Paul R. Lehman,Ethnic bigotry on the judicial bench—a case in point

May 3, 2017 at 12:10 am | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Criticism, democracy, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, fairness, interpretations, justice, justice system, law, Oklahoma, race, Race in America, respect, skin color, social justice system, socioeconomics, the 'n' word, The Oklahoman, white supremacy | 1 Comment
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Many Americans believe that as a society we have made tremendous progress in our acceptance of one another as equals regardless of our skin color. Although we would like to believe this, the fact of the matter is that ethnic bigotry permeates the whole of American society in the system of European American (white) supremacy. In many cases, the bigotry is subtle and often passes for ignorance or innocence. At other times, the bigotry is so apparent; it cannot be excused with some form of rationale. One of the features of European American supremacy is expressed in an attitude of superiority over the ideas, opinions, and statements of people of color, especially African Americans. A case in point occurred recently in an article by Randy Ellis, in The Oklahoman, “Black judge: Repeating ‘n’ word in appellate opinion was ‘unnecessary.’(4/29/2017)

According to the article, the only African American judge on the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, Vice Presiding Judge David Lewis, made the statement regarding his fellow judge’s opinion: “I concur in the decision reached by the court in this matter. However I write separately to point out that the author of this opinion did not have to repeat the repugnant language used by the appellant.” Lewis’ words to his colleague, Judge Gary Lumpkin, were to alert him to the sensitivity of the word to him, and indeed to the public, and that he found its frequent repetition unnecessary. Lewis wrote that “The repeated use of the ‘n’ word in this opinion was unnecessary to the reader’s understanding of the language used by the appellant, and unnecessary to the court’s resolution of this case.”

In many cases like this one, the judge receiving comments of this nature would recognize the lack of sensitivity shown in his or her case and offer an apology for the offense and a “thank you” for the cautionary note from the colleague. One would think that a judge on the bench today would be fully apprised of the sensitive nature of the ‘n’ word. The article noted that: “Judge Lumpkin quoted the racial slur verbatim in his opinion, while Lewis used the euphemistic expression ‘n’ word in his criticism.”

What followed, according to the article, underscored the apparent ethnic bigotry that exists not only in society but also on the bench: “Robert Hudson, another judge on the court, defended Lumpkin’s decision to quote the racial slur.” Rather than accepting Lewis’ words to Lumpkin as a form of “corrective criticism,” and an appeal to his better judgment, Hudson interpreted Lewis’ comments as an affront to Lumpkin’s judgment and continued “Our cases reflect reality and that reality is oftentimes not pretty.” In other words, Hudson seems to imply that one reality trumps another reality; in this case, the reference to an African American slur word, which could have easily been avoided, should be used regardless of its offensiveness to his fellow judge and society. The question is why would a judge continued to use an offensive ethnic slur word when he knows that it can easily be avoided. European American arrogance?

Robert Hudson excused Lumpkin’s use of the ‘n’ word by noting that: “’…if we are willing to erase highly relevant—albeit offensive—facts from our opinions, we will send a terrible message to the bench, bar and public that the truth, when objectionable, should be redacted merely to avoid controversy.” Hudson tried to use aspects of the case to make his point, but it fails on the history of prior court practices. The details of a sexual attack perpetrated on some young female would be not reused time and again verbatim if the judge knew that the language was sensitive to her and the court.

The point relative to this article focuses more on the attitude and actions of the two European American judges rather than the actual case. For example, if the three judges were having lunch together, and one of the European American judges started to tell an offensive ethnic joke and the African American judge stopped him and asked that he not tell the joke in his presence because he found it to be offensive, common sense dedicates that a reasonable person would acquiesce and not tell the joke. However, if the other European American judge wanted to hear the joke and encouraged the teller of the joke to continue, we would realize that he had no regards for the feelings of his African America colleague. In addition, he showed disrespect by his actions, and that his selfish desire was more important than his colleague’s feelings and request. The African American’s request was that the joke not be told in his presence, not that it not be told at all.

