Paul R. Lehman, The killing of George Floyd underscores the bigotry in America and its law enforcement

May 28, 2020 at 7:17 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, American Racism, anglo saxons, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Constitutional rights, criminal justice, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, identity, jail & prison overcrowding, justice, justice system, law enforcement agencies, Media and Race, Minnesota, Police, Prejudice, race, Race in America, racism, skin color, skin complexion, social conditioning, social justice system, tribalism, whites | 6 Comments
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The killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police should leave no doubt in our minds of fact that ethnic bigotry is a fabric of the European American psyche regardless of the geographical location. The bias they have been conditioned to accept as normal prevents them from seeing people of color as human beings; they, the European Americans, are to themselves, the only real human beings. In addition to seeing people of color as less than human beings, they also are conditioned to see them as a constant threat to their safety, comfort, and privileges. These people of color must be controlled under all circumstances if the well-being of European Americans is to be maintained. While the European American psyche readily embraces this bigotry, the problems of fear and hate of people of color and especially of African American men become inflated in law enforcers.
As a matter of fact, contrary to law enforcer’s accounts, African Americans are not usually the initiators of physical force against officers. Rather than treat them as citizens deserving respect and courtesy, African Americans are viewed as criminals first, last, and always by law enforcers. The concept of innocent until proven guilty does not apply to people of color. More often than not, when we see a video of an officer interacting with an African American the officer never listens to what the African American says even if it’s a plea for help. The videos from Eric Gardner to George Floyd show the callousness of the officers to the cries and pleas of the victims. Studies have shown that European American law enforcers seemingly lose touch with reality when they confront a person of color.
When European immigrants came to America they came using their national and cultural identities like German, French, and Italian etc….But once they arrived, they learned that abandoning those identities that at time also brought discrimination and social rejection, offered them so much more. In particular the identities of Irish, Italian, and Jews, not to mention the Polish and Slavic, rushed in claiming whiteness.The pseudo science of race was firmly in place in the late 1800s and the immigrants worked hard to claim that whiteness because if they were seen as white, their former identity would be of little concern. In essence, the European immigrants submerged themselves in whiteness because of the power and privilege it offered. But by abandoning their former identity, they lost the value and self worth that came with it and embraced a color that offered nothing of personal value but membership in the white tribe.
Time is the only thing that is consistently changing and so over time many European Americans not only forgot who they were but also had nothing of personal cultural value to pass on to their children except to tell them that they were white. Of course, whiteness has never been defined, only described. The fear that many European Americans have and causes then to react violently and aggressively towards people of color is the loss of their white identity. For European Americans to lose their white identity would render them, in their eyes, valueless because they abandoned their ethnic identities to become white and now would have nothing of themselves to value. Evidently, being an American is not enough if the white is omitted.
Today, more and more European Americans are experimenting with their feelings of privilege and power as in the example of a European American woman who threatened an African American male who was bird-watching in a park and mentioned to the female who had a dog with her that the park had a leash law. She became upset with him after an exchange between them and called 911 saying that she thought an African American man was about to attack her. Fortunately, the incident was resolved without anyone being harmed. However, the woman displayed the power of her whiteness by calling the police and saying that she was being assaulted by an African American man. Had the woman used the word black instead of African American man, the impact would have probably been more alarming to the police, because the word black would bring help running. Studies have shown the psychical and emotional reactions experienced by European Americans and especially law enforcers to the seeing or hearing the word black. To be sure, the word black ignites an alarm in their psyche similar to that of the word fire. Both words trigger a similar reaction—contain, control, and kill.
The increase in displays of bigotry by European Americans come from their fear of loosing the one thing of value they have—their whiteness. They have a reason to be frightened because the rapidly changing cultural demographics spell an end to the concept of a white and black race. The power of whiteness today comes from the use of the reference to black. Bigots might appear to dislike the word black being used in various civil and civic organizations like Black Lives Matter, but the opposite is true; they love and encourage the usage of black because it is the fuel that keeps their whiteness in power. Most people are not mindful of the practice in the media that has existed for too long—when an item of interest is broadcast involving people, the only ones described by skin complexion are people of color. If no person of color is involved, no description is given. The reason for this is the concept of European Americans being the only normal people on the planet; all others are abnormal and need to be described.
European Americans and especially those in the criminal justice need to know that changes are coming relative to race and color and the way people are perceived and treated. When we realize that eighty percent of the world’s population is people of color and the population of America will have a majority of brown people by 2045, they are and will continue to lose the numbers game. Looking at the videos of George Floyd and other victims of bigotry makes us mindful of the saying—what’s done in the dark will come to the light. As the darkness comes to light it brings with it the need for reckoning.

Paul R. Lehman, The safety and well-being of African American males and all people of color are a constant concern

