Paul R. Lehman, Good community relationships with the police requires clear, realistic perception

January 29, 2017 at 6:02 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Constitutional rights, criminal activity, democracy, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, freedom of speech, justice, law enforcement agencies, Oklahoma, police force, Prejudice, President, President Obama, protest, race, segregation, skin complexion, social justice system, The Oklahoman, tolerance, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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In an article by Mark A. Yancey, “Police and community relationship goes 2 ways,” (The Oklahoman 1/28/2017) his first two sentences underscore the reasons why community relationships are in need of a lot of work. He stated that: “In the wake of recent police-involved shootings around the country, I often hear that police need to rebuild trust with the communities they serve. While I agree trust needs to be re-established, we should not place the entire burden of restoring trust, promoting respect and tolerance and following the law solely on the police.”Two words are used in these sentences that demonstrate Yancey’s lack of understanding of the problems involved with building a relationship with the communities; those two words are rebuild and restoring.

While we can applaud Yancey’s desire to seek a good relationship with communities, we must recognize that he is a citizen of a society with a natural bias against people of color. Chances are, he does not realize his bias because it is not something he consciously acquired but was conditioned to be society—his home, neighborhood, school, church, city, state, and nation. One example should suffice to show how the bias works. If an officer observes a nice-looking late-model car driven by a young African American male, chances are two thoughts will cross the officer’s mind—the car is stolen, or the driver is a drug dealer. However, if the drive of the car is a young European American male, the two thoughts might be that he is a spoiled kid or it is the family’s car. The thoughts relative to the African American male were not made out of malice or anger; they are conditioned responses. If the officer does not recognize the negative thoughts relative to the African American, then they cannot be replaced.

One cannot rebuild or restore relationships that never existed in the first place. The relationship the officer has with the communities is the one conditioned by a society which sees people of color in a negative context. The relationship should be for the officer to serve and protect all the citizens without bias, but when the bias is hidden by social convention, the lines get blurred.

Yancey’s next sentence also underscored a problem of a lack of understanding in the police-community relationship: “Relationship-building, after all, is a two-way street and requires mutual trust, respect, and tolerance.” When we stop and take a look at some of the recent videos of police treatment of young African American men, we recognize that all three of these elements are missing from the behavior of the officers. Officers are paid by the citizens to do their jobs; the citizens are not, so it is incumbent on the officers to serve as examples in these areas. History shows us that the law enforcement agency has been wanting in these three areas relative to their relationship with the African American community. For example, shortly after former President Obama had taken office, a noted scholar a professor from a prestigious university was arrested for entering his own home. He identified himself to the officer, told the officer that the home was his, and showed him the key to the door. The officer disregarded all the professor said and arrested him. What happened to trust, respect and tolerance during this experience?

Another recent example of where the police disregard these areas of trust, respect, and tolerance involved a young African American man who had used a tool to do some work on the sunroof of his car. Someone from the neighborhood called 911 and reported someone breaking into an auto. When the young man’s car was pulled over, he got out with both hands in the air. The video showed the officers issuing orders and simultaneously charging the young man, not giving him any time to obey the commands. To add insult to injury, the officers kept telling the young man to stop resisting when there were three or four officers on him, pushing his face into the concrete, punching him and holding his hand behind his back with an officer’s knee. Yet, they kept yelling at him to stop resisting—he was not resisting. How could he when he was face down on the pavement with three or four officers on him? Where were the respect and tolerance? Videos of both these incidents exist and the behavior of the officer/officers can be observed on YouTube.

Yancey mentioned that “citizens need to do their part in the rebuilding process by avoiding unnecessary, violent confrontations with officers.” Officer Yancey would do well to review many of the videos that show no violence on the part of the citizens unless or until it is initiated by officers who are in a rush to subdue a citizen. The fact is that when an officer stops a citizen, the citizen loses all his or her rights because if a video and audio history of the event is not available, the law enforcement community will disregard anything the citizen has to say but accepts everything the officer has to say.

Time and again, videos have shown that citizens can observe the laws, and follow police orders and still get beaten, or shot, and then arrested. We are not saying that the citizens are never at fault; many times they are, and many times mental illness has some part to play in the events. Yancey stated that “The law requires officers to respect the citizens they serve. Citizens should show police the same respect they rightfully demand by cooperating with officers’ instructing and letting our judicial system resolve peacefully and disagreements about the lawfulness of their actions.” In an ideal world Yancey’s statement might be acceptable, but in reality, if the citizen cannot present evidence to prove his or her case, it is an automatic win for the officer. All we need to do is check the record of police cases of misconduct and see how many convictions have been placed on the officers.

The first order of business in trying to establish good community relationships is for the police departments to understand their history with the community. If the elements of trust, respect, and tolerance are missing, then the first question should be why? Chances are the problems start with the biased perception of the citizens conditioned in the law enforcers by society. That is the first thing that needs to change—all citizens should be viewed as citizens, no differences. We can admire Yancey’s efforts in wanting to address this problem, but he needs to better understand the role of the police officers and their relationship to the community before asking the community to give what must be earned—trust, respect, and tolerance

Paul R. Lehman, African American celebrities meeting with President elect Trump–a perspective

January 22, 2017 at 4:02 am | Posted in African American, American history, birther, Constitutional rights, Criticism, Disrespect, European American, freedom of speech, Media and Race, meetings with the President-elect, Oklahoma, politicians, President, protest | 1 Comment
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Once President Trump won the nomination and set up his office in Trump Tower, he had numerous individuals coming to pay him a visit. Among some of these visitors were a number of popular African Americans. Because of the baggage that President Trump brought with him from his campaign that was seen as ethnically biased against African Americans, many people questioned the reasons for African Americans going to Trump Tower. Regardless of their reasons for visiting with then President-elect Trump, the photo opportunity after the meetings of these African Americans with Trump sent a message that he was using them to show the country and the world that he was not biased. The problem with that interpretation is that these African American individuals represented only themselves, not the national community of people of color.

