force and the African American community is that the police still have the perception of bigotry and fear towards the African American. For them, the remedy for this problem is more troops and more training—for African Americans that is the wrong answer. The actual remedy would be an education that replaces the bigoted image of the European Americans towards the African American community to one that embraces all people as part of the human family. By doing so, the development of organizations that work together for the betterment of the communities can be constructed.
Unfortunately, many European Americans believe that their perception of reality is fair and just; they are mistaken. Society has conditioned them to see people of color as inferior and European Americans as normal and superior. No one has to teach them this bias; our society in all its institutions continues to reinforce this concept. When all the suggested solutions offered by European Americans continue to view two separate groups of people, then that is not a solution. The first order of business in resolving a problem is to recognize and understand the problem. If the problem is perception, then that is the first problem to resolve.
Blame and criticism for different perspectives should not enter the discussion, only the fact that they are different and must be made acceptable to both sides. Since society has conditioned European Americans to assume superiority as normal, not pretentious, they need to be shown that their view is biased. Achieving that particular accomplishment will be extremely challenging for as Dr. Robin DiAngelo noted in her study of white fragility that: “It became clear over time that white people have extremely low thresholds for enduring any discomfort associated with challenges to our racial worldview.” She added that “We [European Americans] can manage the first round of challenge by ending the discussion through platitudes—usually, something that starts with ‘People just need to,’ or ‘Race doesn’t really have any meaning to me,’ or ‘Everybody’s racist.’ Scratch any further on that surface, however, and we fall apart.”European Americans generally consider any effort to connect them to the system of ethnic supremacy as very unsettling and an “unfair moral offense.”None-the-less, the challenge must be made if any positive change is to be expected in replacing ethnic bigotry.
Another concern that bears consideration is the ethnic bias that is so deeply embedded in some European Americans that almost any challenge will prove ineffective. In an articles entitled “The dark rigidity of fundamentalist rural America: a view from the inside,” published in FORSETTI’S JUSTICE, ALTERNET( 27 NOV 2016 AT 09:40 ET) the writer noted that this group of people has their own way of viewing life in general, which differs from the way urban people see life: “Another problem with rural, Christian, white Americans is they are racists. I’m not talking about white hood-wearing, cross-burning, lynching racists (though some are). I’m talking about people who deep down in their heart of hearts truly believe they are superior because they are white. Their white God made them in his image and everyone else is a less-than-perfect version, flawed and cursed.” The writer was writing from his experience as a resident of rural America.
From the nature of the above quote, and the deeply fixed notion of a racial identity, no amount of facts, evidence, proof or explanations will replace such a bigoted mindset. With all the changes taking place in our society and the world, the charade of races by color is not long for this world. The sooner European Americans and people of color can begin to see each other as belonging to the same family of man the sooner all the confusion and myth-believing concerning race can be replaced. The changes will take place regardless of one’s beliefs in a race, but being aware of the facts will help the transition occur smoothly rather than with great difficulty. The changes can only begin in earnest when the lines of communications that are free from ethnic bias are established.
Tags: African Americans, American History, bigotry, black, Confronting Myths, current-events, Donald Trump, ethnicity, European Americans, hate groups, hate incidents, Obama and American Bigotry, politics, President Obama, President-elect Donald Trump, race, Southern Poverty Law Center, SPLC, The Oklahoman, white
A recent “opinion” article “Law Center’s new ‘hate’ report misconstrue cause and effect” (The Oklahoman 12/6/2016) shows just how uninformed many Americans are about bigotry and hate in America. The writer points to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as the culprit in the matter of tracking and reporting actions of hate groups in America. The article begins with identifying a recent SPLC report relative to the ‘hate incidents’ in the United States and the connections they have to President-elect Donald Trump. The article misses the point of the report when it stated that “But a closer look at the report shows these ‘incidents’ include obnoxious behavior of a type that predated the election.”
In essence, the article writer is suggesting that many of these ‘incidents’ have nothing to do with Trump and should not be considered as relevant to the report. We need not be reminded that many of the ‘incidents’ began when Trump started his ‘birther campaign’ to try to discredit President Obama and continued to grow once Trump entered the presidential race. Ignoring the seriousness of the hate and bigotry generated by many of Trump’s words and actions, the article notes that “Without doubt, Trump’s rhetoric has been crude at times, and we’ve criticized his excesses. The culture is already [ course] enough without a president adding to the rot.”For many Americans, the words and actions coming from Trump relative to women, ethnic and religious groups, not to mention the press, would not be described as “crude” and “excessive,” but unbefitting a candidate for President of the United States.