April 17, 2020 at 4:18 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, amygdala, anglo saxons, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Civil Right's Act 1964, Civil Rights Ats, Constitutional rights, criminal justice, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, fairness, incarceration, justice, justice system, law enforcement agencies, minorities, Police, police education & training, police force, Race in America, racism, respect, skin color, skin complexion, social conditioning, social justice system, The New York Times, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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African American men specifically and men of color in general, put their lives on the line every day when they walk outside of their residence or simply appear in public. For the people that are not of color in America, this statement might seem somewhat amusing or offered in jest. On the contrary, the statement is not an opinion, but a fact. The reason for this experience comes directly from the social conditioning of European Americans generally and law enforcement agents specifically. Society and by extension, the governments, local, state, and national have given the law enforcers the power to exercise total control of its citizens without fear of reprisal; that is, they have no fear of repercussions for their actions against citizens. The attitude and action of many of these law enforcers seem to be that people of color have no rights that the officers should respect. For the people of color, once they are stopped by officers, they lose all their rights and privileges while the officers exert total control over the individuals.
The criminal justice system works in favor of the officer, not the citizens of color because the word of the officer is taken over that of the citizens. Historically, the relationship between the African American community and the European American one has been one of dominance and control by law enforcement. According to Danielle Sered, “The racially inequitable legacy of policing stretches back to the formation of this nation, and police have not only failed to protect communities of color from harm, but they have enacted enormous levels of harm.” She continued by noting that “This [harm] is not simply or most importantly about individual police officers, many of whom have the best intentions and even behavior in their work. It is about an institution with a history of enabling and enforcing the worst disparities in our country’s history.” More specifically, she added that “It is about officers who returned escaped people to the plantations they were fleeing, officers who publicly announced the times of lynchings to be carried out in the backyards of their own precincts, officers who drove black residents out of neighborhoods where they had bought homes,” and finally, “officers who continue to arrest, assault, and shoot black people at glaringly disproportionate rates.” So the question of trust in the criminal justice system has never been one that people of color readily embraced.
Americans have been socially conditioned to fear African Americans generally, but especially one with whom they are not familiar. According to one source, new scientific research provides some data into how African American men are perceived: “When people see black men they don’t know, they have a physical response that is different from their response to other people. Their blood pressure goes up and they sweat more. When a white person sees an unfamiliar black male face, the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes fear, activates.” (American Values Institute, March 2013) When European Americans join the criminal justice system they do not leave their fear of African American males at home, but bring them to their workplace. This fear might explain why many European American law enforcers become excited and aggressive when engaging with an African American male.
Fortunately for the Law enforcement agents, their actions against people of color are not often questioned, so the fear of having to suffer any consequences for their unreasonable treatment of people of color is not usually scrutinized. The public record of their actions speaks for itself and supports the fact that officers are not held to the same standard of behavior as other citizens. So, they often misuse and abuse the power granted them by the system. A recent incident underscores the power given to law enforcers who are free to profile, stop, and detain men of color without offering any reasons for their actions. A recent New York Times article noted that an African American man wearing a protective mask and working outside near a white van when a Miami police officer drives up next to this man. Next, “The officer steps out of his squad car. Words are exchanged. Then the officer handcuffs and detains the man, Dr. Armen Henderson, who was recently featured in a Miami Herald article about volunteers who provide free coronavirus testing for homeless people in downtown Miami.”Rather than seeking information from the doctor regarding his actions, the officer ignored the doctor’s informing him of who he was and what he was doing. The doctor did not have any identification on him and would have been taken away had he not called for his wife who came out of their home and confronted the officer. Once the officer realized that he had made a mistake, he removed the handcuffs from the doctor and left the scene without any word of his actions or an apology.
What this incident shows is the vulnerability of African American males to the justice system that ignores everything but skin color in administering their control. The fact that Henderson is a doctor, a volunteer risking his life in helping to fight the coronavirus or the fact that he was working in front of his home wearing a protective mask made no difference to the officer who did not take the time to inquire about or grasp the nature of Henderson’s presence at that location. One wonders what kind of education the officer received at the academy regarding the treatment of citizens.
If society can benefit from this crisis of the coronavirus it should be in the fact that to the virus we are all one. The virus does not discriminate on the bases of ethnicity, age, economic or educational status, social position, religion or health. We, hopefully, understand that by working together even though we are sometimes put in harm’s way, that our combined efforts and sacrifice will help us to finally successfully control and manage this crisis thereby contributing to our mutual survival. We must learn that our strength is our unity.

Paul R. Lehman, America’s problem: the myth and superstition of race and bigotry

April 1, 2020 at 7:24 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, anglo saxons, Bigotry in America, biological races, black inferiority, blacks, criminal justice, democracy, discrimination, DNA, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, identity, justice, law, Negro, Prejudice, President Obama, race, Race in America, racism, respect, segregation, skin color, social conditioning, tolerance, U. S. Census, white supremacy, whites | Leave a comment
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For centuries man has viewed the cat as having mystical powers, some for good, and some for evil and has even included the concept of the cat having nine lives. We generally view the many and various beliefs concerning the cat as myths and even superstitions. However, before a superstition can become a superstition it must first begin as a myth, a story, event, action, person or thing possessing magical, mystical, illogical or irrational powers. The accounting of the myth provides the necessary information for the possibility of belief. For example, at one time it was a common belief that it was a sign of good luck if a black cat came into a house or onboard a ship uninvited. The belief was that the owner of the house or ship would experience good luck and that the cat should never be chased away because by doing so, the good luck would go with the cat. So, the statement simply provides the information relative to the powers of the cat. As long as the information serves as just information, it remains a myth. However, when the supposed powers of the cat become accepted as real and influence the actions and expectations of the home or ship-owner, the myth becomes a superstition. In effect, the information moves from a passive to an active form and become a part of the individual’s psyche.
Why do myths and superstition still exist when the knowledge to explain the so-called mystical or magical powers posited in them can easily be debunked? Scholars say that present-day myths and superstitions are the remains of faded or forgotten faiths, rituals, and beliefs and that in spite of the passage of time the acquisition of information has not robbed them of their powers to still influence people today. For example, “When we touch wood to avert misfortune or drop pins into a wishing-well, or bow to the new moon, we do so only because of a vague idea concerning luck.”That idea of good luck is something passed down to us: “Our pagan forefathers did much the same, but they were moved by a genuine belief in the sacred character of trees, or water, or the moon, and their power to affect those who reverenced them for good or evil. Because of that belief, their actions were rational.”Unfortunately, Christianity and science have not been sufficient to eliminate the power of superstition from many modern-day minds.
In one of his hit songs, Stevie Wonder summed up the primary mental condition and challenges in American society: “When you believe in things you don’t understand, then you suffer. Superstition ain’t the way.” America has been living a life based on superstitions in that it accepted the story of the myth of race and then began living life as though the myth was real. Because the majority of society invented and instituted the myth, the rest of society went along with the program. However, when we take the time to examine just what society has believed relative to the superstition of race, we must ask ourselves, why? The answers are easily recognizable: social control and dominance based on ethnic biases especially of African Americans and other people of color.
Believing that bad luck will follow when a black cat crosses your path is one thing, but believing that simply because of a person’s skin complexion that each and every person of color possesses the same exact characteristics and that these characteristics are biologically fixed in every individual is lunacy. Nonetheless, America has been embracing this concept as real since its beginning. We can see evidence of this lunacy in practically every institution in society. In many rural towns across America one can still find cemeteries marked “Colored” and “White” as signs of just how deep and ubiquitous superstitions can affect a society. Ethnic bigotry has been a part of the American social fabric for so long that trying to acknowledge its existence causes a challenge—the preverbal elephant in the room.
People of color and especially African Americans have had to pay the price for America’s superstition but the changes in the nation’s demographics escaped notice, for the most part, until Barack Obama was elected President of the United States. That election sent a shock wave through a part of America that challenged the myth and subsequently the superstition because Obama represented the antithesis of how the African American is perceived. According to Peter Loewenberg, “In the unconscious of the bigot, the black represents his own repressed instincts which he fears and hates and which are forbidden by his conscience struggles to conform to the values professed by society.”He added that “This is why the black man becomes the personification of sexuality, lewdness, dirtiness, and unbridled hostility. He is the symbol of voluptuousness and the immediate gratification of pleasure.” Finally, he noted that “In the deepest recesses of the minds of white Americans, Negroes are associated with lowly and debased objects or with sexuality and violence.”In essence, the superstition that had been in effect since the founding of the nation had been debunked by Obama’s election and the country was turning sane, almost.
Leaders in Congress, rather than accept the reality of the race superstition being debunked, gathered forces to combat the sanity and reinforce the superstition. We must remember that myths and superstitions are based on belief and according to Solomon Schimmel, “…beliefs are often affirmed even when they are highly implausible, irrational, or even absurd, because of their actual or presumed rewards for the individual and community who affirm and reinforce them.” He further noted that the reason for resistance to letting go of a belief can be extremely difficult in spite of all the evidence against it because of “…the actual or imagined aversive effects of doing so, for the individual and the community. The believer is not always fully aware of these underlying fears and anxieties.”Therefore, while beneficial changes are being made to replace the superstition of American bigotry, efforts continue to promote, maintain, and support it.
With the rapidly changing demographics and greater involvement and participation of people of color in politics and government, the battle for America’s sanity is gaining momentum. The first order of business for America in removing ethnic bigotry, however, is to recognize and then acknowledge the myth and superstition of race.

