Paul R Lehman, BBC News report shows some American police unable to serve the mentally ill

October 27, 2018 at 2:16 pm | Posted in Community relationships, Constitutional rights, criminal activity, Disrespect, education, equality, European American, justice, language, life, Oklahoma, police force, respect, social justice system, tolerance | 1 Comment
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In early October, the BBC News aired a show entitled “Don’t Shoot, I’m disabled” with journalist Aleem Maqbool that featured police officers and other law enforcement representatives. Whatever the show’s objective was, the results underscored the ignorance, insensitivity, and irrationality of law enforcement in three specific American cities: Milwaukee, Frederick County, and Oklahoma City.

In the first incident, we learn that three West Milwaukee police officers broke into the home of 22-year-old Adam Trammell where they found “him naked and  bewildered standing in his bathtub as water from the shower ran down his body.” The police presence at Adam’s home was due to a neighbor calling 911 and reporting that she had seen Adam, whom she called Brandon, walking naked in the corridor, talking about the devil. Adam’s father, Larry Trammell, said that Adam often experienced delusions and hallucinations. He noted that taking a shower helped Adam calm down when he felt ill-at-ease. When the police tried to confront Adam, they saw that he was not armed nor was he acting in a threatening manner. However, he did not respond to their commands to leave the shower. They referred to him as Brandon, not Adam.

At this point, most reasonable people would process the information they had about this situation and realize that Adam did not respond to the officers’ command because he was not in a normal frame of mind. For the officers to proceed in a manner they viewed as normal when their commands were not followed showed ignorance. The events that followed underscore their lack of concern and compassion for a fellow human being: “The officers then fired their Tasers at him 15 times, administering long, painful electric shocks as he screamed and writhed in the bathtub. Then more officers arrived, and after dragging him, still naked, from his apartment, they held him down and he was injected with sedatives – midazolam at first, and then ketamine.”Shortly afterward Adam stopped breathing and was taken to a hospital where he was dead on arrival. All of the police action was captured on an officer-worn camera on May 25, 2017.

After Adam’s death, the police said that they broke into Adam’s home to help him and that their actions towards him were to restrain him and get him medical help. Nothing coming near rational thinking on their part could be ascertained from the video. To add insult to injury Milwaukee’s District Attorney John Chisholm went so far as to rule that “there was no basis to conclusively link Mr. Trammell’s death to the actions taken by the police officers.” No media attention was made of this story and no officers faced prosecution.

In another case, a 26-year-old man with Down’s syndrome, Ethan Saylor, was watching the movie Zero Dark Thirty in a Frederick County, Maryland cinema with his carer. Ethan fashioned himself as a CIA agent after a character in the film. After the movie, Ethan wanted to view it again, but his carer told him that they had to leave. They walked out of the theater, but not out of the building. When the carer went to get the car, Ethan went back into the theater and the same seat he had occupied before. The three off-duty police security officers heard that someone was in the cinema without purchasing a ticket. They went in and found Ethan. The carer had gotten the car and did not realize that Ethan had gone back inside the cinema. After confronting Ethan about his presence in the cinema without a ticket, they asked him to leave. Ethan told them that he was a CIA agent and would not leave.

At this point, any reasonable person recognizing that Ethan was a Downs syndrome person would have realized that they would have to use another approach in trying to communicate with Ethan. However, the officers put their arms under Ethan’s arms and tried to lift him out of the seat. He cried for his mother but was removed from the theater arrested, handcuffed and restrained. In a short matter of time, Ethan was on the floor face down and not breathing. He subsequently died. His mother, Patti, thought that he had died from some unexplained medical complication, but an autopsy report indicated that his death was a homicide from asphyxiation.

Patti believed that had Ethan been able to respond to the officers’ command he would still be alive, but questioned why officers would intervene physically someone with Down’s syndrome. Officers again showed a lack of information regarding the treatment of a person not in control of his normal or natural reasonable ability but proceeded to treat him as though he was normal. Their actions showed their lack of knowledge and compassion for someone with a mental condition.

The third incident involved law enforcement from Oklahoma City. On September 19, 2017, the police confronted Magdiel Sánchez, a 35-years-old man who was on the porch of his home. The police believed that he was carrying a weapon and did not drop it when they shouted commands for him to do so. During the confrontation with Sánchez, a neighbor shouted to the officers that Sánchez was deaf. Evidently, Sánchez did not hear the police commands. None-the-less, he was shot and killed. He had been holding a small section of piping and was ordered to drop it.