Some years ago, a European American politician in Oklahoma was asked why he did not come into the African American community to campaign for votes. He answered that he had met with all the important African Americans in the community and paid them off for the community’s vote. So, there was no need to try to win the votes of individuals when he already had the community vote in his pocket. In other words, all this politician had to do was to meet with a few popular African American and pay them to publicly support his campaign. So, although we are not questioning the rights and integrity of the individual African Americans who visited with Trump nor their reasons for the visit, we do not want the lasting impression from their visits to be that they were making a deal with him on behalf of the African American people. The African American citizens have not given their voting power or influence to any popular African American individual nor can they because African Americans and people of color do not represent a monolith.

When America saw various African Americans of note having their pictures taken with President-elect Trump and saying words in praise of him, that occasion gave many of them an opportunity to pause and think about what they saw. Why, after a campaign that was filled with disparaging and negative things about people of color, not to mention the “birther” campaign that was conducted for several years, would a prominent African American want to be photographed with Trump? Regardless of their reasons, meeting with and being photographed with the President-elect was their right and privilege. However, the implications associated with such meetings bring to awareness some conundrums—did the President-elect cut any deals or make any promises with these individuals? If so, what were they, who did they impact, how will they be implemented, and when? One certainty we know from experience—deals and promises made with individuals acting as individuals are not binding to the people these individuals seemingly represent.

In addition, the photo opportunities of the African Americans with the President-elect Trump gave the viewers the suggestion that some type of negotiations might have taken place. Whether deals or promises were part of the conversations, only the parties involved know what transpired because the people were not privy to them. Again, the problem that needs to be resolved is whether the individual African Americans were representing themselves, or were they speaking on behalf of a group of people. If they were at their meetings as individuals only, then no problem exists. However, if they gave the impression that they were speaking on the behalf a group of people, then they should have said so. No single individual can know and communicate the needs and wants of every community in America specifically; that is why organizations of concerned and active people exist. The meetings with individuals create a problem of perception, not one of individual rights and privileges.

One problem with individuals meeting with Trump and having the meeting seen as an individual representing the African American community is when organized national and community organizations request meeting with Trump to discuss some concerns, his response could be that he had already discussed those concerns with one or two individuals earlier. Evidently, the organizations did not get the memo about the meetings. The fact that the photo opportunities with the African Americans and the President-elect Trump serve as evidence that he met with them could be used as proof of his concern for some of the challenges in the various communities, and then suggest that anyone with a concern seek out these African Americans for answers to their questions.

Some people might suggest in defense of these individual Africans Americans if they are not representing an organization, that Martin Luther King, Jr. met individually with leaders, so that proves the acceptance of this type of activity. No so! King always spoke as a representative of a group of concerned citizens, and he was seldom alone at such meetings. Throughout history the media has taken the opportunity, on occasion, to create spoke persons for the African American community by simply showing them again, and again responding to questions asked by the media. Booker T. Washington became a national leading figure for the African American community when the media took a quote from a speech he delivered at the 1895 Atlanta Cotton Exposition focusing on “separate but equal” status for African Americans and broadcast it nationwide. Because of that nationwide coverage, Washington became the most influential African American of his day. So, we know what exposure to the media can do for individuals.

The American public has been conditioned to think incorrectly that one person can speak for all people of color. So, when an individual of color is shown by the media making a statement or responding to a question, the public could easily view that individual as representing an entire group. Unfortunately, that perception is what comes to mind when an African American celebrity is shown in a photo opportunity with President Trump. If such meetings between Trump and African American celebrities involve problems and concerns facing African Americans and other people of color and deals are made, the strength of the groups and organizations whose purpose is to address these problems with the President or his representatives is greatly weakened.

All individual have a right to meet and speak with anyone they choose, especially if that person is the President of the United States. However, all individual do not have the right to speak for a group of people they do not officially represent or to give that impression to the public. These individuals certainly have the right to speak on any topic they choose as long as they represent only themselves.

 

Paul R. Lehman, Southern Poverty Law Center’s work misunderstood by Opinion writer

December 8, 2016 at 10:06 pm | Posted in American history, Bigotry in America, Ethnicity in America, Prejudice, President, President Obama, race, Race in America, racism, The Oklahoman | Leave a comment
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A recent “opinion” article “Law Center’s new ‘hate’ report misconstrue cause and effect” (The Oklahoman 12/6/2016) shows just how uninformed many Americans are about bigotry and hate in America. The writer points to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as the culprit in the matter of tracking and reporting actions of hate groups in America. The article begins with identifying a recent SPLC report relative to the ‘hate incidents’ in the United States and the connections they have to President-elect Donald Trump. The article misses the point of the report when it stated that “But a closer look at the report shows these ‘incidents’ include obnoxious behavior of a type that predated the election.”

In essence, the article writer is suggesting that many of these ‘incidents’ have nothing to do with Trump and should not be considered as relevant to the report. We need not be reminded that many of the ‘incidents’ began when Trump started his ‘birther campaign’ to try to discredit President Obama and continued to grow once Trump entered the presidential race. Ignoring the seriousness of the hate and bigotry generated by many of Trump’s words and actions, the article notes that “Without doubt, Trump’s rhetoric has been crude at times, and we’ve criticized his excesses. The culture is already [ course] enough without a president adding to the rot.”For many Americans, the words and actions coming from Trump relative to women, ethnic and religious groups, not to mention the press, would not be described as “crude” and “excessive,” but unbefitting a candidate for President of the United States.

To add insult to injury, the article stated that “Still, it’s worth noting Trump has denounced those who would use his election as an excuse for racist actions or statement.”What is the value of a denunciation coming from the lead perpetrator of the action? Trump, as well as most Americans, has been conditioned to recognize bigotry, but to overlook it if it does not impact them directly. Yes, bigotry is in the fabric of American society, but as long as no one points to it, it is continually promoted and supported. Be that as it may, the focus of this blog is not Trump, but the “opinion writer’s” lack of understanding regarding “hate groups” in America and the work of the SPLC.