Paul R. Lehman, The Customer is not always right, especially if she is bigoted

March 5, 2020 at 9:08 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, Amira Donahue, biological races, discrimination, Disrespect, employment, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, justice, law enforcement agencies, race, racism, respect, skin color, social conditioning, U. S. Census | 1 Comment
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An incident in an Olive Garden restaurant in Evansville, Indiana reported in the U.S. News, (3/4/2020) by Janelle Griffith, involved a European American female customer requesting that she and her party not be served by a person of color. The manager of the restaurant accepted and accommodated the customer’s request. Obviously, the manager’s action relative to the customer’s request caused a number of problems for a variety of people at the time. His reactions to the customer’s request affected the employees, all the employees, but especially those of color. His actions also affected the customers, and again, especially those of color. Regardless of what the manager’s objective was in acknowledging the request, the repercussions revealed at least four levels of social conditioning in society relative to ethnic bigotry.
The first level of social conditioning was that of the customer who felt well within her rights and privileges to make the request. Since the Anglo-Saxons came to American from England, they have sought to instill their myths and superstitions about their superiority and dominance over all people of color; they do not consider themselves to be of color but to represent the human race. Therefore, everybody but them is identified as belonging to an inferiority ethnic group. That attitude of superiority became a part of the American fabric of belief that was conditioned in the homes, schools, churches, courts, jobs and every place that people frequented. Whenever an Anglo-Saxon/European American person felt uncomfortable in the presence of a person of color, they simply requested that the person color be removed usually by the local law enforcers, and their request was honored. That practice still exists today in many places as many of the videos on social media attest. So, for the customer to make her request was not something out of the ordinary; she has been socially conditioned to believe her request would be honored given past experiences.
The second level of social conditioning appeared in the actions of the manager. The primary reason for his accepting and honoring the customer’s biased request was due to the fact that he shared her mindset. What he did not consider at the time was where he was and what he was doing. Had he not shared the same attitude of Anglo-Saxon bigotry he would not have even entertained the request from the beginning. In essence, he ignored the rights and privileges of the employees who were people of color to accommodate the wishes of this Anglo-Saxon European American customer. He might have thought that he was following the business mantra relative to the customer being right, but the customer is not within his or her rights to assume an unreasonable request would be honored. Again, social conditioning is very difficult to overcome when it has been a part of a person’s everyday experience and generally, not questioned.
The third level of social conditioning involved the people of color in the restaurant who were employees. For the employees, the manager and customer seemingly joined forces in honoring the obviously bigoted request. In addition, while the customer’s request was despicably biased, the actions of the manager were equally despicable and denigrating to the employees. Rather than standing up for the principles and the dignity of the employees, the manager sided with the customer and thereby lost the respect, trust, and confidence of his employees. Why would anyone want to work for or with someone who does not respect them as human beings with all the rights and privileges of any other human being? The problem is Anglo-Saxons/European Americans are not conditioned to view people of color generally, as valuable human beings.
Amira Donahue, 16, a hostess at the restaurant said she was so upset by the incident that she began crying, all of which was witnessed by Maxwell Robbins, a customer: “The young lady was in tears and had no one to support her,” Robbins said Wednesday. “So I felt if I didn’t write this post, nothing would have happened and she would continue to go to work for a place that she feels uncomfortable at and unwanted at.”
The people of color who were customers in the restaurant experienced the fourth level of social conditioning that all too frequently occurs in America today. Fortunately, as customers, they expected to be treated with the civility and respect as the other customers, but when they see an injustice taking place, they no longer ignore it but call attention to it so that some positive action can be taken to prevent it from reoccurring. However, the people of color also understand that the social conditioning in America has been to accommodate the requests of Anglo-Saxon European Americans where possible in spite of the concerns of the people of color. In other words, after the request has been honored, an apology is forthcoming to the people of color with promises of a repeat occurrence not happening again. Of course, the request should have been denied at the start, but old habits die hard.
Education in America has failed to promote the truth about the myth of race and the superstition of accepting it as legitimate and factual. We are asked to believe that the characteristics of one individual are representative of an entire group of people and so anyone that looks like or shares some cultural characteristic of that group become fixed forever. That is exactly what happens when people are identified on the bases of their skin color or ethnic history. Society and the government are complicit in the promotion, maintaining, and supporting the concept of a race without ever defining it. The U.S. Census Bureau continues to use the words race and ethnicity as though they are synonymous with each other which they are not, but not being able to define a word does not seem to represent a problem for them.
The incident in the Olive Garden was not something out of the ordinary from both the customer’s request and the manger’s honoring the request. Several years ago, a European American male entered a public hospital in Pennsylvania with his pregnant wife and requested that no people of color attend her during her visit. His request was granted. Of course, apologies followed after the birth of her child and the wife’s release from the hospital.

