Paul R. Lehman, Replacing the concept of race with reality in five extremely challenging and life-changing steps

November 28, 2018 at 4:16 pm | Posted in African American, American history, American Indian, American Racism, Bible, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, criminal justice, democracy, discrimination, DNA programs, education, entitlements, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, fairness, Genealogy,, Human Genome, identity, immigration, justice, lower class, Prejudice, public education, Public housing, race, respect, skin color, skin complexion, social conditioning, social justice system, whites | 1 Comment
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Although it might seem strange today, people initially thought that the earth was flat, and not a sphere. Around the year 500 A.D., a Greek named Pythagoras introduced the concept of the earth being a sphere, but people paid little notice until Aristotle, some two-hundred years later, 330 A.D., promoted the same concept. People were not eager to give up the concept of a flat earth. Even places in the Christian Bible show evidence of the concept of the earth being flat. Eventually, the voyages of Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan among others provided proof of the planet is a sphere. The acceptance of this fact brought with it a necessary change in the way earth was viewed. The concept of the flat earth was not destroyed or changed; it was replaced with scientific facts.

The point of the concept of a flat earth being replaced by the concept of a round one underscored the importance of fact and evidence in the process. Today, we have a similar situation before us with respect to the concept of race by color or geography that no longer has rational or realistic basics. Replacing this concept of race is extremely challenging because of the rewards associated with the identity of one group—European Americans. The problem exists because America’s Founding father invented and instituted a system of a race by color with two colors, black and white, playing major roles. Society was conditioned and forced to view the Anglo-Saxons (whites) as superior to all other races regardless of color, but especially the people of African descent. The concept of race by color became over several hundred years to be accepted as normal although it was constantly challenged because of its basic flaws.

Nevertheless, people of all persuasions accepted the concept and wrote about it like it was valid and factual. At one point in 1883, the term eugenics was coined by a British scientist who led the attempt to develop a super race. Fortunately, those efforts failed, but the studies continued until today the results of a study, the Human Genome Project, involving DNA revealed that all human beings are 99.09% alike. Many people do not want to accept the scientific evidence that proved the concept of race by color to be bogus. So, how does one go about replacing the concept of race by color to one of reality?

The very first step is to recognize that the concept of race by color is a myth, that all human beings belong to the same race; that all human being are a shade of brown, not black and white; that intelligence and character cannot be based on skin color. Because most, if not all of these things, have been a part of the national conscientiousness for centuries, recognizing them as false cannot happen easily. For some people, it is asking too much regardless of the facts and evidence that view race as not factual or valid. All people must be seen and accepted as part of the human family without anyone ethnic group being superior or inferior to any other.

The second step is to accept the fact that all Americans have been socially conditioned to accept the concept of race by color as normal and natural and before any positive progress can be made, this concept must be rejected and replaced with factual truths. This second step is extremely difficult because while some Americans can see prejudice and bigotry in others, they cannot or do not see it in themselves. That is why the first step is necessary. People who refer to themselves or others as black or white do not realize that in using those terms they are connecting with the past and the concept of race by color. The concept of race has to be replaced with ethnic group or ethnicity in order to not get caught in the trap seeing race by color. The identity of European Americans can no longer include the color white because white is simply the adjective preceding the noun race.

The third step involves a commitment to promote the concept of the human family that includes all ethnic groups, including European Americans as a part of that family. In other words, we recognize, respect and accept Americans with cultural differences from our own. We realize that just because our ethnic identity is different from some other ethnic group that does not give us the right to treat them differently and judges them as not being our equals. If we are all Americans, then everyone should expect and receive fairness and legal justice before the law. Unfortunately, America has not conditioned us to think and act that way. So, the commitment includes recognizing and working towards correcting the problems created by the concept of race by color. For example, the problem of voting rights, the problem of incarceration of the poor, the problem of substandard schools, the problem substandard housing, the problem of low paying jobs, the problem of law enforcement ’s bias against people of color. In other words, working towards correcting problems that affect all Americans, but that has been aimed primarily at the poor and people of color.

The fourth step involves a degree of self-discipline that keeps us from losing focus on our objective—replacing the concept of race. We have all been conditioned by our society, and especially by our concept and interpretation of our history. Our demographics are rapidly changing and having a great impact on society, so we need to remember America’s mantra: “e Pluribus Unum”—from many one. Unity must be our focus and objective.