The system of European American (white) supremacy has conditioned the European Americans to view African Americans and other people of color as inferior regardless of their social, economic, educational, political and judicial status. That system causes European Americans to view reality through a warped sense of value. For example, when the topic of race is ever brought into a conversation, the European American rarely thinks of him or herself as being part of a race. They have been falsely conditioned to view themselves as representatives of the human race—everyone else belongs to a different race. In addition, they see themselves as being the center of the universe and in control of society.

So, when Lewis, the African American judge said to his colleague that he found the repetition of the ‘n’ word to be excessive and unnecessary to the case, Hudson, a European American judge, and colleague of both Lumpkin and Lewis took exception to Lewis’ comments. Lewis had said previously that the repetition of the ‘n’ word verbatim had no direct bearing on the outcome of the case. Hudson used his sense of superiority to castigate Lewis for speaking the truth to his European colleague. So, Hudson had to put the African American judge in his “place” as an inferior. Hudson, seemingly, believed that his opinion regarding Limpkin’s excessive use of the ‘n’ word over-ruled or trumped the opinion of Lewis for no other reason than he was European American.

Some people might think that these comments are simply making a mountain out of a molehill by suggesting that ethnic bigotry was at the core of Hudson’s criticism of Lewis. When read carefully, the article noted that Lewis agreed with the finding of the case. He just felt the use of the ‘n’ word was excessive. Because of the socially biased conditioning of Hudson’s and European Americans generally, their ability to relate to insensitive words or phrases directed at ethnic Americans of color are rarely perceived and understood. However, even large learning curves can be overcome with effort

Paul R. Lehman, George Will’s Commentary on the high courts challenge for Michigan on race lacks good reasoning.

October 14, 2013 at 9:17 pm | Posted in Affirmative Action, African American, American Racism, blacks, Civil War, college admission, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, Equal Opportunity, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, integregation, justice, Michigan, minority, Prejudice, segregation, Slavery, The Oklahoman, The U.S. Constitution, U.S. Supreme Court, whites | Leave a comment
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One of the ironies in America today is the lack of acceptance of the fact that America, from its beginning, was a biased society. Europeans who called themselves white, created a society of two so-called races—one white, one black. The character of each so-called race was also created; the white race was to be superior to the black race in every way. The problem with this creation of races from the beginning was that it was not logical because race was never defined, just assumed. Shortly after Africans were introduced into American slavery, the problem of race reared it ugly head in the form of children produced by individuals representing each so-called race. Society met this problem by creating laws based on its conception of race to keep the separation in place. The laws, however, were based on the assumption of race by color, an assumption which nature and biology did not share. Society, nevertheless, continued to ignore nature and biology while creating and enforcing as best it could laws to address the continuing racial problems. Had America used another form of separation in its creation of and assumptions of races by color, the problems society is incurring today might not be so challenging.
One such problem was published in The Oklahoman by George Will in his “Commentary “(10/13/13)on the Supreme Court’s up-coming hearing on the use of race by the University of Michigan in its admission’s policy. Will stated that “the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment says ‘No state shall…deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.’” He added that “the following provision of Michigan’s constitution violates the Equal Protection guarantee: No public university, college or school district may ‘discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis or race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin…” The provision continued with the conditions “in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.” The laws seem to cancel out each other, so Will believes the court will rule in favor of the 14th Amendment.