Paul R. Lehman, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the book, is not revered by all readers

November 5, 2019 at 7:27 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American Dream, American history, American Racism, blacks, Christianity, Constitutional rights, criminal justice, democracy, discrimination, equality, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, happiness, integregation, justice, Negro, Prejudice, Race in America, skin color, Slavery, social conditioning, social justice system, white supremacy | 2 Comments
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According to a recent article in AARP: The Magazine, (June/July 2019) one of the most important books that helped to influence our thoughts about ethnic bigotry and prejudice in America is To Kill a Mockingbird, by the late Harper Lee. The article noted that “It’s one of our nation’s most revered texts—and it’s probably the book that has most shaped our collective understanding of the evils of Jim Crow.” How the writer arrived at that assessment of the book was not disclosed, but a number of people might question the supposed results of it being the most revered text that enabled our understanding of Jim Crow.

Any literature worth the ink used to print it can easily support a variety of interpretations and keep the reader searching for more points of interest. Mockingbird is such a work that invites the reader to find meaning and social value. Because of its popularity, “more than 40 million copies since it’s publication in 1960,” much has been written and said about it. A lot of the attention seemed to have fallen on the character of Atticus Finch who is often viewed as the story’s hero. While viewing Finch as a hero might be easily established and supported, one interesting assessment of the book leaned toward the book having no hero, but simply represented a picture of America’s society with emphasis on its past, present, and future.

Without having to deconstruct the entire novel, we can say that the story is told by Scout Finch, a young girl, the daughter of Atticus Finch. She and her younger brother Jem lived with their widowed father who was a well-to-do lawyer. They lived in the small southern town of Maycomb. Scout and Jem made friends with another young boy, Dill, who visited their town for the summer. The three children and their adventures represented one aspect of the book but also connected with another focus of the book that dealt with Atticus. A young African American man, Tom Robinson, was arrested and charged with assaulting a young Southern European American female. The sheriff of the town asked Atticus to represent the man and since he was one of the town’s people who had the least to fear or lose, he accepted. Another character that provided an essential social element to the book was Calpurnia, the housekeeper, cook, and guardian of the children. With this brief summary, we can now look at how the book represented the past, present, and future.

The past is represented by the townspeople of Maycomb in their attitude and view of people of color generally, and the young accused African American male. With the institution of slavery and the concept of race by color, European Americans saw themselves as superior to all non-European American people. They saw African Americans as less than a human being and believed that treating them like animals was no crime against God or nature. The first inclination of the townspeople upon learning of the assault of the young woman was to get the accused and lynch him—a trail was not necessary. Fortunately, what saved the town from being viewed as savage and barbaric was the sheriff who exercised his legal authority and felt the need to protect the young African American, Tom, from a mob.

The present was represented by Atticus who served as the lawyer for Tom Robinson. Many readers relied on the performance of Atticus as the lawyer and his attempt to save his client as fuel for him being seen as a hero. In all likelihood, Atticus knew what the outcome of the trial would be even before he took the case. The case provided Atticus an opportunity to display his knowledge of the law and his dramatic presentations underscored his belief in the law. The words he spoke, however, fell on the deaf ears of the townspeople whose minds were already set and the African Americans who were forced to sit in the balcony of the courtroom and who had no expectation of justice from the court. The only people emotionally affected by the trial were the children, and they represented the optimistic hope for the future.

The future is revealed primarily through Scout, the children and their relationship to Calpurnia, an African woman, her African American community, and of course, the trial. The townspeople became angry at Atticus for defending an African American, but because he was wealthy and independent, they represented no threat to him or his well-being. His children, however, were not protected from the jabs and sneers of the local children.      When Calpurnia took the children with her to her African American community, the children saw for the first time, a contradiction in what they had been conditioned by their society to believe about African Americans. Rather than feeling fearful and threatening by the African American community, Scout and Jem felt compassion, warmth, and safe.

Scout experiences a loss of innocence throughout the story, but especially near the end after she and Jem were attacked. She knew what happened to Tom Robinson and what Boo did. She also heard what Heck Tate said about the experience: “Tom Robinson died for no reason, he says, and now the man responsible is dead: “Let the dead bury the dead.”  The townspeople knew that Tom could not have committed the crime, but punished him anyway. Tate knew that Boo had killed Bob Ewell, but looked the other way.

So, given the fact that an innocent African American man died for a crime, he did not committee and a European American man is excused for the crime he committed, we recognize how ethnic bigotry and prejudice along with European American privilege worked in America. In other words, a relationship with the younger European American generation gave hope to the future relations of the communities in that a bridge of ignorance was crossed that revealed the existence of other human beings, African Americans, not animals or inferiors.

When we read the book with reference to the past, present, and future, we wonder why the book is so revered. We find no hero or a need for one since the story looked at society and justice relative to time. The Maycomb community’s sense of justice was not changed; the African American community’s status did not change. Finch’s words defending Tom were like Shakespeare’s Macbeth, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”Could the importance of the book depend on the ethnicity of the reader?

We need to understand that change is the only constant reality we have to reckon with in striving towards social justice.

