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 word race has yet to be defined, but controls life in America.

May 20, 2020 at 1:16 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, American Racism, Bigotry in America, biological races, black inferiority, blacks, Civil Right's Act 1964, criminal justice, discrimination, DNA, Donald Trump, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, Human Genome, identity, justice system, language, Police, Prejudice, President Obama, race, Race in America, racism, skin color, skin complexion, social conditioning, social justice system, Supreme Court Chief Justice, The Nation. Michelle Alexander. The New Jim Crow, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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When the English, Anglo-Saxons, came to America they brought with them the concept of their nation is superior to all other nations under a myth proven to be bogus many times over, b nevertheless promoted by them. The element of superiority over other nations was incorporated into the concept of race by color. So, for all intent and purposes, the word race would be the key that opened or closed the doors to all things of value. In essence, the word race served to unite, separate, control, and discriminate one group of people from others. The word race, however, has no basis in science relative to biology but was invented to suggest a biological connection. So, if no one ever challenged the nature of the word race or tried to define it, it retained its place as the key element in European American, Anglo-Saxon superiority in society. The word race has been used in American society to control all the people regardless of their skin complexion.

Because European Americans are conditioned to view themselves as normal and superior to all other people they must continue to support, maintain, and promote that race perception. In doing so, they must perceive others as not normal and inferior. The problems manifest themselves when common sense, logic, reason, and reality come into play. First, the concept of biologically different races defies all scientific data beginning with Linnaeus in 1735, right up to today, and the study of DNA. Second, the word race has never been defined because data identifying a fixed race does not exist, and skin complexion varies individually. Third, the idea of a group of people all having the same characteristics, physically and mentally based on skin color is illogical and irrational because that would imply that these characteristics were biologically fixed, which we know to be false. Yet, this is the concept that Americans have been conditioned to accept as believable. However, to accept and believe all the aspects associated with the concept of race would render individuals mentally delusional.

To be specific, the word race id based on a myth, and myths are invented from mystical and magical elements not based on facts, for example, like the Tooth Fairy. The word racism comes from the word race and implies a belief in the concept of race. This belief in racism now becomes a form of superstition which the Oxford Dictionary defines “the belief that particular events happen in a way that cannot be explained by reason or science” and that has a direct impact on the believer’s life and sense of reality. The Oxford Dictionary defines a delusion as “an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument, typically a symptom of mental disorder.” Americans who accept and embrace the concept of race, in effect, suffer from this mental condition that is generally supported by the government and society.

One of the problems facing America today has to do with how the concept of race has and continues to influence our everyday lives. European Americans, Anglo-Saxons, Caucasians have all been conditioned to view themselves as privileged, which carried with it the elements of arrogance and authority. They have been conditioned to believe that their comfort and security should never be compromised by the presence of other people especially by people of color. If and when such a comprise takes place, they simply have to call law enforcement or take matters into their own hands. Either way, they look to receive satisfaction because all the powers of society and government reside with them.

For all intent and purpose, the word race still exercises its power, influence, and control in America today despite the many social changes that have taken place. Taylor Lewis in an article in The Nation over one hundred and fifty years ago wrote about the power of the language:” Even when we advocate the cause of the African, we do it in a manner that would be thought insulting and utterly undemocratic in any other case. We use the language of the masters and the owners.”He later noted that “The way in which we speak to the colored man, and of the colored man, shows an unconscious yielding to the anti-christian prejudice we are striving to overcome.” When we do not challenge the language, we simply acquiesce to its influence. More specifically, whenever the word race is used in any form socially and especially relative to African Americans, an advantage is given to European Americans. The word race serves to entrap the uninformed into thinking that it is legitimate rather than the bogus invention that it is. All the social gains made via civil rights legislation are taken back by the use of the word race because with its use, the concept becomes viable.

