Paul R. Lehman,The phrases: “black people” and “white people” contribute to the system of ethnic bigotryMarch 3, 2017 at 4:01 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, American Indian, American Racism, Bible, Bill Nye Undeniable, black inferiority, blacks, democracy, discrimination, DNA, Dorothy Roberts, entitlements, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, freedom of speech, Human Genome, identity, justice, minority, PBS NEWSHOUR, Prejudice, President Obama, race, Race in America, racism, skin color, skin complexion, U. S. Census, University of Penn., white supremacy, whites | 2 Comments
Tags: "black people", "white people", African American, American History, bigotry, Bill Nye, black, Confronting Myths, current-events, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, ethnic identity, ethnicity, European Americans, language, minorities, Negro, Oriental, Prejudice, President Obama, Prof. Dorothy Roberts, race, Race in America, Sarah Tishkoff, skin color, skin complexion, U of Penn, white
So, what is wrong with saying “black people” and “white people” as part of our daily language usage? The answer does not include a right or wrong response, but one of understanding the significance of those phrases. Both phrases make references to the concept of race by color which is a social invention, not a biological fact. The phrase “black people” is not the same as “African American people” nor is “white people” the same as “European American people”; they are not interchangeable. However, with each use of these phrases the system of European American (white) supremacy and African American (black) inferiority is maintained, supported and promoted. When people of note use those phrases, their usage gives the impression that the phrases are acceptable in our general speech.
We need to understand and acknowledge a fact of life: races of black people and white people do not exist on the planet. According to noted scientist Bill Nye, “Any differences we traditionally associate with race are a product of our need for vitamin D and our relationship to the Sun. Just a few clusters of genes control skin color; …and they are tiny compared to the total human genome.”He continued by noting that “We all descended from the same African ancestors, with little genetic separation from each other. The different colors or tones of skin are the result of an evolutionary response to ultraviolet light in local environments.”(Undeniable, p. 254-55)
Americans have been conditioned to view themselves and others as different through the spectrum of color when information to the contrary has always been present. Scientist, Neil de Grasse Tyson, was once asked the question “what are human beings”? He answered that we are all made of stardust. Before we take that response as a joke, remember what the Bible and other sacred books said of human creation: mankind was created from the dirt and clay. This information agrees with Neil de Grasse Tyson in principle but is emphatic in the Book of Common Prayer in the statement:”Ashes to ashes dust to dust” usually associated with the burial of humans. In any event, the skin color of a human being does not give favor or preferences to any shade or tone because as Nye stated: “Everybody has brown skin tinted by the pigment melanin. Some people have light brown skin. Some people have dark brown skin. But we all are brown, brown, brown. (Nye, p.255)
Because the system of ethnic bigotry is based on skin color, each reference to skin color reinforces the concept of European American (white) supremacy. However, the reference to black people and white people as racial identities have created problems for many years and can no longer be controlled. In an interview with two scientists discussing the issue of race in their works, Sarah Tishkoff noted that “We know people don’t group according to so-called races based purely on genetic data. Whenever the topic comes up, we have to address, how are we going to define race? I have never ever seen anybody come to a consensus at any of these human genetic meetings.”
A response was given by Dorothy Roberts: “That’s because race is based on cultural, legal, social and political determinations, and those groupings have changed over time. As a social scientist, looking at biologists treating these groupings as if they were determined by innate genetic distinctions, I’m dumbfounded. There’s so much evidence that they’re invented categories. How you can say this is a biological race is just absurd. It’s absurd. It violates the scientific evidence about human beings.” (https://africana.sas.upenn.edu)
So, confusion continues with the constant use of identities based on skin color in medical research as well as all other social areas.
Since we know that biological races are a false social concept, our continued usage of terms that underscore it’s existence only serve to maintain and promote ethnic separation and bigotry. The fact that the term “racism” continues to be used indicates a number of concerns; one, some people using the term are innocent or ignorant of its direct relationship to maintaining the system of ethnic bigotry; two, some people using the term are stupid and are simply following the conventions of a bigoted society; three, some people using the term are simply bigots and are well aware of its support of the system of ethnic supremacy and want to promote it; some people using the term know its social significance relative to the system, but are seemingly not fully informed or are not concerned with its impact on society.
While the phrases “black people” and “white people” are the primary focus of this text, other phrases serve nearly the same function of maintaining and promoting the system of bigotry. For example, people who identify themselves as bi-racial or mixed race actually lend support to the system of ethnic bigotry because by using those phrases they are underscoring their acceptance of the false concept of racial superiority of so-called white people. Much of the problem comes from the language used by the inventors of the system with American society not being aware of the system, just its effects. A system of bigotry cannot be replaced if knowledge of its presence is not known. Through the language, the effects of the system of bigotry could be very apparent while the system itself can go undetected, which is largely the case in America today.
The need for awareness of language was the focus and objective of House Resolution 4238, which amended two federal acts dealing with insensitive and/or outdated language. For decades the term “minorities” used in federal language referred to people of color: Negro, Puerto Rican, American Indian, Eskimo, Oriental, etc.”President Obama signed the new bill that changed the language to “Asian American, Native Hawaiian, a Pacific Islander, African American, Hispanic, Puerto, Native American, or an Alaska Native.”(Obama signs bill eliminating ‘Negro,’ ‘Oriental’ from federal laws, PBS NEWSHOUR, 5/22/2016) Rather than being lumped into a group called “minorities” each ethnic group now has the opportunity to use it own ancestral or cultural identity which reflects personal self-worth and social value.
When phrases like “black people” and “white people” are used, they lack specificity because no one group of people on the planet represents either a black or white race. Their use only adds to the support of the system of bigotry. Confusion exists when those phrases are used because the reference is unclear relative to a skin color or a vague concept of a culture. So, if we are serious about replacing the system of bigotry, we can begin by using the appropriate language. Truth to the word!