In order to fully appreciate the efforts of the SPLC, we offer their statement of purpose” The Southern Poverty Law Center is a nonprofit organization that combats hate, intolerance and discrimination through education and litigation. Its Intelligence Project, which prepared this report and also produces the biannual investigative magazine Intelligence Report, tracks the activities of hate groups and the nativist movement and monitors militia and other extremist antigovernment activity. The SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance project helps foster respect and understanding in the classroom. Its litigation arm files lawsuits against hate groups for the violent acts of their members”

The apparent purpose of the Opinion article was to quibble over the number of ‘hate incident’ occurring during Trump’s presidential race: “The group declares there were 867 ‘hate incidents’ in the first 10 days after Trump’s election. Those figures come from two sources—media and self-reporting to the center. The latter category is one that justifies skepticism, since there’s certainly a share of the public willing to fabricate incidents.” The article fails to see that the number of incidents is not the critical point, but the fact that these incidents occur at all! The report states that “it was not possible to confirm the veracity of all reports.” Therefore, because the SPLC could not verify each and every report, the “opinion writer” suggests we should question the entire report.

The “Opinion writer” (OW) questions the number of incidents as they relate to Trump’s election and attempts of remove any association of Trump with these numbers. The OW used as an example of how Trumps could not be responsible for the increase in ‘hate incidents’ by focusing on Oklahoma. He noted that “Oklahoma’s state population represents a little more than 1 percent of the total U.S. population. Trump received the support of 65 percent of Oklahoma voters [for the record, all 77 of Oklahoma’s counties voted for Trump], compared with less than 29 percent for Clinton. Only a few states gave higher levels of support to Trump.” The OW then made the statement: “If Trump’s election emboldened supporters to act racist, then one would expect Oklahoma to be flooded with incidents.”The writer is guilty of committing a fallacy in logic known as “hasty generalization” by concluding that because one thing exists, then the other should exist was well. Not true!  So, because the SPLC found only five “hate incidents’ in Oklahoma, this coincidence is proof enough for the “OW” to question the report.

The “OW” in the article’s last paragraph attempts to impugn the integrity of the SPLC and its work: “Actual threats, vandalism and attacks should absolutely be reported and prosecuted. But the Southern Poverty Law Center tries to equate hearsay reports of ugly comments with actual physical violence against minorities, and then effectively absolves the perpetrators of genuine racism by shifting the blame to politicians.” Many hate groups want the attention and publicity that comes from “self-reporting;” so, this is why the SPLC noted in the report that “it was not possible to confirm the veracity of all reports.” Yet, the OW wants to condemn the organization for doing it job and suggesting that it shifts the blame of bigotry to unbiased politicians like we might assume—Trump. We might ask the OW for a definition of “genuine racism” since, evidently, to the writer other forms of racism/bigotry exist.

The reference this blog made to the OW being uninformed is underscored throughout this article by references to the number of “hate incidents” reported by the SPLC in a report focusing on the increase since the election of Trump. The focus of the OW should be, in order to serve a public good, to help in debunking the concept of numerous biological races that form the basis of the origins of the many ‘hate groups’ in America. These groups firmly believe in the false concept of a white race, the OW should   help to replace that myth rather than quibbling over the number of “hate incidents.”

Paul R. Lehman, Group identity, not Party, the key to Republican victory

November 10, 2014 at 5:54 pm | Posted in American history, American Racism, Civil War, Congress, democracy, Democrats, entitlements, equality, European American, lower class, minority, political tactic, politicians, poor, President, President Obama, Race in America, Republican Party, socioeconomics, the Republican Party, upper class, whites | 1 Comment
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The results of the recent election came as a surprise to many people because they thought that many of the issues touched the lives of enough people until they would go to the poles and cast their votes in support of the people who would look out for their best interest. Unfortunately, in many instances, that was not the case and many people were disappointed. Had they given serious thought to what has been taking place recently in politics relative to history and group dynamics, they would have not been surprised.
What were at stake in this election were not so much the issues, but the survival of the group—the conservative European Americans (whites) against change. With the creation of a white race, the ruling class of Anglo-Saxons also made manifest certain beliefs, attitudes and conditions that would represent aspects of the race (group). Regardless of the numerous aspects of group membership, loyalty, dedication, and unity were required under any condition, even loss of personal goods, property and religious practices. So, the importance and protection of group membership was understood to be the top priorities from the beginning. For European Americans, loosing their white identity would be like excommunication from the church or being shunned from the family. For some European Americans, having a white identity was/is the only thing of social value they have.
Since the election of Barack Obama as President, the wheels were set in motion to eliminate and discredit him. We all can recall the words of Sen. Mitch O’Connell before Obama had taken office to prevent him another term. We can also recall the affect that attitude had on the Congress that led to it being referred to as the “Congress of No.” What was not made clear to the public was why this negative attitude and disrespect towards the new President was necessary. The answer is change; Obama’s election as an African American signaled a change in the group dynamics of America’s social structure. The social value of African Americans had never been a real concern for European Americans since they created, represented, promoted and controlled the “white race” and its standards of normalcy. That normalcy included only European Americans in the group. Obama represented a threat to the group’s unity.
The plan set in motion for the recent election followed the plan in effect since Obama’s election—blame him for everything, and praise him for nothing. In essence, Obama was made the target and represented evil, doom, destruction, despair, and of course, change. His name was to become synonymous with everything that can and does go wrong in society and the world. When anything occurred in society, Obama critics found a way to place the blame on him: problems with immigration, border security, foreign policy, the national debt, climate changes, Ebola, and a host of other things. So, when the recent election ads began to show up, no one was surprised that Obama was who the candidates were running against. The office the candidates were running for were not really of consequence, the party identity was the most important concern, and the code word for unity was Obama.
To underscore the point that group unity was the most important concern of the Republican Party we have only to look at the campaign advertisements of the candidates. Regardless of the office the candidate was running for, the important code word—Obama was found in it. The reference to Obama in the ads was not necessarily directed to Obama but the candidate’s affiliation with Obama and/or his policies or actions. This plan of making Obama the target was not only used on the national level, but also in state and local elections.
The importance of group unity took precedence over common sense issues as in the case of a number of states including Kansas, Arkansas, and Nebraska where the minimum wage issue was on the ballet and passed. However, the candidates who were against this issue were voted into office. The irony in these cases cannot be avoided—why would a citizen vote against his or her own best interest on one hand and for it on the other? The answer seems to be that group loyalty takes priority over personal interest.
In addition to the republicans holding to their group unity plan, even a number of Democratic candidates chose group loyalty over political party membership. In a number of races on both national and state level some democratic candidates distanced themselves from President Obama; they did not want their constituents to think that they supported Obama. They wanted to show their group members that they were still part of the group although they represented a different political party. They knew that the battle for their group was not so much the election victory, but the group victory to hold off social change.
What many of the voters never realize is the fact that they have been and continue to be exploited by the ruling class or “Titans” of their group. According to Theodore W. Allen, author of The Invention of the White Race, this group of poor and working class European American people who vote against their own best interest are used as:
“the Great Safety Valve, the system of racial privileges conferred on laboring-class European-Americans, rural and urban, poor and exploited though they themselves were. That has been the main historical guarantee of the rule of the ‘Titans,’ damping down anti-capitalist pressures by making ‘race, and not class, the distinction in social life.’ This more than any other factor, has shaped the ‘contours of American history.”
For Allen, the plan of the ruling class of Anglo-Saxons has always been to keep an actual gap between themselves and the lesser member of the group while exploiting them, but making them believe that their membership in the group offered them a feeling of superiority over other non-European groups—that is their reward in exchange for their votes.
Another irony of American politics occur when African Americans are accused of using the so-called race card to gain somewhat of an advantage over an opponent; the fact of the matter is that whenever the race card is brought into play, the European Americans benefit because race is a code word used to marshal their safety valve—group members.