The fifth step is the need to recognize and accept consistency in our thoughts and actions. Replacing the conception of race from what we were conditioned to believe to the reality of what we face in society today is a tremendous undertaking. When Joseph J. Ellis, a best-selling historian was asked the question:” What is the biggest failing of the Founders that still haunts us today?”He answered that “When the Founders talked about ‘we the people,’ they were not talking about black people. They weren’t talking about women, and they weren’t talking about Native Americans. Whenever race enters the question, the Founders are going to end up disappointing you.”

Replacing race with reality –an acceptance of all human beings as a family that is based on facts is the way society will move into a positive future.


Paul R. Lehman, Actions speak louder than words.

April 22, 2016 at 2:22 pm | Posted in African American, American Indian, criminal activity, discrimination, education, equality, European American, justice, law enforcement agencies, lower class, minority, Oklahoma, police force, poor, poverty, public education, Public housing, race, social justice system, socioeconomics | 4 Comments
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What can be frustrating to many people who attend public panel discussions that focus on a particular concern is the lack of resolution to the problem; that is, they leave the event with a few new data, but nothing to build or act on. For example, a recent public panel discussion on the “Mass Incarceration in Oklahoma: When Will It End?”Featured on the panel were representatives from the clergy, the state legislature, and the criminal justice system. The obvious and over-riding question for the panel was “Why are so many people being sent to prison in Oklahoma?”

The first panel member was from the clergy and he spoke to the problems involving the laws that place an unfair hardship on poor people and people of color. He mentioned the laws that treat minor violations as major ones such as small quantities of marijuana or drugs found in the possession of first-time offenders. In Oklahoma the law involving possession of drugs calls for prison time regardless for the person’s criminal record or lack of one. He continued in casting blame on the state and what was referred to as the “Criminal Prison Complex System,” that view prison as economic engines and fosters a climate of greed. References were made to the State’s high ranking nationally for incarceration in general, but also for the disparity of African Americans and Hispanic Americans in the prison population compared to the general population. The number one national ranking of women incarcerated in Oklahoma was underscored. The basic response of the clergy’s representative to the question was simply greed.

The second panel speaker represented the state legislature and non-profit organizations working to decrease the rate of the poor being incarcerated. The audience was greeted with information relative to the number and variety of programs that are meant to help relieve the number of people in poverty who are constantly being incarcerated for lack of funds to pay fees and fines. He focused on the need for attention and treatment of the mentally ill and drug addicts who would benefit greatly from pre-prison programs which would not destroy their efforts to rebuild their lives without a prison record. His response to the question of mass incarceration was a lack of funding for the programs that could help to eliminate the prison over-crowding conditions. He lamented that unfortunately, with the state suffering from a budget deficit of over one billion dollars, the likelihood of any programs receiving relief was slim to none at the present time.

The third and final panel speaker represented the criminal justice system; he brought with him many years of service in the law enforcement area. He defended the system by first disagreeing with the clergy with respect to the lack of fairness towards the poor and people of color. He maintained that every person in prison was there because he or she committed a crime or was found guilty by a jury. In essence, the people in prison are there because they deserve to be there. In his staunch defense of the system he never made reference to the system of poverty and neglect that the low socio-economic level of society experience or the exploitation they receive because they are easy prey. As far as he was concerned the system of criminal justice was totally impartial towards all citizens and made no difference because of ethnic, social, or economic status. His response to the question of mass incarceration was due to a lack of family values, education, and unemployment.

The responses of each panel member were offered to show how an audience can become frustrated when no one actually addressed the question. Each representative had a response, but not an answer to the question of why the mass incarceration. What they had to say was related directly to the problem of incarceration, but more to the effects of the system in place rather than an alternative to the system to decrease the prison population. If all we had to do in order to solve a problem is to say the words that identified how it could or should be resolved, then no problem would too big to solve.

Unfortunately, the panel never approached the real issue involving mass incarnation because they were talking at each other rather than communicating with one another. An example should underscore the problem. If the three panel members were riding in a car and suddenly to car started to move erratically, one might suggest that the cause is the rough road; another might say the cause was maybe a flax tire, still the third one might suggest in might be a problem with the car. All three individuals might be correct to an extent, but they will never know for certain until they stop the car, get out and look for the cause of the problem. If it turns out to be a flax tire, they must decide if they will changes the flax tire and put on the spare, or call the auto club to come and fix the problem or should they call someone to come and pick them up and deal with the car later. First, the three people must agree that the problem is the flat tire. Once they agree on that, they must also agree on what plan of action to take. Finally, they must put the plan of action into effect or all their efforts will have gone for nothing.