Paul R. Lehman, What about this thing called reparations

October 26, 2019 at 3:08 am | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American Dream, American history, Bible, blacks, Christianity, Constitutional rights, Declaration of Independence, democracy, discrimination, Disrespect, education, equality, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, fairness, Georgetown University, justice, Prejudice, protest, race, Race in America, respect, Slavery, social conditioning, social justice system | 1 Comment
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Visiting with some acquaintances recently, the subject surfaced of the students at Georgetown University considering ideas on reparations for slavery and its influence on the university. A number of the acquaintances stated frankly that they did not believe in reparation as a consequence of slavery. Some stated that they did not own slaves nor had any direct relations to slavery; they believed that slavery had ended and they felt no responsibility for the tragedies the slaves experienced. While all of the responses were sincere and honest, they were not based on facts and knowledge of history.

Many European Americans as well as some other Americans, in general, share the concepts regarding reparations. Part of their reason for believing as they do is based on a number of points beginning with the social conditioning they experienced growing up in America. For example, when American slavery is taught in schools it is from the perspective of the European American which is biased. The concept of American slavery is limited to viewing it as a set period of time with a beginning and an end. So, after slavery ended at the conclusion of the Civil War, 1865, everything relative to slavery also ended. Finally, since slavery is part of the American past the idea of considering reparations for slavery has no place in the present or future. These views and opinions are very common among many Americans.

The problem with these views and concepts is that they avoid history, reason, and common sense. When we consider the history of slavery in the world, we can find no examples of where the enslaved thanked their enslavers and praised them for kidnapping them from their homes and forcing them to give free labor and to obey all the commands of their masters. The most popular account of slavery in ancient history is recorded in the Bible book of Exodus where we learn of the Hebrews being slaves of the Egyptians and their God coming to their rescue, with the help of Moses. We also are generally familiar with the Greeks being slaves to the Romans. Slavery in the ancient world was common and slaves despite their being in bondage were still considered human beings which were not the case in American slavery. In any event, slavery, wherever it occurred was considered morally wrong. No one should be kept against his or her will and forced to comply with the wishes of another. The fact that slavery is wrong is the most important point to acknowledge when considering the process of reparation.

Acknowledging American slavery as wrong does not mean simply saying the words I am sorry or I apologize but fully grasping the experience and understanding their implications in it and those elements of its legacy that still exists in society today. For one to fully acknowledge American slavery is to recognize the fact that the concept of European American supremacy that initiated it still exists so, in effect, aspects of slavery have never really ended. We know this is factual because African Americans today still have to fight and protest just to receive the rights, liberties, and freedoms that are guaranteed in the Constitution. So, arriving at this point of acknowledgment for many European Americans is very difficult because their social conditioning can prevent them from accepting the reality of European American supremacy and the brutality of slavery and it’s after-effects.

In any event, an acknowledgment must be made in order for one to move on to the next element in the process of reparation which is accountability. If one admits that slavery is wrong and that innocent people have been deprived of their human rights, then the people who enslaved and profited from the labor of the slaves must be held accountable. Many Americans do not realize that had it not been for the institution of American slavery America would not have achieved the success it continues to experience. The conditions of the slaves and their subsequent release from bondage with nothing but their few meager belongings coupled with the constant forms of discrimination have affected their ability to gain upward mobility, in general. On the other hand, European Americans have enjoyed all the blessings granted in the Constitution. Accountability then is about accepting the responsibility for addressing the injustice America perpetrated on the slaves and showing remorse for the injustice.

For many people, the idea of reparations simply means giving money to people who have been victims of injustice. That approach misses the intent of reparation. The intent is to address those areas where the enslaved were denied access and an opportunity to achieve and compete unencumbered by biased animosity. As mentioned earlier, some undergraduate students at Georgetown University in Washington DC felt a need to show some form of accountability for the injustice done to the 272 slaves owned by the Jesuits who sold them in 1835 to pay off the institution’s debts. The students decided that they and the school should consider paying the tuition cost for the descendants of those 272 slaves who want to attend Georgetown. Not all the students agreed, but two-thirds voted to approve the plan. The fact that the students had given thought to how the selling of those human beings help to make possible the educational experience they are presently enjoying shows their understanding of American history and slavery as well as compassion for the slaves whose lives impacted it.

Reparation, when it is fully understood forces us to consider not only the injustice or wrong committed against other human beings, but also how we might acknowledge, apologize, feel remorse, repair, and start to heal or make right the wrong that was done. In small ways, we understand what it feels like to experience an injustice that goes un-redressed. For example, when a man returned home from a few weeks’ vacations and received his monthly water bill, he discovered that the bill was far too much since he was not home to use the water. After investigating around his home he discovered that his next-door neighbor had a hose running from his home to the neighbor’s property and that he has been using it to water for his yard. The neighbor had not consulted the man prior to his leaving and has not said anything to him since his return. The man still, however, must pay the bill. What would be your expectations from the neighbor? Chances are you would expect some form of acknowledgment, apology, remorse, and repair from your neighbor—that would be a form of reparation.

We as a society must learn how to recognize, accept, and account for our debt to those who labor continues to enrich our lives.

Paul R. Lehman, America is experiencing violence and death because of fear, hatred, and bigotry

August 6, 2019 at 11:57 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, American Indian, American Racism, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Constitutional rights, Declaration of Independence, democracy, discrimination, DNA, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, fairness, identity, justice, language, liberty, life, President Obama, race, Race in America, racism, skin color, skin complexion, Slavery, social conditioning, The U.S. Constitution, U. S. Census, white supremacy, whites | Leave a comment
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When Barack Obama became President of the United States a shock was felt in many parts of America that brought to the surface of many European Americans fear and dread—a person of color was President. The fear and dread came from the many years of being socially conditioned to view African Americans and other people of color including some Southern and Eastern Europeans as inferior, and not of the same race as the Anglo-Saxons. But from the beginning, Europeans Americans were led to believe that America was reserved especially for them, the so-called whites. American History would reinforce the concept of European American (white) superiority and the inferiority of all other peoples.