To add insult to injury, the article stated that “Still, it’s worth noting Trump has denounced those who would use his election as an excuse for racist actions or statement.”What is the value of a denunciation coming from the lead perpetrator of the action? Trump, as well as most Americans, has been conditioned to recognize bigotry, but to overlook it if it does not impact them directly. Yes, bigotry is in the fabric of American society, but as long as no one points to it, it is continually promoted and supported. Be that as it may, the focus of this blog is not Trump, but the “opinion writer’s” lack of understanding regarding “hate groups” in America and the work of the SPLC.
In order to fully appreciate the efforts of the SPLC, we offer their statement of purpose” The Southern Poverty Law Center is a nonprofit organization that combats hate, intolerance and discrimination through education and litigation. Its Intelligence Project, which prepared this report and also produces the biannual investigative magazine Intelligence Report, tracks the activities of hate groups and the nativist movement and monitors militia and other extremist antigovernment activity. The SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance project helps foster respect and understanding in the classroom. Its litigation arm files lawsuits against hate groups for the violent acts of their members”
The apparent purpose of the Opinion article was to quibble over the number of ‘hate incident’ occurring during Trump’s presidential race: “The group declares there were 867 ‘hate incidents’ in the first 10 days after Trump’s election. Those figures come from two sources—media and self-reporting to the center. The latter category is one that justifies skepticism, since there’s certainly a share of the public willing to fabricate incidents.” The article fails to see that the number of incidents is not the critical point, but the fact that these incidents occur at all! The report states that “it was not possible to confirm the veracity of all reports.” Therefore, because the SPLC could not verify each and every report, the “opinion writer” suggests we should question the entire report.
The “Opinion writer” (OW) questions the number of incidents as they relate to Trump’s election and attempts of remove any association of Trump with these numbers. The OW used as an example of how Trumps could not be responsible for the increase in ‘hate incidents’ by focusing on Oklahoma. He noted that “Oklahoma’s state population represents a little more than 1 percent of the total U.S. population. Trump received the support of 65 percent of Oklahoma voters [for the record, all 77 of Oklahoma’s counties voted for Trump], compared with less than 29 percent for Clinton. Only a few states gave higher levels of support to Trump.” The OW then made the statement: “If Trump’s election emboldened supporters to act racist, then one would expect Oklahoma to be flooded with incidents.”The writer is guilty of committing a fallacy in logic known as “hasty generalization” by concluding that because one thing exists, then the other should exist was well. Not true! So, because the SPLC found only five “hate incidents’ in Oklahoma, this coincidence is proof enough for the “OW” to question the report.
The “OW” in the article’s last paragraph attempts to impugn the integrity of the SPLC and its work: “Actual threats, vandalism and attacks should absolutely be reported and prosecuted. But the Southern Poverty Law Center tries to equate hearsay reports of ugly comments with actual physical violence against minorities, and then effectively absolves the perpetrators of genuine racism by shifting the blame to politicians.” Many hate groups want the attention and publicity that comes from “self-reporting;” so, this is why the SPLC noted in the report that “it was not possible to confirm the veracity of all reports.” Yet, the OW wants to condemn the organization for doing it job and suggesting that it shifts the blame of bigotry to unbiased politicians like we might assume—Trump. We might ask the OW for a definition of “genuine racism” since, evidently, to the writer other forms of racism/bigotry exist.
The reference this blog made to the OW being uninformed is underscored throughout this article by references to the number of “hate incidents” reported by the SPLC in a report focusing on the increase since the election of Trump. The focus of the OW should be, in order to serve a public good, to help in debunking the concept of numerous biological races that form the basis of the origins of the many ‘hate groups’ in America. These groups firmly believe in the false concept of a white race, the OW should help to replace that myth rather than quibbling over the number of “hate incidents.”
Tags: African American, bigotry, black, Confronting Myths, current-events, discrimination, DNA, Donald Trump, Dr. Robin DiAngelo, European Americans, Obama and American Bigotry, Prejudice, Presidential election, race, skin color, skin complexion, white
Much of the trouble today is being caused by changes in our society and the world that people do not understand or appreciate. Many people are concerned and worried about the new president-elect Trump and what effect his presidency will have on society. The people to be most disappointed relative to Trump’s election and his presidency will be his base supporters. They will be disappointed because Trump will not be able to deliver on the promises he made during his campaign. Politicians make promises based on things they think their followers want to hear knowing that those many of those promises will never be fulfilled. The supporters of many politicians suffer from innocence, ignorance or biases that prevent them from seeing the unrealities of the claims and promises made by their candidate. Once reality sets in, the people will see where they were misled into believing things they wanted to happen were just not possible.
