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.

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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, 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, 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, Mesa,Arizona, and the police beatings of people of color go on and on and on

June 8, 2018 at 11:35 pm | Posted in African American, Bigotry in America, blacks, Constitutional rights, criminal justice, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, fairness, justice, law enforcement agencies, minority, Oklahoma, police force, Prejudice, Race in America, Tulsa, whites | Leave a comment
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Four Mesa, Arizona police officers have been placed on paid leave while an investigation into their use of excessive force against an unarmed African American is being conducted. Fortunately, a video of the incident was available so viewers could see for themselves what took place. Apparently, someone from an apartment building called the police to report a disturbance at that location. A young African American man, Robert Johnson, was waiting for an elevator and talking on his cell phone when he was approached by several police officers. Without any conversation, they began to frisk him, and then apparently, ordered the young man to move to another location away from the elevator, which he did while continuing to talk on his phone. Once he moved to the location where he had been ordered by the officer, he was then ordered to sit on the floor. Showing some hesitation in sliding down the wall to the floor, several officers began punching him in the face. Since he was leaning against the wall, he could not fall freely to the floor, so an officer bent down and pulled his legs out from under him at which time he landed on the floor. The officers continued to beat him until his hands were secured behind him. At no time did he offer any resistance.

The old saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words” could easily apply here in that the conduct of the officers was in question from the very beginning. Not once before the officer began their assault on the young man did they attempt to engage him in a civil conversation. Their attitude was seemingly that of a big bully that demanded immediate action when an order was given. The officers apparently had a perceived notion to enter into an altercation with the young man since they wasted no time in initiating their punches. At no time did any of the other officers present seek to stop the assault or advise the officers of their conduct relative to their actions. So, what do these pictures tell us about some police officers?

One of the first things this video tells us about these officers is that they have no respect for the young African American man. He was not treated respectfully like citizens should expect to be treated if they are minding their own affairs and causing attention to themselves. They showed a total disregard for his Constitutional rights by beginning their search of his body for something without cause. Johnson had no weapons, only a cell phone. The officers next used their authority as bullies to order Johnson to a wall on the opposite side of the area while still not informing him of anything that he did or was suspected of doing. Since he was surrounded by four fully armed and anxious officers, Johnson readily complied with the officers’ order to move. As soon as he removed his cell phone from his ear, the beating began.

We might ask the question of why the police officers acted towards Johnson in this type of aggressive manner. They knew that Johnson poised no problem of violence or having a weapon on him after they searched him and he complied with their orders. Yet, the officers felt that they were well within their rights to beat an unarmed man for no reason except for the fact that he was a person of color. One thing is certain from the actions of the officers, and that is reason played no part in their decision to beat Johnson. We know from many past similar experiences that the excuses of being afraid for their lives or feeling threatened or not being respected or obeyed were used to justify their actions. A simple answer to why they use excessive force and murder against people of color is because they do not consider them to be human beings.

We might also ask the question of why is the society in general not outraged by the repeated unacceptable actions of these police officers against people of color. Could it be that they also do not see people of color as human beings? One reason for our making that assumption rests on the history of the repercussions experienced by many of the officers who committed atrocious acts against people of color. We would be incorrect in labeling the treatment many of the officers received for the actions as repercussions. The four officers from the Mesa Police Department were placed on paid leave. In others words, they received a paid vacation for their efforts, but no negative consequences. In the case of Betty Shelby, the female Tulsa, Oklahoma officer who shot and killed Terrance Crutcher in the back while he was walking away from her, after her department’s report stated that she should not be allowed to serve as an officer dealing with the public, she was given a job in a city a few miles north of Tulsa. She was recently featured in a newspaper article where she had received a promotion and now offers classes to teach officers how to beat charges of abuse and excessive force. The list of officers not being held responsible for their misdeeds is too long to include here.

While the general American public remains silent relative to these officers’ display of abuse of people of color accompanied with a chevalier attitude, they do not seem to realize that although the officers do not have to assume responsibility for their actions, the citizens for whom the officers work must pay large settlement payments to the victims and/or their families. The ethnic demographics are rapidly changing the makeup of American society and with those changes will come the need to redirect the focus and objectives of law enforcement. Some departments are making changes now because they understand that the amount of money being paid for officer’s mistakes could be put to better use in educating them to treat all citizens fairly.