What panel discussion organizers and participants should keep in mind when offering problem solving information are plans that can be put into effect to address solving the problem. Most people know what the problem is and how it manifests itself with them and the community. They want to know how to go about resolving the problem—do they sign petitions, join protest groups, donate money to organizations fight for the cause, start groups, write letters? The people want to be given an avenue of approach for working toward resolving the problem. Words are important, but change comes from action.

Paul R. Lehman, Baltimore, a victim of negative explosive expectations and false comparisons

May 1, 2015 at 12:24 am | Posted in African American, American history, Bigotry in America, blacks, Constitutional rights, criminal activity, democracy, Department of Justice, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, freedom of speech, happiness, justice, justice system, law, law enforcement agencies, lower class, Media and Race, minority, police force, Prejudice, public education, Public housing, race, Race in America, social justice system, socioeconomics, students parents, The U.S. Constitution, whites | 1 Comment
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The recent events in Baltimore have for all intent and purposes been blown out of proportions due to faulty expectations as well as propaganda. Had the initial display of lawlessness been address by the local law establishment, the rest of the escalation would not have been necessary. The disruptive unlawful activity began when the local high school near the center of action dismissed school earlier than usual. Many of the teens rather than going home decided to take advantage of a situation presented to them to commit unlawful acts with no one in authority looking on.

One would expect the police to handle the situation involving the young children differently from older adults, but the police never appeared on the scene. The children realized early on that because no law enforcement was present, they could do whatever they wanted without repercussions. So, they acted-out by breaking windows, stealing merchandise, destroying property and other things that they would not think of doing under normal circumstances. These teens were out of control and not thinking rational. The death of Freddie Gray was probably not on their minds. Unfortunately, some adults who witnessed the activity of the teens took advantage of the situation and used it as cover to become involved in lawless acts. So, when the cameras started to show the activity, some adults were pictured along with the teens. The media characterized the teens and their action as violent rioting threatening the entire city.

Regardless who was involved, their actions were wrong and unacceptable, but explainable, given the circumstances of the location, the time, and the youth. What happened after the initial occurrence of the unlawful activity by the teens and some adults was an over-blown accounting of the event. The media began by treating the social out-burst as if the entire city of Baltimore was being burned to the ground by gangs of violent, lawless, African Americans, hell-bent on destroying their city. Nothing could have been further from the truth. The reporting was somewhat inaccurate and propagandistic when references were made to rioting and violence. Neither the protesters nor the citizens of Baltimore participated in a riot or violence and destruction of property.

The references to Baltimore in comparison to the 60’s riots in Baltimore and Los Angeles did a disservice to Baltimore. The events in Baltimore involving the teens were allowed to continue by the police force. Once the Monday afternoon and night activities were over, nothing resembling a riot was evidenced. The majority of the citizens of Baltimore made a concerted effort to show support and love for their city while many in the media cautioned eminent danger and destruction from the protesters. What seemed apparent from the various media reports was an expectation of lawlessness and violence from the African American community. The African American community of Baltimore and the law enforcement element were seeing the same activity, but from two different perspectives.

For some observers, the large show of force to prevent rioting and destruction was really not necessary. The point is that a riot never took place. Certainly, on Monday afternoon and night acts of lawlessness and destruction of property did take place, but for all intent and purpose, that was the end of any threat of mass civil disobedience and mayhem. What the focus on the possibility of civil unrest had on the situation was to shift the attention away from the legitimate protest relative to the death of Freddie Gray and the request and need for transparency. The need of the media to anticipate some breaking news development seems to triumph to tragedy of Gray’s death while in police custody.

One thing that seems to be apparent from the comments of the media as well as other sources is the negative stereotypical view that is presently held concerning African American people. From the engagement of the National Guard and the numerous law enforcement agencies, one might get the impression that all hell will break out at any given time. Many of the citizens have tried to counter that perception by placing themselves in the street and speaking directly to their neighbor about the collective desire for a safe and peaceful city. At the same time, these citizens want to see some positive changes in the way their lives have been affected from a legal, economic, educational, and political standpoint.