Tags: African Americans, ancestral identity, Australian, bigotry, Bill Nye, black, Brazilian, China, cultural identity, current-events, DNA, ethnic, ethnic identity, ethnicity, European Americans, Iran, Iranian, NBA, race, Race in America, Russia, skin complexion, U.S.Census, white
When the founding fathers invented the system of European American (white) supremacy and African American (black) inferiority their basic mistake was to base their system on race by color. As long as they controlled society, they controlled the system, but they could not control the color of each group or the fact that we humans belong to one species of Homo sapiens. Time would eventually debunk the myth of race and begin to deconstruct the social conditioning forced on society. Many Americans are still today confused relative to the difference between race and ethnicity. Much of the confusion was caused by the scientist who wanted to push their own theories about race since it has never been defined socially. Even the term “white” experienced a number of transitions in its application to various immigrant groups to America—examples of Anglo-Saxon whites, free whites, lesser whites, and Caucasians were common. All these groups, including people of color, were considered ethnic groups, except the Anglo-Saxons.
With all the demographic changes taking place in America and the world today, a clear understanding of the terms race and ethnicity is in order. We began by stating that all human belongs belong to one race. What we commonly refer to as races today simply does not exist. We are all of one blood. The differences we experience in others come from our cultures and places of habitation. Those differences represent our ethnic differences and have nothing to do with race. The problem has been that we use race to mean ethnicity or confuse something purely cultural with something we think is biological. According to Bill Nye, author of Undeniable, (2014) “In evolutionary terms or fact, we are all almost identical. We each share 99.9 percent of the same DNA.”
All of our social identities are based on either our cultural and/or geographical attachments; one or the other or a combination of both geography and culture represent the ethnic identity. People from countries like China or India will have their culture included in the country’s name. The name of the country usually serves as the person’s ethnic identity if that country is the one of his or her birth. If, however, the parents of the person are known for their cultural identity, for example, American Indian, then the cultural identity serves as the ethnic identity. Because of these two influences, all people have two separate and often distinct identities—one ancestral or ethnic, and one cultural.
An example is in order here: If a Russian male and an Iranian female marries and have a child, that child will have an ancestral (ethnic) identity that includes both Russian and Iranian parents. However, depending on the country in which the parents are living, their child’s cultural identity might be totally different from the parents. That is, if the family is living in Iran, then the child’ cultural identity will, unless certain circumstances prevent it, reflect that country and culture. If for example, the couple lived in America, the child’s cultural identity would be American. At some point in the child’s life, a choice of a parent’s ethnic identity might be embraced. The child’s cultural identity of American will remain unless and until it is relinquished.
Another way of viewing ethnicity is by looking at the identities of the diverse people who come to America. No one comes to America legally with an identity where color is stipulated, only the geographical identity which more often than not includes the cultural identity. For example, many professional athletes from foreign countries come to work in America and regardless of their ethnic and/or ancestral identity, are identified by their geographical identity. For example, the following professional basketball players of brown complexions, are simply called Brazilians: Nene, Anderson Varejao, Tiago Splitter, Lucas Nogueira, Bruno Caboclo, and Leandro Barbosa. Two players from Australia, Kyrie Irving and Patty Mills, players with brown complexions, are known as Australians, not by their ethnic identities, but by geographical (cultural) ones. That is not to suggest that their ancestral identities are not important to them, they are not necessary to underscore their cultural identities.
Because our founding fathers instituted the system of supremacy and forced the social conditioning on all Americans, race has been at the core of all social challenges. All the social biases Americans of color experience today are based on race. Now that society is starting to understand the confusion caused by race by color and is working to replace the system of bigotry, not knowing what to do about race is a problem. We know that race is an illusion, but one that we have been living with since the beginning of our society. As race continues to lose its social value, it has to be replaced with something and that something is ethnic and cultural identities. Ethnic identities were and are important in collecting data so society and the government can monitor what is taking place relative to the general population and each ethnic group. The U.S. Census began in 1790 was a way to maintain and control the population, especially the ethnic groups of color. The changing demographics in our world and society continue to blur the lines of race as an acceptable term suitable for social identities.
Today, if each group is identified by ethnicity rather than race, discrimination by race would no longer possible. As society pushes through this process of change from racial identities to ethnic ones, we must recognize that arriving at ethnic identities is just a temporary pause, because the end result, in an idealistic sense, is having a need for no other identity than American.
The primary reason for some Americans to identify themselves as European American, African American, and Asian Americans etc…comes from a lack of information about their countries of origin. The results are seen in the terms European, African, Hispanic, etc… that rely on either geography or culture to fill in that space before “American” for ethnicity identification. The over-all objective of identity in our democratic society is for everyone regardless of their ancestral, ethnic or cultural identities to be seen and known as Americans. Embracing, promoting, and being proud one’s ethnic identity does not take away from the fact that America should value all ethnicities. Two facts remain—no one chooses his or her ancestral (ethnic) identity, and everyone can choose his or her cultural identity.
Paul R. Lehman, President Obama signed a bill eliminating the word Negro that signals change in identitiesAugust 15, 2016 at 11:24 pm | Posted in African American, American history, American Indian, American Racism, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, discrimination, DNA, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, Hispanic whites, identity, immigration, law, minority, Non-Hispanic white, President Obama, public education, Race in America, skin color, skin complexion, Slavery, U. S. Census, U.S. Supreme Court, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
Tags: American History, ancestral identity, black, cultural identity, current-events, ethnicity, European Americans, Hispanics, Kamala Kelkar, minorities, Negro, Obama and American Bigotry, PBS NEWSHOUR, President Obama, race, Republicans, skin color, skin complexion, slavery, white
When Africans were brought to this country and enslaved, one of the first things taken from them was their identity. Taking away their identity was important because it represented the history of who they were and that they were valued. Although each enslaved African would be given a slave name, they would all be commonly called black or negro because of their skin color. The African identity was taken away from the enslaved, but the slave sellers and owners knew who they were, what they did (farmer, fisherman, craftsman, etc…) and where they were from because their selling price would be influenced by that information.