We have not seen the last video of police abuse of unarmed African American citizens simply because the system does not require them to take responsibility for their actions. The system must be replaced.

 

Paul R. Lehman, Americans and the challenge of the criminal justice system

November 13, 2017 at 4:35 pm | Posted in American Bigotry, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, criminal activity, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, interpretations, justice, justice system, law enforcement agencies, police force, Prejudice, Race in America, racism, respect, skin color, skin complexion, social justice system, The Associated Press, Tulsa, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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When Americans think of the criminal justice system in America they usually recognize it as a reasonable, rational, and fair agency of society. What we often do not see relative to the criminal justice system is the American society that is represented by the criminal justice system. We focus generally on the law enforcement agencies or courts rather than the people in society that make-up and contribute to the system. The fact that most of the law enforcement agents, police, are set freed or shown as not guilty of killing unarmed African Americans reflect on the people responsible for adjudicating justice. We acknowledge that the culture of the criminal justice system in America is biased against African Americans, but the system actually reflects the biased society.

A case in point is that of Betty Jo Shelby, a European American (white) female and a former Tulsa police officer who was acquitted in the fatal shooting and killing of Terence Crutcher.  According to media reports, Shelby was on duty when she saw an SUV that was stopped in the middle of the street, the vehicle belonged to Crutcher.  We learn that “Shelby testified at trial that she was scared because Crutcher appeared to be under the influence of drugs, didn’t obey her commands and looked liked he was reaching inside his vehicle.”(Justin Juoapavicus, Associated Press, 10/26/2017)

Videos of the incident did not coincide with Shelby’s testimony in that Crutcher was shown to be at least fifteen feet in front of her with both of his hands up in the air; the windows of his SUV were rolled-up. A fellow officer was standing next to Shelby when she fired her weapon killing Crutcher. After Crutcher was shot, no aid or medical attention was given to check on his well-being until after several minutes had passed.

The fact that Shelby shot and killed Crutcher cannot be disputed since the incident was captured on video. However, the reasons for the shooting by Shelby can be brought into scrutiny relative to those adjudicating her case, the jury. For the court to acquit Shelby of the shooting leaves us to question their qualifications to make such a judgment. The primary reason for the shooting according to Shelby was her fear of Crutcher. How can we explain the jury’s actions of a not guilty finding if police officers feel threatened or that their lives are in danger when an unarmed African American walking away from them with his hands in the air? If Shelby is simply afraid of African American men, then she should not be working in law enforcement or any other place where she will encounter African American men.

Since the jury accepted her defense of fear of African American men, we might assume that they consider it a legally accepted defense for European American (white) officers shooting people of color. What happens when officers walk into a supermarket or mall or church and there they see African American men? Do they fear for their lives in these circumstances as well and so would be justified in shooting them? Many of the videos in recent years have shown this to be the case. We must ask where is the reasoning, rationale, and justice for the actions of the jury?

One of the conclusions we must draw from these actions is that of ethnic bias of the jury. Since the majority of the jury make-up in American is European Americans (whites), we must also conclude that they do not represent for the African Americans a ‘jury of their peers’ but more a jury representing the European American (white) officers. Since fear of African Americans and people of color appears to be a problem for many European American (white) law enforcers, why are they hired? And if hired, why are they not educated to treat people of color with the same decency and respect they would give other citizens?

The answer is simply because of their social conditioning which underscores the privilege accorded to them, European Americans (white), for their skin complexion. Simultaneously, European Americans (whites) are conditioned to view people of color as inferior in general, but to view African Americans with fear, anger, and dream because they are dangerous. Many European Americans (whites) do not realize their bigotry because their acquisition was acquired through everyday life at home, school, church etc. As a cognitive scientist, Justin L. Barrett, noted, “What we learn through testimony or through behavioral imitation is importantly influenced by social context biases.” He added that “we model our thought and behaviors on others based upon what we perceive most others think and do (conformity bias), favor prestigious individuals for role models (prestige bias) and prefer to ape those whom we see as similar to ourselves or whom we want to be (similarity bias).” So, to many European Americans (whites) ethnic bigotry is not something that is unusual or viewed as out of the ordinary life experience.