Michelle Alexander in her book, The New Jim Crow, shared the power the word race has today in our criminal justice system: “The dirty little secret of policing is that the Supreme Court has actually granted the police license to discriminate.”In essence, the court gave the police the right to stop and search anyone based on race; however, race could not be the primary cause for the stop and search. Therefore, when a person of color is stopped by law enforcement, any reason other than race will suffice. Little wonder that police officers are usually deemed within their rights to stop and search anyone. Unfortunately, the fact that an excessive number of people of color are the victims of stop and search is apparently of no consequence.

During the Obama presidency, much attention was paid to the injustice in the criminal justice system, but the present administration has tried to undo the good that was accomplished. Because of the rapidly changing demographics in America, the opportunity for improvement in our criminal justice system will come in time. When that time comes, we must be very careful in how we choose our words. The word race, which has yet to be defined, should not be used in a social context involving identity if its power is to be neutralized.

Paul R. Lehman, Gentrification is a double-edged sword for the African American communities.

May 5, 2020 at 2:21 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American Dream, American history, American Racism, anglo saxons, Baltimore, Bigotry in America, blacks, Brown v Topeka, chicago, Community relationships, desegregation, Disrespect, employment, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, fairness, Oklahoma, poverty, Prejudice, Race in America, riots, segregation, social justice system, Tulsa Riot 1921, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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Occasionally, on talk radio, television talk shows, and social media the topic of improving the African American community is discussed and reasonable and logical points, as well as opinions, are offered in that regard. In many of those discussions, the most salient point regarding success in the African American community revolves around ownership and control of the property. Many people of color have experienced financial success in these communities usually because they owned and controlled their businesses. However, the primary lesson we learn from history is that all African American communities are tentative because the ultimate control of their property is not in their hands.
Many of the opinions and advice offered for improving African Americans involve four essential elements: finance, subsistence, education, and religion. Take away any one of these four and the community cannot endure very long. Even when all four of these elements are functioning well, the community is constantly at risk. Yes, individual people of color can and do fair very well financially from their efforts within the African American community, but their businesses are usually confined to that community and not the larger European American community. History reminds us of what has and can happen to successful African American communities in the examples of Wilmington, North Carolina; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Atlanta, Georgia, and Rosewood, Florida, just to mention a few. These examples are not given to indicate that efforts to improve one’s condition should not be made, but to recognize that the social progress that has been made has not altered the conditions facing African Americans relative to their community including owning and controlling property.
In the cases of the four African American communities mentioned above, each was met and destroyed by violence, abuse, and death. Today, African American communities have one major destroyer that comes with a plethora of weapons; that enemy is known as gentrification. Unlike the violence of the past, gentrification works so slowly and gradually like cancer that the loss is hardly noticed until it becomes obvious. An article appeared in (The Charleston Chronicle, February 20, 2020) that identified and described this process: “Gentrification involves the transformation of under-invested, predominately poor communities from low value to high value. During this transformation, long-time residents and businesses are displaced; unable to afford higher rents, mortgages, and property taxes.” The article added that “For some, gentrification is a process of renovating deteriorated urban neighborhoods through the influx of more affluent residents. To others, gentrification magnifies the racial divide as it shifts a neighborhood’s racial composition as white residents move in and minorities are moved out.”