The protest then is not just a reaction to the death of Freddie Gray, but a reaction to the years of neglect and lack of attention paid to the needs of the citizens, especially those of color and of low social-economical status. Unfortunately, the death of Gray provided an opportunity for the citizens to raise their voices and be heard. When viewing the videos of the various protests around the country, we realize that the problems involve more than African Americans, but all Americans. The need for justice on all fronts is apparent by the number of protests around the country and the diverse make-up of the protesters.

Our Constitution gives us as citizens the right to protest peacefully. The word peaceful goes both ways, in that the law enforcers should not interfere with peaceful protesters, but must protect their right to do so. Sometime it seems that the law enforcers resent protesters from exercising their rights. When effective and constructive communications can exist between the citizens and the law enforcers they employ then the threat of riots, violence, civil unrest, and destruction of property will not be a factor to consider.

Many problems exist in many of America’s cities that are not easily seen or known to the general public; they are none-the-less real problems and need addressing. Too often, the occasion of incidents like the death of Freddie Gray brings to the surface the problems of unemployment, decent housing, satisfactory education, adequate health care, and social justice. All of the problems are important to the well-being of any community large or small, so they must be made apparent so they can be addressed. The protests in Baltimore and across the nation are not just about the death of Freddie Gray, but for the lives of the people still here who cry out for positive change—now

Study shows that housing discrimination still exist in America

June 16, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Posted in African American, blacks, desegregation, discrimination lawsuit, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, justice, minority, Prejudice, President Obama, Public housing, Race in America, segregation, skin color, U. S. Census, whites | Leave a comment
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Almost fifty years ago the Fair Housing Act came into effect. Following closely the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the act was to bring into effect the equal treatment of all American citizens. We like to think today that as a society we have come a long way in eliminating unfair treatment of our fellow citizens. True, time has passed, but according to a recent study conducted by The Department of Housing and Urban Development, discrimination still exists.
In an Associated Press article, “Housing inequality remains, study finds,” by Suzanne Gamboa, we are told that HUD deployed “pairs of testers—one white, one minority in each pair —to do more than 8,000 tests separately across 28 metropolitan areas in the $9 million, study the Obama administration conducted last year.” We were told that “Testers’ were the same gender and age and presented themselves as equally qualified to rent or but a unit…” The results showed that the “blatant discrimination of literally slamming doors in the faces of minorities” that happened during previous studies was not as prevalent as in the past studies. Minorities were generally able to “get appointments and see at least one unit last year. However, blacks and Asian-Americans were treated differently than white counterparts often given fewer options.”
An old saying that “old habits die hard” might easily be applied here regarding the practice of fair housing to all American citizens. Prior to 1963 segregated housing was encouraged and readily accepted in America. Still today in many of the large metropolitan areas ethnic enclaves still exist with little effort to change the ethnic make-up of these communities. The ethnic character of these communities serves as a symbol of uniqueness that invites protecting the status quo—strangers are not welcomed. Today, in some cities, street gangs appear to enforce the ethnic character of the communities by keeping out people they think are not one of them or making their lives difficult. Of course, the strategies for keeping the communities “ethnic free” vary with the economic and social status of the communities. Efforts are still being employed to control the access to housing by ethnic Americans, but because of the laws and subsequent penalties, these efforts are more subtle than before.
According to the article and the study, one case involved an Asian tester who went to see an agent about a two –bedroom unit. She was shown the unit and told it was available for rent as advertised. No other units were made available to her. Later, we learn, “a white tester saw the same agent and unit, but she was told about four more two-bedroom units that were available in other places.” While this agent did not break any laws, she obviously showed a bias towards the Asian tester. The article noted, “That’s typical of the kind of unequal treatment we observed across metropolitan housing markets nationwide.”
The idea that some European American have about non-European Americans wanting to live in a close proximity to them because of the skin color is as bogus today as it has ever been. The reason non-European Americans want to live in some of these communities is the same as anyone’s—price, work, location, schools, etc; the color of their neighbor’s skin in totally coincidental. At one point in American history, having a non-European ethnic American as a neighbor would negatively affect the value of the property because the real estate was organized to deliberately reflect the practice. The original practice was known as “red lining, “and was instituted by realtors to increase their profits. One suspects that seemingly some elements for that philosophy still exists and is reflected in the discrimination observed by the study.
The study added that “Unfortunately, our findings reveal a sad truth—that the long struggle to end housing discrimination remains unfinished,” so said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. Margery Turner, senior vice president for program planning and management noted that “It’s fundamentally unfair somebody would get information about fewer homes and apartments just because of the color of their skin. But it also really raises the cost of housing search for minorities and it restricts the housing choices available to them.” When the issue of housing becomes a matter of simply making money, much of the attitude will change because investors want to make money and if discrimination causes them to lose it, they will have a change of mind.
All indications from the latest Census report shows that American society is changing from a European ancestry majority population to a non-European ancestry majority population in just a matter of a few decades. That change is having an emotional affect on some European American who cannot accept the change or find it extremely difficult to accept the change. The fact is that in the near future where people live will have little to do with the color of their skin. The people who choose to hold on to their biases will have a challenge living in society, especially in metropolitan areas. An example of what could happen in the housing market that would upset the practice of ethnic discrimination might involve a mixed-ethnic couple. Let us say that the wife is European American and the husband an Asian American and the wife meets with the realtor and make all the arrangements for the housing without the husband. Once the process is finalized, the realtor has no say in the matter. The new neighbors might be up-set, but that’s life.
We know that discrimination will always be a part of society regardless of laws and policies because some people will never accept other people just because they look different from them. When people live in a society and enjoy the benefits that the society affords, they must realize that total freedom is impossible, that compromise and cooperation is necessary for each individual to experience the greatest degree of freedom available. They must learn that living in a society makes certain demands on everyone; and that total freedom is not possible.