An example of the value of the African’s identity was underscored in a 1764 poem by James Grainger, “The Sugar Cane.” This poem was constructed using four parts called books; the fourth book, “On the Genius of Africa,” shows the value of a slaver knowing the identity of the African captives: “Negroes when bought should be young and strong. The Congo-Negroes are fitter for the house and trades, than for the field. The Gold-Coast, but especially the Papaw-Negroes, make the best field-Negroes: but even these, if advanced in years, should not be purchased.” This information focuses on males, for females the advice is when looking for a sound Negro: “Where the men do nothing but hunt, fish or fight, all the field drudgery is left to the women: these are to be preferred to their husbands.” The reference continues for males: “The Minnahs make good tradesmen, but addicted to suicide. The Mundingoes, in particular, subject to worms; and the Congas, to dropsical disorders.”(The Making of the Negro in Early American Literature, Paul R. Lehman, 2nd edition, Fountainhead Press, 2006, P. 38)
For enslaved Africans in America, their identity was taken away so their history and value would be tied to American slavery. If the only identity an enslaved person had was that of being American black or Negro (both terms mean the same) then they did not exist except in the system of slavery. The only personal identity they had linked them to their owner, as in the reference—John Smith’s Negro, “Tom.” During the early 1700’s,the term for slave went from Negro and black to simply “slave” due to the common coupling of the two phrase “black slave” or “Negro slave.” However, many of the enslaved were still Europeans and American Indians, but the majority of the enslaved was African/ African American.
Once the government instituted the system of white supremacy and black inferiority, race by color became an important part of personal identity in American society. Americans were no longer able to identity with a particular ethnic or culture group. Kamala Kelkar, (PBS NEWSHOUR, 5/22/2016), noted that “In 1790, the U.S. Census counted people by lumping them into one of three categories—slaves, free white females and males, or all other free persons.”The most important identity an American could have or want to have was white. The most damning identity one could have was that of either slave or Negro.
Immigration to American from around the world, but especially Eastern and Southern Europe brought many changes to the invented concept of race. Although most European immigrants were not referred to as white, they all were willing to give-up their cultural identity to be called white. For people of color, the term Negro was used regardless of their place of birth outside of the U.S. As recently as 2010, the Census form still included the term Negro or black, but the list for other people of color had expanded. Kelkar explained that “The Department of Energy Act has for decades described “minorities” as, “Negro, Puerto Rican, American Indian, Eskimo, Oriental, or Aleut or as a Spanish-speaking individual of Spanish descent.”Because of the system of white supremacy and black inferiority, people of color were identified as “minorities.”
For over two-hundred years the words race and ethnicity were generally undefined and used indiscriminately to the confusion of all, especially the U.S. Census. As recent as 2010, Americans in a number of categories were told on the Census form to identify themselves as white, if they could not find an identity that suited them. This group included mixed-ethnic individuals such as Asian Americans, American Indians, and Hispanics. In effect, the concept of race by color had reached a point of meaninglessness. The problem was that the terms race was interpreted as pertaining to multiple biological groups of human beings or ethnic groups. The fact is that only one race of human beings exists—Homo sapiens. Ethnicity or ethnic groups pertains to the variety of cultural groups within the human race.
Every human being on the planet Earth has two identities—one ancestral or ethnic, one cultural. The ancestral or ethnic identity is represented by a person’s biological parents; the cultural is the identity the individual selects. For example, an Asian American has Asian as an ancestral identity, and American as the cultural which he or she embraces. The terms Negro and black do not allow for either identity nor does the terms white and Caucasian. Fortunately, things are about to change.
President Barack Obama just recently signed H.R. 4238 “which amends two federal acts from the 70’s that define “minorities” with terms that are now insensitive or outdated.” In addition, the bill was sponsored by Rep. Grace Meng, D-NY, with 74 Democratic co-sponsors and two Republican ones;” it passed with 380 votes. The two words removed from the books are Negro and Oriental. According to Kelkar “The new bill changes the language to, ‘Asian American, Native Hawaiian, a Pacific Islander, African American, Hispanic, Puerto Rican, Native American or Alaska Native.’”
The changes in identity were inevitable because race by color was an invention based on false assumptions and beliefs. Black or Negro and white or Caucasian were never biological categories of the human race but were put in place because of the government’s control. No one ever came to America with only the identity of black, Negro, or Caucasian or white; they always had an ancestral and cultural identity. Once in America, however, the Europeans recognized the value of being identified as white and so the abandoned their ancestral and cultural identity for white. People of color coming to America realized the stigma associated with being call Negro or black and usually decided to retain their ancestral and cultural identity. Now the people of color who were previously called Negro can be specific in their ancestral and cultural identity—African American. For whites and Caucasians, no official changes have been made although the term European Americans was used on occasion by the Supreme Court, but they always had the freedom to identify themselves using their ancestral identity such as Irish, Italian, Polish, German, etc. In any event, the fact is that identity-based on race by color is rapidly being deconstructed.
Tags: African American, African Americans, African ancestry, biracial, black, current-events, discrimination, DNA, ethnic identity, ethnicity, European Americans, identity, mixed race, Passing, Prejudice, race, skin color, skin complexion, slavery, white
One of the negative and lasting components of slavery and the creation of a black and white race is the value placed on being identified as white or part white. During slavery, a slave identified as being part white sold for a higher price than slaves who were considered Negro or black. Because race was based on skin complexion, fooling the system was easily accomplished by slaves who could present themselves as white. After slavery, that practice became know as “passing.”If a person moved away from his or her environment where his or her ancestry was common knowledge, then one could live his or her entire life using the white identity. However, the fear of being discovered by someone who knew the person passing was always present. Many stories, true and fictional, have been written recounting the experiences of individuals passing.
