Paul R. Lehman, Racism, the gift that keeps supporting and promoting bigotry

July 31, 2018 at 3:49 am | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, blacks, Constitutional rights, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, race, Race in America, racism, tribalism, whites | 2 Comments
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One of the most common expressions heard today is the term racism. Without knowing or thinking about it, the use of that term does three things simultaneously, it underscores, promotes and supports the concept of European American (white) supremacy. Derived from the term race, racism, racist, and all the other terms associated with them serve as tools in the language to keep the concept of races alive and well.  The use and acceptance of the word racism in American society underscore the false concept of the existence of multiple biological races, more specifically, it underscores the existence of a (black) African American and a (white) European American race, a concept that is totally without foundation and proof. The concept is an invention or social construction used to control society by conditioning the view of the European Americans as superior to African Americans and all people of color.

The term racism is and has always been inaccurate because it denotes something based on an illusion and myth. No such thing as multiple races exists, only the human race. The term racism refers to the psyche of a group, not an individual. So, anyone who identifies with a group that is represented as embracing that philosophy is referred to as racist. What occurs in the people who are identified as racist or who identify themselves as racist is based on three things: a sense of security, privilege, and power. The fact of the matter is that a racist is actually a selfish individualist who enjoys the comfort and protection of numbers as in his or her group, tribe, or organization for security and so feels free to exercise and enjoy the privileges and power afforded the group without fear of being accused of the bigotry represented in those privileges and power.

The numerous writers and scholars that develop theories and concepts relative to racism and racist thoughts and actions are simply supporting and promoting a Tooth Fairy myth. Since the concept of race is based on a myth and/or invention, all the research and writings about race contain a fallacy. The actions and behavior observed and studied, for certain, can be verified by some means, but those actions and behavior are not based on the group but the individuals who use the group mindset as a source of security. If we look at a number of so-called hate groups, we would find that they all have one thing in common, the concept of privilege and power based on skin color. Those privileges and power were and are derived from the abuse and exploitation of African Americans and other people of color. When hate groups finally discover that their life’s objective is a fraud, that no such thing as a white race exists, they should come to understand the meaning of a fool’s errand.

At one time in America, the term racism carried an undesired stigma and a sense of unacceptable behavior, since it was contrary to the precepts noted in the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution. However, what is also of concern is the fact that society embraced and practiced slavery and bigotry before, during and after the issuance of those documents. So, hypocrisy relative to the concepts of race and racism were conditioned in society as ordinary and acceptable. Once the bell of viewing people of color as less than human beings was rung, in spite of all the contrary actions like the 13th and 14th Amendments, and the various laws pertaining to civil rights, the reverberations of bigotry continue today.

Since the term racist is based on an unsubstantiated premise it does not reflect the bias intended in its use. The appropriate terms are bigot and bigotry, not racist and racism. The use of the term racist relieves the person for which it is used relief from any personal responsibility. That relief comes from the fact that the individual represents his or her group’s philosophy, not a personal or unique attitude. Therefore any criticism of the individual racist is transferred to the group he or she represents. Because of the avoidance of direct responsibility, the term racist or racism enjoys the protection and security of the group. The same is not true of the terms bigot and bigotry because of the individuals labeled as such bear the direct responsibility for their thoughts, actions, and behavior.

The European Americans who identify themselves as racists also recognize that the privileges have been provided them through years of segregation, discrimination, and bigotry. The very first thing that comforts the racist is the fact that American society has been conditioned to reflect the social elements that support European American privileges from standards of beauty to behavior and comfort. Society has witnessed in recent times the reaction of some European Americans who felt discomfort in the presence of African Americans, so they had no reservation whatsoever is calling 911 and expecting to and having their concerns addressed. Whether they realize it on not, to exercise that kind of social control is called privilege.

The most important element at the racist’s disposal comes from the group he or she represents and that element is power. Through the efforts of groups, laws that favor their philosophy can be and have been made and passed as well as enforced. The efforts of many civil rights activists today are focused on changing many of the laws that were enacted to keep people of color in a state of inferiority. Fortunately, the powers of the racists and racism, in general, are beginning to feel the effects of a changing American society. The concept of race is finally beginning to deconstruct due to its mythical construction, the rapidly changing demographics, and the entrance into politics by people who want to see and live in a society that reflects the values this country promotes and represents—the rights of each individual to experience life, liberty, and justice.

We can all be an active part of the change that is taking place by realizing that the language we use helps to keep us ignorant and divided. Rather than using the word race, use ethnic group or ethnicity instead; in place of the words racism and racist, use bigotry and bigot. Small changes can make a big difference.