Cherrios commercial a positive sign of growth in America accepting its ethnic diversity

June 9, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Posted in African American, American Dream, American Racism, blacks, commercials, desegregation, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, integregation, justice, Media and Race, minority, mixed-marriage, Prejudice, Public housing, segregation, skin color, U.S. Supreme Court, whites | 2 Comments
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All the negative comments concerning the ethnic Americans in the Cheerios commercial are signs of growing pains in American society. The pains come from both African Americans and European Americans having to deal with the ignorance, segregation, and bigotry that have been part of the social atmosphere since slavery. The commercial is doing double duty by forcing society to see what is happening in the real world while challenging those ignorant, isolated, and bigoted people to reevaluate their perspectives.
Many Americans today still believe in the concept of multiple biological races with the so-called white race being special and different from all the so-called other races. That being the case, any examples of race mixing involving a European American (white) with any other ethnic American diminishes the strength of the white race. Therefore, all races mixing involving so-called whites are frowned upon. Because of the social value placed on the European American by European Americans, for one to be intimately involved with an ethnic American is a sign of low self-esteem and self-worth. Although most Americans know that to hold and express those beliefs is an indication of ignorance relative to America’s social environment today and a far cry from reality. For some people, the so-called white identity is the only thing of value they have, so to have that threatened is of major concern. For some people, loosing their white identity would be devastating because they have no idea of who they are without that identity. They choose not to accept the truth and progress of America’s diverse society, and like children not wanting to hear something they already know, stick their fingers in their ears thinking that if they do not hear what is being said, it will not exist. Such is ignorance.
Segregation and separation of ethnic Americans present opportunities to create stereotypes that living in an integrated or even desegregated society could easily debunk. After World War II ended and the troops came home, the government found that housing was a problem, so it created help for the veterans through the GI Bill and FHA. While these programs were great for the country, they provided little help for the African Americans. The new housing additions that were created were segregated. The housing additions led to the creation of segregated communities that included churches, school, and public facilities. For example, in Oklahoma City before 1954, African Americans could visit the public zoo only on Thursdays; state parks were off limits for African Americans also. So, without direct interaction with other ethnic Americans, European Americans were free to create any stereotype they desired.
To be sure, African Americans living in a segregated society and communities also held stereotype of European Americans. The belief that European Americans were superior to other ethnic groups was part of the educational package taught to all students while the negative stereotypes were constantly underscored in the newspapers, movies, radio and television. The idea of the African American knowing “his place” had to do with the African American knowing that the European American had more social value than he and that he must respect that superiority regardless of the social and economic status of the European American and that of the African American. For some Americans that concept of European American superiority still exists and should remain forever. So, when a commercial presents a mixed ethnic American couple and their child, some people who live segregated lives, fear the change because of what they believe they will lose as a group.
One of the primary reactions to the Cheerios commercial can be identified as ethnic bigotry. A large segment of the European American population born and raised in America entered this world that was filled with ethnic bias against African Americans. All the social institutions promoted the concept of American being a European American country that permitted other ethnic Americans to live here. But make no mistake about it; they believe that American belonged to only them. The concept of democracy, equality, fairness, freedom for all is fine as far as lip service goes, but when it comes to actual change in the direction of diversity, the game changes. When they see or witness things that go contrary to their beliefs, they become upset and angry.
What the commercial has done is bring a touch of reality and changes in society to the forefront. The fact that American’s diverse population is growing and gaining more power is reflected in the commercial. Another thing that was not so obvious but well supported was the fact that the old European American standard of beauty is under attack. Most reasonable viewers would consider all the actors to be attractive, handsome, or good-looking. In essence, if the European American female finds the African American male handsome, then the concept of European American standard of beauty is being ignored. That fact alone is enough for bigots to feel threatened and fearful. At one point in American society, the color of one’s skin determined if beauty could even be considered let alone recognized and appreciated. Now, along comes this commercial that throws a monkey wrench into the entire concept of so-called race and separation.
Whether it was intentional or not, the Cheerios commercial brought to public scrutiny a major problem many Americans must face—a changing society and world. The problem is not the fact that people from different ethnic groups form relationships, because diversity has always been a part of the American experience. The problem is that the diverse relationships had always been kept in check through segregation and out of the public eye. When an example of a diverse ethnic couple came to public view, it was always viewed as extraordinary, unusual. For years legal segregation and biases created boundaries that made miscegenation unacceptable to society. After the Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that public facilities must be opened to all Americans, other laws soon followed that made it possible for different ethnic groups to interact with one another in public. That interaction today is a common occurrence and generally accepted as normal behavior.
So, for those folks who found the Cheerios commercial negative and uncomfortable, they need to realize that their idea of America needs to catch up with reality. Society changes whether we want it to or not. If we choose not to accept the reality of change, we will be left angry and frustrated wondering what is the world coming to. Recognizing the changes does not mean our readily accepting them, but it does mean that they exist and have been validated by at least a significant segment of society. So, here’s to Cheerios– Eat up! They’re good for your heart!