When we examine the stories of people involved in passing, we realize that the risk of being caught often resulted in death, but the rewards were opportunities for liberties and freedoms enjoyed by the majority society. The key to the entire system, however, was based on race by color, which was ineffective and faulty because it is an illusion, and lacking any empirical proof. After the Civil War the nation not only continued the system of race by color, but also introduced more illogical, unreasonable and irrational aspects to its existence. For example, Oklahoma, along with other states, created laws that stated in effect that any person of African ancestry was to be considered Negro or Colored. If we were to give some thought to that law, we would discover that the law evidently viewed Africa as a country, not a continent. Also, how would one discover the ancestry of another as African since eighty percent of the world’s population has dark skin? Today, because of DNA, we would have to include all human beings as having African ancestry. So, we know the system was flawed from the beginning.
The problem we face today is one that creates a variety of discussions because many people never challenged the system of race by color, but accepted it along with the supposed values that being white represented. Fortunately, our society is changing in ways that will soon make the concept of race by color irrelevant. The so-called “One Drop Rule” or African ancestry rule was based on illusion, not fact, so to continue to embrace it would be just as fool-hearty. None-the-less, many Americans identify themselves as being mixed-race, or bi-racial, or some other term used to discern the inclusion of white blood in their ancestry because they believe it adds to their social value. How ridiculous is that? If the creation of a white race was false at the beginning, regardless of how one mixes it, it will always be false.
A person’s race has nothing to do with his or her skin color; all people belong to the human race. The primary reason for African Americans being called blacks, Negro, and colored was to keep them from knowing and using their cultural and/or geographical identity by their slave masters. On the other hand, European Americans used their white identity as a symbol of power and privilege associated with the Anglo-Saxons. Rather than use their cultural or geographical identities, many Irish, Jews, Italians, Poles, Slavs and many others as well, changed their names and moved to locations where they “passed” as European American (Anglo-Saxons) to avoid discrimination. Ironically, once these so-called lesser Americans became accepted as whites, they adopted the same attitude of bigotry and biases as the majority society especially relative to African Americans. That way they could conceal their real ethnic identity.
Race is the primary point on which this discussion rest. If one accepts the term and how it has been employed historically, then one is doomed to confusion and frustration, because any argument involving race becomes curricular. That is, if one starts with a false premise, the result must also be false, and so it is with race. Many people of mixed cultural and geographic ancestry face difficulty in deciding how to identify themselves, and so they use terms like biracial or mixed race. These terms simply underscore the acceptance of the illusion of multiple biological races from which they choose to belong. Had they used the terms ethnic group or ethnically mixed, then their identity would reflect cultures and or geographical certainties once they disclosed them. What happens when someone of mixed ethnicity identifies him or herself by one ethnic identity, that selection should be made on the basis of the individual’s choice or preference; to make that choice because of what society or some irrational rule or law based on race by color suggest is illogical.
If someone makes the choice of ethnic identity based on what society suggests, like the one drop rule, then that person is doing a disservice to one or more aspects of his or her ancestry and of the parent representing the part left out. That choice is no longer necessary in our society. People do not have to identify themselves as black or white; they can, however, identify themselves as African American or European American, but even that is not mandatory. Just ask the Census Bureau.
Many African American people of note have been accused of avoiding their ethnic identity by passing for European American. The term passing has relevance only when one has accepted the false concept of multiple biological races. The desire to identify with a particular group is a normal tribal reaction because group identity provides a sense of comfort, protection, and unity, something most people want. But, since we are all human beings, no part of our ancestry makes us more or less than any other human being. Since we are all members of the same human family, we should begin to celebrate our likenesses rather than any superficial differences we might have.
America is changing and involved in a struggle relative to our social identity. However, the more we learn about ourselves, the better able we are to live in the present and prepare for a future that respects the value of each individual.
Tags: A HISTORY EUROPE, African American History, African Americans, America, American Education, Anglo-Saxon, biological races, black, Caucasian, caucasian race, Christopher Morley, Confronting Myths, current-events, ethnicity, European Americans, Hispanics, Irish, Jesus, Jews, Megyn Kelly, Obama and American Bigotry, Poles, Prejudice, race, Race in America, Russian, Santa Claus, white, WHITENESS OF A DIFFERENT COLOR
Christopher Morley once said that “If you have to keep reminding yourself of a thing, perhaps it isn’t so.” That particular scenario seems to be the case with America and its attachment to the conception and perception of race. For far too many years, many people have been trying to prove the existence of race by color and/or geography to no avail. They have gone to enormous lengths to try and prove their assumptions to the point of creating official sounding terms to underscore their belief, trusting that no one will recognize the fallacy behind the initial assumption. In America, many people still believe that such a thing as multiple biological races exist in spite of the over-whelming evidence to the contrary. Some Americans, like Morley’s suggested needs to remind themselves why they see themselves as black, white or other. Maybe it is because it isn’t so.
The American system of education failed to provide accurate information to the students concerning the myth of race. Many Americans grew-up believing that only three major races existed—one black, one white, one miscellaneous. In essence, the people who came to America as our founding fathers were, for the most part, Anglo-Saxons. They held the beliefs that they were superior to all other men because they were the model God used to make the rest of mankind, and next, they believed that God had given American specifically to them. The concept of race they employed early on was based on color, and that worked for many years because they controlled society. However, in the early 1800’s things began to change when the Anglo-Saxons began to realize that the new immigrants did not measure up to their expectations. They did not see whiteness as a sign of racial identity.