In essence, this process can rob a community of the four essentials it needs to exist. A brief example can underscore how the process works. In his book Boom Town, Sam Anderson states that the Land Run that occurred in Oklahoma and particularly in Oklahoma City “was for white men.” The spirit of dominance and control by Anglo-Saxons was quite evident during his event. He noted that African Americans did not take part in the actions of the first day and when they did arrive, “They found themselves relegated to the least appealing pockets of the remaining land, up against the railroad tracks and down by the river. One of their neighborhoods, Sandtown, flooded so often that its houses were built on stilts. Residents were frequently rescued by boats.”
As time progressed, the African American community gradually began to expand north from the river and the railroad tracks and eventually was permitted to establish businesses and residence on the south side of 2nd street. The north side of the street was reserved for European Americans until in May of 1919 when through the efforts of Roscoe Dungee an African American family was able to move “into a house on a street that touched the very bottom edge of a white neighborhood. And so, after many years of confinement, by the tiniest possible increment, OKC’s black world began to expand.” This area became known as the “deep duce.”
The expansion of the African American community continued and by the 1940s had grown to include the south side of northeast 8th street. The area from the railroad tracks to northeast 8th street and east from Walnut Street just passed Bryant Avenue came to be known as “The East Side,” or “Colored Town.”The community experienced success in many areas, except the majority of the homes occupied by African Americans were not owned by them, but rented. Homeownership for African Americans also came in the early ’40s with the arrival of Hassman Heights (Edwards Addition) and Carverdale Addition. Edwards was an African American while the owner and builder of Carverdale was a European American. Other additions reserved for people of color soon followed.
The enterprise areas that defined The East Side were located on 2nd Street, 4th Street, and Bath Street between 5th and 6th Streets. However, once desegregation came into effect after 1954, the African American community began to slowly disintegrate. First to suffer was the mom and pop businesses because they could not compete with the new, larger, and generally, lower-priced choices offered by the European Americans’ goods and services. Today, because of gentrification, little to nothing remains of those once-thriving areas to makes reference to earlier days of The East Side. Certainly, some African American businesses still remain on the northeast side, but they are simply businesses that no longer comprise an element of an African American community. Two businesses that continue to embrace the concept of the community are the churches and funeral homes. Any plans for revitalizing that African Americans community as such are no longer viable.
The article made note of a study that was done on gentrification and noted that “In Washington, D.C., 20,000 Black residents were displaced, and in Portland, Oregon, 13 percent of the Black community was displaced over the more than decade period that was studied. Seven cities accounted for nearly half of the gentrification nationally: New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Baltimore, San Diego, and Chicago.”
In Oklahoma City, slowly over the years, gentrification has come to deprive a once vibrant African American community of a powerful population, political voices, community leadership, health, education, and food facilities owned and controlled by African Americans. Segregation and bigotry invented these African American communities and gentrification is destroying them.
Consequently, since gentrification is today’s reality, our thinking must shift to that of participating within a diverse community where the well-being of the individual is the concern rather than one defined by ethnicity. For a novel example of how gentrification is manifested in society today, just tune into the TV show, “The Neighborhood.”Hopefully, we will all get through this together.