Paul R. Lehman, Charles Barkley comments on dirty dark secret

November 3, 2014 at 5:27 pm | Posted in African American, American Dream, American history, blacks, Charles Barkley, Civil War, equality, ethnic stereotypes, identity, President, skin color, skin complexion, Slavery, The Oklahoman, whites | 2 Comments
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The Oklahoman published recently (10/31/2014) some comments by Charles Barkley entitled “Barkley exposes ‘dirty secret.’ The comments were from an interview Barkley did with a Philadelphia radio station. What spurred the comments was when Barkley was asked about NFL player Russell Wilson being told by some of his teammates that he was not “black enough.” Although we certainly respect Barkley right to freedom of speech, we also recognize the responsibility to comment on his statement.
For example, Barkley stated that “’we as black people, we’re never going to be successful, not because of you white people, but because of other black people.’” Barkley assumed that so-called black people represent a monolith and exists with certain stereotypical characteristics. That assumption is false. Barkley never defines who black people are and if they receive their identity from their skin color or from some other source. What is obvious from his statement is that Barkley still holds on to the false belief in multiple biological races, like black and white. Those races exist in society as illusions, but many people hold on to them like they do the Tooth Fairy.
Barkley stated next that “’When you’re black, you have to deal with so much crap in your life from other black people.’” That statement would hold true regardless of ones identity. He continued “’It’s a dirty dark secret, I’m glad it’s coming out. It comes out every few years.’” What is not a secret is that children will ridicule other children for a variety of reasons; they do it constantly, but not necessarily for reasons of skin color or group membership.
Barkley noted that in his book stated that “…when young black kids, when they do well in school, the loser kids tell them ‘Oh you’re acting white.’ The kids who speak intelligently, they tell them ‘you’re acting white. So it’s a dirty dark secret in the black community.’”While we do not doubt Barkley’s sincerity, we cannot help but take note of how he sees society in black and white, and how that colors his perception of things. He speaks of the ‘black community’ as if it exists in some homogenous state, which it does not. He also gives some African American students little or no credit in recognizing that the criticism come from ‘loser kids’ and should not be taken seriously. The schools and the parents certainly play a part in determining the child’s well-being and underscoring the fact that negative stereotypes of African American experiences are not to be valued.
Barkley continued “One reason we’re never going to be successful as a whole is because of other black people. For some reason we are brainwashed to think, if you’re not a thug or an idiot, you’re not black enough. If you go to school, make good grades, speak intelligently, and don’t break the law, you’re not a good black person.’”What Barkley is speaking of here is the gap in education, social and economic levels that exist in society and covers people of all skin complexions. The only group to make it will be the human race of which we are all a part. Black has never been defined, so to use it as a unifying social term is false. The continued use of the terms black and white goes back to the days of American slavery where the two races were created. The brainwashing came into being when the slave masters associated power, privilege, superiority, and arrogance with being European American (white). African Americans were brainwashed into believing what their slave masters and society forced them to accept about themselves. After slavery, laws were created to keep the former slaves ignorant. The result can be seen today in Barkley’s comments about white being better.
What does not come out in Barkley’s comments is the concern of those who identify themselves as black; they are ignorant, fearful, intimidated, and insecure. First, they are ignorant of themselves and history; if they were aware of history, they would know of the many contributions made by African American men and women who overcame great obstacles to make a mark in society and our world. The list is too long to include, but we only have to look around to recognize them from the President, to the Attorney General, to company and corporation heads and even prominent sport commentators like Barkley.
They are fearful because they want all the people to identify with one group, blacks. And when they see someone who they believe is achieving more success than the group permits, they fear loosing members of the group. To them, it is important to keep the group together, so when someone appears to be moving beyond the borders, they try to pull then back in by appealing to an identity—“you’re not black enough.”
In addition to being fearful, the loser also feels intimidated by the African American who is perceived as getting ahead. Having a group identity for some people creates a feeling of safety and unity because everyone is thought to be the same. When it appears that one is exceeding his bounds and enjoying success at a new level, it creates a feeling of separation from the one who is still at the former level. In essence, the one who is moving upwards is viewed as leaving the group and by doing so, becomes better than those in the group. Hence, the intimidation.
Group membership and identity promotes a variety of concerns like, loyalty, dedication, unity, and security. When individuals thought to be group members appear to be moving away from the group, the comfort and security of the group comes into question. Barkley stated that “’This debate is funny. We’re the only race that tells people if you…have street cred—that means you’ve been arrested—that’s a compliment. We’re the only ethnic group that say ‘Hey if you go to jail, that gives you street cred.’” Barkley is mistaken by placing all African Americans into a group and assuming that they all walk in lock-step. Any rational person knows that all people are individuals, and yes, we are part of the environment in which we were raised, but that does not define us. The real secret is that no one wants to be defined by ignorance and stupidity which is what the losers represent.