European Americans have always lived with the fear and challenge of the national hypocrisy where the documents that carry the mantra of the nation’s democratic beliefs, the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States, discriminate against African Americans and people of color in general. For example, the Declaration of Independence states that all people have certain unalienable rights which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Yet, our history records that time and time again African Americans have been deprived of many of those rights up to the present time. We know that the Colonies supported slavery when the Declaration was issued and did not include women, children, and people of color. We also know that The Constitution referred to slaves as three/fifths a man or person and that designation were taken to refer to all African Americans, although many Indians and Europeans were identified as slaves. The inconsistency of what the nations says and how it acts continues to be a problem relative to it identity—is it a democracy or not?

Many Americans still believe and hold on dearly to the concept of a superior white race and that belief separates them from other Americans. Although their concept of a superior race has been debunked by social and medical science, they are at a loss to let go because they have nothing to fall back on except becoming an ordinary citizen. Unfortunately, the years of governmental and social conditioning that underscored, promoted, and maintained ethnic bigotry is not easy to relinquish in spite of it being undemocratic and un-American. Language serves as the glue that continues to hold the concepts of ethnic bigotry together. For example, the Census Bureau never defined the terms black and white, but gave a variety of citizens the option of selecting either for a an identity. After the 2010 Census, the Bureau discovered a problem in the results reported in that many citizens recorded their ethnic identity as white when prior statistics showed other figures that differed greatly with those of the Census. Race continues to be a problem because it cannot be defined using color.

Bigoted Americans keep trying to prove or convince others that the concept of a black and white race invented by the Founding Fathers is legitimate and accurate. The facts concerning the race concept are that black and white are colors, not ethnic identities. All human beings on the planet Earth, according to science, are brown. From a practical perspective if we were to mix the colors black and white together, the results would be a shade of grey, depending on the quantity of each color mixed. So, as some people hold to the view that a black and white race exists, then one might ask, where are the grey people? On the other hand, when a fair skin person (so-called white) joins with a dark skin person (so-called black) and creates an offspring, the offspring is always a shade of brown. Wow! What an amazing discovery! There goes that black race and white race theory. At some point Americans will wake up to the reality that we all belong to one family of humans, not races.

The recent increase of violence in America can be traced to the fear of some European Americans that brown people will take over society. That should not be a fear because by the shear numbers brown people already represent the majority in the world’s population and has since the beginning. As anthropologists have noted the Homo sapiens species originated in Africa and spread from Africa to other areas of the planet. No on questions the skin color of those first humans. Over the years the science of DNA has proven that the concept of a race or races cannot be obtained from an examination of DNA. Humans are more alike than Penguins. Nevertheless, some people want to violently fight society in a futile effort to try and prove the existence of a so-called superior European American (white) race.

America is experiencing dark times presently because some of the national leaders belong to that group of Americans who want to keep Americans ignorant and stupid regarding the concept of race. The changing demographics in society have continuously worked against that false concept and will eventually overcome it. Unfortunately, Americans will have to experience pain and suffering from the violence of those who know no other way to express their hurt, fear, and anxiety over being played the fool for so many years by society and the government. For all the pain and suffering caused by the people who spread bigotry, America will come back a stronger and more unified society because many of the weaknesses and problems that have contributed to our present situation will be exposed and resolved. We have not yet reached the point where Americans, in general, are ready to say enough.

America has always be a cultural experiment in progress, not a completed one, so we must continue to work towards having her achieve the objectives that were set forth at the beginning of the project. We all know what the promise of being an American is about—one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all. Our obligation is to ensure the liberties, rights, justice, and freedom of each of us for all of us.

Paul R. Lehman, Addressing the problem of Jail and Prison overcrowding should begin with examining the police Officers

June 17, 2019 at 11:59 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, Arizona, Bigotry in America, blacks, criminal justice, discrimination, equality, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, fairness, justice, justice system, law enforcement agencies, Police, police education & training, police force, Prejudice, Race in America, respect, skin color, skin complexion, social justice system, whites | 2 Comments
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Another in the continuing series of videos involving police officers and their actions relative to African Americans and other people of color show police officers in Arizona assaulting a young African American family. We have heard the excuse that these officers represent only a few “bad apples” and should not be seen as representing all police officers, but the frequency of occurrences and the lack of reactions from the “good ones” lead us to recognize that bigotry is part of the culture of law enforcement in America. If the criminal justice system is to be examined for the numerous problems related to community relations and the incarceration of people of color, then the examination should begin with the police officers, the police unions, and the local court systems.

When we look at the videos of police officers interacting with people of color one of the first things we notice is a lack of respect given to a fellow human being. The language and tone of voice is usually laced with profanity and bellowed or shouted at the citizens. In many cases orders are issued to the citizens so quickly and inconsistently that the citizen cannot comply in a reasonable and timely manner. When citizens ask questions as to why they were stopped or being detained or arrested, the police usually ignore them and disregard anything they might say. Rarely do we see on these videos officers speaking to citizens of color in a calm, civil and respectful manner, the opposite is generally the rule.

Another element of the videos that calls attention to the police officers is their physical demeanor and body language when engaging with an African American or person of color. Their initial contact with the citizen is one that assumes guilt, and the posture suggests high emotional tension, fear, and general uneasiness similar to that of a combat zone. Any physical contact between the citizen and the officer is usually instigated by the officer. The citizens are generally treated as though they are wild animals that need to be restrained because they are very dangerous and vicious.

Another element the videos show is the number of police officers participating in an incident that could have been resolved by one officer asking a few simple questions and getting an assessment of the situation. The recent video of the young African American family in Phoenix, Arizona that was harassed by local police is a prime example of unnecessary escalation of negative action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaqjO5cWJeo the actions of the police were so outrageous that the mayor of Phoenix issued an apology for the city and promised to have this incident investigated. Had it not been for the alert and timely action of a bystander who captured the action on camera, the case would have been the word of the citizens against that of the police. We know the history of how many police reports do not coincide with the videos and create doubt in what officer’s report.