Oklahoma City Police Chief, Bill Citty defended the police action: “Nobody disputes neighbours were yelling that he was deaf,” then added that “He [Sánchez} understood that they were police officers. That’s why we wear uniforms.” In essence, Citty did not accept the fact that Sánchez was deaf and had learning difficulties as a reason for his behavior. According to Citty, his officers were in fear of being hit with the pipe and acted in self-defense. He noted that “It’s our job to be able to respond to situations in a manner which creates the best outcome.” One might as the question whose best outcome? Certainly, it was not the best for Sánchez.

Maqbool, the reporter, road along with Oklahoma City Police Sgt. Corey Nooner who related to him an incident 15 years ago where he shot and killed a woman with schizophrenia. According to Maqbool, “Nooner says that given the same circumstances today, he would do exactly the same thing. ‘I have to make sure I go home to my family at night.” Nooner admitted that he was angered by the suggestion that police may be too ready to use lethal force. The question remains, so why are so many disabled people killed by the police?

If we are to follow the focus of the BBC News story, the answer to the question is ignorance, or a lack of education regarding the mentally ill; insensitivity or a lack of compassion and a failure to see the mentally ill as human being with some difficulties; irrationality, or a lack of reason

other than for the safety and well-being of the police, not the citizen. More training, however, is not an answer, but more and better education could help. The chances are little to none that many Americans saw this story, but rest assured that all of Europe with access to the BBC News saw it.

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Paul R. Lehman, Mayor fails to see the hypocrisy and bigotry in his banning of Nike products

September 23, 2018 at 2:57 am | Posted in African American, American history, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, Colin Kaepernick, Constitutional rights, democracy, Disrespect, Donald Trump, equality, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, freedom of speech, interpretations, justice, language, minority, NFL, political power, politicians, Prejudice, race, respect, skin color, social conditioning, The Huffington Post | Leave a comment
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The headlines read “Mayor Bans City’s Recreation Facilities From Buying Nike Products” and immediately informed the public that he, E. Ben Zahn, was angry about the move by Nike to make Colin Kaepernick the face of their new advertising campaign. In addition to showing the public his anger, he also showed his ignorance of the Kaepernick story, his arrogance to follow his ignorance with his order, and his bigotry towards Kaepernick whether he admits it or not.

Because Zahn chose to ignore the facts surrounding the Kaepernick protest and decided to interpret it as an insult, disrespecting the national anthem and the American flag, his ignorance and anger led him to his actions. While he may certainly ban any purchases of Nike products as mayor, he cannot forbid people from wearing or using Nike products nor does he make mention of any penalty or consequence for anyone ignoring the ban. Being mayor does not give him the right to ignore the Constitutional rights of each citizen. He might want the citizens of his city to follow his biased and ignorant thoughts and actions, but they are in no way obliged to do so simply because he is mayor. His ignorance is further demonstrated by his focusing on a brand name to protest against, a company that surely took into account the market risk involved in putting Kaepernick’s face on their advertisement. According to recent HuffPost news reports, Nike sales have increased since the move to have Kaepernick featured despite President Trump’s Twitter and claim that it was “getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts.”

One wonders just who Zahn thinks he is punishing with his band other than the people who work for his city and enjoy using Nike’s products. Because he is upset with Nike he wanted to show his public the power he has as mayor to express his dislike of Nike, and so he issued a ban. His show of arrogance was not accompanied by an explanation of just why the ban was instituted. His statement read: “Under no circumstances will any Nike product or any product with the Nike logo be purchased for use or delivery at any City of Kenner Recreation facility.”Zahn has every right to disagree with Nike’s choice and every right to be angry as an individual, but to extend his personal anger to the city and punishing the children and adult citizens that use the recreation facility is certainly a display of arrogance.