Matthew Frye Jacobson in his book, WHITENESS OF A DIFFERENT COLOR, told about the European immigration problem from 1840 to 1924 and how it caused “a fracturing of whiteness into a hierarchy of plural and scientifically determined white races.” These new immigrants were considered to be not as good as the old Anglo-Saxons. Since the old Anglo-Saxon leaders could not accept these new immigrant whites as true whites, a new racial category was made for them “and granted the scientific stamp of authenticity as the unitary Caucasian race—an earlier era’s Celts, Slavs, Hebrews, Iberics, and Saracens, among others….”
The nation’s concern with immigrants being “white people” led to the creation of the Johnson-Reed Act, (1924) an immigration policy that placed emphasis on so-called race. The policy created an opening for the not-so-white to join the club through assimilation “(the process by which the Irish, Russian, Jews, Poles, and Greeks became Americans)” and “racial alchemy (the process by which Celts, Hebrews, Slavs and Mediterraneans became Caucasians). “ In addition, “The European immigrants’ experience was decisively shaped by their entering an arena where Europeanness –that is to say, whiteness– was among the most important possession one could lay claim to.” Ironically, Herbert Fisher, author of A HISTORY EUROPE (1925), commented that “Purity of race does not exist. Europe is a continent of energetic mongrels.”
The challenges of immigrant identity can be found in American history if one looks carefully enough; the concern with the concept of white races diminished greatly after 1925. The emphasis on the concept of there being three races, although a fallacy, did not decrease, but actually increased because the country experienced growing pains through civil right movements that called attention to the principles of democracy concerning the rights and privileges of all Americans being abused and ignored. America is still left with the conundrum of the myth of race.
After many years of study and research America as well as the world knows that only one race of human being exist. Yet, as a society, America has failed to debunk the myth of race which does a disservice to us and our youth. How can we expect our youth to accept the findings of DNA scientists who say we are all one family of human beings, or anthropologists who have mapped the origin of the human race and its peopling of the earth, if we still hold on firmly to the myth of a black race, white race, and a Mongoloid race? On one hand we tell ourselves and our children that all people are alike and that we should not discriminate against one another. Then, one the other hand, we talk about ourselves and others as being biologically different when we identify ourselves as black, or white or other. Ambiguity rules the day. Just what do we want our children to learn?
To add to the ignorance and stupidly relative to the conception and perception of race by color, just recently(12/12/13), a Fox News show host, Megyn Kelly, responded to a statement made by an African American about the possibility of Santa Claus being black. Kelly responded that “Jesus was a white man, too. It’s like we have a historical figure that’s a verifiable fact, as is Santa”(POLITICO.COM). If anyone knows about the myth of Santa Claus, they know that the real life man, St. Nicholas, was a monk from Turkey and that Jesus was born to a Jewish family in the Middle East. Neither man would be considered white in America; they might have passed as Caucasians to someone who subscribes to that line of thought.
By the way, people who define themselves as Caucasians should know that their so-called race did not exist prior to the 1800s:
The concept of a Caucasian race or Varietas Caucasia was developed around 1800 by Johann Blumenbach, a German scientist and classical anthropologist. Blumenbach named it after the Caucasian people (from the Southern Caucasus region), whom he considered to be the archetype for the grouping. He based his classification of the Caucasian race primarily on craniology [the size and shape of the head].(America’s Race Matters)
As a society, we know that the concept of multiple biological races is a myth; yet, many people hold on to the concept as though their very lives depended on it. And some might say that it does if their belief in their skin complexion makes them different from the rest of humankind. Eventually, our society will make it to that place where intelligence will dictate the measure of a person’s identity and character, not some out-dated myth that plays to our lowest elements of ignorance and prejudice. As Morley said, if we have to keep reminding ourselves of the thing, “maybe it isn’t so.”
Tags: African Americans, black, Confronting Myths, European Americans, human races, immigration, life liberty and the pursuit of happiness, pursuit of happiness, race, racial identity, Theodore Lothrop Stoddard, Thomas A. Guglielmo, U.S. Census Bureau, white, White on Arrival
Ask some European Americans their race and they will generally answer white or Caucasian. Ask them if they know that the entire concept of multiple human races like black and white, brown and red, is simply a creation of society. The response will vary depending on the quantity and quality of information the responders possess. The concept continues to undergo its changing nature because as a social construct, a concrete definition is not possible except as the term relates to science. Let us look at the term white as it connotes to a so-called racial identity.
Many people believe that a so-called white identity is constant, consistent, and uniform with respect to its application. The word white is generally considered an adjective and used to modify a noun. So, for example, when someone identifies his race as white, he actually means white race. Without the noun race, white would simply be an adjective referring to a color that is used to masquerade as a noun. When the word white is used to denote a so-called race, its use also underscores the acceptance of the concept of multiple races, a concept we know is false. Nevertheless, many people believe the concept to be true and in the past have written many volumes to try and validate their opinions.
Many European Americans do not think of themselves as belonging to a particular race, just the human race. They often view people who do not look like them as belonging to a race different from theirs. European Americans have been led to believe that they are the model used for the creation of human beings, so people other than them belong to a race. Today, Americans hear the term “race card” being used and usually think of African Americans trying to gain an unfair advantage by using that term. In reality, European Americans play their “race card” every day. America was supposedly created as a democracy where all people, regardless of their differences could experience life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We know from our history that that experience was denied to many people, especially people of color. We also know that being white was not an identity that fit all people who looked white, but being white provided power and privilege from the very beginning.
