Paul R. Lehman, Race absurd in Nursing Home residents choice

August 28, 2010 at 9:01 pm | Posted in American Bigotry, American Racism, Race in America | 3 Comments
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The absurdity of race is starting to have some present-day serious repercussions for those who want to continue practicing ethnic bigotry. The race by color game that began here when the Europeans first came to this land has seemingly reversed the negative effects on the ones intent on practicing it. Part of the privilege of identifying one’s self as white was to have control and power over non-European Americans. As the years passed the power and privileges have been decreasing via laws and social practices. Once, the European Americans could demand and receive medical treatment from only other European Americans. Even today some of those requests are made and acknowledged. For example, recently, this occurred in a suburb of Philadelphia where a European American woman giving birth requested through her husband that no black people attend to her. The request was granted, but the hospital realizing the negative affect the request had on the doctors and staff, apologized and promised to not let that happen again.

                Today, with all the so-called ethnicity progress Americans claim to have achieved some of the examples of a practice that harkens back to the days of segregation still exist. Shortly after the Civil War, the South wanted to restore its lifestyle and culture, which meant keeping African Americans in their place. Having control of their livelihood, education, and residence was one sure way of keeping the freedmen in line. One of the ways the European American females expressed their superiority over the African Americans was through avoidance or physical contact. Some practices have very long lives and often serious consequences.

A recent Associated Press article stated that the courts in Illinois ruled against nursing home residents choosing caregivers by race. The article related the following incident:  “Certified nursing assistant Brenda Chaney was on duty in an Indians nursing home one day when she discovered a patient lying on the floor.” The article continued, “But Chaney couldn’t help the woman up. She had to search for a white aide because the woman had left instructions that she did not want any black caregivers. And the nursing home insisted it was bound to honor the request.”

                Why would a nursing home resident give such an order? Part of the answer involves a certain degree of ignorance, arrogance, stupidity, hypocrisy, bigotry, and absurdity. The above nursing home incident reflects some of the same sentiments and characteristics of some of the European American Mississippi women characters depicted in Kathryn Stockett’ bestselling novel, The Help. In the novel some of these women entrust themselves and their family, especially the raising of their children to the care of African American maids, called the help. Yet, these women avoid any physical contact with their help believing that they carry some contagious disease. They totally ignore the fact that these African American women prepare their meals, wash their clothes, clean their houses, and totally care for their children. These European American women act as if they truly believe that African American women are biologically inferior to them.

                Evidently, the husbands and other European American males in the novel as well as in real life might profess the same bigoted beliefs, but that does not or has not prohibited them from molesting the maids and in many cases procreating with them. Examples of this type of activity from Thomas Jefferson down to Strom Thurman show the hypocrisy of the race myth. Yet, some people still want to believe that somehow in all their ignorance, they are superior to other people simply because of their skin color. They truly need more than help; they need guidance.

                According to the article, the Illinois Court ruling is contrary to the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law, enacted by Congress that focused on nursing home abuse. Under the federal law, nursing home residents are free to choose their own physicians. Indiana’s law is “broader, saying patients can choose their provider of services.” Fortunately, Indiana realized the dangers to patients who select only certain ethnic group providers who may not be available when help is needed.

                The crux of the problem and the laws lie with the terms used to determine ethnicity. The words black and white are used symbolically to identify each so-called race respectively. However, the words are ineffective in identifying ethnicity because they indicate no race or ethnicity. The only thing they indicate is the inaccurate stereotyped symbolic reference to African Americans and European Americans and, of course, a reference to colors.

                American society has failed to up-date itself with respect to the myth of race and thereby heaped serious problems on those citizens who still hold on to the old inaccurate and biased beliefs. A person’s skin complexion does not identify his or her ethnicity—only the old stereotypes of black and white. All so-called black people are not African American just as all so-called white people are European American. Eighty percent of the world’s population is of color, so the references to black and white can be associated with a wide range of people, not simply African Americans and European Americans. When we accept the fact that all people belong to the same human race, we can begin to eliminate some of the ignorance and bigotry unfairly directed at groups of other human beings. Interacting with people of various ethnicities is common place in American society today. However, if one has enough wealth, one can successfully isolate one’s self from any and all people one chooses.



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  1. Well said! You really need to get the messages out to a broader audience. I cannot read the news, listen to the radio or watch tv without gritting my teeth lately and the current political situation seems to be bringing out the worst in people. Keep it up and we all need to speak out more often in response to the ignorance, insensitivity and lack of understanding.

  2. Excellent, and I agree we should be way beyond the ignorance promoted by the race myth. It’s not difficult to see the absurdity in it. As an example, what would you call a person of African decent that was born in London and raised as a citizen of England? If you struggle with an answer its because you are an American and your perspective is saturated in the race myth.

    • Your question was illustrated so obviously on a rerun of the Ellen Degeneres show recently when they were trying to point out the prompt reply you could get by texting a question to ChaCha. Ellen asked the gentleman who handles her music where his home was. In his very British accent he replied, “London.” She pressed further as he was not responding the same as the response they had received from Chacha. Finally she pointed out the answer they received was Nigeria which apparently made more sense to her as obviously he isn’t British enough even though he clearly sounds British and says his home is in England. Her intent was not malicious but it certainly illustrated the mindset that unfortunately exists. I have attempted to convey messages to tv shows that I thought would be more sensitive to issues such as this but it is like talking to a post! Maybe Paul should start “Tweeting” some of the people that provide the forums for such discussions.

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