What we find puzzling about the actions of the Americans citizens who serve as part of the criminal justice system is how they equate reason, rationale, and justice with their actions. For example, shortly after being acquitted for the shooting and killing of Terence Crutcher, that portion of Betty Shelby’s record will be removed, and subsequently, will be expunged: “District Judge William LaFortune also ordered all documents involving former Tulsa officer Betty Jo Shelby’s case sealed and kept with the court. The case will only be accessible through a court order and can be destroyed after 10 years, according to the law.” (Justin Juoapavicus)

What we can observe from Shelby’s case is that after shooting and killing an innocent American citizen because she was in fear, not threatened or felt to be in harm’s way, she was acquitted of all charges and walked away from the incident with no repercussions. We have learned that she has been recently employed in a law enforcement position in a nearby town. In 10 years, no one will even know what she did except the family and friends of Terence Crutcher, Shelby, and the jury. After all, it was incumbent on the jury to administer a finding based on reason, rationale, and justice, but they failed in every respect. We, Americans, cannot allow this form of injustice to continue because whether we realize it or not, the mistreatment of any American affects us all. Act–find a way to make a difference.

Paul R. Lehman, Trump and Goldberg uninformed on Confederacy monument removal

August 24, 2017 at 2:52 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, Baltimore, Bigotry in America, blacks, Catherine Pugh, criminal activity, Criticism, Democrats, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, extremists, fairness, justice, justice system, language, law, Leftists, Media and Race, political power, politicians, Prejudice, President Trump, protest, Race in America, racism, respect, Slavery, social justice system, The Oklahoman, The U.S. Constitution, whites | Leave a comment
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A Bernard Goldberg commentary “Where Does current Movement End?  Question posed by Trump is one worth considering,” (The Oklahoman 8/23/17) gave pause for concern. The part of the title is a question that President Trump asked while making comments relative to the Charlottesville protest recently. The second part of the title makes the statement that the question was worth asking. For someone knowledgeable of history both question and statement would seem disingenuous. Nonetheless, we will examine both concerns as best we can.

Goldberg begins his comments by relating an incident from his youth, the 1960s when his family drove South from New Jersey to Florida. He recalls his reaction to his father stopping at a restaurant that feathered a “Whites only” sign by refusing to go in and eat. His family decided not to eat there. From this experience, Goldberg makes the statement that “My parents weren’t bigots. They were appalled at what they saw on TV coming out of places like Mississippi and Alabama.”Goldberg still does not realize that all Americans, European Americans, as well as African Americans, were conditioned to see bigotry as something natural. One wonders why Goldberg chose the South to use as an example of ethnic bigotry when he could have just as easily selected any part of New Jersey with its isolated ethnic populated communities. That is, of course, unless he did not live in a segregated community, attend a segregated school, worship in a segregated church, which he possible could have. But one thing was clear from his story; he and his family saw themselves as white. As a white person in America, viewing people of color as inferior was natural and commonly accepted by whites. That conditioning allows European Americans North and South to see bigotry in others, but not in themselves. That might be why Goldberg could say that his parents were not bigots.

He subsequently, made the comment that a case can be made for Trump asking the question: “Where does it end?” He continued: Is taking down a statue of Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson or Jefferson Davis enough?” Goldberg, evidently, does not understand the reasons for removing the statues and monuments in the first place. New Orléans major, Mitch Landrieu,  offered a host of reasons for the removal, for example, he noted that “ New Orleans was America’s largest slave market: a port where hundreds of thousands of souls were brought, sold and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor of misery of rape, of torture.” He added that “America was the place where nearly 4,000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 alone in Louisiana; where the courts enshrined ‘separate but equal’; where Freedom riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp.”Speaking specifically regarding the monuments he stated: “So when people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth.”