Zahn added to his ignorance and confusion when he stated that “I applaud Nike’s message of inclusion and encouragement for everyone to be their best and dream big, but I also recognize that Nike, in its zeal to sell shoes, chose to promote and sell a political message.” Because of his ignorance, Zahn does not see the irony of his actions; the ban is a form of protest that emanates from a politician, the mayor. He, apparently, believes that he is doing a public good by protesting and banning the purchase of Nike products. He is, in effect, doing the same thing for which he accuses Kaepernick of doing—exercising his constitutional right to peaceful protest. However, in his case, Zahn see what he is doing as patriotic and what Kaepernick did as unpatriotic. His feelings are, evidently, strong and sincere for him to issue a ban on all purchases of Nike products by his city. One wonders about the effects of his ban relative to what he views as the problem he wishes to address.

As a seemingly European American, Zahn probably grew up in a social environment that viewed people of color as inferior to those of European ancestry. That perspective was part of the normal everyday experience and not something that stood out as being strange and unusual. The values and standards of his community are what informed his perception and they were/are considered correct and appropriate to him. The historical actions of the government helped to foster the perception of Anglo superiority over that of people of color. So, Zahn sees nothing amiss in his banning based on his dislike of Nike’s advertisement featuring Kaepernick.

Zahn seems to be under the impression that politics are different and distinct from everyday life; however, he never defines or states clearly what he means by politics. One of the many definitions of “Politics (from Greek: πολιτικά, translit. Politiká, meaning “affairs of the cities”) is the process of making decisions that apply to members of a group. It refers to achieving and exercising positions of governance—organized control over a human community, particularly a state.” Therefore, practically everything that has to do with influence and control, physical or mental of a human community is political. In essence, Zahn accused Nike of trying to promote and sell a political message while he bans a city to not purchase Nike products, but does not see the close if not identical relationship involved in both situations. Because of Zhan’s social conditioning, he does not see the hypocrisy in his actions but protests the actions of Nike.

The real fact of Zhan’s protest is his ethnic bigotry and anger because the face of Nike’s advertisement happens to be a man of color whose protest Zahn does not understand or like. In his own words Zahn said that he approves of the message Nike is promoting, so it has to be the face that is used for the promotion that troubles him. Therefore, his feeling of superiority, power, and prestige told him that it was okay to ban the purchase of any and all Nike products from all the Kenner City recreational facilities. The saying “Ways and actions speak louder than words, “serve to underscore and explain the anger and bigotry Zahn communicates through his decision to issue a ban.

Unfortunately, Zahn does not understand the message that Nike is promoting to the general public that supports the constitutional right of all Americans to practice peaceful protest against something in society that is inconsistent with our concept of democracy. How sad.

Paul R. Lehman, Bigotry in our language is a not so hidden secret we can afford to ignore

September 3, 2018 at 6:44 pm | Posted in Africa, African American, African American hair, American history, American Racism, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Civil Right's Act 1964, Constitutional rights, criminal justice, Declaration of Independence, discrimination, DNA, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, fairness, Hair, Human Genome, identity, justice, justice system, language, law, Media and Race, minorities, Negro, Prejudice, race, Race in America, racism, skin color, skin complexion, Slavery, social conditioning, social justice system, socioeconomics, white supremacy, whites | 2 Comments
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The objective from the very beginning was division and on a permanent basis as the reason the founding fathers invented two races, a black and a white. Unlike the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution that said we are one people, the concept of race has kept us separate and unequal. Subsequently, if we continue believing in the concept of races we will continue to be separate and never fulfill the objective of our democracy. If we are to ever have one nation, we will have to change the way to look, speak, and act towards one another. We also need to understand that the language we use helps to keep us separate. For example, as long as some people view themselves as black and white, they will not come together because of the historical significance of those words. They were meant to keep us apart.

Many well-meaning civic groups actually work against themselves by choosing a name that creates a negative and defensive feeling in others towards them. Take, for example, Black Lives Matter, a group that has an objective that is in keeping with the concept of democracy, but because of the word black in the name, it creates a defensive reaction in the minds of many European Americans.

We also have groups that use words like white, Aryan and caucasian that they believe makes them different from people who do not look like them. Their pronounced goal is to save or preserve the so-call white race. They need to visit history to learn what happens to people who are separated or separate themselves from other people; they become extinct, like for example, the Australian Tasmanian Aboriginals, and in America, the Eire people and the colony of Roanoke.

When civic activists call for unity among people of color, they miss the opportunity to enhance their programs by not inviting all concerned people. We as a society have been conditioned to identify ourselves based on our so-called differences when our objective should be for all to use the same identity. We are all Americans, so why is it necessary to use color or ethnicity as part of identity? When visitors come to America, they come using their cultural identity. When Americans get a passport they provide a picture, but no racial or ethnic identity, because our cultural identity is American, not black or white, Hispanic or Asian etc.