Paul R. Lehman, Naomi Schaefer Riley’s comments show a need for African American Studies

January 1, 2013 at 5:21 pm | Posted in Affirmative Action, African American, American Bigotry, American Racism, black midwifery, blacks, Democrats, desegregation, Disrespect, Equal Opportunity, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, Good Times, justice, minority, Prejudice, Public housing, Race in America, segregation, Slavery, the Republican Party, whites | Leave a comment
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Back in April 30, 2012, a former writer for The Chronicle of Higher Education, Naomi Schaefer Riley, wrote a blog article entitled “The Most Persuasive Case for Eliminating Black Studies? Just Read the Dissertation.” The blog caused considerable debate because of statements to the effect that Black Studies no longer served any useful purpose and should be discontinued as an academic discipline. Shortly after the blog’s publication a controversy ensued and Ms. Riley was fired. Anyone with a working knowledge of American History would have detected a number of defects in Riley’s comments as well as an attitude akin to arrogant ignorance. The article displayed a lack of knowledge and understanding of American History, African American History, and an attitude of biased superiority.

Most educated people today realize that the only difference between American History and African American History is the point of view; both are American History. The fact that the discipline is known as “Black Studies” places a stigma on it as not being of equal value as other traditional subjects. The stigma comes from the negative value and the lack of information relative to the experiences of African American presented through education as well as because of some people’s conception of the “Black American ‘experience” which most history books and classes over-looks. Riley’s comments relative to the choice of topics of the graduate students for their dissertations showed her lack of knowledge of general American History when she labels all three “so irrelevant no one will ever look at them.” When we looked at the subjects, we got a different reaction.