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, Medical myths concerning African Americans and people of color still exist.

January 8, 2020 at 12:34 am | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, Bigotry in America, discrimination, Disrespect, European Americans, fairness, myths of pain for African Americans, Prejudice, Race in America, respect, whites | 1 Comment
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For some reason, I had a recurring nosebleed that turned into a nuisance, so I went to my family doctor and enquired about it. My doctor, in turn, sent me to local eyes, nose, and throat specialist for treatment. When I arrived at the doctor’s office, I checked in with the receptionist and soon was taken to a treatment room. After a few minutes, the doctor came into the room, introduced himself and asked about the problem. I explained to him about the recurring nosebleeds. He asked me to sit back in the chair and then began to examine my nose. He, evidently, discovered the source of the problem and decided to address it. However, he said very little to me about the problem and how he was going to correct it.
He asked me to hold my head back while he sprayed some aesthetic into my nostrils. After waiting a minute or two he took his cauterizing instruments and began applying pressure with the instruments inside my nostrils. The pain was excruciating and I called out to him to stop, but he ignored me and continued to apply pressure. When he finally stopped I told him that I was extremely disappointed with his method of treatment and lack of patient courtesy. I got out of the chair and walked out of the room telling him that I would never return nor would I recommend him to anyone I knew.
The doctor’s demeanor to my negative experience was to remain silent, and never acknowledging or reacting to my concerns. Later, I recounted my experience to my family doctor who had arranged my visit to this doctor. He seemed surprised by the treatment I had received. After considering my experience with this young doctor, I thought that I might possibly have been the victim of cultural and medical bias based on myths relative to people of color, especially African Americans. Let me explain.
Along with the myths of Anglo-Saxon superiority, myths about Africans and African Americans abound. For example, many European Americans believe that people of color have a higher tolerance for pain, thicker skin, and thicker blood than they have. The belief in these myths continues today and in many instances affects the treatment offered people of color. Two recent television shows included references to these myths.
The first show was on CBS with the title of “Evil” and dealt with aspects of religion and the supernatural. In this particular episode, a young African American lady supposedly died and for some unknown reason returned to life. So, the question posed by the show was how did this happen? The show examined all the activities of the young lady, who happened to be an athlete, to try and discover what might have contributed to her death and subsequent return to life. The religious approach to the investigation suggested that possibly a miracle had occurred while the scientific approach searched for a rational explanation for the experience. The answer was discovered when the African American investigator reviewed the procedure involving the administering of CPR. What he discovered was that rather than applying CPR on the young lady for at least 30 minutes, it was applied for just over 20 minutes. Fortunately, when the young lady was about to undergo an invasive procedure, the contact with her body caused her to resuscitate. In essence, a myth relative to the CPR treatment of African Americans indicated the belief that they do not need to receive the full 30 minutes or more treatment.
The other television show that referenced the medical mistreatment of African Americans was an episode of “All Rise” also on CBS and involved the relationship of a European American doctor and the treatment of a young African American pregnant woman. In this episode, the young woman had given birth to her child but subsequently died from a lack of adequate treatment from her doctor. The story followed the husband of the dead woman in his efforts to show how his wife was ignored, mistreated, and not treated by her doctor that contributed to her death. An important feature of this particular story was the focus on the lack of understanding, respect, and value the European American doctor displayed towards his African American patient. For example, when the woman complained of certain experiences and requested the doctor order tests to verify or discount her concerns, he dismissed them. When the woman complained of severe pain, the doctor ordered medicine that under-medicated her. When she tried to explain to the doctor that she felt he was not listening to her and considering her concerns about her health, he ignored her and continued to treat her following his own ideas and opinion.
The husband was able to bring charges against the doctor relative to his wife’s death. What the trial revealed were the many myths the doctor embraced in treating this woman relative to providing or not providing medicine based on his idea of what this woman of color needed. In addition, the trial showed how the doctor ignored the complaints as well as the suggestions and requests made by the woman regarding her treatment. In essence, the show revealed how the myths were a part of the doctor’s psyche and how they represented no element of concern in his treatment of his African American patient. He neither acknowledged nor accepted any responsibility for what happened to his patient as a result of his mistreatment of her.
American history is replete with instances of the maltreatment of African Americans from stories of James Marion Sims, the “father of modern gynecology,” who conducted experiments on enslaved African American women without anesthesia to the African American men of Tuskegee, Alabama, who were injected with syphilis so the disease could be observed and studied. Many other stories tell of the abuse and suffering endured by African Americans due to the ignorance and persistence of many of these medical myths.
Whether we realize it or not, ethnic bias is very much a part of our American life even when we cannot see it. What people of color must not forget is that biases against them has been part of European Americans’ social conditioning and does not reveal itself to them as something not socially acceptable. All Americans, and especially people of color, must accept the responsibility to call-out and address medical myths as well as any other myths detrimental to our society’s well-being when and where they occur.

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, Sometimes just good intentions and advice on race are not good enough

August 14, 2019 at 4:06 am | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, blacks, discrimination, DNA, education, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, identity, language, Prejudice, race, Race in America, racism, respect, skin color, skin complexion, social conditioning, white supremacy, whites | Leave a comment
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When a person is born into a society everything that impacts that person’s life comes through association. As that person grows bits and pieces of life’s puzzle are added and continue to influence that person’s perceptions, language, and behavior. All those things represent normalcy to that person because they are reflected in others in the community. However, what seems normal to one person may not be normal to a person in a different community and so a problem is created when the values, ideas, and opinions are challenged when the people from two different communities come together. This problem presented itself recently as recorded in an article, “Adulting While White,” (8/12/2019, Nation) under “Asking for a Friend,” by Liza Featherstone.

The problem involved a “35-year-old white woman” who was befriended by “a 12-year-old” African American girl from the South Side of Chicago. They developed a good relationship where the lady would help her young friend “with homework and occasionally taking her and her siblings to dance lessons.” The girl’s parents approved of the friendship. The problem surfaced when the African American girl, who is of light brown complexion, felt that the people around her might think that the European American friend was her mother. As a result, the young girl began to distance herself from the lady when in public, and in some instances, ignored her altogether. The European American lady wrote to Featherstone seeking help.