We do ourselves a constant disservice by identifying ourselves as separate groups which have been our legacy since slavery. We have to grasp the reality of our situation understanding that the concept of biological races is a myth, invention, social construction, and lie. Prior to the Human Genome Project, everything about races with the numerous divisions, classifications, and characteristics was conjecture and opinion. We now have scientific proof, validation, and evidence that all human beings are more alike than penguins, and the skin complexion, eye shape and color, and hair texture are not unique to a select group of human beings. We are of one race of beings whether we like it or not.

We might think that language does not play so great a part in our lives and our behavior, but studies old and recent underscore the fact that when the words black and white are used in a sentence referring to an identity, a measured reaction occurs. The reaction for the European American, usually an increased heartbeat, is observed when the word black is used because of the social conditioning associated with the word. African Americans do not experience a similar reaction when the word white appeared in a sentence because they are conditioned to seeing it and without feeling threatened.

The media in American society contributes greatly to the separation of ethnic groups by the way they use inappropriate identity language. For example, if a bank is robbed and the robber was apprehended, nothing pertaining to the robbery is gained when the ethnicity of the robber is identified. Except, in American society today the identity of the robber is omitted if he or she happens to be European American, but the identity is almost always given when the robber ‘s identity is a person of color. The effect of the naming the identity of the ethnic person serves to strengthen the negative stereotype society already has of the person of color.

Another way in which the media contributes to the negative stereotypes and biased attitudes held by some Americans relative to people of color has to do with the mentioning of the geographic location of an incident that is readily identified as being in a location where predominately people of color reside. Again, the mere mention of the location adds to the negative stereotype held by many people familiar with the location.

Today, with all the problems America is facing relative to our government and the various policies being addressed both positively and negatively, we need to take the opportunity to add our concept of race and identity into the mix and deal with it once and for all. We continue to talk about racism as if it was legitimate rather than bigotry which is what has been and continues to be practiced in society. Yes, our language uses the word racism to talk about social biases, but simultaneously serves to keep the concept of races alive and our society separate. We need to decide what kind of society we want to live in as well as our children and grandchildren. Once we make that choice, we need to get to work and make it happen. We have been talking about racism for three hundred years to no avail because we are still talking about it without a change in the daily behaviors of people. Racism is not the problem, we are because we refuse to accept the fact that we have been living in a false reality. What we cannot continue pretending to not see is the rapidly changing demographics that will force changes in society relative to cultural and ancestral identities.

We currently have an opportunity to make great strides in addressing our oneness as a society by debunking the myth of race and working to make America what it was meant to be a democracy. We will not and cannot get to where we want, and need, to be if we do not change from using our misleading ethnically biased language of bigotry.

Paul R. Lehman, Everyday bigotry and the language of social control

August 25, 2018 at 1:18 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Civil Right's Act 1964, Congress, education, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, fairness, Hair, identity, justice, language, lower class, Media and Race, minorities, minority, political power, politicians, Prejudice, President Obama, Race in America, racism, skin color, skin complexion, Slavery, whites | Leave a comment
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Everyday bigotry is basically a normal day in America. What makes it normal is that it is part of the fabric of American society that hides beneath the veneer of the idea of democracy. Social conditioning is a process that occurs when someone is born into a culture or adopts a culture and experiences that culture on a daily basis. The characteristics of that culture are acquired through living with and among the people in that society. The standards and values, customs and practices that are part of that society are not usually questioned or challenged by the people, but accepted as being correct and normal. So, when the system of Anglo-Saxon (European American) supremacy was instituted into society using language that identified two major races, black and white, with white as superior and black as inferior, no one questioned or challenged it. The Africans could not challenge the biased concept because they were powerless; the European Americans did not challenge it because they invented it. The power and control of society was derived through the language the people used and trusted.

