Paul R. Lehman, The jury’s not guilty verdict of the Philando Castile case sent a message to America

June 20, 2017 at 4:39 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, blacks, Christianity, Civil Rights Ats, Declaration of Independence, Disrespect, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, fairness, justice, law, law enforcement agencies, Minnesota, political pressure, Prejudice, protest, Race in America, whites | Leave a comment
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With the jury’s finding of not guilty for the officer who killed Philando Castile comes the implied, but a blatant statement from law enforcement that the justice system overwhelmingly favors their agents—the police. The ruling says that in spite of you forcing us to use dash cams, body cams, and surveillance cams, you, the people, cannot prevail over us because justice is what we say it is. Most people of sound mind can usually tell right from wrong, but somehow lawyers, prosecutors, judges, district attorneys and others in the justice system cannot when a member of law enforcement is involved. We the people cannot continue to allow this miscarriage of justice to take place and assume that all is right with the world because it is not. So, what can the people do to replace his misguided system?

Although a disproportionate number of police victims have been people of color, the corruption is not exclusive to people of color, so, all people who want justice to serve everyone should be concerned and involved in bringing about a system that serves everyone. We know that many people are angry and concerned about the lack of justice simply by looking at the makeup of the protesters. While the protests serve a purpose in bringing the problems to public awareness, it should also serve as an opportunity to organize groups to study and develop plans of actions directed at replacing the system. Nothing will happen to replace the system if the people do not get involved and execute specific plans of actions.  Also, change will not happen overnight.

The first order of business is to organize and develop a plan of approach to addressing the problem. The need for this process is important because it saves time and energy. For example, developing a plan to replace the chief of police, if effective, might bring about some relief, but would not solve the problem because the chief is simply one part of the total organization. Any plan to be effective must understand the system and its organizational structure in order to replace it completely. Some of the tools available to the people include political power—finding suitable candidates for the various offices and supporting them to victory; political pressure—the people putting pressure on current politicians to introduce legislation written to address many of the current problems in the justice system; the law—suing the city, police, Fraternal Order of the Police for as much money as possible so they get the message that injustice also comes with a price. Whatever approach taken must involve all concerned citizens, not just the vocal ones, and it must start at the local level.

We have heard all the excuses offered by law enforcement to justify their actions; excuses like “I felt threatened,” or “I felt my life was in danger,” or “I thought he was going for his gun,” or “I was afraid for my life.” All of these excuses and others have been offered as reasons for using deadly force, and yet, in spite of their fears and feelings of trepidations, many of these officers remain on the force. If they are in a state of constant fear or insecure feelings, they should not be in law enforcement. How can they “serve and protect” when they are under constant stress?

In addition to the individual excuses we hear the all too often references to the “bad apples” in the department or the “need for more training,” or “the need for more officers,” or “our lives are on the line every day.” While all those reasons might be valid in some cases, none of the excuses explains why departments do not do a better job of vetting future officers or explain why some officers think it is fine to knowingly use excessive force, or officers using common sense and a degree of patience before resorting to deadly force, or spend more time educating departments and officers on the meaning of all people living in a diverse society rather than training in military combat tactics. Enough with all the excuses; ways and actions speak louder than words ever will.

We, the people, are tired of the unjust actions of the criminal justice system and its agents as well as the over-used excuses to try to justify and maintain the system. We are not trying to appeal to a sense of Christian fellowship or valuing our common humanity or democratic principles when we protest and ask for fairness for ourselves and fellow citizens, but to human decency and to a simple attempt to know the difference between right and wrong, and to seek to do what is right.

We should not take lightly the necessity for change in the system of justice as it continues to wreak havoc on the lives of people of color in general and show disregard for the rights of many of its citizens. To seek a replacement of the unjust system is not a suggestion, but a responsibility as noted in the Declaration of Independence: “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.” The founding fathers believed that replacing a corrupt and abusive system was not simply a choice but a “duty” of the people. The focus is not replacing the government, but the abusive system. We should not look to violence as part of a remedy for injustices, but the legal tools that are available and most of all, the people.

Change and replacement of the criminal justice system will not come easy or quickly because of the long years of its entrenchment, but it must come. Any plan for replacement must begin at the local level and involve as many people possible—strength in numbers. People wanting to join in the effort should look for groups and/or organizations already active in the process. Joining efforts with other individuals and organizations does not mean one has to agree with everything the group or organization represents but agreeing on replacing the justice system should be the primary focus.