In her letter, the lady wrote: “I don’t know what to do. She is a bright, fun child and seeks me out regularly. I enjoy hanging out with her. Yet her embarrassment over my whiteness makes me feel sad, conflicted, and ashamed.”She continued, “Should I stop going to her events, even though I’m invited? Should I ignore the fact that she ignores me? I don’t want to be oversensitive, but I don’t know how to navigate this.”

The answer provided the lady by Featherstone showed a lack of knowledge and understanding of American society, its history and culture. She stated: “The situation is awkward for you, Mentor, but the feelings of this young person may be healthy.”Featherstone added that “For this girl, being viewed as biracial—if she sees herself as black—complicates the process of developing that identity.” Her final advice was to “Keep showing up to her events, and worry less about your feelings. After all, in general, it’s easier being a white grown-up than a black middle-schooler.”Unfortunately, the answer provides no comfort to the mentor but showed a lack of knowledge and understanding from Featherstone.

The central problem of this situation is that all participants live in the past as indicated by their language and attitude. What is missing is an understanding of how they were all socialized to see each other as different based on skin complexion and the concept of race. The mentor identifies herself as white and that tells us that she still accepts the false concept of race by color. Because she still accepts this concept, she will never be able to see her young friend as a normal human being. Colors do two things simultaneously; they unite and separate people into groups. So, as long as the mentor see herself as white and her young friend as non-white, a divide will always exist between them.

Featherstone, unfortunately, falls into the same boat as the mentor because she also accepts the concept of race as valid. An opportunity to teach and enlighten not only the young African American girl but also the two European American women was missed because they were all trapped in the race box. Most people today know that race was invented by the leaders of the majority society to control and discriminate. The term race was invented to take the place of the term species, but the two words are not the same nor can they be used interchangeably. Species is a scientific term that places all human beings in the same family, while race is a non-scientific term used to unite and separate people. To underscore the unscientific use of the term race we simply need to reference the times people identify themselves as being or belonging to a white or black species or being bi-species or mixed-species.

The rapid pace of ethnic diversity development in America is also aiding in debunking the concept of race and color. When we fail to accept the scientific findings that help us to exit the race box, we stay trapped in the past and continue to be burdened with all its negative baggage. Given the appropriate information, all the participants in this situation can begin to move forward in their understanding of our changing American society. Once they can replace the false concept of race by color with the understanding that all people are brown, just different shades, and that we belong to the same species—human beings, then their perceptions, language, and behavior will also change.

What we need to know is that all people have two identities: a national (cultural) identity, and an ancestral (ethnic) identity. We choose our national identity, but our ancestral identity comes to us from our birth parents. We have been conditioned to give our ancestral identity rather than our national identity when asked our identity. A person’s ancestral identity is separate and apart from the national, and color has no part in either. For example, when a visitor from another country comes to America, the only identity that is required is national, i.e. German, French, Spanish, Nigerian, etc., because their ancestral identity is insignificant. However, in America, since we have used color and ancestry to discriminate against some people, social value is often associated with it.

Although we have not yet arrived at the point in America where the concept of race and color are no longer an integral part of the social fabric, we are headed in that direction. The biased perceptions of human beings must be challenged and replaced so the relationships among ethnic groups can occur freely without the barriers of ignorance

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, What’s in a name—the “N” word and Identity