After calling attention to the language, demeanor, and physical actions of police in general, one has to wonder about the education and training would-be-officers receive and the continued training officers are required to receive. A common excuse given by officers or their supervisors regarding accusations of excessive force or physical abuse is that they were simply following training procedures. When officers show general disrespect for citizens of color in their use of language and their excessive physical force in their dealings with them, one has to wonder about the education and training they receive from the academy or source of training. When and where are they taught to treat each human being with dignity respect regardless of their skin complexion or social and economic status?

The young father from the Phoenix video mentioned that he had been teaching his five-year-old daughter to respect the police because their job is to protect and ensure safety. However, after her experience with officers point a gun in her face along with those of her mother and father, he would have a difficult time getting her to believe that the police are our friends.

Focusing on the negative and outrageous actions of some police officers are not meant to cast aspersion on all police officer, but to underscore that regardless of the complaints and claims against the police regarding their experience with the communities of color, little to nothing has changed. The lack of any significant change can be attributed in part to the Police unions because of their power and prestige within city government. The union has worked hard to foster the idea of the police officers being extraordinary because they put their life on the line supposedly for the citizens. If law enforcement is viewed as a profession, then many other professions involve individuals putting their lives on the line every day as well, but they are not viewed as extraordinary as law enforcement. Why? The unions have a lot to do with this image because it supports and empowers them. Some mayors in cities across the nation are subjected to the power and influence of the police unions in how the police departments are operated.

So, if the many civic groups and organizations working to address the many problems concerning jail over-crowding and excessive incarcerations in the prisons, then the first place to seek redress is with the element in the criminal justice system responsible for supplying the individual to the system. Attention should be given education, experience, the background of the individuals that want to serve as law enforcers. In addition, education and training are both important requirements of law enforces with education receiving equal or more attention to those who want to serve and protect the community. We have to stop the supply of individuals to the jails and prisons if we want to have any impact on the problem of over-crowding.

For all intent and purposes, controlling the supply pipeline to the jails and prison are essential to addressing any of the other problems with reference to correcting the criminal justice system. Once a citizen is arrested a whole new set of problems come into play—the court system.

Paul R. Lehman, Correcting problems in the Criminal Justice System begins at the top

March 19, 2019 at 3:07 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, American Racism, Bigotry in America, blacks, criminal justice, Department of Justice, desegregation, education, entitlements, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, fairness, integregation, justice, justice system, law, law enforcement agencies, mass incarceration, Media and Race, Michelle Alexander, minorities, Oklahoma, police force, Prejudice, President Obama, race, racism, reforms, respect, segregation, skin color, skin complexion, social justice system, socioeconomics, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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The announcement made recently about the decision to not charge the police officers who killed Terence Crutcher and Stephon Clark might have come as a surprise to some but was expected by others because of the history of criminal justice relative to African Americans and other people of color. The decisions to not charge the officers could have been easily made by someone blind and brain-dead. When Eric Holder served as Attorney General, he along with then President Obama made attempts to challenge law enforcement to change the practices, policies, behavior, and laws that discriminate against African Americans in particular and about all people in general. Since that time, many changes relative to criminal justice have been addressed in many locations throughout the United States. The focus of these changes and challenges varies from excessive fines for people who cannot pay them to redefining sentences of people of color whose only serious offense was the color of their skin. Once they get caught up in the maze of the criminal justice system, their lives are completely and forever negatively altered.

Oklahoma leads America, and in some instances, the world in incarceration especially of women. Efforts by many civic groups are working to reduce the numbers. Some of the efforts have been successful via bills the public supported and approved. While all the efforts of groups like the ACLU and others in addressing the problems in the criminal justice system, they have not yet focused on the primary problem of the system—the biased culture within the criminal justice system beginning with law enforcement and including the courts as well as officers of the court. That is, rather than focusing on the cause of the problems attendant to citizens who have been arrested, the majority of the efforts by interested and involved groups are on the problem of those incarcerated. In order to correct the many problems in the criminal justice system, we must look first at where the system begins—what puts the wheels in motion.

What determines the attitudes and actions of the law enforcers from the small towns to the large metropolises begins with the mayors, the councils and courts. They are the ones who make the laws and create the climate and culture that informs the police and other law enforcers. If change is to come to the criminal justice system in American then it must begin with those who administer the programs that represent the criminal justice system. Having the administrators and city or town council members undergo diversity training is generally a waste of time and money because that training does not address the issue of ethnic bigotry that is a part of the everyday cultural climate. We know this biased culture exists from the plethora of incidents that occur and are shown daily on social media. These incidents occur in spite of the diversity training these administrators, council members and court officers have received. We know this ethnic bias exists from the numerous police officers that have suffered no legal repercussion from having shot and killed a person of color.

One thing that needs to happen in order to make the criminal justice system applicable to all citizens is to educate the top administrators, council members and court judges and other officers to what democracy looks like from a perspective that recognizes the bias that presently exists and how they are implicated in the culture and climate that promotes, support, and maintains it. The fact that the majority of people incarcerated are people of color seemingly represents no call for action or consequence. The fact is that the number of people of color is adjudicated differently and more harshly than European American citizens seem to be viewed as acceptable represents a big problem that begs for attention and correction. However, if the people who administer and are the caretakers of the system of criminal justice are fine with the status quo then something needs to be done to alert them to the injustice they are delivering to American citizens who happen to be people of color.

If the problems of bigotry and injustice in the criminal justice system today are promoted, supported, and maintained through ignorance, then education, not training should help in remedying some of the problems. Other avenues of approach would be removal from office via election or for some judges, impeachment. The citizens should be made aware of the amount of money they pay out to citizens that receive judgments from the civil courts for the misconduct of police and other law enforcement officers. One would think that the officers found guilty in civil court should shoulder some of the monetary responsibility as well as the unions that support and represent these officers. That way the citizens would not have to bear the entire expense for the officers’ actions.