The power and control of society through language can be demonstrated in the concept of physical beauty. The European Americans established themselves and their physical qualities as representative of the normal human being. In addition to making themselves the model of humanity, they also placed the highest social value on their features, especially their skin complexion. Therefore, anyone that looked like the European American was viewed as valued more than the people of color, especially the African Americans that did not look European. The slave masters and owners began early in the system of slavery to exploit the European physical features and the degree of so-called European (white) blood reported in the slaves as a profit builder. What they did was give names to slaves supposedly having degrees of European blood, names to underscore that degree. So, for example, if a slave was said to have a European American father and an African mother, he or she would be called a mulatto; this designation would allow the slave seller to ask more money for the slave over one with no or less European American blood; the greater the percentage of European blood, the higher the slave’s value.

What this practice did in addition to bringing in more money to the slave owner was to give the slaves with a degree of European American blood a sense of being valued over the slaves without noticeable European American blood. The reality was that regardless the amount of European American blood the slaves had, they were still slaves. In addition, the language told the African American slaves that they were ugly, black and dirty; that their hair was bad because it was kinky, nappy, curly and short. Possessing these physical characteristics, the African slaves knew that being beautiful was impossible for them. However, after slavery, some African Americans believed that acquiring some of the features of the European American might increase their social value. The language as a tool had convinced them to accept the European American standard of beauty as part of a social value system.

One of the wealthiest women in America in the late 1800’s was Madam C. J. Walker who happened to be an African American. Although she made many significant contributions to African American causes during her lifetime, the fact was that she acquired her wealth by exploiting the self-denigration of many men and women of color who wanted to improve their appearance. Even today we see primarily women of color whose natural hair color is dark brown or black with blond hair or undergoing cosmetic surgery on their eyes, noses and mouth in an effort to approximate the European American look of beauty. This attention to physical appearance is due to the influence of the language that causes some Americans of color to question their sense of self and their concept of beauty.

Although the Black Power movement focused on changing the stigma associated with the word black, one of the important and consequential changes to occur was the African Americans view of self and a challenge to the European American standard of beauty. Because they could see themselves as beautiful in the natural, they became free to express that freedom in any way they desired. One result of African Americans’  freedom of expression of their natural beauty was the European Americans’ efforts to adopt aspects of it.

What Americans should understand is that the language we use if not challenged will continue to control us. The language control manifests itself in the actions and reactions of European Americans as well as African Americans. For example, when the word minorities is used by European Americans it is not defined, but has inferred connotations.  So, who are the minorities referred to in the usage of the word? Americans generally assume that the word refers to all ethnic groups of color that reflect a smaller population than European Americans.  Another suggestion that is inferred in the use of the word minorities is the deference to a majority population as being superior, not necessarily numerically, but in influence and power. How will the word be interpreted when the European Americans numerically becomes the numerical minority in the foreseeable future? Will they still be referred to as the majority because of their power and influence? In any event, because the word is not defined, the meaning is never concrete and often seen as derogatory.

With respect to language being viewed as derogatory, President Barack Obama during his last days in office signed into law H.R. 4238 stating that the federal government will no longer use the terms Negro, Oriental, and Minorities in federal writing. The passing of this measure was a rare show of bipartisan  support by the House of Representatives and the Senate. The fact that America is constantly changing demographically demands that we pay attention to how the language is used as a tool for social control as well for as liberation. Just like our demographics change, so does our language with new words coming into usage while some words no longer serve a useful purpose because they are not accurate and are no longer socially acceptable.

Paul R. Lehman, The power of language continues to enslave American society

August 21, 2018 at 3:58 pm | Posted in Africa, African American, American Bigotry, American history, American Racism, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Civil Right's Act 1964, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, education, employment, entitlements, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, fairness, Genealogy,, identity, integregation, justice, language, law, lower class, Media and Race, minority, Prejudice, race, Race in America, racism, skin color, skin complexion, Slavery, social conditioning, socioeconomics, Stokely Carmichael, the 'n' word, the Black Codes, white supremacy, whites | Leave a comment
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One of the constant conundrums challenging America today is race; the reason for it being constant is because while we experience and observe it, we can only describe it, not defines it. We cannot define race because it is a concept based on conjecture and myths.  Since the Greeks and Romans did not know why the sun rose and set every twenty-four hours, they made up a story about it. The story had some facts in it relative to the movement of the sun, but the facts were surrounded by fiction. Apparently, they thought that Apollo drove his chariot around the heavens riding up to the center of the sky in the morning, and down to the horizon at night. Fortunately, scientists came along to give more precise information about the sun and its relations to the earth. Today, the world knows the actual movement of the sun as well as the other celestial bodies in the universe and no longer need to invent myths. Unfortunately, we have not arrived at that point with the use of the term race. The myth continues because we have not decided to rid ourselves of its power to control our mind and bodies.