The problem with this case can be seen in the use and lack of definition of the word race and the history of America’s prejudice. From the end of the Civil War to 1954, America practiced segregation and discrimination, separate and unequal polices based on race. In 1964 when the Civil Rights Act provided relief from the practices of separate and unequal practices in public institutions, many states complained that the rights of some of it citizens were being denied because preferential treatment was being given to African Americans and other ethnic minorities. What society and Will does not say is that for over two-hundred years the equal protection in the 14th Amendment was not applied to African Americans, women, and other ethnic minorities, so the suspension of equal protection guarantees had to be put in place while an attempt to try and remedy the injustices of the past could be addressed.
Now the question of should race be included in consideration for admission to the University of Michigan, and if it is, will that serve as a form of discrimination against other students? Common sense should dictate a reasonable approach. How can an injustice be addressed by simply retaining the status quo, which is what the Michigan state provision suggests. The suggestion of fairness seems to reflect the idea that all citizens are equal have the same rights. History tells us that the concept of race has and still does play an important role in how some people; especially African Americans, women, and other minorities are treated. For someone to suggest that bias, prejudice, and discrimination does no longer exist in society is to ignore today’s reality.
The fact that Michigan created the law requiring that “”No public university, college or school district may ‘discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to…” anyone, suggests that many people believed that some people, African Americans and others, were receiving these preferences. They also believed that the preferences worked to the disadvantage of the majority population, regardless of the fact that they were not discriminated against in the past. Regarding those who were discriminated against in the past, the law suggests that they automatically and magically became equal and no program for addressing the inequities of the past need be instituted.
Interestingly enough, Will stated that “Michigan’s attorney general correctly argues that the voters who passed the amendment in 80 of the state’s 83 counties were not ‘restructuring’ the political process, they were using the process to give constitutional dignity to the valid ideal of a colorblind society.” One wonders if Will truly believes that the people in the 80 counties were voting without consideration of so-called race and color. If those voters in the 80 counties were not conscious of race during their voting, there would be no reason to vote. After all, the law was written to stop what they considered unfair treatment of themselves and preferential treatment of African Americans.
Part of the problem facing the court has to do with the concept of race and how the university might apply it in admissions. Because biased and prejudiced citizens accused the government of using race as a partial method to help remedy segregation and discrimination of Africans Americans in the past, and the Supreme Court agreed in part with them, the emphasis was redirected by the universities towards using race as a form of academic “diversity.” Now the practice of the University of Michigan in using race as a form of bringing diversity into the academic community is being challenged by people who believe that is also a form of granting preferences. At some point society will have to ask the question concerning addressing the injustices of the past to African Americans, women, and other ethnic minorities. So far, most of the people receiving complaints of preferential treatment in college and University admissions are African Americans. We rarely read of complaints of women receiving preferential treatment.
As a society, we must accept the fact that race was created to serve as a form of separation and discrimination and that society employed the concept of race by color to employ forms of preferences for European Americans while creating walls and roadblocks for African Americans and other minorities. The mere fact that Will made the statement that the people of Michigan voted “to give constitutional dignity to the valid ideals of a colorblind society” represents a form of hypocrisy, deceit, and ignorance. How can we believe in the ideal of a colorblind society when the majority population identify themselves as “white”?