The first dissertation subject Riley commented on was one by Ruth Hayes: “’So I Could Be Easeful’: Black Women’s Authoritative Knowledge on Childbirth.” Hayes’ study looked into the history of African American midwifery because she found that “nonwhite women’s experiences were largely absent from natural-birth literature.” According to Riley, “How could we overlook the nonwhite experience in ‘natural birth literature,’ whatever the heck that is? It’s scandalous and clearly a sign that racism is alive and well in America, not to mention academia.”Obviously, Riley has no idea or concept of what life was like on the slave plantations nor the role African/African American women played in midwifery to both the females in the master’s household as well as the female slaves. Although Riley might not want to learn about some of those experiences, her ignorance indicates a lack of knowledge of its importance historically. Even after slavery, many African American women continued to serve as midwives to both the European American and African American community. My grand mother was such a person, and the one who helped facilitate my entry into this world.

The next dissertation topic Riley selected to denigrate was one written by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor entitled: “Race for Profit: Black Housing and the Urban Crisis of the 1970s.”  Riley shows her complete ignorance of contemporary American History with her comment relative to Taylor’s study: “Ms. Taylor believes there was apparently some kind of conspiracy in the federal government’s promotion of single family homes in black neighborhoods after the unrest of the 1960s. Single family homes! The audacity!” Unfortunately, Riley adds insult to her ignorance when she states: “But Ms. Taylor sees that her issue is still relevant today. (Not much of a surprise since the entirety of black studies today seems to rest on the premise that nothing much has changed in this country in the past half century when it comes to race.” Her ignorance is compounded when she states 😦 “Shhhh. Don’t tell them about the black president!”) Riley shows complete ignorance of government sponsored segregation and discrimination in public housing. This blog discussed this very same topic in two recent publications, one dealing with “Good Times,” and the other with “All in the Family.” Evidently, Riley’s education has not served her very well.

The third dissertation Riley selected to discredit was written by La TaSha B. Levy and dealt with the topic of “Black Republicanism, especially the rightward ideological shift it took in the 1980s after the election of Ronald Reagan.”Riley adds that “Ms. Levy’s dissertation argues that conservatives like Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas, John McWhorter, and others have ‘played one of the most-significant roles in the assault on the civil-rights legacy that benefited them.’”What Riley fails to grasp in this work is the fact that these men mentioned are African Americans who having benefited from the opportunities afforded them through civil rights advances, now want to undo those advantages for others. In essence, the benefits were fine for them, but not for other African Americans. This topic was also treated recently in this blog and underscored the fact that most African American republicans today belong to that party for personal attention and gain, not for what the party offers the African American community. The fact that many African Americans belong to the Democratic Party is owing to what the party has to offer them in comparison to what the Republican party offers.

So far, Riley has struck out in her assessment of these dissertations as well as her knowledge of American History. Her comments and assessments are proof enough that courses in African American Studies should be required for all students. Her comments and evaluations of these works show a gross lack of information relative to the African American experience in America History as well as a general lack of knowledge that the influence both had on the other. How she managed to write for as long as she did being so ill-equipped is amazing.

What was the final insult to injury in Riley’s blog was the bigoted, better-than-thou attitude of European American superiority she exhibited throughout the piece. In all her splendid ignorance, she felt secure and comfortable in denigrating the work and scholarship of graduate students and simultaneously saying to their institution and mentoring professors that they were all illegitimate scholars. She alone had the intelligence to pass judgment on what should be considered quality academic work based, it seems, on the color of her skin. Rather than dismissing these works as “a collection of left-wing victimization claptrap,“ Riley should have consulted with someone more knowledgeable in the subject-matter. In fact, that is what most people do when they do not know what they are doing.

Paul R. Lehman, “All in the Family,” a view of American Bigotry

December 16, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American Racism, Bigotry in America, blacks, desegregation, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, integregation, justice, minority, Prejudice, public education, Public housing, Race in America, Richard Rothstein, The American Prospect, U.S. Supreme Court, whites | 4 Comments
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An old saying that “hindsight is 20/20” makes reference to the possibility of people looking back on something in the past and getting a better, more clear picture and understanding than the first time they experienced or saw it. That might be the case for some people, but not for all. Sometimes the look backwards does not change at all; the change depends on who is doing the looking. A good example of this type of experience can be observed in the famous television show “All in the Family.”

