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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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, 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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