Paul R. Lehman, Why European Americans call 911 when they see people of color

May 14, 2018 at 3:29 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, blacks, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, justice, police force, Prejudice, race, Race in America, skin color, skin complexion, whites | Leave a comment
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The recent rash of incidents involving European Americans calling the police after seeing African Americans doing something they thought suspect should come as no surprise based on the ethnically biased social conditioning that is a part of their everyday American life experience.

The very first element of a European Americans life experience is the idea that they and all people who look like they look are the centers of the universe. From their skin complexion to their standards and values, society leads them to see themselves as superior to all people not like them. Everything in their immediate environment serves to support that concept. As their social environment begins to expand from the home to the neighborhood, church, and school, they are made to realize that they have privileges over people who are not like them.  The awareness of their specialness begins in the home where little if any interactions with people of color take place, but often negative references, actions, and reactions are observed as a normal part of their daily experiences.

The European American lady at Starbuck, the lady at Yale, the lady who saw the three African American women leaving the Airbnb all felt within their rights to call the police because they witnessed something their social conditioning told them was not normal. Apparently, none of these European American women gave any thought to their action before calling the police. Because of their conditioning relative to fear and danger associated with people of color, the primary thing to trigger their concern was the skin color of the people representing the threat to their sense of normalcy. I.e., ethnic bias against people of color by European Americans is triggered by skin color.

A European American female called the police when she observed an African American female asleep in her dorm’s common room. The student, a graduate student at Yale was awakened when the European American female told her she had no right to sleep there. The reason the European American female called the police was that of the fear and dread she felt by seeing a person of color in a place that was usually reserved, in the females mind, for European Americans. The brown color of the graduate student’s complexion sent a warning signal to the brain of the European American female, so she acted on it without any serious consideration regarding repercussions. She evidently felt unsafe in her home environment with a person of color present.

In another case, a European American female called police because two African American men were sitting in Starbucks without having purchased anything. We see again the reaction of a European American female to the presence of two men of color. Her social conditioning provides an uneasy feeling regarding them in this public but social setting. The two men were actually waiting for another person to join them, something common in Starbuck stores. Nevertheless, the police came, arrested the two men and took them to jail where they remained for around eight hours; no charges were filed against them.

A European American female in Rialto, California called police when she thought several African American women who were leaving an Airbnb rental looked out of place. That is, she thought it unusual for women of color to be in that neighborhood. When she noticed that they were loading baggage into a vehicle, she assumed that they were burglars. Shortly after the 911 call was made several police cars arrived on the scene. In addition, a helicopter flew overhead while the women were being questioned. Once again, the biased social conditioning this woman received relative to skin color helped to trigger her response to people of color being where she did not expect them to be by calling 911.

In all three of these incidents, the social conditioning of cultural biases played a significant role in the actions of the three European American females involved. Little or no thoughts were given to the well-fair of the African Americans because their social value was never in question. In each situation, the European American female seemingly believed seeing African Americans in the settings they were in was not normal. So, the automatic response was to call the police and have the discomfort removed.

The ethnic bias of the European American females was reinforced by the police who arrived on the scene already favoring the callers. The rights of the African Americans are immediately suspect as noted in the actions of the police officers and their immediate treatment of the African Americans. Rather than taking the time to assess the situation prior to any detaining or arresting actions, the police arrived on the scene already suspecting the African Americans of wrongdoings. The complicit police actions supported the biases of the European American females toward the African Americans.

Comments emanating from the police establishment of the three incidents mentioned above all suggest that the police were simply doing their jobs. Yes, they were doing their jobs, but only in support of the European American callers. The rights of the African American men and women were given little or no preference equal to that of the callers. The actions of the police seem to suggest that a call 911 is taken as fact without question, so doing their job means not giving the African American citizens involved their respect, rights or privileges. Many European Americans, as well as many police officer do not realize that America is a diverse society.

Because many European Americans live with an ethnic bias of which they are not cognizant, or their biases are implicit, the first order of business in replacing that bias is discovering that they have a cultural bias against people of color. Next, they need to confront their bias with the thought of replacing it with a more appropriate concept of a diverse humanity. Finally, once they know their bias and know how it is triggered, they can work towards overcoming it. While all Americans can address their bias using this process, European American in positions involving serving the public must certainly experience this form of education.

The problem of cultural ethnic bias as a part of social conditioning cannot be resolved easily or quickly because it involves commitment, discipline, and consistency. All three steps must be followed if success is to occur. Once we understand that bigotry is a part of a system, we will realize that biases do not exist in isolation, but they must be replaced individually.

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