Paul R. Lehman, America as a post-racial society is foolish thinking

September 20, 2014 at 7:09 pm | Posted in Affirmative Action, African American, blacks, Civil Rights Ats, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, employment, equality, European American, fairness, identity, integregation, justice, liberty, Prejudice, President, President Obama, race, segregation, skin color, socioeconomics, U.S. Supreme Court, whites | 3 Comments
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Shortly after President Obama was elected a cry of America being a post-racial society was heard. The thinking was that since America had elected an African American president that all the concerns about race and its negative derivatives had been addressed and was now in the past. The truth of the matter is that America has yet to deal internally with the concept of race other than to continue its illusion. What might be passing for social progress is mostly illusion since not much has changed for the betterment of African Americans relative to employment, education, and incarceration. Certainly, we can point to a number of areas where African American involvement and participation in society have made them more visible, but that visibility usually underscores their ethnicity rather than their being viewed as simply Americans. The stigma of race (ethnicity) always accompanies the African American and the attention, positive or negative, received. In a democratic society the resolution of one problem usually represents the creation of two or more problems. A case in point was school desegregation beginning in 1954. Using a phrase from Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times; it was the worse of times,” when we examine some of the repercussion visited on African Americans as a result of desegregation.
Education in America prior to the Brown decision in 1954 was separate, but certainly, not equal. Education in America can never become equal, because that term pertains to mathematics, not sociology—nothing involving human beings can ever be equal. That term was used to create an illusion of fairness. The idea that African Americans wanted to attend school alongside European American students for social reasons was false; they just wanted an education comparable to that of the European American students. Fortunately, and unfortunately, the only way to ensure that all students receive a fair and comparable education was to discontinue segregated schools. For the African American community, that created numerous problems, two of which involved education and economics.
When the schools were segregated, the African American students were the recipients of information relative to African American history, past and present–information that helped to created a positive self-image as well as one of self-value. The history underscored the many individuals who time and time again triumphed over challenges to achieve some measure of accomplishment. These examples helped the students to develop the courage and desire to accept the many challenges they must face in an ethnically biased society. American history from an African American perspective was not simply an objective look at past events, but a continuing story of the struggles of African Americans to gain fist-classed citizenship in America.
Once the schools were desegregated, many of the former African American teachers were dismissed in favor of European American teachers. Of course, we would be remiss if we did not note that once desegregation became the law, many European Americans who could afford it, moved to suburbs in an action that came to be known as “white flight” because they did not believe in ethnic mixing in any context, but especially at school. As a result of “white flight” the court required bussing of students to achieve desegregation. Since most of the African American schools were physically inferior to those of the European American schools, African American students were bussed to European American schools. These changes, white flight” and “bussing” had a dramatic affect on the African American students.
Once the African American students were bussed to their new schools, they had to adjust to totally new and different environments where they were generally in the minority. Without a doubt, European American students had to make adjustments as well, but they had the benefit of attending their home schools and being taught by familiar teachers. No special considerations were made for the African American students relative to their social adjustment; they were expected to simply “fall in line” along with the majority students. One major difference existed relative to the African American students involved in this desegregation experience; they no longer received or learned African American history. The fact that the majority teachers had no background and little or no knowledge of the African American historical experience, they could not bridge the ignorance gap that could have provided some insight into the problems that created the need for desegregation in the first place. In this case, all students were disadvantaged.
A second negative affect of desegregation to the African American community was the loss of an entrepreneurial class of business men and women. Once the schools became desegregated, many chain-store businesses came into the community and ended much of the “Mom and Pop” businesses that existed in the community because the chain-store business could easily offer goods, services, and products at a lower price. The smaller, African American owned businesses could not compete with the larger ones; so many African Americans who formerly worked at these businesses were displaced. So, the immediate affect of desegregation for the African American community was mixed in that while the African American students would share classrooms with European American students, and thereby receive a comparable education, the African American community would lose many of its entrepreneurial members and businesses and be changed forever.
So, the people who would like to think that America is in a post-racial present might want to reconsider that thought when they examine areas of: education, where we learn that schools today are rapidly becoming more segregated rather than integrated; or consider the wealth gap among ethnic Americans of color compared to European Americans, and the unemployment rate that contributes directly to the standard of living; or to the recent and current news items from Florida, to New York, from Illinois, to California, and places in between where young African American men have been killed by law enforcement agencies; or the fact that many of the previous accomplishments relative to social progress have been eroded, like voting rights, affirmative action, and economic upward mobility in general.
Rather than talking about a post-racial society, America should be looking at the debunking of the illusion of race. One of the primary problems in America today is that too many people do not want to face facts and the reality of those facts—race is and always has been an illusion. The idea of America as a post-racial society is an oxymoron.

Paul R. Lehman, Congressman Brooks tries to use race as a political tactic.