When someone identifies himself as white, one might ask the question: with what white race Nordic, Mediterranean or Alpine? These are three races of whites that some scholars and intellectuals such as Theodore Lothrop Stoddard created to explain the differences among the white races. Although the subject is not generally discussed today, the concept of a white race was not fixed on one homogeneous group of people who all looked alike. Prejudice existed and was exhibited by those European Americans who identified their ancestry as Anglo –Saxon, and thought their Nordic race superior to all others. According to Thomas A. Guglielmo, author of White on Arrival: Italians, Race, Color, and Power in Chicago, 1890-1945, new immigrants would create a problem because they were not of a superior breed: “IQ tests that the U.S. army administered to soldiers during World War I, as well as other intelligence studies, reached the same conclusion: Nordics, or ‘old’ Americans, were vastly superior in intellectual endowment to all other race.”
Who were these immigrants and why were they considered inferior to the Nordics? We are told that “These European races were condemned for their putative degeneracy, mongrelized nature, and general physical, moral, and mental inadequacies.”Never the less, they were labeled as “free whites” for purposes of immigration in 1790. These free whites were Celts, Slavs, Hebrews, Iberics, Latins to names a few and were later joined by the Anglo-Saxons and became known as white/Caucasians. (Caucasians is a term created shortly before the 1800, and used to identify people of Iranian decent). Still the stigma of superiority and inferiority continued among the so-called white races. Guglielmo informs us that “The term ‘Caucasian race’ has ceased to have any meaning except where it is used, in the United States, to contrast white populations with Negroes or Indians or in the Old World with Mongols.”In other words, the term lacks any specificity regarding race or racial value.
He further states that “It is, however, a convenient term to include the three European subspecies [Nordic, Alpine, and Mediterranean] when considered as divisions of one of the primary branches or species of mankind.” The only reason to use any of these branches would be to discriminate one against another. In effect, race is not based on color, but also includes geography, culture, scores on IQ exams, and a number of other considerations.
We know that today in America certain groups of European Americans are not treated with the same level of respect some other groups receive. For example, some European Americans are called “Trailer Park Trash,” or simply “Poor White Trash.” Other names like “Red Neck,” “Cracker,” or “Peckerwood” are not the inventions of other ethnic groups, but were created by European Americans to describe and distance themselves from people who looked like them, but were not accepted as equals.
We have mentioned a number of times the problems created by the Census Bureau regarding the use of the terms race, black and white without the benefit of definitions. The results of the 2010 census revealed an increase in the white population because people of various ethnicities were given the option of identifying themselves according to their ethnic group or just picking white. Many selected white which in turn created confusion for the Census Bureau. We can recognize the growing uselessness of the terms black and white as far as a so-called racial identity is concerned, but at the same time, we can witness the efforts of many Americans to disrupt any movement to encourage this change.
The changes relative to diversity in American society today are inevitable because of our growing population of people of color. The value of placing a color before the word race is rapidly diminishing because the emphasis on the values of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness for all Americans are taking precedence over ethnic identies
Tags: African Americans, america's race problem, American Bigotry, black, black codes, Caucasian, coming to grips, developmental changes, ethnicity, European Americans, facing the truth, Hispanics, Hitler, Martin & Zimmerman, personal identities, Prejudice, race, race identity, Race in America, slavery, Supreme Court, tooth fairy, white
Many Americans do not know that society is experiencing growing pains. The pains come from the fact that the time has come for developmental changes that require a coming to grips with reality. What this coming to grips with reality means is facing the fact that the myths of a black race and white race are no longer important or necessary. However, the process facing the truth is not an easy one to experience; consider what a child goes through when he or she discovers the truth behind Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. Those myths we can readily recognize as myths because as children we outgrow then at a relative early age. The myth of race is a different problem because many Americans do not know or accept the fact that races of man is a myth. Society has so conditioned the minds of so-called white Americans to a place of power, privilege and prestige that trying to undo the damage is like removing heat from fire. America is moving towards a society of diverse citizens where race will play little or no role in personal identity. Unfortunately, too many European Americans (whites) cannot bring themselves to let go of the white race identity.
Let us clear the air with respect to the concept of races, especially the so-called black race and white race. These two races were created by the ruling class of slave owners for economic expedience. Taking the cultural, geographical, and personal identities from the Africans was a means of depriving them of any self-value and self-worth. At the same time, the ruling class gave to those lesser individuals of fair skin the illusions of hope and superiority because they looked alike, and that they might one day also possess power and wealth. In reality, the concept of race was to create a separation and conflict between the poor Europeans and Africans which constantly drew attention away from the ruling class and their activities. As society progressed, and the gap between the workers and the rulers became greater, the rulers used the Africans as a buffer to protect them from poor Europeans. The only thing of value the ruling class gave to the poor Europeans was the gift of a white identity.
After the Civil War, African Americans were given rights and freedoms the same as the European Americans. However, those rights and freedoms were short lived because most states began immediately to create and pass laws that took away those rights and freedoms; the results of the states efforts were written in laws known as “The Black Codes.” These codes were different for each state, but the results were the same—deprive the African Americans of all rights and freedoms. These codes also proved beneficial in promoting the idea of superiority of the “white race” by stipulating restrictions against African Americans that any European American could enforce legally. The most important thing of value for the European American was still his identity as a member of the “white race.” For example, imagine two sharecroppers working for the same landowner, both men are poor and uneducated. The landowner would favor the European American because he was white, and the white sharecropper would feel and act superior to the African American simple because of his color.
The value of a white identity started to change in 1954 when the Supreme Court ruled that separation was unequal. In subsequent years federal legislation began to eat away at what were once thought to be exclusive privileges for European Americans (whites). Today, a plethora of social activities and actions have challenged the once thought supremacy of European Americans; namely, the increase in ethnic minority populations, the increase in mixed ethnic marriages, the failure of the Census Bureau to define race so that the concept of race is on longer black and white, but blurred. The loss of the value of a white identity signaled by these changes in society has created fear, anger, frustration, and panic in some so-called white Americans. The problem for these people is finding a way to stop the changes from continuing, a problem they are beginning to realize is impossible to resolve. If America is to live up to its creed of liberty and justice for all,then the concept of race being black and white must be abandoned.