The show was centered on the Bunker family who lived in a house located in Queens, New York. Information about the show states that “Archie Bunker was the main character… He was televisions most famous bigot, crass and down right rude. Yet he was loveable, with a soft side just beneath the surface. Edith Bunker was his somewhat dizzy wife whom he called ‘Dingbat.” Archie and Edith had a daughter, Gloria, who had a husband named Mike, but was called ‘Meathead’ by Archie.” We are told that “The stories revolved around many controversial topics including, rape, sex, homosexuality, death and other topics that were relevant to the 70’s, especially political strife and inflation.” In addition, we are told that “Archie Bunker was probably the first character in a situation comedy to use racist remarks referring to blacks and other minorities.”

What makes this show important is the fact that Archie complains constantly about the changes that are occurring in society. The audience sees him as a bigot, but he never sees himself as such, and rightly so, because his society conditioned him to hold the social perspective he possessed. If we look at some of the lyrics of the show’s theme song, we get the full flavor or Archie’s protest: “Boy, the way Glen Miller played. / Songs that made the Hit Parade. /Guys like us, we had it made. /Those were the days.” Archie remembers, according to the song, what to him were the “good old days,” when European Americans (whites) were the people of privilege in society. The song also underscores his attitude about himself and other European Americans concerning the present state of affairs: “Didn’t need no welfare state. /Everybody pulled his weight. /Gee, that old LaSalle (car) ran great. / In other words, he had a good job, a nice affordable house, an automobile, and he lived in a segregated neighborhood. Those were the days!

For Archie, conditions in society are changing in a way that allows other Americans to begin to share in many of the benefits of society. The problem for Archie is that he wants to retain the level of privilege he believes is his by virtue of his being European American. To be more specific, the government promoted European American privilege, segregation and discrimination. Richard Rothstein, in an article, “Government-Sponsored Segregation,” published in The American Prospect, tells us how Archie was able to purchase the house in Queens. He states that “The government has an explicit policy of not insuring suburban mortgages for African Americans. In suburban Nassau County, just east of Queens, for example, Levittown was built in 1947; 17,500 mass-produced two-bedroom houses, requiring nothing down and monthly payments of only about $60.” This payment, we are told, “(was considerably less than the approximately $75 unsubsidized charged in Woodside Houses for apartments of comparable size.) At the FHA’s insistence, developer William Levitt did not sell homes to blacks, and each deed included a prohibition of such resales in the future.”

Archie’s house in Queens more than likely had a housing restriction that prevented African Americans from living, owning or renting them. So, the attitude of privilege that Archie reflected along with the bigotry was not unusual for his generation. Those social elements were cultivated in him by his society. Again, we are told that

Although the Supreme Court ruled in 1948 that racial restrictions were legally unenforceable, the FHA and VA continued to insure such mortgages. By 1950, the federal agencies were insuring half of all new mortgages nationwide. Many white families, who before the postwar housing boom lived in urban neighborhoods in proximity to African Americans, were relocated to more isolated white racial enclaves, created and promoted by government policy. (40)

To Archie, the privileges and special attention given to European Americans was normal and expected. What would have been seen as out of the ordinary would have been fair treatment to African Americans. Other forms of advantages given to European Americans came in the benefits of belonging to labor unions, a membership that was denied African Americans. But housing was a major element in the make-up of American society because it was the foundation and center from which most social elements revolved. When we look back and see just how unfairly African Americans and other minorities were treated by our government, we can recognize how the gaps in economics and education were created. Much of the problem relative to accepting all Americans can be traced back to the government’s role in sponsoring segregation and discrimination. Rothstein makes the point that

With public housing, federal and local governments increased the isolation of African Americans in urban ghettos, and with mortgages guarantees, the government subsidized whites to abandon urban areas for the suburbs. The combination was largely responsible for creating the segregated neighborhoods and schools we know today, with truly disadvantaged minority students isolated in poor, increasingly desperate communities where teachers struggle unsuccessfully to overcome their families’ multiple needs. Without these public policies, the racial achievement gap that has been daunting to…educators would be a different and lesser challenge. (41)

So, now when we look back at Archie Bunker and the constant protest he made about the changing society in which he lived, we can understand why he complained. What we might not appreciate from him is his concern for people who do not pull themselves up by their bootstraps. What we now know that he never considered was that the African Americans and other poor minorities could not pull themselves up as easily as the European Americans; they had to work for their boots. The government literally gave Archie, and the generation he represented, the boots, the straps, and a little incentive just because they were European American.  Now that things are changing, we no longer have to wonder why he lamented “Those were the Days.”

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