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Paul R. Lehman, Report indicates military ignored ethnic bigotry against African Americans

June 17, 2017 at 4:06 am | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American Racism, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, criminal activity, discrimination, equality, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, fairness, justice, justice system, Prejudice, race, racism, skin color | Leave a comment
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Sometimes we go along thinking that something is going just fine and needs little or no attention, but then discover that we were wrong in our thinking and everything is not going as we thought. A case in point is a news report that was released June 14, 2017, which stated that “Black troops are far more likely than their white comrades to face court-martial or other forms of military punishment.” Once we collect our thoughts, we discover that this news is surprising, but not alarming because we know the history of American ethnic relations and how it manifest its biases in a variety of ways. The data for this report was collected and analyzed by the group, Protect Our Defenders, an advocacy organization for the victims of sexual assault and military justice. The data for this report was acquired from the Pentagon and covers the years 2006 to 2015.

According to the article in USA TODAY, by Tom Vanden Brook, we learn that “Over the past decade, racial disparities have persisted in the criminal justice system without indications of improvement.” The article continued by noting that “These disparities are particularly striking for black service members, who face military justice or disciplinary action at much higher rates than white service members in every service branch. In fact, the size of the disparity between white and black service members’ military justices involvement has remained consistent over the years, and, in the case of the Air Force and Marine Corps has increased.” The point is that little attention has been paid in the last decade or more to the area of ethnic discrimination in the military, so no trouble flags have been raised in that regard.

The report goes further to show the histories of ethnic discrimination in each branch of the military and points out the seriousness of the problem in two branches in particular: “The researchers found that the Marine Corps had some of the most significant issues with race, particularly in instances where the harshest penalties are possible. In an average year, black Marines were 2.6 times more likely than whites to receive a guilty finding at a general court-martial judicial proceeding for more serious offenses.” In addition, the report found that “…black airmen were 71% more likely than whites in the Air Force to face court-martial or non-judicial punishment, discipline meted out for less serious offenses.” One would think with the percentages of offences so high that some alarm would have been sounded by someone keeping the data.

While the instances of discrimination were very high in both the Marine Corps and the Air Force, the report stated that “Findings for the other services, the Army and Navy, show disparities as well. Black soldiers were 61% more likely to face court-martial than whites in the Army; and black sailors were 40% more likely than white in the Navy to be court marshaled. That percentage is 32% for black Marines.” These percentages from each military branch of the service underscore the problems of ethnic bias experienced by African Americans.

The fact that discrimination of African Americans in the military service represented a problem was voiced by Don Christensen, president of the group and a former top prosecutor for the Air Force. He said in an interview that the “From the findings of the study, race appears like it plays a big role, which is disheartening.” He continued by stating that “It seems to have a sizable role in determining if somebody’s going to go to court or receive non-judicial punishment. I’m really not sure what exactly explains it, and that is really troubling.” He also  noted that “ The military has known about these numbers for decades and has done nothing about it.” His comments suggest that no one in the military thought these numbers constituted a problem, so no action was necessary.

Since each branch of the military has it own unique society with rules and regulations governing it inhabitants, most civilians are not privy to what transpires in the military on a daily basis. Also, military communities are controlled environments under the rules and regulations for each respective branch. Because these communities are not usually part of the public community, the public has little chance to learn about many of the activities that take place in military life. For that reason, ethnic discrimination that occurs in the military should be the concern of each and every member of the military family. Unfortunately, according to Christiansen, “the lack of diversity in the military may play a role in unequal justice for black troops. In 2016, about 78% of military officers were white, and 8% were black.” That fact alone underscores a cause of the ethnic bias problem experienced by African Americans.

The primary cause of the problem of ethnic bigotry in the military is the acceptance of the false concept of race, especially, the acceptance of the notion of a black and white race. In order to start the process of ridding the military of ethnic bigotry, the concept of race must be debunked and replaced with the concept of one family of mankind, which, in fact, we are. The social conditioning received by Americans that underscore power, privilege, and superiority to the European Americans must be shown to be false and replaced. For example, the term race should be removed from all government forms and replaced with ethnicity or ethnic group. Also, black should be removed and replaced with African American or person of color, and white and Caucasian replaced with European American or whatever ethnic identity is appropriate. To continue using the language that separates rather than unites people is part of the problem.

In the military ethnic biases can occur in three places where the biased individual is protected from repercussions: positions, promotions, and punishment. The judgment of individuals in supervisory roles can and does play a role in the extent of bigotry in the military. The ethnic biases that were part of the individual’s character prior to entering the military still manifest itself in situations where a biased judgment is not readily detected and can be easily disguised in the rules and regulations. The problem of ethnic bigotry must be addressed at the beginning of military service as well as the repercussion for practicing it. This awareness must be a part of everyday life.

Christensen noted that “The study shows that the military isn’t immune from the same racial issues that affect civilian police and courts.” Although that might be the case for now, the military is in a position to effect a great change. Since the military is a controlled society, changes can be made to correct this problem, and those changes can serve as a model for the civilian society. First, however, the military must recognize that a problem exists before it can be addressed. Now they know!