Paul R. Lehman, “Opinion”letter underscores hatred of President, as well as ignorance, arrogance, and bigotry

October 8, 2013 at 12:08 am | Posted in African American, Bigotry in America, Congress, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, justice, Miami Herald, politicians, President, President Obama, Respect for President, rightwing conservatives, The Oklahoman | Leave a comment
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President Obama’s critics have done a tremendous job in vilifying him in every way possible. In many instances, no rationale or proof exist for the doom and gloom or fear and anger that is always associated with the mere name of Obama. Pick up almost any newspaper and a negative letter blaming President Obama for everything negative can be found. As an example of this attitude towards President Obama, a letter to the Oklahoman’s “Opinion” page (10-4-13) should surf ice. The letter is from Ray Cunning who writes as if he has empirical data at hand to inform his comments.
Cunning’s letter began with the statement that “This country is tearing itself apart, hammered by President Obama’s top two priorities. He desperately needs ‘accomplishments’ to offset his five-year history of corrupt, destructive failures.” We must assume that Cunning has data to support his claim of corrupt, destructive failures; however, he does not mention a single one. He continued by stating that “To improve his image he’s obsessed with forcing Obamacare on us and pretending that he personally defeated terrorism.” Again, we get information concerning President Obama’s deeds, but no facts to indicate its accuracy or validity. We must remind Cunning that the Affordable Care Act was passed by both the Senate and House of Representatives, signed by the President, and approved by the Supreme Court. No one is forced to sign-up of the coverage, but not doing so will result in a fine, because the people will eventually pay of the health care of the uninsured if they have no coverage.
In addition, the President never said that he defeated terrorism because he knows that this type of violence cannot be met with the same approach used against conventional war efforts. As Commander-in-Chief, President Obama has experienced some success in eliminating a number of individuals that represented threats of terror to America. Whatever the President’s actions were, they did not satisfy Cunning.
The criticism continued with the accusation that “Obama’s multiple false promises of a health care system that does everything for everybody with better and cheaper service is now recognized as a train wreck.” If Cunning had read the paper or watched the television new, he would have been better informed about the healthcare program and the success it has been recording since the sign-up began last week. No data or support for Cunning’s charges were offered. Evidently, he just does not like President Obama.
His gross dislike for President Obama is revealed in his next statement where he continued to fictionalize the negative affects supposedly created by the President: “Now, even those who helped write it are running from it. Anyone with any political connection is screaming for wavers.” Unfortunately, we have no idea of what the subject is here . We can only assume his subject is healthcare. He continued, “Still, politicians openly waste hundreds of billions of dollars, kill millions of jobs and force more to become part time while destroying the greatest health care system ever know, solely to help the worst president in history improve his image.”Again, we have no data to examine or source to which we might refer to validate the charges against President Obama. The anger does, however, seem to increase.
Our objective in examining Cunning’s letter is not to criticize his comments or his attitude towards the President, but to underscore the fact that the charges against the President are made without any data or documented support to justify them. The fact that he does not like President Obama seems to be enough for him to create anything he feels comfortable saying. For example, He noted that President Obama claims to have captured Osama bin Laden himself as support for creating a positive self-image: “Obama’s other ‘image prop’ is his purported, single-handed destruction of Osama bin Laden and ridding our country of danger from terrorism.”Had Cunning wanted the truth, he could have easily consulted any traditional media outlet to get the story. He nevertheless prefers to castigate President Obama with false charges in an attempt to damage his reputation.
Cunning’s next statement shows just how out of touch he is with reality: “He’s [President Obama] now pressuring everybody to lie about future armed attacks. He saw on video the attack on our embassy in Benghazi—as it was happening—and declared it wasn’t terrorism and went to bed leaving four Americans to die.” Why would someone falsify details of an operation except to try and create an image of the President that reflects a lack of compassion, integrity, and patriotism, if he did not hate and /or fear him?
Cunning has tried to paint an image of the President that would and should be repulsive to anyone if it were true. The fact of the matter is that it is not true. All Cunning had to do if he wanted accurate and reliable information is go and investigate the media and read what they had to say about each and every charge he makes against President Obama. If Cunning’s letter was an exception to the ones published on a daily basis in many newspapers across the country, we could say it was one of Presidents critics letting off steam. That, however, is not the case. Day after day vitriolic letters creating a demonic image of President Obama are published to the point that we have to question the sanity of people making unsubstantiated charge. When we take a closer look, we find many of our politicians doing the same things which tells the average citizen that it’s okay to demonize the President.
We must again ask the question why? Why President Obama is disliked so much by people who know very little about him? When we look back over the letters we find the same things consistently—ignorance, arrogance, and bigotry. The only reason left from which to choose is bigotry. Bigots do not want data to help them with their argument, they believe if they said it, then that should be enough. After all, they have some of their politicians baking them up. Their aim is to destroy President Obama ‘s image and legacy by creating and promoting as much false data as possible. As citizens, we have the right to state our opinions whether someone agrees with them or not. What we do not have the right to do, as Cunning certainly should know, is to make -up our own facts.