Paul R. Lehman, Trump’s positive contribution to a better America in spite of his bigotry

July 25, 2018 at 3:02 am | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, Bigotry in America, blacks, criminal justice, discrimination, Donald Trump, entitlements, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, interpretations, justice, justice system, Media and Race, police force, Prejudice, Race in America, respect, skin color, skin complexion, social conditioning, social justice system, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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One of the most important results of Donald Trump’s election was America’s recognition of its diverse population. For certain we all knew that America was a diverse population but we were not as aware of the bigotry that existed within some Americans towards others. Trump did not create the bigotry but he has been very instrumental in bringing it out in other people. Many Americans did not realize that they were bigots until Trump along with members of his administration and party began focusing on the concept of ethnic bigotry. Even today, many Americans do not realize or accept the fact that we have been socially conditioned to accept bigotry as normal as it pertains to people of color.

Regardless of the efforts of Trump to point out and comment on ethnic diversity in American society, because of the rapidly changing demographics, the fact would have eventually presented itself—America continues to change. The effect of America’s changing demographics is like the bottom of a lake that has dried up because of a drought or being drained; a lot of debris is uncovered and what becomes visible for the first time in a long time speaks to a variety of discoveries. Many European Americans have never seen themselves as being biased towards other Americans for any reason. They might be considered ignorant since they lacked the knowledge of their social conditioning towards people of non-European heritage. That form of ignorance can be easily seen and experienced if these Americans live in a predominantly European American environment where they have little exposure to people of color or of diverse ethnicity. If nothing ever happens to call their attention to social and ethnic differences, then their perception will continue.

For many European Americans, ignorance is an excuse to continue to practice bigotry because they believe that they cannot be held responsible for something for which they are ignorant. Unlike the European Americans who are rarely exposed to ethnic differences, these European American are fully aware of the social privileges provided them because of their identity. However, when and if these European Americans are questioned about their display of social bias, they usually feign ignorance of their bias. Since they are not aware of their bias, they cannot be held responsible for their actions or judged negatively because of them; they believe that get a pass.

Another group of European Americans with biased social conditioning believe these biases to be normal and an accepted way of life. Rather than accept the social privileges they received as based on ethnic bigotry, they choose to ignore the reality and continue to accept the illusion of ethnic superiority as real. Anyone who challenges their view of society and the world is viewed as an enemy or at least suspect. We have over the past few years witnessed many instances of European Americans using their social privilege to call attention to their lack of comfort relative to an incident involving ethnic Americans of color. Unfortunately, many of their efforts are rewarded by the law enforcement establishment because they too, in many instances, share the same biases.

The biased social conditioning of many European Americans gives them a sense of not only privilege but also entitlement. Their sense of entitlement leads them to believe that they should feel safe and comfortable in any and all situations, and when they do not enjoy these feelings, they can call 911 and receive immediate satisfaction. To many of these Europeans Americans, they believe that they are not bigoted or biased; they are simply exercising their God-given rights as they interpret them. They have not accepted the fact that America is a diverse society and all Americans deserve the opportunity to exercise the same rights and privileges as they enjoy.

We Americans owe Trump and his administration a debt of gratitude for bringing out the problems relative to cultural biases that exist in society today. The warning America has been given relative to our diverse society is that we must learn to live together as brother and sisters or perish as fool unable to resolve our differences. What we must learn to accept is that all Americans are ethnic Americans and no one ethnicity is superior to another. The problems we face affect all Americans because they either add to or detract from us all regardless of our petty differences. Once the problems from the Trump experience are exposed, we will become aware of the challenges we must address to make certain we do not face the same ones again.

Ignorance is a key ingredient used by society to keep the status quo from succumbing to reality. For example, the contributions of African Americans to American society from Crispus Attucks to Katherine Johnson are quite relevant to our American story but mention either one to almost any educated European American and he or she would not recognize either name. Unfortunately, one could do the same with almost any educated African American with the same results. The problem is that knowledge of these individuals and their accomplishments would provide an element of pride in the African Americans and a sense of surprise in many European Americans. The fact that the information relative to these two Americans is available but not included in most American History books is due to both ignorance and bias. The ignorance represents a lack of knowledge; the bias represents a deliberate action to keep positive and image-influencing information from the readers.

American society, in general chooses, to ignore the factual information and knowledge relative to the myth of races but refuses to accept and promote it as an act of ignorance. Fortunately, facts and truth have a timely way of pushing ignorance to the side like water bursting from a dam overwhelms anything in its path. For American society, the changing demographics are like that dam water waiting to find its path. Ignorance can prevail for just so long before the truth comes in to replace it. When the truth comes, ignorance will be destroyed.