Language is the most important tool used in transmitting not only information but also a controlling influence over society. When the slave masters took away the slaves’ identity, history, and culture, they forced on the slaves a language that was meant to keep them enslaved. The language was such an important tool that the slaves were forbidden to learn to read and write it. The punishment for anyone caught teaching a slave to read or write were heavy fines, whippings, or imprisonment, depending on the state in which it occurred. The slave owners knew that language as a tool could be used to control minds, but they also knew that it could also be used to liberate minds as well.

One way in which language was used to control society was when it constantly reminded European Americans that they were superior to all people of color, and it reminded people of color that they were inferior to European Americans. Once the captive Africans arrived in America and were stripped of their identities and past; they were forced to accept the reality of slavery. The language they used always pictured them as inferior and European Americans as powerful, privileged, and in total control of society. The African captives knew that they were not Negroes, blacks, or other terms associated with their identity, but they were defenseless to do anything about it for fear of repercussions, including death. After years of social conditioning in which the language constantly reminded the African Americans that they were Negroes, blacks, colored, and a host of other denigrating terms, their actual identity became less of a concern than their civil rights as citizens.

In the early 1960’s language was used as a tool for protest by African Americans who combined identity with the fight for civil rights with the phrase “Black Power.”  Africans were forced to wear the identity of black from the beginning of American slavery and it was used as a derogatory and denigrating term. Even African Americans used the term as derogatory within the African American community. However, when the phrase “Black Power” was used by Stokely Carmichael during a 1960’s civil rights rally, it gained legs and moved throughout the national African American community as well as society at large via music and media. The reference to “black” was used to engender a new sense of pride and positive value to what was once viewed as insulting and denigrating to African Americans. The power of language to influence worked to change the negative concept of blackness as an identity for African Americans to one of positivity, pride, and beauty.

While the language shift worked to provide a new sense of self for the African Americans relative to a black identity, it accomplished little for the European American since no change occurred in their conception and use of the word black as derogatory. The major misconception of the African American community nationally was that the word black would somehow be transformed to represent a new identity. The problem with that happening is that the space the word black occupied in the language could and would not be replaced simply by repetition. Although European Americans could use the word white for their identity, it carried no negative connotations, just the opposite.  Many Europeans abandoned their cultural identity to accept the white identity because of the power and prestige it provided them. African Americans because they did not use their cultural or ancestral identities were forced to be identified as blacks and Negroes. Two reasonable identity choices are African American or people of color, but only for ancestral identities. The cultural identity has always been American.

Many people of color in America accept the word black as a form of identity without realizing that the words black and white are adjectives, not nouns; that is, as nouns they represent colors, but as adjectives, they usually precede the noun race. Therefore, if the word black is used as a noun, it serves no purpose as an identity because it represents no cultural or ancestral ethnicity. If the word black is used as an adjective proceeding race, then the identity is based on a false concept of a black race that is viewed as a monolith which is also incorrect. In other words, the use of the slave masters’ language still represents some control over society’s identities.

The late Malcolm X learned that language as a social tool could provide an element of power and influence. So, he worked hard to become proficient in the use of language, and as a result was able to educate, enlighten, inform, irritate, and intimidate his audiences. Partly due to his early death he had not gained the level of understanding that would have helped to unlock the door of ignorance relative to how language managed to retain control of the concept of race. He did, however, recognized that the identity given the African captives upon their arrival was not their true identity and so he rejected his family name (usually taken from the slaves’ former owner or master) and replaced it with the letter X which is symbolic for the unknown.  American society’s challenge now is to recognize how language has been used to control us so we can set about the business of freeing ourselves. We cannot resolve a problem if we do not recognize that it exists.

 

Paul R. Lehman,How and why bigotry persist in America

August 14, 2018 at 2:49 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, black inferiority, blacks, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, identity, justice, language, Prejudice, race, Race in America, racism, skin color, skin complexion, Slavery, white supremacy, whites | Leave a comment
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An adage frequently heard is “we can’t see the forest for the trees,” serves as an appropriate description of the problem of bigotry in America. A closer look at how and why bigotry persists in America should give us a better overall perspective.