August 6, 2014 at 9:27 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, blacks, Congress, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, GOP, justice, political tactic, Prejudice, President, President Obama, race, Race in America, Republican Party, Respect for President, skin complexion, whites | Leave a comment
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Race is a power-packed word in American society and has been for decades because it possesses the power to separate and divide human beings into groups. Regardless of the context in which the word race is used, if the suggested meaning involves a group identity, then it separates and divides people. As early as the 1800s, society was advised to avoid using race along with color as a social or cultural identity because it could not be defined and employed with any accuracy or certainty. Nonetheless, society ignored the warnings and proceeded to use the word race in a social context. One reason for the word’s longevity is due to the social rewards derived by some groups from the identity. And old saying that underscores the manipulation of race by color determining social value stated: “If you’re white, you’re right; if you’re yellow, you’re mellow; if you’re brown, stick around; if you’re black, get back.”The sentiments suggested in that old saying still has some currency in society today whether we want to believe it or not.
When the word race is used in conjunction with a so-called racial group identity, the mere mention of the group automatically creates separation and division. This separation and division occurs because of the social conditioning experienced in the society and the accepted views of society relative to different social groups. The nature of most groups is to defend and protect itself against any and all criticism that might cast negative views of it. Whether the claims are true or false makes no difference because with respect to race nothing can be validated unless and until race is defined. Nevertheless, some people will use race as a tool or tactic because it generates feeling of loyalty, protection, pride and unity by the people who identify with a race. For example, people who identify themselves as belonging to the white race automatically gives credence to a belief in many races biologically different from the so-called white race. Rather than recognizing the fact that all races are social creations and therefore bogus, some people hold on to the belief and adopt a defensive character relative to the group. Hence, we note the separation and division quality of the word.
The conception and accepting of the word race with the focus on it divisive powers were displayed recently in an article by Erica Wemer from The Associated Press, “Republican congressman says Democrats are engaged in ‘war on whites’” (8/5/14). The article noted that “Congressman Mo Brooks made his comment on conservative talk radio host Laura Ingram’s program Monday. He said the Democratic Party claims white people hate everyone else and that it’s part of President Barack Obama’s strategy of dividing people on the basis of race, sex and class.” Whether the claim is true or not, one of the obvious reactions is for the groups to unify. From a political perspective, this tactic could be used to gain support for an individual identified as belonging to that so-called white group because the suggestion is that the other group is ganging-up on him; which will seem unfair.
The article noted that Brooks stated that “Race should not be an issue in public policy debates, we should be colorblind, we should be the melting pot.” Every one of these phrases is a relic of the past and lacks logic or value in our society today. The fact is, is that race should not be an issue in any debate whether public or private since it has never been defined, just assumed. The fact that America is a diverse society and draws it strength from it diversity would make the suggestion of being a colorblind society hypocritical; our strength comes from accepting the individual regardless of color. The concept of the melting pot is a flawed one because the metaphor never reflected the reality of society. All those old, over-used sayings might sound fine, but in reality, they are meaningless.
The obvious intention of Brooks is underscored in his comments:”But so long as the Democrats have a political campaign strategy to divide Americans based on skin pigmentation then they are the ones who are fanning the fires and doing a disservice to our country, not those who try to hold the Democrats accountable for what is very counterproductive and sinister campaign tactic.” Brooks, in essence, is attempting to charge the Democrats with using many of the same tactics Republicans have used for years and ascribing things to the party that have long been a part of the general social perspective. The argument goes back to “us versus them,” or “good guy, bad guy,” with the one making the claim being the good guy.
Brooks have forgotten, evidently, the litany of incidents where many representatives of his party have shown disrespect to the President with no justification other than his skin complexion. For anyone to fall for Brooks’ argument would be to totally ignore that Senator Mitch O’Connell stated at the outset of President Obama’s first term the objective to prevent him having a second term. In addition, when we examine the lack of action of the Congress, we recognize that the President has been limited in what he could do as one individual.
In his statement, Brooks wants to create a division within society based on old prejudices and bigotry but make it seem that he is really trying to defend the cause of freedom and justice for all. He focused his attentions directly on the Democrats and said: “This is a part of the war on whites that’s being launched by the Democratic Party. And the way in which they are launching the war is by claiming that whites hate everybody else.” A phrase that fits Brooks’ contentions is “reverse psychology” or “projection” where the deeds or misdeeds of one party are associated with another party, and then is criticized as unacceptable.
Wemer ended the article with the following passage: “To a request for comment, the spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Emily Bittner, wrote in an email: ‘Wow. Congressman Brooks is living in his own world of paranoia, but sadly, this is precisely the kind of divisive rhetoric that has come to define House Republicans.’”
Although the word race is power-packed any attempt to use race by color as a tactic or ploy will enviably fail because any definition offered for it cannot withstand close scrutiny.

Paul R. Lehman, 50 Years later, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 still needed