In addition to Mayor Landrieu, Baltimore, Maryland, mayor Catherine Pugh, had several statutes removed under the cover of darkness to avoid protesters and possible violence. One statue was “A monument of Taney, the supreme court justice who oversaw the 1857 Dred Scott case declaring that black people could not be American citizens, was to Pugh particularly disgraceful. She remarked: “How does a statue like that, a supreme court judge who oversaw the Dred Scott case, even exist? Why does someone like that even deserve a statue? Why should people have to feel that kind of pain every day?”Many other local and state officials have joined the movement to remove the offensive statues and monuments.

Goldberg shows his bias when he posed the question: “Is that where it ends—with a mob deciding what statues stay and which one go?” Evidently, Goldberg has not been watching or reading the news reports of how the mayors in several Southern cities decided to remove some statues honoring Confederate men. The references to two mayors of two major cities should more than underscore who makes the decisions to remove the statues and monuments. Why would Goldberg think the decisions are made by mobs? If Goldberg and Trump fully understood the reason for the movement of remove the statues and monuments, the question of “where does the movement end” turns rhetorical. The movement has its bases in history, not conjecture or assumed notions of correcting a wrong. The wrongs committed cannot be correct, but a constant reminder wrongs perpetrated against a people can be removed.

Another of Goldberg’s comments seems to go beyond the boundaries of common sense and logic: “Asking who’s next and where does it end doesn’t make you a white supremacist, or even unreasonable.” One would hope that before questions of the nature posed that a working knowledge of the movement in question might be acquired. Asking questions would never make a person anything by seems informed or uninformed about the subject matter. The answer to the question “who’s next” would depend on whose asking the question and what Confederate statue or monument is being considered. The history of the statue or monument relative to the time and place it occupies and why it was erected. A question important to the significance of the statue or monument would be does this monument honor the Confederacy or reflect some aspect of ethnic bigotry? In any case its presence on public property would be of concern.

What Goldberg seems to suggest is that the people who find the monuments the Confederacy offensive and sensitive are somehow taking their 1st Amendment rights too far. He added: “Leftist already shut down speech they don’t like on college campuses, including public universities funded by taxpayers. Is it such a stretch to silence people we detest from the public square?” Identifying but not defining some people as “Leftists,”  Goldberg, apparently, believe these people go about indiscriminately creating and causing problems simply because they do not like something. Also, why would he think these people are not taxpayers? Goldberg totally missed the point of the movement and its proponents and it shows in his uninformed comments and questions. Most people in the movement do not want to silence anyone, but they do want to exercise their rights to protest and seek to remove anything that historically has been shown to be offensive and hurtful to them and other citizens.

Paul R. Lehman, Cal Thomas uses Charles Barkley and his comment to hide his biased view of history

August 23, 2017 at 12:53 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Charles Barkley, Civil Right's Act 1964, democracy, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, extremists, fairness, freedom of speech, identity, interpretations, justice, justice system, language, law, Media and Race, political power, politicians, Prejudice, protest, race, racism, representation, skin complexion, Slavery, social justice system, The Oklahoman | Leave a comment
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Cal Thomas in his (Oklahoman) column, “Barkley offers some solid advice,” (8/22/17) begins the article with a quote from Friedrich Hegel: “The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.” Unfortunately, some people take the quote to have value, others disagree with it. Hegel also stated that “Africa is no historical part of the world.” He added that “blacks had no sense of personality: their spirit sleeps, remain sunk in itself, makes no advance, and thus parallels the compact, undifferentiated mass of the African continent.” Whether one benefits from history or not depends on how one interprets the history being read, and who wrote it.

Thomas made the following statement: “We will learn even less from history if we wipe it clean, as some are trying to do by removing statues of Confederate leaders whose beliefs about slavery and race most, including me, find offensive. Conversation beats censorship.” If the people who want the statues removed also want the history relative to them wiped clean then that would be a tragedy. On the contrary, that is not what is wanted, because the history of the statues and the people and society that erected them and placed them on public property says much more than the traditional history books would tell. The majority of the mayors who have removed these statues maintain that they should be placed in museums or on private property, not destroyed. Most of the protesting people agree.