When the enslaved Africans were brought to America, they were human beings with names, cultures, histories, and languages. Once they arrived, the first order of business for the slave masters and owners was to rid them of the only tangible possessions they had, their names. A person’s name is very important because it makes him or her unique, even if the same is the same as others people because each human being is unique. Without a name, we would seemingly not exist simply because no one would know us and so they could not make reference to us because we had no name. So, the first thing the slave masters did was to dehumanize the Africans by taking away their names.

Although a person’s name might not seem that important, it is because included in the name is the person’s history. When a person’s name is taken away, so is his or her history because nothing is available to identify and connect a nameless person with other people. The importance of names and the history they represent are underscored, for example, in the Mexican custom of two given names followed by the father’ and mother’s name. The person’s full name is used, generally, only for legal purposes. Naming children in families after other family members as well as a host of other reasons is common practice today, but when the captured Africans were brought to America, their names were taken away. In place of the names taken, the slaves were renamed by the slave masters, but with only one name. Giving the slaves one name served to prevent them from possessing anything that could be passed along to children. So, a new history was begun for each African captive with the renaming and everything unique and personal relating to their original history was gone. The new names such as slave, negro or black provided no personal identity or significance aside from the connection to the system of American slavery.

The next important element the slave masters and owners took away from the African captives was their language; they were no longer permitted to speak in their native language. The purpose of this action was to prevent the African captives from being able to communicate with fellow countrymen because the ability to communicate with another human being provides a feeling of personal value and worth which also underscores a positive identity. For the slave masters, the process of remaking the African captives could not allow for anything that would give them hope or reference to a former life.

In addition to eliminating the African captives’ ability to speak in their native tongue, the slave masters knew that by preventing any reference to their former language the captives would also lose their culture. The culture of a people is embodied in their language, so when the language is removed, so too is the former culture. So, the process of enslavement is not reserved to the physical body, but also to the mind. Unfortunately for the captives, the mind was as important to the slave masters as the body.

When the African captives were enslaved, they lost their physical freedom; they lost their personal identification; they lost their history, their culture and their language. They were stripped of everything of value to a human being. The slave masters knowing that they must have complete control of the enslaved immediately began the process of conditioning them to a new world. To begin the process, each slave was shown through brute force and intimidation (chains, shackles, and physical abuse) that they were not free. Then they were given names they had to accept and respond to when ordered, and a new language they must learn. The key element of control was transmitted in and through the slave masters’ language.

The primary function of the new language was to inculcate in the minds of the African slaves the system of Anglo-Saxon (white) supremacy. Therefore, as long as the language goes unchallenged the system will remain intact and the minds of American society will continue to be affected by the social conditioning of bigotry. The slaves had to learn to view all Anglo-Saxons (white), and European Americans as the people who controlled their lives as well as their deaths (not natural); that everything relative to them was considered normal; that they represented the normal human being and as such set the standards for life in American society. The things that gave the Anglo-Saxons, and European Americans the power and privileges aside from the laws they instituted, was their skin complexion and the language.

The language informed the African slaves that they were less than human beings; in fact, they were no higher than the animals. The language informed them that their black skin color was frightening, ugly, dirty, and smelly and more like that of the apes than humans. The language told them that their facial features were ugly and biologically not the same as the Anglo-Saxons’ beauty. The African slaves were forced to accept or appear to accept these conditions whether they believed them or not.

Once physical slavery ended, the language, as well as the system of supremacy continued. As late as 150 years ago, an article appeared in the Nation magazine written by Taylor Lewis that made mention of the language and its continued effect of dehumanizing the African American: “Even when we advocate the cause of the African, we do it in a manner that would be though insulting and utterly undemocratic in any other case. We use the language of masters and owners.” He added that “The way in which we speak to the colored man, and of the colored man, shows an unconscious yielding to the anti-christian prejudice we are striving to overcome.”So, the purpose and power of the language have never been a secret to many European Americans, but seemingly, remains to be one for many African American.

The system of European American, Anglo-Saxon (white) supremacy and African American inferiority continues to manifest its presence in the language. Real social progress will begin when we as a society learn to communicate with one another in an unbiased language.