May 4, 2019 at 4:34 pm | Posted in Africa, African American, American Bigotry, American history, biological races, black inferiority, blacks, Disrespect, DNA, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, France, identity, immigration, language, Media and Race, Negro, Prejudice, race, Race in America, respect, skin color, skin complexion, social conditioning, the 'n' word, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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Several years ago I had the occasion to give a lecture to some citizens of a small rural town at the town’s library. An audience of about twenty people attended the lecture and remained for a question and answer session. In responding to a question, I made mention of European Americans and their relation to the question. Soon after I finished my comments, a small, white-haired, senior lady raised her hand, and I acknowledged her. She asked, “What is this European American you talked about?” Smiling at her, I said, “you. You are a European American.” She seemed perplexed, so I explained to her that at one time in America the only people who could become citizens had to identify themselves as either Negro (black) or white. Many immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe did not qualify as either, so they had to use their ethnic identity which set them apart from the so-called whites. In the early 1920s, two Asian men applied for American citizenship and both were denied because the courts said they were neither black nor white. Following the second trial, a Supreme Court justice said that only Europeans could be considered white and they could recognize one from another. One of the consequences of that statement led many immigrants to stop identifying themselves by their ethnicity and just identify themselves as white because it provided elements of social and civic power and prestige.

Still looking somewhat confused, the lady asked, “What is my ethnicity?  I have always been told that I am white.” I asked her where she and her parents were born if not in America. She mentioned that her family had not spoken about being from another country in general but she had heard some references to France and Italy. I mentioned that the term European American provided a more specific identity reference than simply saying white because white does not refer to nationality, country, language, religion, or culture. She thanked me for the explanation.

This incident came to mind when I heard two young African American men talking on Facebook about economic challenges and problems experienced by African Americans and people of color. What caught my attention was their reference to African Americans as “N”. They used it as though it was an accepted and legitimate term with no historical or social significance. Evidently, they assumed that because they were, apparently, men of color their use of the word was okay. Their use of the “N” word actually communicated a number of things that were not positive. They ignored the word’s history, denotation, and connotation, social and cultural significance.

The word Negro comes from the Latin language as an adjective referring to the color black but came to be associated with people from Africa with dark skin complexions. When enslaved Africans were brought to America, they were stripped of their names, language, culture, religion, and personal history. They were forced to accept and adjust to the elements of slavery in America, but most definitely the new language through which they were to be known and referred to as Africans, Negroes, blacks, and slaves. The term Negro was the most commonly used term in America with the spelling and pronunciation varying from the different geographical areas of north and south. The slaves had no choice but to refer to one another as Negro or “N” because that was the only language they were permitted to speak.

Under slavery’s rule in America, the denotation of the word Negro made reference to people, regardless of their skin complexion, who was known to have any African blood. In this context, the reference was made only for identity. However, in the connotation, the word took on a totally different meaning. As a form of projection the “N” personified sexuality, lewdness, laziness, dirtiness, and untamed hostility. In addition, the elements of foul odors, threatening, aggressive and libidinous behavior became associated with the character of the “N” and were perceived by the average European American as normal. Altogether, the concept of excrement came to be associated with the “N” to the point that his social value was equated with it and found to be of lesser value.

Before, and definitely after Reconstruction in America, African Americans have been trying to divorce themselves from the term “N” because it never did, in fact, defined or described them, but was used to enslave them mentally. Society has labeled the “N” word pejorative and socially unacceptable because of its historical significance. However, the word has been given a life-line through entertainment and artistic expressions by some African American performers. Unfortunately, the word does not lose its pejorative quality through continued use and speaks to a sense of historical ignorance or self-deprecation by the users.

An old saying advises that one cannot throw dirt on others without getting some on one’s self. This saying works equally with the use of the “N” word because it reflects on the character of the users by questioning their self-perception and their judgment of others they associate with the word. The objective of the slave masters in imposing the “N” word on people of color was to force them to see themselves through the biased eyes of the slave masters, not their own eyes. So, for as long as the people of color continue using the master’s language relative to themselves, they will remain mentally enslaved and unable to see who they really are.

If the “N” word did not carry negative social value in society then its use would not be in question. But it does still carry negative value. So, one wonders why two intelligent young African American males would constantly use the “N” word to their audiences unless they do not realize that by doing so they are showing disrespect to themselves and their audience. With all the demographic changes taking place in the world, and especially in America today, and with many people discovering their ancestral roots, one would think that constant reference to the past via a derogatory term would be counterproductive. The continued use of the “N” word seems to suggest that some people of color want to remain mentally enslaved or do not want to know their true identity.

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