Paul R. Lehman, Judge’s comments to convicted man appear biased

February 24, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, Disrespect, equality, fairness, justice, Oklahoma, Prejudice, The Oklahoman | 4 Comments
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Tim Willert, a writer for The Oklahoman, reported on a case involving the shooting of an off-duty Oklahoma County sheriff deputy (2/22/13). At the sentencing of the man convicted of the offence, the judge made several questionable comments in additional to the sentencing that indicate a bias, a lack of information or a lack of fairness.
The first statement uttered by District Judge Kenneth C. Watson, according to Willert’s article was “You are a disgrace to your family.” Unless the judge knows the convicted man, Christopher Travis Baker, and his family, his comments appear biased and focused on the individual rather than the crime committed. If he does not know Baker and his family, his comments, although well-intended, should not be uttered unless they are uttered to all persons convicted of the same or similar crimes. If the comment was made to impress the family, chances are the family was already aware of the social affects the crime had on the family. If the comment was meant for Baker, what was the purpose? He could not undo the crime; he could only apologize to his family if that was his desire. The comment should have not been uttered for whatever reason the judge might offer; it served no useful purpose.
The next comment made by Judge Watson was “You are a disgrace to our race.” Again, if the judge is having Baker serve as a representative of the human race and he makes the same assessment to all the individuals who appear before him, then his comments are well-taken. However, if he singled out Baker for this comment, then he was not being fair. The judge also showed a lack of current information if his reference to “our race” was meant to be interpreted as “African American people.” The only race of human beings is the human race—Homo sapiens. One wonders why the judge would place on one individual the reputation of an entire ethnic group. Evidently, if the judge sees Baker as a member of a separate race, then he must also see each person from his or her ethnic group as representatives of a separate race. If this is the case, the judge need to be better informed about the changes in society regarding the concept of race.
Before we get to the Judge’s last comment, we want to underscore the point that we understand the rights of a judge to make whatever comments or statements he or she feel important to the convicted person, their family and the courtroom audience at the time. Our concern is that the comments be made without a biased or unfair undertone that somehow makes an example of the convicted in addition to what the law provides. If the Judge uses his or her comments and statements on a regular basis to all individuals without prejudice, then we have no compliant; however, when a person is singled out for criticism based simply on so-called race, then the Judge owes the convict, the family, and the court an apology. The Judge’s job is to administer justice. The convicted are punished for the crimes they commit, not defects in their character or stereotypes associated with their ethnic group identity.
The third comment made by Judge Watson was “You are a disgrace to the African American race.” This statement has a number of problems because it assumes a number of things that are not accurate. The first is that Baker does not represent anyone but himself. Yes, he is a member of the human race, but that does not make him a representative of all human beings. Yes, he committed a crime for which he is going to be punished, but he is not the crime, so the actions should be condemned, not the person. The person can change, the crime cannot be undone. If no hope exists for change, why waste the people’s money by sending him to prison?
The reference to “disgrace” seems to suggest that a certain show of behavior is expected by Baker, in effect, he is to be viewed as a discredit or a humiliation not only to the human race but also to the African American group. Unlike some Asian and non-western cultures, the individual members of a family do not carry the reputation of the family with them. In America, we look to the individual to represent him or herself, that is why we respect the rights of each individual. The reputation of the family does not take preference over the individual.
When the Judge uses the phrase “African American race” he is showing a lack of information. Science has shown since the results of the Human Genome Project that all human beings belong to the same race. Individuals can pick and choose their culture, but not their ancestry. So, an individual of Asian ancestry can be identified as an Asian, American or Asian American, but not a member of the Asian race. Likewise, a person of European ancestry can use his or her culture as a form of identity, but not white race or Caucasian race; biologically, it does not exist. So, when the Judge uses the phrase “African American race,” he is misinformed. Chances are he meant African American ethnic group, not race.
We know that changes come slowly, especially social changes. However, we expect our judges to be better informed than the average citizen regarding changes in our society. After all, they are the guardians of our system of justice; we are reminded that justice is blind. If that is the case regarding Baker’s trial, then Judge Watson owes an apology to Baker, his family and the court for his biased comments.

Paul R. Lehman, Innocence, ignorance and the Confederate flag

December 12, 2011 at 5:39 am | Posted in American Bigotry, blacks, equality, Ethnicity in America, justice, Media and Race, whites | 2 Comments
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The phrase “a little learning is a dangerous thing” is attributed to Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744), in An Essay on Criticism, 1709. For most people, the point is well taken. However, for others, it falls on deaf ears. A case in point was reported by the Associated Press (12/2/11) when it published “A black college student who drew complaints for displaying a Confederate flag in his window said he sees the banner as a symbol of Southern pride and not racism.” Byron Thomas, a 19-year-old student at a South Carolina University, evidently did not read far enough in American history to discover or gain an understanding of the historical symbolism of the flag, the impact of the flag on many African Americans, and the nature of bigotry.