A misunderstanding has occurred relative to the selection of statues and who they honor in that some people assume that simply because an honoree was a slaveholder his statue should be removed. The fact is that only those statues that underscore and supposedly support the Confederacy (the losers of the Civil War) and supposedly continued slavery after the war are in question.  The majority of the statues that are believed to represent the Confederacy, in fact, only represent a bigoted society that wanted to flaunt its social control and power in the face African Americans. What are missing from Thomas’ comments are knowledge of history and an understanding of the hypocrisy that all Americans have been living under since the Revolutionary War—white supremacy.

Certainly, Thomas remembers the days of segregation when he witnessed the social injustices being visited upon people of color. We would also feel secure in thinking that his education made him aware of the many inhumane experiences African Americas experienced at the hands of a bigoted society. We have no history of how these experiences affected Thomas or if he supported these activities are not. We do know that through the efforts of civil rights activists many positive changes were made in American society, changes that benefited European American (white) females more than anyone else. In all of the civil rights acts, no special treatment was asked for or received by African Americans. The only request was that justice and fairness be served. Unfortunately, we are still waiting for that request to be honored. We are waiting for history to catch up.

According to his comments, Thomas seemed to believe that the protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, both sides, wanted to create chaos in society and that some of them confronted each other “causing death and destruction, not only to individuals and property but to the links that have traditionally held us together as a nation, in spite of our differences.”Evidently, Thomas was not able to discern one group as wanting to disrupt and destroy the progress the nation has made over the years to correct history. One side of the protestors wanted to help deconstruct the things that have kept us from being one nation, to remove the superficial link that has kept us apart.

Rather than addressing the issue of European American supremacy, Thomas turns to the media as one of the dividing elements in society: “As usual, the media have contributed to the cultural fracturing by elevating tiny groups of bigots and leftists to center stage.” He then moves over to the blame the government: “Part of this chaos comes from government’s inability, or unwillingness, to solve, or even address, major challenges.”His comments indicate an unwillingness to stick with the subject and gain some clarification. Instead, he plays” the blame game” that does nothing but takes up print space and distracts from the problem.

Finally, Thomas gets to where he always intended to go in the first place—someone to use as an escape hatch—Charles Barkley. He tries to denigrate those people who have concerns about the Confederate statues by questioning their level of education and said they are a “distraction designed to keep our minds on things other than solving real problems and pit us against each other for the cultural, political and fundraising benefit and goal of various groups on the left and right.” Thomas, it seems, does not regard the years of injustice, abuse, bigotry in the social, educational, economic, political, judicial institutions of America as real problems. He does not understand that he is a bigot and that as long as he sees himself as a white man, he will be a bigot. To excuse himself from being a bigot, he uses Barkley’s comments to hide behind. But, instead of hiding them, Barkley’s words expose Thomas.

When the founding fathers invented European American (white) supremacy, they took away the history of the Africans and called them negro or black.  Although the African had cultural and ancestral identities, they were deprived of them. The early European Americans called themselves white rather than using their cultural and ancestral identities because they had already made white represent power, privilege, and control of society. The language they employed was used to ensure the continuation of their power and control. Subsequently, the Africans and African Americans were forced to learn that language, not realizing that it supported their enslavement. What Thomas does not understand is that he and Barkley do not speak the same language. Yes, they use the same words, but the meanings are different. Barkley is not a historian or a scholar, but a sports figure who expresses himself freely on a variety of subjects; he does not purport to represent anyone but himself, certainly not all African Americans.  What Thomas did not realize from Barkley’s statement is that he is not satisfied with society and history the as it is. So, he will work to change it for African Americans and the world, for the better. That is precisely the message the protesters were making in supporting the removal of the statues.  What was that thing about history again?

Paul R. Lehman, Charlottesville, a sign of the changing times of bigotry in America

August 13, 2017 at 12:34 am | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, American Racism, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Congress, Constitutional rights, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, fairness, identity, justice, justice system, law enforcement agencies, minority, political power, politicians, Prejudice, President, race, Race in America, respect, skin color, skin complexion, Slavery, social conditioning, the Republican Party, white supremacy, whites | Leave a comment
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The social unrest taking place in Charlottesville, Virginia involving the extremist right-wing groups is an indication of at least two things: one, their march was organized to show society the large number of people belonging to and supporting their cause; two, although this was not an objective of the activity, it showed the fear and anxiety of the social changes taking place in society today, and their desire to stop or slow down those changes.