The theme of Trump’s campaign was “Make American Great again,” which in code language is “make America white again.” The phrase and its sentiments have been used time and time again to garner support from the European Americans who believe that they have been left behind by the government in favor of immigrants, women, LGBT, and people of color. They still, however, enjoy the privileges that come with being European American (white) but are in fear of losing them. So, when Trump said that he wanted to make America great again, his followers knew what he meant and felt encouraged that the social changes that had taken place would not threaten their privilege and control. Regardless of what the candidate promised one thing that cannot be stopped is change. Trump supporters called for change, but what they really wanted was no change except to go back to reclaim some of the advantages they believed they lost to immigrants, women, and people of color.
So, what exactly are many European Americans afraid of losing that would cause them to disregard their sense of integrity, character, decency, values, and standards by electing someone who reflects none of these traits? The answer can be found in the social conditioning experienced by Americans since the days of the founding fathers and their inventing and instituting the system of European American (white) supremacy and African American (black) inferiority. In other words, they invented the concept of a black and white race with the white race deemed superior to all non-white races for the purpose of controlling them. Dr. Robin DiAnglo commented on this experience: “This systemic and institutional control allows those of us who are white in North America to live in a social environment that protects and insulates us from race-based stress.” She continued by noting that “We have organized society to reproduce and reinforce our racial interests and perspectives. Further, we are centered in all matter deemed normal, universal, benign, neutral and good.”With the rapid changes taking place in America, the control presently in the hands of European Americans is under constant threat of change, and is, in fact undergoing change.
The social conditioning European Americans receive in society includes little if any reference to race; therefore, they are never stressful regarding race. Society has told them that they are the representatives of the human race; they are the normal people. All other people belong to a separate race. For example, when stories are reported in the media, usually, the only reference to ethnicity occurs when the subject or subjects of the story are not European American (white). If the story concerns European Americans, ethnicity (race) is never mentioned because society must assume that the subjects are European Americans and no ethnicity (race) is required.
Another feature in American society that conditions the European Americans, as well as the rest of America to the European Americans sense of normalcy can be observed in any pharmacy or department store. All one needs to do is to ask for stockings in a nude or natural color and look closely at the color. The color will match the skin complexion of European Americans. The same scenario exists with cosmetics as well as with bandages and Band-Aids; their color approximates the European Americans’ complexion.
European Americans being able to see themselves as normal or without race or ethnic identity is constantly reinforced by and through society. They are also conditioned to see themselves as superior to all other so-called races. Both the elements of normalcy and superiority comes with a large degree of a suspension of disbelief when one realizes that people of color, according to the sciences, were the first of the Homo sapiens to appear on the planet, and in Africa. So the normal color for a human being would be non-white, not white. Also, the concept of superiority seems questionable in light of the fact that when any person of color procreate with a European American (white), the off spring generally manifest physical characteristics of the parent of color. That would suggest that the superior genes reside within the people of color. In addition, eighty percent of the world’s population reflects people of color; that number alone would suggest that the longevity of European Americans (whites) is limited. All those things make little difference when we read that our DNA show we are all from the same family of man and a specific or distinct race cannot be discerned from DNA.
The invention and instituting of the system of European American (white) supremacy and African American (black) inferiority was based on a false concept of race. The fact that the system has been able to sustain itself for so long is due to the control that European Americans have had on society. Now that the system is falling apart due to changes constantly occurring in society, the fear of losing that control and all it represents was possibly at the heart the presidential election. Regardless of who is president, changes will continue to destroy the system of bigotry. The challenge for the European Americans today is replacing the concept of being white and superior with one of being simply a member of the family of mankind without reference to preferences and skin color.
Paul R. Lehman, President Obama signed a bill eliminating the word Negro that signals change in identitiesAugust 15, 2016 at 11:24 pm | Posted in African American, American history, American Indian, American Racism, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, discrimination, DNA, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, Hispanic whites, identity, immigration, law, minority, Non-Hispanic white, President Obama, public education, Race in America, skin color, skin complexion, Slavery, U. S. Census, U.S. Supreme Court, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
Tags: American History, ancestral identity, black, cultural identity, current-events, ethnicity, European Americans, Hispanics, Kamala Kelkar, minorities, Negro, Obama and American Bigotry, PBS NEWSHOUR, President Obama, race, Republicans, skin color, skin complexion, slavery, white
When Africans were brought to this country and enslaved, one of the first things taken from them was their identity. Taking away their identity was important because it represented the history of who they were and that they were valued. Although each enslaved African would be given a slave name, they would all be commonly called black or negro because of their skin color. The African identity was taken away from the enslaved, but the slave sellers and owners knew who they were, what they did (farmer, fisherman, craftsman, etc…) and where they were from because their selling price would be influenced by that information.