If Thomas had progressed far enough in his study of history, he would understand that victorious countries do not fly the flags in honor of the countries they defeated, for what should be the obvious reason—they lost the war. In addition, the flag conjures up many negative and painful emotions that could lead to resentment, hatred, and anger. He must acquaint himself with the history before he jumps to the conclusion that no hard will is created by flying the Confederate flag. He needs to read about the Reconstruction period from a number of perspectives—at least from one that tells about the Black Codes and how they were implemented relative to African Americans. He also might want to visit with some mature African Americans for their opinions relative to flying the Confederate flag today.

Thomas needs to know that the Confederate flag is a symbol of the inhumane treatment of African Americans by the South. The South resented the fact that the North would not accept slavery as a feature of American democracy. Having slaves made America appear hypocritical to the world. African Americans were viewed as the primary cause of the war, so the South sought to make them pay by intimidations, discrimination, physical abuse and murder. The Constitution had already defined the slave as less than human –three-fifths a man. The reference to slave in the Constitution was translated as Negroes, blacks, coloreds or any slave of African ancestry. These are a few of the things Thomas needs to know in order for him to gain a better understanding of the symbolism of the Confederate flag.

For many African Americans, seeing the Confederate flag displayed serves as a reminder of the lack of respect that the South had for them as human beings. To display it today would mean that one is not aware of the symbolism it carries or else he or she knows, but still want to communicate that same negative message.

 

 

The history associated with the Confederate flag cannot be erased any more than the history associated with the Nazi swastika. To understand and appreciate history, one must first learn it, something Thomas has yet to experience. Had he studies American history and the specific parts played in it by African Americans, he would realize the debt he owes to all the people who sacrificed so that today he can attend a predominantly European American university in the South. He owes it to them and himself to get the best education available to him, but one that includes his story and not just history.

From some of the comments he made concerning the incident, we can surmise his youth and innocence. For example, he said that “he’s unhappy about such things as labels, and he doesn’t like the term “African-American,’ which makes him feel like ‘a half-citizen,’ since he wasn’t born in Africa.” If he would take a moment and think about his self image, he would realize that being labeled as black says absolutely nothing about who he is. The label black, along with Negro, colored, and slave were all given to Africans as well as African Americans by the majority. These labels were given to them to deprive them of the knowledge of who they really were—not labels, but human beings with personal identities that disclosed their ethnicity, culture, and history. One does not have to be born in Germany or England to have ancestry from those countries. The same applies to the continent of Africa.

Thomas mentioned that his parents didn’t like his actions with the flag, which should have given him a clue about the appropriateness of his displaying it in his dorm window. In addition, the school missed a teachable moment when it failed to do its job; first, by telling him to take down the flag, then, by telling him it was okay to put it back in the window. No reason for each action was given. As a result of his ignorance and arrogance, Thomas was made to look like an uninformed young fool. We can only hope that he learns from this experience about acting on too little information.

What Thomas needs to recognize about his actions is that he participates in denigrating himself without knowing it. By displaying the flag in his dorm room he is saying, in essence, that he agrees with all the negative stereotypes of African Americans created by a bigoted South and symbolized by the Confederate flag. He supports all the flag symbolizes. In so doing, he is exposing himself to things which he knows nothing about. Again, the reference to a little learning being a dangerous thing is underscored in the words and action of Thomas. Someone needs to send him an Ebony or a Jet magazine.

