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

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

Paul R. Lehman, The word race has yet to be defined, but controls life in America.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul R. Lehman, What about this thing called reparations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Paul R. Lehman, Report’s data on states racial integration progress is suspect

February 1, 2019 at 5:25 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American Dream, American history, American Indian, black inferiority, blacks, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, DNA, employment, entitlements, Equal Opportunity, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, fairness, Hispanic whites, Human Genome, integregation, justice, language, law, minorities, Non-Hispanic white, Prejudice, public education, race, Race in America, racism, segregation, skin color, social conditioning, social justice system, socioeconomics, The Oklahoman, tribalism, U. S. Census, White of a Different Color, whites | 2 Comments
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The intent is not to rain on the parade, but too much confusion exists in the article “Report shows state has made progress on race,” to let pass ( The Oklahoman 01/2018). The reference to race in the article’s title is confusing as to its meaning. Once we got beyond the title, the confusion continued. Relying on “A new report from finance site Wallet-Hub” the report ”ranked states based on’ the current level of integration of whites and blacks by subtracting the values attributed to whites and blacks for a given metric.’” The ranking of each state’s progress relative to integration was based on four areas: Employment & Wealth, Education, Social & Civic Engagement, and Health. Oklahoma, according to the report, ranked 13th in racial integration out of the fifty states according to the four areas examined.

Without going into the meat of the report, we determined the data to be questionable in that no definition of terms used was given. Therefore, the reliability of the data is suspect from the beginning. For example, the term race is used in the article’s title, but no following information is offered to explain what is meant by race. If the reader has to rely on assumptions regarding the meaning or intended meaning of race, then what good is the data? Another problem is produced if the reader assumed the reference to race was intended to refer to the human race. The problems continued once we look at the objective of the Wallet-Hub report.

We read that the Wallet-Hub report focused on the “level of integration of whites and blacks”….Again, we are not informed as to the meaning of the terms white and black, but each term was treated as a monolith. We know historically that America at is formation socially constructed two races, one white and the other black, with the white being thought and treated as being superior to the black. But, this report was viewed as being current, and our knowledge of the false concept of two or more races is no longer acceptable. Without a clear definition of the term white any data offered would again be suspect.

The report also used the term black, but provided no definition or clarification as to its meaning or usage. One of the problems that the absence of a clear meaning or definition produced was the question of what black people provided the data for the report in that no specific culture, ethnicity, religion, language or geographic location was presented? So, who are the blacks? The same question exists for those people labeled as white.

When we turned to the U.S. Census Bureau for information the confusion increased because the bureau confused ethnicity, race, and origin. The bureau still operates under the assumption that multiple biological races exists. The bureau list the race categories as” White,” “Black or African American,” “American Indian or Alaska Native,” “Asian,” Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander,” and finally, “Some Other Race.” So, all the scientific date relative to the human race and DNA is seemingly of no concern to the bureau.

We do not know how or why the Wallet-Hub report decided to use the two terms, black and white, but from the 2010 Census information relative to race the question of what is race still remained. The Census Bureau stated in its 2010 data what it meant by race. Noting that their data is based on self-identification, the language reads as follows: “The racial categories included in the census questionnaire generally reflect a social definition of race recognized in this country, and not an attempt to define race biologically, anthropologically or genetically.” More specifically, it continued: “People may choose to report more than one race to indicate their racial mixture, such as “American Indian and “White.” People who identify their origin as Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish may be of any race.”

If this information is not confusing enough read what the Bureau provided for blacks: “Black or African American” refers to a person having origin in any of the Black racial groups of Africa. It includes people who indicate their race(s) as “Black, African Am., or “Negro” or reported entries such as African American, Kenyan, Nigerian, or Haitian.” The information (biased and irrational) did not mention what selections were available to black individuals of mixed ethnicities—Puerto Ricans, Cubans etc…

Maybe the point of the report’s validity can be seen more objectively after reading the information from the Census Bureau. If race cannot be defined, and a person can select any race, how can the report provide accurate data about blacks and whites? Unnecessary confusion exists relative to terms like, race, ethnicity, origin, and nationality. One rule of thought exists regarding these terms, only one, the term race, has to do with biology, and that is only with respect to the human race. The other terms are all products of various cultures.

One other term used in the Wallet-Hub report was integration, but it, like race, black, and white was not defined or explained. The word integration became popular during and after the 1954, Brown v Topeka Board of Education case. Many people confuse the words desegregation with integration, but they are clearly not the same or interchangeable. When public schools were desegregated, that meant African American children had a seat in the room. Integration occurs when African American children sit in same the room as the European American children but also learn about their history as well. We still have some distance to travel before we reach integration and share the benefits of our diverse American cultural experiences.

As mentioned at the start of this piece, the intent was not to spoil the seemingly good news of the report concerning Oklahoma’s “progress on race,” but to bring some clarity and facts into the mix. One wonders why a group of “experts” would not be more attentive to the problems with the terms used in conducting this study. Good news is always welcomed relative to the plethora of societal problems involving America’s ethnic populations. When good news comes, we just want it to be accurate.

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