One of the contributing factors to the problem of race is the fact that too many Americans are ignorant, arrogant or stupid when it comes to understanding the fallacy of race. During the recent Martin and Zimmerman trial, many people raised the question of race, questioning whether race was involved. Let this next statement be perfectly clear, as long as European Americans identify themselves as white, everything they say and do comes from a biased ethnic (racial) perspective. For people to say they are black or white are a clear indication of the fact that they accept the concept of at least two races, one black and one white. Since science, technology, and even the Bible underscore the fact that all people belong to one race, the notion of more than one race must come from a lack of knowledge and understanding.
When a person identifies himself or herself as black or white, ethnic bias is embraced and promoted regardless of professions of colorblindness and justice. Many European Americans truly do not know how to identify themselves ethnically. Many refer to themselves as Caucasians, not realizing that Caucasians are not considered white or European. Caucasians did not exist until just prior to 1800. The name comes from the people who live near the Caucasus Mountains which are located in Eurasia between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea; they are considered to be of Iranian ancestry. The same ignorance can be associated with European Americans who identify themselves as Aryans, which is another way of spelling Iranians. The myth of an Aryan nation or race was started during Hitler’s time to help promote his idea of a super race. This race is supposedly directly related to the Caucasian race. So, even if the idea of Aryan and Caucasian races was plausible, they would not be considered today as white in America. The Supreme Court said so in 1923, Thind v. United States.
At some point in the future, biased Americans who retain their biases by holding on to their race by color concept will find themselves at a loss for an identity. Race serves to separate, and separation served as a base for bigotry. As the country becomes more ethnically diverse, the social value of individuals will not be based on a so-called race. One wonders why some European Americans with a large degree of social influence continue to refer to themselves as “white” unless they are ignorant of the fact that by doing so they place themselves on the side of ethnic bigotry. One cannot say he or she is white without the implication of race. Once the race is associated with the color, the element of bias comes into play whether he or she is a bigot or not. The only way to avoid this situation is to stop using race as black or white, which will, by the way, change the perspective of the self.
Tags: african american males, African Americans, american youths, black, criminal justice system, current-events, ethnic bias, ethnic group, ethnic separation, ethnicity, European Americans, forgone conclusion, George Zimmerman, great pretenders, Hispanics, martin case, Martin v. Zimmerman jury, politics, race, socioeconomics, Trayvon Martin, white
Following the decision of the jury during the Trayvon Martin trial the primary question asked about the trial was—was race involved? That question, unfortunately, was the wrong question to ask. Many Americans are great pretenders when the subjects are race and justice. They pretend that both race and justice exists for all Americans when they know for a fact that it does not. First, the term race is inaccurate, misleading, and incorrect because it supports the divide that is inherent it the term’s usage. Human beings belong to one race, so the appropriate terms should be ethnic groups or ethnicity when speaking of personal identity. Injustice in America we know is a fact. All one has to do is look at the number of women imprisoned in Oklahoma, or look at the gap in the jobs between African American and other American youths, or the arrest and imprisonment of African American males across America. So the question following the Trayvon Martin case should be how much did ethnic bias influence the decision in the case?
Not having an ethnic bias in America is impossible for anyone who has been here for a week, because we recognize that different ethnic groups are stereotyped by society in general in everyday life. What that stereotyping meant for the Trayvon Martin case was that the decision against Martin was a forgone conclusion once the jury was selected. Americans like to think that our criminal justice system is fair and impartial when we know that the outcome of any trial commonly depends on the level and degree of representation one can acquire. We know that a person who can afford a top tier lawyer stands a better chance of receiving a favorable verdict than a person with a Public Defender. Yet, we simply place our hope in our belief that the system works. What we do not consider is the fact that ethnic bias is a fact of life for all Americans. In addition to the ethnic difference, we must recognize that social and economic differences also take a toll on the justice system.
When we look at the ethnic differences involved in the case, we must consider that everyone involved came to this experience with some long-standing ethnic assumptions. Zimmerman, for example, assumed that Trayvon was a suspicious-looking person. We do not know why Trayvon was assumed to be suspicious to Zimmerman, but common sense dictates that if it is raining and one has a hood, then one will use that hood to protect one’s self from the rain. According to Zimmerman, the identity of past perpetrators was African American, so it stands to reason that he assumed Trayvon to be African American. Although Zimmerman ethnicity is Hispanic, the jury considered him to be “white,” like most of them. So, the division of ethnic bias was present in the perception of the jury regarding Martin, Zimmerman, and themselves. Since they identified with Zimmerman, and not Martin, they would offer a decision that was more in line with their perception. We must remember that Martin and Zimmerman are not viewed equally by the jury even thought they might say they are; ethnic stereotypes held by the jury were involved in the jury’s decision.
Our justice system says that we are to be judged by a jury of our peers, but we know that happening is next to impossible. The decision against Martin was made by a jury that had no idea of what his life and social environment was like. Without the ethnic associated with Zimmerman, the jury had no knowledge of his life as well. The lives of the individuals on the jury has no resembles to that of Martin—they would never meet in the same church, neighborhood store, park or school except by accident. Their social lives are completely different from that of Martin, so they form assumptions about his life as a young African American accompanied with all the negative stereotypes associated with those assumptions. They do the same with Zimmerman also, but from a totally perspective—he is considered “white.”