An example of the value of the African’s identity was underscored in a 1764 poem by James Grainger, “The Sugar Cane.” This poem was constructed using four parts called books; the fourth book, “On the Genius of Africa,” shows the value of a slaver knowing the identity of the African captives: “Negroes when bought should be young and strong. The Congo-Negroes are fitter for the house and trades, than for the field. The Gold-Coast, but especially the Papaw-Negroes, make the best field-Negroes: but even these, if advanced in years, should not be purchased.” This information focuses on males, for females the advice is when looking for a sound Negro: “Where the men do nothing but hunt, fish or fight, all the field drudgery is left to the women: these are to be preferred to their husbands.” The reference continues for males: “The Minnahs make good tradesmen, but addicted to suicide. The Mundingoes, in particular, subject to worms; and the Congas, to dropsical disorders.”(The Making of the Negro in Early American Literature, Paul R. Lehman, 2nd edition, Fountainhead Press, 2006, P. 38)
For enslaved Africans in America, their identity was taken away so their history and value would be tied to American slavery. If the only identity an enslaved person had was that of being American black or Negro (both terms mean the same) then they did not exist except in the system of slavery. The only personal identity they had linked them to their owner, as in the reference—John Smith’s Negro, “Tom.” During the early 1700’s,the term for slave went from Negro and black to simply “slave” due to the common coupling of the two phrase “black slave” or “Negro slave.” However, many of the enslaved were still Europeans and American Indians, but the majority of the enslaved was African/ African American.
Once the government instituted the system of white supremacy and black inferiority, race by color became an important part of personal identity in American society. Americans were no longer able to identity with a particular ethnic or culture group. Kamala Kelkar, (PBS NEWSHOUR, 5/22/2016), noted that “In 1790, the U.S. Census counted people by lumping them into one of three categories—slaves, free white females and males, or all other free persons.”The most important identity an American could have or want to have was white. The most damning identity one could have was that of either slave or Negro.
Immigration to American from around the world, but especially Eastern and Southern Europe brought many changes to the invented concept of race. Although most European immigrants were not referred to as white, they all were willing to give-up their cultural identity to be called white. For people of color, the term Negro was used regardless of their place of birth outside of the U.S. As recently as 2010, the Census form still included the term Negro or black, but the list for other people of color had expanded. Kelkar explained that “The Department of Energy Act has for decades described “minorities” as, “Negro, Puerto Rican, American Indian, Eskimo, Oriental, or Aleut or as a Spanish-speaking individual of Spanish descent.”Because of the system of white supremacy and black inferiority, people of color were identified as “minorities.”
For over two-hundred years the words race and ethnicity were generally undefined and used indiscriminately to the confusion of all, especially the U.S. Census. As recent as 2010, Americans in a number of categories were told on the Census form to identify themselves as white, if they could not find an identity that suited them. This group included mixed-ethnic individuals such as Asian Americans, American Indians, and Hispanics. In effect, the concept of race by color had reached a point of meaninglessness. The problem was that the terms race was interpreted as pertaining to multiple biological groups of human beings or ethnic groups. The fact is that only one race of human beings exists—Homo sapiens. Ethnicity or ethnic groups pertains to the variety of cultural groups within the human race.
Every human being on the planet Earth has two identities—one ancestral or ethnic, one cultural. The ancestral or ethnic identity is represented by a person’s biological parents; the cultural is the identity the individual selects. For example, an Asian American has Asian as an ancestral identity, and American as the cultural which he or she embraces. The terms Negro and black do not allow for either identity nor does the terms white and Caucasian. Fortunately, things are about to change.
President Barack Obama just recently signed H.R. 4238 “which amends two federal acts from the 70’s that define “minorities” with terms that are now insensitive or outdated.” In addition, the bill was sponsored by Rep. Grace Meng, D-NY, with 74 Democratic co-sponsors and two Republican ones;” it passed with 380 votes. The two words removed from the books are Negro and Oriental. According to Kelkar “The new bill changes the language to, ‘Asian American, Native Hawaiian, a Pacific Islander, African American, Hispanic, Puerto Rican, Native American or Alaska Native.’”
The changes in identity were inevitable because race by color was an invention based on false assumptions and beliefs. Black or Negro and white or Caucasian were never biological categories of the human race but were put in place because of the government’s control. No one ever came to America with only the identity of black, Negro, or Caucasian or white; they always had an ancestral and cultural identity. Once in America, however, the Europeans recognized the value of being identified as white and so the abandoned their ancestral and cultural identity for white. People of color coming to America realized the stigma associated with being call Negro or black and usually decided to retain their ancestral and cultural identity. Now the people of color who were previously called Negro can be specific in their ancestral and cultural identity—African American. For whites and Caucasians, no official changes have been made although the term European Americans was used on occasion by the Supreme Court, but they always had the freedom to identify themselves using their ancestral identity such as Irish, Italian, Polish, German, etc. In any event, the fact is that identity-based on race by color is rapidly being deconstructed.