 

Paul R. Lehman, The use of the word Racism precludes the appropriate use of the word Bigotry

August 7, 2018 at 2:40 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, Bigotry in America, blacks, Constitutional rights, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, fairness, justice, Prejudice, race, Race in America, racism, skin color, skin complexion, social conditioning, social justice system, socioeconomics, the Black Codes, whites | 1 Comment
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For far too many years we Americans have employed a term that did not reflect the actions and deeds of individuals represented by that term. The term is racism and as defined by most dictionaries resembles the following: “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and those racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” In America race was described and identified by skin complexion of black and white with white deemed the superior of the two. Subsequently, whenever anything in society points to or indicates a privilege or advantage for the so-called white race (European American) over that of the so-called black race (African American) the act is labeled as an act of racism. If we were to follow the logic of the acts of racism, we might determine that the whole of the African/African American experience has been one of racism. All one needs to do to verify racism is to look at several significant legal adjustments made since the Civil War regarding the treatment of African Americans.

The term racism was taken from the term race which has been misappropriated and misinterpreted in order to justify its use relative to the superiority of the European Americans. The fact that the term is still in use today is owing to the social conditioning of American society that invented the social elements that underscored and guaranteed the essence of European American superiority. When we look at the history of social concerns such as jobs, education, housing, finance, to name a few, that were used to control the progress of the African Americans we realize that they were designed to keep the African American in a state of inferiority compared to the European American.  For each of these social concerns African Americans had to fight in courts, usually, the Supreme Court, to finally receive some semblance of fairness. The fight was against the government, not individuals, and the fight was not against racism, but against injustice and bigotry.

African Americans and many conscientious Americans have been fighting since before the Civil War for justice and full citizen rights for African Americans and other people of color. Although the term racism has been employed as the cause of the bias, prejudice, and discrimination preventing full civil rights for African Americans the fact of the matter is that racism was just an excuse to maintain psychological control of the race concept and the perception of superiority. The reason for the persistence of the social concept of racism is because it is a belief, not an action or a thing. A belief cannot be destroyed; it must be replaced. An example of how a belief can remain unchallenged or in place is found in our view of the tomato, which for many years we thought to be a vegetable but in fact is a fruit. Nonetheless, in almost all supermarkets and grocery stores the tomato is placed in the vegetable produce section. By placing the tomato in the vegetable section, our false concept of it as a vegetable and not a fruit is reinforced. So it is with the term racism that when we see it being employed we do not think about it reinforcing ethnic superiority, but simply focusing on some reference to social injustice.

Unlike the term racism that is based on a false concept, the term bigotry is free from any sense of illusion, myth or social invention. Bigotry is defined as a “stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own.” In other words, bigotry is the property of the individual, not a group and as such any act of bigotry reflects on the individual who owns total responsibility for the act or action. A bigot would possess the elements of narrow-mindedness, biases, and discrimination as part of that mindset. Here the difference between a bigot and a so-called racist is that while the racist only believes in ethnic superiority, the bigot acts on the biases to prove or underscore the belief.

The numerous incidents of European Americans calling 911 to report a person of color being in a place the caller thought were not appropriate for them to occupy demonstrates acts of bigotry. Any individual can possess a belief and never act on it, but once an act has been committed, the experience becomes real, not imaginary. Since racism is not a legitimate term relative to race by color, the appropriate term for the individual committing the biases act is a bigot and the belief system is bigotry.

To ethnically biased Americans the words racist and racism do not give a reason for pause because they serve as a compliment since it underscores their mindset. The social conditioning that many European Americans experience views ethnic bias and European American privilege as natural and right. When those concepts are challenged the European American automatically becomes defensive and strives to protect what is considered an infringement on their Constitutional rights. One can understand the European American’s reaction because American society has spoon-fed the European American to view these privileges as ordinary, lawful, and socially acceptable. For example, when the Starbuck employee called 911 because two African American men in the store made her feel uncomfortable, her efforts were recognized and rewarded by the law enforcement officers when they arrived; they handcuffed the men and led them out of the establishment. Although the men were not charged and finally released, they had never done anything wrong in the first place, including not causing a disturbance. The employee who made the call was never made to view her feeling of discomfort as a part of her biased social conditioning.

When we look back at the definition of bigotry and bigot, we recognize that the bigotry of the Starbuck employee as well as most of the other incidents where European Americans that called 911 relative to the presence of people of color was what initiated the action against the people of color, not the belief that they belonged to a race superior. Bigots can be held responsible for their actions, racists not at all. In America, racism is a safe haven for bigots

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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