Paul R. Lehman, Both Bill Maher and Sen. Ben Sasse complicit is reference to the n-word

June 7, 2017 at 3:37 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, American Racism, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Civil Right's Act 1964, desegregation, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, justice, Prejudice, Race in America, segregation, Slavery, the 'n' word, white supremacy, whites | 2 Comments
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What does one usually think of when the following pronouns are used: we, us, our, and my? Depending on the context in which they are used, Americans generally think they are included in those pronouns. For example when we read or say the phrase “We the people of the United States,” or “Our forefathers,” and “My country tis of thee,” we usually assume that we are personally included in the pronoun. The fact is that people of color, including Hispanics and Asians, as well as many Eastern and Southern Europeans were not included for many year prior to the 1900’s. Those pronouns referred only to American Anglo-Saxon males for the most part until the early 1920’s. Basically, when European Americans are asked to close their eyes and picture a group of a dozen Americans, the likelihood of the presence of people of color in that mental picture is not very great, unless the European Americans had frequent and close involvement with culturally diverse people.

Before school desegregation was instituted, many European Americans had little to no contact with people of color because the schools, churches, and communities were segregated. That segregation helped to condition the mental landscape of many European Americans to exclude African Americans as part of society. European Americans were conditioned to give little or no social value to African Americans which meant not viewing them as social equals. With the arrival of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, an awareness of African Americans as citizens with rights and privileges equal to those of European Americans, the mental picture of Americans began to change, a little. One of the things that the civil rights act did was to underscore the separateness of the various ethnic groups. This feat was accomplished through the use of language; the terms minorities and race underscore the existence of both entities. If so-called races did not exist, they could not be discriminated against. Right? They can only be discriminated against and deprived of rights only if they exist. So, when the Act outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, by naming the elements in the law, it underscored their presence in society.

The Civil Rights Act presented a series of new problems for European Americans because now they have to be mindful of other people in society besides themselves. The European Americans had to not only give social value to African Americans but also recognize the fact that they shared social rights and privileges with them. This law was a new and great departure from what was considered the norm for European Americans. The challenge to conform to the law still represents a challenge to many European Americans today.

Often, when European Americans are in the company of African Americans or know that an audience of African Americans will hear what they say, they will be consciously on guard to avoid any word of statement that might suggest ethnic bias of anything that might sound pejorative towards African Americans. However, if the European Americans are in the company of other European Americans, they will not be on guard relative to their ethnic biases unless the person or persons in whose company they are in are sensitive to ethnic slurs. Otherwise, the European Americans will voice their biases freely without concern for repercussions. Remember, these ethnic biases are not something extraneous to European Americans, but part of their normal mindset, part of the system of European American superiority and African American inferiority.

A recent incident captured on television involving Bill Maher and Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska during an interview demonstrates the challenges of replacing the system of ethnic bias. During the interview Sasse talked about his new book and also about people who dressed up for Halloween. Sasse said that the practice was frowned upon in Nebraska. Maher then said that he has to get to Nebraska more. Sasse then said that “You’re welcome. We’d love to have you work in the fields with us.” Maher narrowing his eyebrows stated, “Work in the fields? Senator, I’m a house (n-word).” For the readers unfamiliar with the term “house N-word,” the reference is to the duties given to African/African American slaves who were generally off-springs of the master or a male from his family. Their duties did not include the harsh and brutal work in the fields, but work in and around the master’s house. In addition, the status of the slaves was reflected in the duties he or she performed.

Once Maher made the statement, the audience noted the offense to which Maher stated that “It’s a joke.” Neither man stopped to comment on the reference, but continued the interview. The point here is that nothing was said at the moment, with the exception of Maher’s reference to it being a joke, to correct the disparaging remark and its reference to enslaved people.  One possible reason for the lack of attention paid to the seriousness of the remark is the fact that the two men forgot where they were, and being relaxed and familiar with one another simply let their guards down. Had the audience not reacted to the reference, chances are that both men would have continued the interview never realizing that something amiss had happened. Both men are guilty of failing to acknowledge the effect of the reference and to apologize immediately. That did not happen because the reference to the n-word has been a part of their normal social language that it did not represent a departure from the normal until the audience noted it.

Many changes are taking place in our society as well as in the world that affect us daily. One of the changes has to do with the changing demographics and the growing cultural diversity that has become a part of our everyday life. For many European Americans these changes bring great challenges because they slowly deconstruct what was considered normal to them. What at one time was considered normal and acceptable to European Americans in American society is no longer acceptable and continued use can result in serious repercussions. That is no joke.

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