The American system of criminal justice is generally a good system when it is administered in a democratic and fair way; however, when ethnic and cultural biases are represented in the outcome negatively affecting people of color, then corrective action must be taken. Again, the actions of the many concerned groups addressing the problems that focus on incarceration are welcomed and, indeed, applauded and encouraged, but their efforts are focused on the citizens that are already incarcerated and part of the system. In order to impact positively the system of criminal justice, the focus must be at the beginning. Michelle Alexander noted in her work, The New Jim Crow, that “A study sponsored by the U.S. Justice Department and several of the nation’s leading foundations, published in 2007, found that the impact of the biased treatment is magnified with each additional step into the criminal justice system.” The evidence is clear.

The biased treatment of people of color in the criminal justice system is due to unconscious and conscious ethnic bigotry that infects the decision-making process of those entrusted with those powers. In order for the system of criminal justice to be fairly administered, those biases must be addressed at the beginning before the arrest is made. So, now that we know where to begin, if we are not part of the solution, then we are the problem.

Paul R. Lehman,Why the movie The Green Book failed to carry a positive message for African Americans.

February 27, 2019 at 3:55 pm | Posted in African American, African American and chicken, African American celebrities, American Bigotry, American history, American Racism, Black Englisn, black inferiority, blacks, desegregation, discrimination, Disrespect, employment, Equal Opportunity, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, integregation, justice, minorities, Negro, Prejudice, Race in America, racism, respect, segregation, skin color, social conditioning, social justice system, socioeconomics, white supremacy, whites | 2 Comments
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Family, friends, and acquaintances were the order in which African American musicians and other entertainers used for hospitality, food, and lodging in the days before desegregation. During the early 1950’s when my cousin “Little Walter” Jacobs came to town for a show or two, his biggest decision was with whom he would stay. His room at the local hotel for people of color was only for his belongings. Jacobs was not alone in this endeavor, most African American entertainers depended on their relations in the communities they visited for hospitality where they were usually treated as celebrities. Because this form of accommodation was ordinary for African American entertainers, most road managers and agents saw to it that the flyers announcing the coming attractions were in place weeks before the actual shows. That way, the family, friends, and acquaintances would be prepared for the celebrity’s arrival.

The key to a successful tour for African American entertainers in large part fell to the managers and their connections with other managers on the “Chitlin Circuit,” which was a collection of performance venues throughout the Eastern, Southern, and upper Midwest areas of the United States that provided commercial and cultural acceptance for African-American entertainers. A Green Book was not usually necessary for these entertainers because of the information network of the managers. For other African Americans traveling around America and especially through the South The Green Book was important. Somehow the movie, The Green Book, did not touch on the experiences of African American entertainers traveling through America.

For some American viewers, the movie The Green Book was very entertaining and likeable simply because it included a well-known musician of color, Don Shirley and a historical perspective. Unfortunately, viewers sometimes do not see the forest for the trees, or they concentrate on the movie rather than the message it presents. When we examine the movie for it message, we discover that the movie was disappointing from three aspects—the Green Book, the musician, and the bouncer.

Although the movie carried the title—The Green Book, little attention was paid to the actual book, it author and content. Yes, Tony the bouncer did refer to the book a number of times, but usually without any mention of it. The author and publisher of the book, Victor Hugo Green was not mentioned nor was the way Green acquired the information for the book. Also, what was  not mentioned in the movie was the fact that the book was actually a survival tool for many African American travelers who often faced a life or death situation on the road. African Americans were not only prevented from staying in hotels and eating in public cafes and restaurants but also refused gas at many service stations. So the importance of The Green Book had more significance and value than reflected in the movie.

Next, the movie failed to represent African Americans (if that indeed was an objective) through the character of the pianist Ali. Although he was portrayed as a brilliant and talented musician, his character appeared as a naïve, innocent, ignorant and an anomaly of a person of color. Why would such a seemingly uninformed person of color agree to a tour through a country whose majority viewed him not as a human being, but somewhat of a spectacle similar to that of an animal that could perform some unusual tricks for their entertainment? The simple fact that Ali’s character was not familiar with fried chicken or rhythm and blues disqualified him from even pretending to be an African American. The character of Ali was en essence a freak, an oddity in the context of the movie since we learn little about his personal life. Throughout the movie Ali performed at the various venues with little or no regard for the fact that he was there only for the entertainment of the European Americans, not as a human being of equal social value. The entire movie focused on a short period of time in his life–from the beginning of the tour until the end of the tour at Christmas. The movie was certainly not about him.

Tony Vallelonga, the Italian from New York, who was hired as Ali’s chauffer and body-guard, was a bigot who accepted the job for the money. Through the course of the tour the two men got to know each other on a personal level, but never as equals. Tony understood that the fabric of ethnic bigotry was part of society’s character and therefore he was in a position to protect Ali from his ignorance on a limited basis. We learn from the movie much about Tony’s life, his family, his friends, aspects of his ethnic identity. In a number of instances Tony saved the day for Ali when confronted by European American bigots. Although the two men grow closer together in accepting one another, that acceptance was as members of two distinct ethnic identities and character roles. The movie came closer to being Tony’s story rather than a story about a book or a pianist of color.

Between the two characters of Ali and Tony, the one that seemed to grow in understanding human relationships was Tony. Ali’s character was that of a spoiled and somewhat controlling talented social orphan who just happened to be a person of color. Ali’s knowledge of The Green Book seemed limited at best as was his awareness and understanding of the African American experience in America. The most important thing to him was his talent and the opportunity to perform before mainly European American audiences and, of course, money.

Although some aspects of the movie were entertaining in a limited context, the overall effect was that of disappointment because nothing of value was gained from the experience of the characters development. Tony arrived home to the welcome of his family and friends who still retained their biases of eggplants. Tony learned to accept Ali, but that acceptance did not extend to all people of color, just Ali.

Ali’s character turns out to be that of a sad, lonely and pathetic individual who never learned the value of family, friends, and acquaintances. African Americans cannot live successfully in America without the support from others which Ali experienced when he visited the local African American club in the town where he was supposed to perform. The movie ends on a sad and tragic note when Ali appears at Tony’s home to save himself from alienation at Christmas not knowing that he was simply an eggplant coming in from the cold.

 

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