For many years in America, certain ethnic groups were not permitted citizenship because they were not considered European American. Included in that group were Polish, Irish, Italians, Jewish, Hispanics, Asians, and numerous others. After World War II, the government began to consider many of them as “white,” and because of this change, many were able to benefit economically, socially, politically as opposed to the opportunities of African Americans. Many of these new “whites” became staunch defenders of their new group, actually fighting against some other ethnic groups attempting to acquire social fairness and justice; they became more “white” than the European Americans in wanting to preserve the rights, privileges and power of their new group. Today, the U.S. Government and the Census Bureau allow any number of ethnic Americans to identify themselves as “white;”even Zimmerman could identify himself as a “white Hispanic.” The term “white” is inaccurate and incorrect as well as misleading. A person either has an ethnic identity or is considered European American, not white. So, what does this have to do with the trail? Simply stated, the members of the jury could not relate to Martin from an economical perspective because they do not live in the same or similar environment based on their economic status. They have no occasion to interact or get to know Martin, his family or the millions of families like his. And, yes, ethnicity biases did play a major role in this equation.
As a society, we need to recognize the fact that America is separated on many levels because of economics, education, religion, politics, and other elements, and that all citizens are not and for now, cannot receive fair and equal treatment through our justice system. The Martin case provides us with an opportunity to not only open a discussion about this problem, but also to create actions for addressing them. We are merely begging the question when we ask if race had anything to do with the Martin v Zimmerman case because we know that ethnic bias is a part of the American social fabric. What we must do as a society now is to create and implement plans that will bring us together as one society with diversity rather than a society separated because of our ethnic diversity. Too many Americans do not realize or recognize their bigotry because of their level of separation from parts of society, in many instances; their “level of separation” not only keeps others out, but imprisons them.
Tags: African Americans, American Education, black, block vote, current-events, ethnicity, European Americans, first black president, George Zimmerman, Hispanics, Nelson Mandela, President Obama, president of south africa, Rachel Jeantel, racial identities, Trayvon Martin, voting rights bill, voting rights South Africa, white
This past week brought with it a number of socially important experiences from the concerns of the Supreme Court to the illness of Nelson Mandela and the trial of Trayvon Martin. One of the elements these three concerns have in common is the reference to identity, more specifically, a reference to black as an identity. Unfortunately, race defined by color seems to be an extremely difficult concept to debunk because many people have accepted the concept as valid. However, some of the references used last week underscore the problems attendant with the continued use of the terms black and white as so-called racial identities.
With respect to the Supreme Court’s actions, the one case that focused primarily on the use of the word black involved the voting rights bill. The reference to the “black vote” by journalists and people in the media, for instance, might be interpreted as meaning the votes of African Americans. The purpose of the bill was to protect all citizens from being denied their rights to vote by the state or local jurisdiction, not just African Americans. The problems that caused the creation of the voting rights protection by the court was because African Americans were the primary targets and victims of abuse. The term black vote suggests that all African Americans vote in a block, which they do not. By simply referring to the rights of African Americans to vote, rather than the black vote, the idea of the black block vote is removed. Like all other citizens, African Americans reserve the right of a voting choice, and that should not be based on the color of their skin. Alas, unfortunately, today it still is.
The meaning of black in the above reference has been accepted as common practice, but that acceptance does not alleviate the problems caused by its usage. A case in point involves the illness of the former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. The media refers to Mandela as South Africa’s first black president, but what does black mean in the context in which they use it? Is it a reference to Mandela’s skin color or does it refers to the social and economic status of dark skinned South Africans? To further complicate the problem, President Barack Obama paid a visit to South Africa last week and the media referred to him as America’s first black president. So, if Mandela and Obama are both referred to as black, is it a reference to their skin color or to their personal identities or both? The obvious answer would be skin color, but that only works with the association of the historical significance. To identify Mandela as a man of color might confuse some who would see him as a colored person which is a different identity in South Africa. Usually, the South Africans of Dutch or European ancestry identify themselves as Afrikaners, so the simply reference to Mandela as South Africa’s first African president would be sufficient. For Obama, the reference to him as African American would leave little doubt as to his identity.
The use of the color words black and white as racial identities was obvious in the trial of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. The media has no problem with identifying Martin as black, but with Zimmerman, a problem is created because he can identify himself a number of ways. For example, he can identify himself as a Hispanic, or a non-white Hispanic, or as a white. How it is that he gets all those choices? The answer is because the Census Bureau says he can. They say it because they have yet to define race in any definitive, concrete, consistent and accurate fashion. The media generally refers to Zimmerman as white to create the contrast between the two principals in the trial. The contrast of black and white reinforces the social and historical symbolic significance of each term when used as race. The use of African American and European or Hispanic American would lesson the historical contrast.
In addition to the identities of Martin and Zimmerman and the use of color words relative to race, another disparity occurred during the testimony of Miss Rachel Jeantel, a friend of Martin. An observer of the trial was asked by a commentator to comment on Jeantel’s testimony. His first remarks centered on what he identified as her use of Black English. The reference to her language as Black English suggested that such a phenomena exists and is spoken and practiced by all black people. No one has ever suggested that other people with similar social, economic, and educational backgrounds speak a language that is characterized by a color. Again, we do not know if the color of the people’s skin is the key to their use of Black English or does black symbolize something other than skin color. In American, African Americans living in different parts of the country do not all speak the same as the term might suggest. We all recognize regional differences among Americans in general. We also recognize that the social, economical and educational status of all Americans have an effect on their use of the English language. All too often in American, a person’ skin color is often associated with their social status.
So, what is the point? We need to stop using color as an identity and excuse for ethnicity. We need to realize that as a society we are either progressing or regressing. We never reach a point where we can stop and say we have made it. Life does not work that way. Like when the butterfly finally emerges from the cocoon, its life’s journey is not complete, it has only just begun, as a butterfly. The identity of European Americans did not end with being called white, just as the identity of African Americans did not end with being called black. Life continues to the very end, and each day is a different and unique experience for us. Time to move on