The lie that the founding fathers invented concerning the concept of a black race and a white race and the institution of a system of white supremacy has finally shown signs of deconstruction. As long as the Anglo-Saxons in America were in control of society, they could manage the bigoted social atmosphere. Many European Americans today do not realize the fact that they are bigots because they were conditioned to view bigotry as natural. Everywhere a European American looked in society, they saw people who looked like them always in control. All the social institutions, including the media, constantly underscored the values and standard embodied and promoted by the European Americans. So, they naturally saw themselves as superior to all others who did not reflect their image.

European Americans were so deceived by their skin color that they believed their good will and charity toward people of color and lesser whites would serve to attest to their goodness and Christian virtues while not realizing that the mere fact of viewing another human being as inferior to them or not deserving of respect and dignity was a disservice to humanity and a slap in the face of their god. The fact that the Bible and science have underscored countless times the existence of one race seem to have no effect on their sense of reality because they are constantly reminded that their skin color gives them supremacy. They prefer to hold on to a lie rather than embrace the truth.

Since the American government embraced the concept of bigotry based on skin color and has never sought to correct the lie, they share part of the responsibility for the civil unrest in Charlottesville. Their responsibility rest upon the fact that groups of people believe in the myth of a white race and the government not stopping to correct them, allows them to proceed as though their actions are acceptable. The right wing extremists groups base their existence on the false concept of a so-called white race. Their objectives are to preserve and promote their conception of their white race, and the government simply tells them not to break any laws while pretending to be white. The time has come for the government and society to give power to the truth—we are all part of the human family regardless of our skin color.

Some of the facts that the government does not want to be communicated is that African Americans and non-Anglo-Saxon peoples were never intended to become citizens of America, and now that they are citizens, they must be constantly exploited socially and economically. African Americans were never freed from slavery; their enslavement simply took other forms that prevented them from gaining a foothold on which to build a successful life. Those forms included segregation, discrimination, bigotry, less than standard (their standards) schools, jobs, economic and political power.

What the founding fathers never thought would happen, happened—an African American was elected to the Presidency of the United States of America. This phenomenon occurrence caused a shock wave throughout the country, but especially in the seat of government, Washington D.C. where some of the Republican politicians felt a sense of fear and dread. A plan to counter the new state of affairs was set in motion to deny the new president everything possible.

What the extremists marching in Charlottesville realize is that their sense of importance and power based on their skin complexion is rapidly diminishing, so they must use every tool available to them to try to prevent that loss from happening. Many of these extremists discovered that there were many Americans who believed as they did but were not willing to expose themselves publicly. Some use the political arena to try to meet their objectives by creating laws that seek to undo many of the social and political gains experienced by people of color. Many of the bigots believe they have support from the current President of the United States and seek to express their sense of power in ways that do not incur serious repercussions. Reference to law enforcement’s treatment of people of color is one example of how bigotry is being expressed today.

The confrontation of extremist groups and other citizens should come as no surprise since we all know that change for the bigots is devastating and final. Today we witness many injustices committed against people of color by bigots who are protected by law and numbers in power. However, one thing is certain, change is happening; America is browning and the number of people of color will eventually be the majority population. The power will change hands and if we want a society that treats all its citizens justly and fairly, we must start working on those changes now. The battle being fought by the extremists today are being waged in ignorance that continues to be conditioned by society and the lie of race.

America is going through a series of important changes that will affect how we look at ourselves as a society and how the world sees us. Too often we look at other countries and cultures and make judgment statements based on our limited knowledge of history, our and the worlds while failing to recognize that other countries are also looking at us and judging us by our words and actions. Common sense and the truth can serve as a beginning towards building the kind of society we want our children and grandchildren to live in, a society that does not judge a people by the color of their skin, but the measure of their character.

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