Paul R. Lehman, Some NASCAR’s fans boo Michelle out of ignorance and bigotry

November 22, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Posted in American Bigotry, Bigotry in America, blacks, equality, equality, Prejudice, Race in America, whites | 2 Comments
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When the First Lady, Michelle Obama, was recently booed by some of the NASCAR fans, knowledgeable people understood the reasons for such disrespect. The boos were not meant for Mrs. Obama personally; they were meant to protest what she represents to many of the fans. The reasons for the protest go back to before the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Regardless of many comments to the contrary, slavery was one of , if not the most, important factor of the Civil War. Many southern people blamed the slaves for their having to go to war in the first place. Next, they blamed the slaves for forcing the South to recognize the rights of the freedmen, a penalty that cut to the quick. The fact that the southerners as well as Northerners would have to acknowledge and accept the humanity of the freedmen was asking a little too much. The power and privileges of the European Americans were called into question when the African Americans were granted liberties and freedoms equal to theirs. These southern European Americans believed that every liberty and freedom granted to the former slaves involved a liberty and freedom taken from them. So, for many European Americans, just the sight of an African American reminds them of what they have lost and are still loosing.

When the 1964 Civil Rights Act was signed into law, many European Americans believed that all the power and privilege of being European American (white) was  being taken away. For many of them, their identity of being European American (white) was the only thing of value they had left. Many avenues of approach were set in motion to try and retain some of those privileges, especially with respect to housing, jobs, and education. For example, when the Supreme Court declared that the schools were separate and unequal, and must be desegregated, many European Americans, who could afford it, moved to the suburbs, where they could re-segregate themselves. What many of these European Americans did not understand is that African Americans did not want to go to school with them or live with them because they were European Americans, African Americans simply wanted to enjoy the same rights and privileges they enjoyed. Unfortunately, segregation meant separate and unequal treatment for African Americans, but desegregation was viewed by some European Americans as a loss of their rights.

After the Civil Rights Acts of the ‘60s, and especially, the introduction of affirmative actions programs, many European Americans felt that the government had taken away all the power and prestige that goes with being European American. So, anger and fear set in and became the two powerful emotions that directed the actions of those who felt a defeat. The efforts of many European Americans who felt a loss went into creating places and activities that catered to them only. Some of these places and activities were both secular and religious. The attitudes of these European Americans were not as extreme as some of the hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan or the Aryan Nation, but they were nonetheless pro segregation.

So, what does all this have to do with Mrs. Obama being booed at the Ford 400? She represented the symbol of the cause of European American  power and privileges being taken away. One of the primary features of having a European American (white) identity is the superiority over any and all non European Americans. With President Obama as the leader of the country, the element of superiority over all non European Americans is called into question. If they were to accept Obama as President, then they would have to acknowledge that he was above them. If they accept that he is above them, they lose their superiority. So, they must protest and fight to retain what they see as their rightful place that is being taken from them by non European ethnic Americans, especially, African Americans.

Michelle’s appearance at the NASCAR event was to many European Americans an invasion of their privacy in that they view NASCAR activities as belonging to them only. These events represent their places of comfort where they can be themselves, i.e.…tell ethnic jokes and voice their displeasure about what they feel is happening to them without the fear of negative repercussions. They feel comfortable, safe, and protected  in the company of their own kind. If they could, some of them would hang a “whites only” sign of the entry gates to their activities. Too many of these people forget who they are and where they are. They are Americans, living in America. If they do not understand what that means, then they have no sense of place or value.

Had the people who booed Michelle realized what she was doing at this NASCAR activity, common decency would have compelled them to applaud her and the country’s efforts  regarding the U.S. veterans. But, when people are consumed with fear and anger, their brains have no room for common sense. Their primary concern is to hold on to the misguided concepts of what America is supposed to be in their eyes. What these unfortunate people do not realize is that their actions underscore their ignorance and bigotry much more than it serves as a protest for their imagined losses. The fact of the matter is that they have not lost anything essential to democracy; they simply regret the fact that they must now share with other Americans the rights and privileges they have enjoyed all along.

 

Paul R. Lehman, Study shows poor women’s health affected by housing

October 23, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Posted in equality, fairness, minority, Prejudice | 1 Comment
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The Associated Press
recently ran an article by Mike Stobbe that stated the “poor are more likely to
be ill.” The article, “Study ties wellness to housing location,” recounts a
housing program of the 1990’s sponsored by the government that “offered
thousands of poor women in big-city housing a chance to live in more affluent
neighborhoods.” The study showed that a decade later, the women who were
relocated had lower rates of diabetes and extreme obesity.” In other words,
where one lives and one’s social-economic status can affect one’s health.