Paul R. Lehman, Changing the criminal justice system and mass incarceration starts at the local level

July 10, 2018 at 4:13 am | Posted in African American, criminal justice, justice, justice system, law, lower class, Michelle Alexander, minority, non-violent crimes, Oklahoma, poverty, race, Race in America, social conditioning, social justice system, The Oklahoman | Leave a comment
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Often times, when something happens involving the criminal justice system that has a negative effect on a segment of society, that part of society that is not seemingly directly impacted will pay little or no attention to the problem Usually, they remain uninvolved and uninformed relative to the criminal justice until it affects them directly. What they do not realize is that they have always been directly affected by the system whether they know it or not. One way they, the public, is affected is through the high rate of incarceration and prison overcrowding that the citizens are financially responsible for paying. However, since they do not receive the bill directly, they give little attention to it. The groups that are forced to pay the bills are the poor and people of color. So, for many years mass incarceration has been about controlling people of color and the poor right in plain sight while nothing was done to correct the injustices that were committed against them.

Studies have been conducted relative to mass incarceration ascertaining that the phenomena are not simply an act of maintaining law and order, but a system of economic profit-making. A number of scholars have referred to the criminal justice system as the prison industrial complex because of the vastness of the system and the many people involved at many different levels. Although this system is a nationwide organization, what keeps it going happens at the local levels of society. So, if an effort is made to replace the unjust system, the initial action must take place at the local level. The first order of business is to re-educate the public and present a transparent picture of what happens to a citizen that is incarcerated at the local level and how he or she becomes part of the bodies working for the system.

Many citizens are led to believe that because a person is arrested, charged, and sent to prison that they deserve to be there because they broke the law. Generally speaking, that would be an accurate assessment. However, what created the present situation of mass incarceration had nothing to do with citizens breaking the law, but with the laws being changed to expand the number of people being incarcerated. When President Reagan instituted his war on drugs and crime, he caused a modification of the charges and length of sentencing. The system has since added the fees, fines, and numerous charges to the sentence of the incarcerated person, making freedom almost impossibility if one happens to be poor or a person of color. So, the more people introduced into the system, the more efficiently it runs. For an in-depth look at the subject of mass incarceration please read Michelle Alexander’s book THE NEW JIM CROW.

The state of Oklahoma is one of the national leaders regarding mass incarceration in general, but number one as far as incarcerating women is concerned. This problem was brought to the attention of the Oklahoma citizens in the form of two state questions that addressed the rate of incarceration of people with drug problems and non-violent crimes. The state actually passed the two questions 780 and 781 that sought to reclassify drug possession and some other lower-level crimes as misdemeanors. The objective of the questions was to use the money saved from not incarcerating people of these types of crimes and use that money for alternative programs. These types of programs are necessary for addressing the problems and redirecting the money.

Kris Steele, a former Speaker of the House, is the chairman of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform and leader in attempting to stop the mass march to prison of many citizens. Based on his studies and experiences relative to criminology he understands that prison is not the answer to problems involving drug use and low-level offenses. He expressed some of his concerns in an article, “Justice reform must have buy-in,” (7/9/2018) that underscored the injustice of the sentencing today. He also noted the importance of the people involved in the working of the criminal justice system understanding the problems and helping to overcome many of these problems, not trying to maintain the status quo. Steele noted the need for elected officials and others to accept the programs. He stated that “Unfortunately, some elected officials still haven’t accepted this approach. In the six months after the state questions were enacted, 882 people were sent to prison with drug possession as their most serious offense—directly rebutting the will of voters.”

One of the problems in this matter is the lack of concern of many of the citizens; they either do not care or do not know the seriousness of mass incarceration. Steele noted that citizens pay the price and it is significant: “If each of these 882 people sentenced to prison for drug possession spent one year in prison, it would cost the taxpayer $15 million, and if they were imprisoned for the statewide average for drug possession—25 months—it would cost $32 million.

We know that mass incarceration is a feature of the criminal justice that keeps the system going; we also know that the system is unjust and unfair to people of color and the poor. We realize that we can start to resolve the problem if we work together. Steele noted that “Once this cultural change is embraced by those responsible for implementing reform, Oklahoma can safely reduce its incarceration rate, boost public safety and strengthen families.”  Oklahomans must keep the pressure for corrective action open and out front for change to occur.

Along with addressing the problem of mass incarceration is the need for prison reform from a national perspective. Michael Gerson in an article “An idea that should succeed in Washington,” (7/9/2018) citing the need for prison and sentencing reform referenced two scholars, Steven Teles and David Dagan who identified reform as “an example of ‘trans-partisanship,” and “a agreement on policy goals driven by divergent, deeply held ideological beliefs.” Everything depends on how people view crimes and criminals. They stated that “Liberals look at mass incarceration as see structural racism. Libertarians see the denial of civil liberties, Fiscal conservatives see wasted resources. Religious activists see inhumane conditions and damaged lives.”

Gerson summed up the solution for mass incarceration, prison, and sentencing reform by making one simple statement—“ All these convictions converge at one point: We should treat offenders as humans, with different stories and different needs, instead of casting them all into the same pit of despair.” Easy to say, harder to accomplish.

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