April 21, 2014 at 11:24 pm | Posted in Affirmative Action, African American, Bigotry in America, blacks, Congress, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, Equal Opportunity, Ethnicity in America, fairness, liberty, minority, Pledge of Allegiance, politicians, President, segregation, skin color | Leave a comment
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The recent celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (CRA) gives us an opportunity to evaluate a number of concerns relative to that Act, and society in general. Although the process of acquiring the Civil Rights Act was started by President Kennedy, President Lyndon Baines Johnson was the man who championed it through Congress. He paid a large political price for doing so. Nonetheless, we are thankful for his efforts and success. Today, when we look at the Civil Rights Act, we can identify a number of things that are directly related to society then in 1964 and now.
The first thing we realize by the signing of the CRA is that a need was present for such action. After the Civil War, African Americans were literally kept in slavery via a lack of education, jobs, housing, and political representation. Although segregation, discrimination, prejudice, and bigotry were present and visible in everyday life of America, little was being done to recognize the problems. Americans, both African Americans and European Americans tried fighting the injustices on a variety of fronts, but the sentiment of the majority population was against social change. With continued pressure on the Federal Government and the presidents, the civil rights activists over the years since the Civil War were able to acquire an audience with people in power. So, for the first time in American history, Congress and the American people were able to see and accept the fact of injustices visited on African American and other ethnic Americans.
As a result to recognizing the un-American treatment of African Americans and other ethnic Americans, discussions took place relative to how to go about identifying these injustices. With regards to the individual’s rights, safeguards must not be placed in the hands of the states, because a lack of uniformity would exist. So, if efforts were to be made, they must come from the Federal Government. Under the status quo in society up to 1964, segregation was the law and it existed in every aspect of the African American’s life. The sit-ins and marches helped to call attention to the social injustices regarding public accommodations for African Americans. Some success had been achieved in a few areas of education, but the concept of separate but equal was still in effect. So, through the efforts of a number of Civil Rights leaders working directly with President Kennedy and some of his associates, the plan to create a Civil Rights Act that would address some of the injustices experienced by African Americans and other Americans was crafted.
Now that a plan of action was in place, the question was how to get it approved by a Congress that felt no need or urgency to enact a bill that would, in effect, take away some of their power. President Kennedy knew that he would be in for a long and hard fight with certain sections of the Congress in winning approval of this Act, but he was convinced it had to be done. Unfortunately, President Kennedy was killed before he had an opportunity to engage Congress relative to the Civil Rights Act. The task of bringing the CRA successfully through Congress fell to President Johnson. The undertaking for President Johnson would not be an easy one since he was viewed as a Southern politician from Texas and Southern politicians were not very keen on giving equal rights to the sons and daughters of former slaves. For many politicians, the rights and privileges enjoyed by the European Americans and Caucasians were not to be shared equally with African Americans and other ethnic groups. The concern for so-called white supremacy being negatively affected by passage of the CRA troubled many of the political group known as the Dixiecrats. President Johnson was well aware of this group and their concerns because he was consider part of them prior to becoming Vice President. However, Johnson also was aware of the importance of the CRA since its creation acknowledged the existence of injustices as reflected in the status quo, and the label of hypocrisy of America and its claim of democracy.
Nonetheless, Johnson showed political acumen and courage in getting the CRA through Congress. The passage of the CRA represented the success of the efforts of many civil rights activists who labored many years in this regard. With the passage of the CRA, the Federal Government assumed control of the protection of the individual American’s rights. Rather than representing the end of a struggle, the CRA actually was the beginning of a new sense of democracy where all Americans regardless of skin color, religion, gender, and ethnicity could challenge the previously biased conditions. The challenge came from the mindset of many European Americans who felt deceived by the Federal Government who gave the minorities the same rights as they enjoyed. Somehow, they saw this as wrong and an injustice to them as European Americans.
Today, as we look back on fifty years of American life with the CRA, we can recognize how that Act has benefited the society in progressing towards that democracy that gives each citizen the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We can also recognize the struggles that come from making changes in a society based on bigotry. The struggle is still in progress and will be until we educate ourselves and each other of the commitment we made and make as Americans. In essence, what is the responsibility of each and every American? We find the answer in our pledge of allegiance to our country:”I pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.”
In this pledge we recognize, accept, and embrace the United States of America as one. We underscore that understanding when we add to the pledge “and to the Republic for which it stands.” The remainder of the pledge states what we stand for as a nation. No where in the pledge is there a reference to a state as an independent entity? As a society, we need to confront those who would like to make American into a nation that caters to their wants based on skin color or ethnicity. The CRA was passed as a measure to confront the injustices of the past and present. As American citizens, we have the responsibility of protecting those rights and privileges. To witness injustice and not call attention to it is the same as accepting it. Ayaan Hirsi Ali stated that “Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice.” To that we add that acceptance of intolerance by Americans is hypocrisy

Paul R. Lehman, President Obama knows the value of criticism and patience

October 29, 2013 at 12:46 am | Posted in Congress, Disrespect, fairness, justice, Obamacare, politicians, Prejudice, President, President Obama, the Republican Party | 2 Comments
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An old saying that advises us to keep our friends close and our enemies closer hold a lot more truth than meets the eye. At first the advice might appear to seem puzzling, for why would we want to keep our enemies closer to us than our friends? The answer is simply that our enemies will try to find fault in and criticize everything we do. If we are wise, we will listen to what they have to say because regardless of how angry or hateful they are towards us, the faults they point out to us actually can serve to benefit us.
If we take the critics of President Obama as an example of fault-finding people, then instead of him trying to retaliate against them, he listens to what they are saying. When he does this, he can find out just what and where the problems exist. Once he learns of the problems and where they exist, he can then proceed to correct or at least, address them. The key to having criticism work in ones behalf is to not take it the way it is offered. From the beginning of his term as President, President Obama has been blamed for the rising level of the debt. He ignored them and continued to work. Fortunately, the President can say to his critics today that the debt is on the decline. So, rather than the debt being a consistent problem for the President, something that could be used to try and denigrate him and his administration, he turned it into a positive experience.
More often than not, criticism is offered with negative and emotional force focused on trying to discredit and/or denigrate the President or his administration. Just because it is offered in a negative way does not mean that it cannot be put to positive use. Take for example, the Affordable Health Care system and the problems associated with getting it to work properly. President Obama’s critics began condemning the program and by saying how destructive it was to the country. Fortunately, the President and wiser heads listened to the criticism and put in place a process to correct the problems. The criticism of the AHC focused on getting rid of the entire program. To even entertain thoughts related to abandoning the entire program makes as much sense as getting rid of a new car that only has a defective battery. To correct the problem would be to repair or exchange the battery. A result of the criticism of the AHC program is that it will be better after the problems are corrected.
One of the usual consequences of reacting emotionally to negative criticism is a show of weakness and illogical thought. When someone reacts illogically to a criticism, he or she relinquishes his or her power to the judgment of the source of the criticism. Name calling is not the same as criticism because a judgment can be made only about what a person does or says, not who they are. In evaluating criticism, one must always consider the source. If the source is deemed credible, then the criticism can be taken as coming from a valid judgment, and deemed constructive. If, however, the criticism is meant to cause harm, then it is deemed destructive. Criticism regardless of its intent can always be instructive.
The majority of the criticism President Obama has received since his tenure in office has been of the destructive kind by his many critics. The intent has been to hurt or harm him politically in some way. We have learned from watching President Obama’s reaction to criticism, however, that he does not act impulsively, but patiently and therefore discern what benefits can be acquired from the criticism. In this way, he avoids any emotional reaction expected from the criticism. For example, when the President’s critics accused him of lacking leadership abilities as Commander-in-Chief, he never acknowledged or reacted to it but proceeded to rid the world of some of its most feared terrorists. His actions spoke louder than his words.
Again, when his critics accused him of reckless or irresponsible spending, President Obama simply let the various financial reports show that his administration has spent less than any of the recently previous presidential administrations. None-the-less the criticism continues to flow, except now many of the citizens are slowly beginning to wonder if one person, President Obama, can really be as inept, unqualified, and unintelligent as his critics paint him and still run the country effectively.
What we will discover if we look carefully, is that President Obama has used the criticism of his detractors as fuel for constructive and instructive actions. The irony of it all is that his critics never realize the value of their negative words and actions. At some point society will recognize the folly of the President’s critics when they finally realize that they are wasting their time and energy trying to attack the President with tactics that in effect, help the President.
One of President Obama’s harshest critics is Senator Ted Cruz who tries to paint President Obama as the destroyer of America. He has attacked President Obama actions as destructive to the country and the AHC as the most dangerous program in America. Of course many people know that the Cruz criticism is intended for destructive and harmful results regarding the President. In his criticism of President Obama, Cruz tries to convince voters that the AHC program is dangerous and a failure. In an effort to hurt President Obama, Cruz is credited with helping to shut down the government. Once the government was back up and running, he complained that the AHC program was not running correctly because of computer problems in the program. So, we should get rid of the program. For criticism to be effective, it must make sense, at least a little sense. For President Obama, Cruz is a valuable asset.
Consequently, criticism is actually what one makes of it; accepting it as a judgment of the individual is to confuse its value. Taken correctly, criticism could be a stepping stone for instruction in problem solving. So, we should not be so quick to dismiss our critics; we just need to recognize the value of patience.