The program was initiated to discover “whether moving
impoverished families to more prosperous areas could improve employment or
schooling. But according to a study released Wednesday {10-19-11}, the most
interesting effect may have been on the women’s physical condition.” In
essence, the study suggests that where one lives can have an effect on one’s
health “especially if your home is in a low-income area with few safe places to
exercise, limited food options and meager medical services.” Most people using
common sense can reason that social conditions usually accompany each other
like poor housing, unemployment, high crime, violence, little educational
opportunities. These elements are common in areas of high concentration of
ethnic groups at the bottom of the social ladder—usually African Americans and
Hispanics, but not limited to them.

Stobbs’ article notes that “‘This study proves that
concentrated poverty is not only bad policy, it’s bad for your health,’ Shaun
Donovan, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.” Later
in the article, we note that the study suggests some interesting findings:”Ten
years later, the women who moved to richer areas had the lowest rates of
extreme obesity and diabetes.” The conclusion was that “The difference suggests
that a person’s risk of diabetes or extreme obesity dropped by about 20 percent
by moving to a higher-income neighborhood.” We are told that the study was not
designed to answer why these changes occurred.

Before we close the book on this report and conclude that
the government or social agencies should start making plans to try and place
every poor woman living in big-city housing in an affluent neighborhood, we
need to consider another important fact—the mental health of these women.
Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett wrote in their bestseller, The Spirit Level, that according to
their research that “Generally, living in a poorer area is associated with
worse health. Members of ethnic minorities who live in areas where there are few like
themselves tend to be more affluent, and to live in better neighbourhoods, than
those who live in areas with higher concentration.” They continued, “So to find
that these more ethnically isolated individuals are sometimes less healthy is
surprising. The probable explanation is that, through the eyes of the majority
community, they become more aware of belonging to a low-status minority group
and perhaps encounter more frequent prejudice and discrimination and have less
support.”

By simply looking at the results of the study reported by
Stobbs we might be led to conclude that all was well with the women and their
families who made the move to the affluent areas. Wilkinson and Pickett,
however, notes “That the psychological effects of stigma are sometimes strong
enough to override the health benefits of material advantages tells us a lot
about the power of inequality and bring us back to the importance of social
status, social support and friendship, and influence of social anxiety and
stigma….” While the study reported on the physical health of the women, no
mention was made regarding their mental well-being and those of her family.

African Americans have historically been negatively affected
by society’s view of them in various forms of bigotry, discrimination, and
prejudice. The areas of education, employment, housing, medicine and politics
have been the focus of social areas where the negative actions have occurred.
All those areas affect the sense of value or self worth of most individuals,
but especially minority ethnic Americans. Since the study focused only on the
physical health of the women, we have no way of knowing the state of their
mental well-being. One might surmise that if these women were welcomed into their
communities and made to feel a sense of value as a fellow human being, then
chances are their mental state is good. However, if they were made to feel a
social difference, especially a feeling of inferiority in comparison to the
majority population, then life for them is not very pleasant and probably
accompanied by much stress.

The fact that African Americans as well as Hispanics are
generally seen as being at the bottom of the social ladder regarding value or
worth goes without saying. That view is not, however, how the African Americans
and Hispanics view themselves, but how others might view them based on social
history. A sense of community that offers protection and comfort from the
negative experiences of the majority has always been an important element of
the ethnic community. In essence, when one is totally estranged from one’s usual
community, some feelings of anxiety and stress are naturally expected. So, to
conduct a study that takes women away from their community and places them in a
totally different environment and expect no mental consequences is foolhardy.

No one will question the merit of good research that seeks
to examine social activities such as those experiences affecting health of the
women in the study. What can be misleading about the results of such research
studies is the interpretation of the results of such studies. Certainly, the physical
health of the women in the study is important; however, because of the mental
impact of these women leaving their familiar community for one that represents an
extreme difference, the results of their mental well-being should be equally
important. The importance becomes more significant when we realize that the
elements of social self-worth and self-value will be in play.

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