Paul R. Lehman, Race is being replaced by ethnic group and ethnicity to eliminate confusion

February 14, 2017 at 4:32 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, American Indian, American Racism, blacks, DNA, education, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, Human Genome, identity, India, Media and Race, mixed-marriage, race, Race in America, Russia, skin color, skin complexion, U. S. Census, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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When the founding fathers invented the system of European American (white) supremacy and African American (black) inferiority their basic mistake was to base their system on race by color. As long as they controlled society, they controlled the system, but they could not control the color of each group or the fact that we humans belong to one species of Homo sapiens. Time would eventually debunk the myth of race and begin to deconstruct the social conditioning forced on society. Many Americans are still today confused relative to the difference between race and ethnicity. Much of the confusion was caused by the scientist who wanted to push their own theories about race since it has never been defined socially. Even the term “white” experienced a number of transitions in its application to various immigrant groups to America—examples of Anglo-Saxon whites, free whites, lesser whites, and Caucasians were common. All these groups, including people of color, were considered ethnic groups, except the Anglo-Saxons.

With all the demographic changes taking place in America and the world today, a clear understanding of the terms race and ethnicity is in order. We began by stating that all human belongs belong to one race.  What we commonly refer to as races today simply does not exist. We are all of one blood. The differences we experience in others come from our cultures and places of habitation. Those differences represent our ethnic differences and have nothing to do with race. The problem has been that we use race to mean ethnicity or confuse something purely cultural with something we think is biological. According to Bill Nye, author of Undeniable, (2014) “In evolutionary terms or fact, we are all almost identical. We each share 99.9 percent of the same DNA.”

All of our social identities are based on either our cultural and/or geographical attachments; one or the other or a combination of both geography and culture represent the ethnic identity. People from countries like China or India will have their culture included in the country’s name. The name of the country usually serves as the person’s ethnic identity if that country is the one of his or her birth. If, however, the parents of the person are known for their cultural identity, for example, American Indian, then the cultural identity serves as the ethnic identity. Because of these two influences, all people have two separate and often distinct identities—one ancestral or ethnic, and one cultural.

An example is in order here: If a Russian male and an Iranian female marries and have a child, that child will have an ancestral (ethnic) identity that includes both Russian and Iranian parents. However, depending on the country in which the parents are living, their child’s cultural identity might be totally different from the parents. That is, if the family is living in Iran, then the child’ cultural identity will, unless certain circumstances prevent it, reflect that country and culture. If for example, the couple lived in America, the child’s cultural identity would be American. At some point in the child’s life, a choice of a parent’s ethnic identity might be embraced. The child’s cultural identity of American will remain unless and until it is relinquished.

Another way of viewing ethnicity is by looking at the identities of the diverse people who come to America. No one comes to America legally with an identity where color is stipulated, only the geographical identity which more often than not includes the cultural identity. For example, many professional athletes from foreign countries come to work in America and regardless of their ethnic and/or ancestral identity, are identified by their geographical identity. For example, the following professional basketball players of brown complexions, are simply called  Brazilians: Nene, Anderson VarejaoTiago Splitter, Lucas NogueiraBruno Caboclo, and Leandro Barbosa. Two players from Australia, Kyrie Irving and Patty Mills, players with brown complexions, are known as Australians, not by their ethnic identities, but by geographical (cultural) ones. That is not to suggest that their ancestral identities are not important to them, they are not necessary to underscore their cultural identities.

Because our founding fathers instituted the system of supremacy and forced the social conditioning on all Americans, race has been at the core of all social challenges. All the social biases Americans of color experience today are based on race. Now that society is starting to understand the confusion caused by race by color and is working to replace the system of bigotry, not knowing what to do about race is a problem. We know that race is an illusion, but one that we have been living with since the beginning of our society. As race continues to lose its social value, it has to be replaced with something and that something is ethnic and cultural identities. Ethnic identities were and are important in collecting data so society and the government can monitor what is taking place relative to the general population and each ethnic group. The U.S. Census began in 1790 was a way to maintain and control the population, especially the ethnic groups of color. The changing demographics in our world and society continue to blur the lines of race as an acceptable term suitable for social identities.

Today, if each group is identified by ethnicity rather than race, discrimination by race would no longer possible. As society pushes through this process of change from racial identities to ethnic ones, we must recognize that arriving at ethnic identities is just a temporary pause, because the end result, in an idealistic sense, is having a need for no other identity than American.

The primary reason for some Americans to identify themselves as European American, African American, and Asian Americans etc…comes from a lack of information about their countries of origin. The results are seen in the terms European, African, Hispanic, etc… that rely on either geography or culture to fill in that space before “American” for ethnicity identification. The over-all objective of identity in our democratic society is for everyone regardless of their ancestral, ethnic or cultural identities to be seen and known as Americans. Embracing, promoting, and being proud one’s ethnic identity does not take away from the fact that America should value all ethnicities. Two facts remain—no one chooses his or her ancestral (ethnic) identity, and everyone can choose his or her cultural identity.

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  1. I have followed Dr. Lehman’s writings for several years. I have also had the privilege of personal discussions with him and colleagues, including in-depth examinations of his ideas. His approach has dramatically changed my views of “racial issues.” Most importantly he has opened my eyes to the inherently inappropriate, and self-defeating uses of the terms “race,” “black,” and “white.”

    As indicated above “race” is a term invented by bigots and used by bigots to sustain the fiction that there exists more races than the universal human race. As Dr. Lehman has stated in other sources, civil (human) rights advocates, including longtime activists, scholars, and passionate believers in human equality, cannot influence the thinking of bigots by attacking their “racism,” or by defending the nonexistent concept of “racial equality.” The use of the term “race” only confirms to the bigot that he or she is correct to believe that groups of people have qualitatively distinct differences from each other, which is used to support the bigot’s belief that those differences entail moral, intellectual, etc., superiority by one racial group over another.

    The term racist must be replaced by the term bigot in our efforts to achieve a sense of a commonly shared humanity. Bigot addresses the individual’s beliefs, rather than diffusing his or her responsibility as a member of a group of like-minded people. Race must be replaced by the terms ethnicity and cultural choice, which do not denote a genetic superiority/inferiority among various ethnic or cultural groups, as the term race does.

    Dr. Lehman’s last two books give detailed, clear, and innovative expositions of these issues. I strongly recommend that every person concerned about the trends of our society to buy and read these books. The books contain the best answers, of which I am aware, to our ongoing history of social inequality from the policies of the Founding Fathers, to the American politics of today.

    Sources:
    Lehman, P. R. (2016). The System of European American (white) Supremacy and African American (black) Inferiority. Xlibris.

    America’s Race Matters: Returning the Gifts of Race and Color. Xlibris.

    Tom F. Shadid, Ph.D.


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