Paul R. Lehman, President Obama’s critics show lack of knowledge in how government works

October 22, 2013 at 8:52 pm | Posted in Christianity, democracy, Democrats, Disrespect, fairness, GOP, justice, Oklahoma, President, President Obama, Republican Party, Respect for President, The Oklahoman | 1 Comment
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A very sad and unfortunate fact today is that many of President Obama’s critics do not understand how their government works or the job of the president. Many of them think he has the power of a dictator or king; some even think of him as a super man who can do all things simultaneously. In any event, the fact that they use their free speech to ridicule President Obama actually has the opposite effect. A few examples should demonstrate the point. The examples are three letters published in The Oklahoman’s “Opinion” section of that paper.
The first letter was written by Charlie Taylor of Norman, Oklahoma (10/11/13) who stated that “If President Obama had what it takes to be commander in Chief of the best military in history, if he had even 1 percent of the integrity, class, patriotism and guts shown by the lovable, beautiful veterans of World War ll, Obama would be at the World War ll memorial every day….” We need to pause here before we continue this sentence and examine just what Taylor has said. First, he questioned President Obama’s intelligence and ability to serve as Commander in Chief, a position that goes with being President as if the office was vacant. Next, he questioned President Obama’s integrity, class, patriotism, and intestinal fortitude as consisting of less than 1 percent. No word was said about how these qualities of character should be displayed or not displayed; as far as Taylor is concerned, President Obama does not have them. And if he did have them, how would Taylor measure the 1 percent?
Taylor’s sentence is conditional in that it begins with the word “If” and demands a “then” conclusion to make it effective. So, according to Taylor, if President Obama could meet all the qualifications listed, then he would be at the World War ll Memorial doing what exactly? Well, the Commander in Chief would neglect all his other duties while “…escorting them [the veterans] as they tour the grounds and reminisce about their feats and buddies. He would be thankful for the honor of pushing their wheelchairs.” Taylor definitely shows his understanding and knowledge of how our government works, especially the executive branch.
In his letter (10/12/13), Charles Nichols of Oklahoma City showed his extensive knowledge of politics and the presidency. He stated that “The primary difference between the two parties is that Republicans want a minimum shutdown affecting a few people as possible and the Democrats want a maximum shutdown hurting as many people as possible.” We do not know where Nichols obtained his information, but now we know why there were problems agreeing on reopening the government. Nichols offered more information to support his contentions. He stated that “The proof can be seen by Barack Obama’s action to close down such things as the veterans cemeteries that hurt no one and cost nothing.” Well, now that Nichols has proven his points, we can move along to more serious things like Obama’s lack of religion.
The final letter was written (10/12/13) by Larry Phillips of Walters who believes our society is in trouble because President Obama has no religion and wants to take it away from everybody. Phillips began his letter by stating that “I’ve heard it said that the Obama administration is the most anti-religious of any administration ever. I beg to differ. It’s the most anti-Christian administration ever. It doesn’t seem to be concerned with Islam, Hinduism or any other religion except Christianity.”So, now we see President Obama as the number one anti-Christian, and this information is based on what? We are not told how that information was obtained, but we are given more information. Phillips stated that “It won’t be long before a minister won’t be able to preach the word of God from the pulpit without fear of prosecution.” From where does this information come? Why is it that President Obama always end his speeches with the phrase “God bless America” if has no religion? Wait! Phillips has the answer: “It’s already happened in Canada; we won’t be far behind.” So, we will follow in Canada’s footsteps. At this point in the letter Phillips seem to shift his attention away from President Obama to pass judgment on a number of other concerns: “Political correctness will be the downfall of America. Stating God’s commands will soon be labeled as hate speech, punishable under law. We’re losing our right to free speech in the name of political correctness and our fear of offending someone.” Phillips, evidently, had no fear of offending President Obama. He concluded by stating that “This is no longer a nation under God. We are declining at an alarming rate. It’s time to become spiritual warriors before it is too late.”
In a democratic society, addressing social problems are a constant necessary with which we learn to live. However, the tone reflected in the three letters above indicates a sense of doom and gloom in our President and society. President Obama’s critics seem to see him as a super man or a demon or both. In any event, they seem to think that society will be destroyed because he is President. The concept of our three branches of government seems to be lost on these letter writers who probably represent many more like-thinkers. To them President Obama is the beginning and the ending of all America’s problems. Some have tried to place the blame for the fear and hatred relative to President Obama on the fact that he is a democrat, and some of that is perfectly acceptable, however, thing like integrity, patriotism, intestinal fortitude, and class have little to do with his political identity, but fall directly on his character.
When we take the time to examine these letters carefully, what we discover is that the letter writers are really reflecting their own qualities. They are participating in what psychologists call projection: “to make a thought or feeling seem to have an external and objective reality, especially to ascribe a disturbing personal thought or feeling to others.” The lesson to be learned here is in our passing judgment on others we should be certain to use both knowledge and wisdom: “knowledge knows that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”

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