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 Americans, American Education, American History, bigotry, black, discrimination, ethnic prejudice, ethnicity, European Americans, Justice Antonin Scalia, School segregation, skin color, white
When Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia recently made comments suggesting that African American students attend less advanced universities because they would do better academically, he was expressing a bias that was created in America as far back as the time of the founding fathers. The problem with Scalia voicing that sentiment was that it showed his lack of either knowing or understanding American history. What always happens when someone makes a statement about someone else, the focus is on the person making the statement and the motives involved. The people or person to who the statement is directed has the choice of ignoring it or responding to it. When the speaker does not want to accept responsibility for the content of the statement, he or she will usually invoke a “they” or “someone” as the source of the content. Justice Scalia used this technique when he stated that “There are those who contend that it does not benefit African-Americans to get them into the University of Texas, where they do not do well — as opposed to having them go to a less advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well…”What he did not say was that he agreed with “those” who made the comment.
The first indication of Scalia’s ignorance of history has to do with the subject of Affirmative Action and its reason for being in American society. African Americans have been discriminated, segregated, arrested, abused, and killed for wanting an education. During slavery, it was against the law for an African American to teach to read and write, and against the law for them to learn. After slavery, conditions were invented that served to preclude African Americans from acquiring an education either by the governments, federal and states or by groups of European American citizens. A door to education was cracked slightly when the “separate but equal” law was passed, but history shows that no part of that concept was to be established and enforced with concerns for the quality of education received by the African Americans. Finally, after years of protest and demonstrations the Supreme Court rules that “separate but equal” was not working and opened the public schools to all via Brown v. Topeka ruling. However, because of the systems of segregation and discrimination changes had to take place in order to put the ruling into effect—the story of school desegregation. All this historical information Justice Scalia should know.
Affirmative Action was not instituted for African Americans students to be able to attend school with European Americans; it was instituted to ensure that African Americans have the same opportunity to acquire the same education as European Americans. The court knew that the educational experiences encountered by African Americans were not equal, and they did not seek to make special provisions for African Americans who were accepted to schools—no schools lowered their standards to allow African Americans to attend. Affirmative Action simply provided an opportunity for African Americans to attend schools where they were in the past not permitted to attend simply because of the color. Justice Scalia should know this information. Evidently, he chose to ignore it; he preferred to offer a bigoted comment suggesting that African American students were not intellectually capable of succeeding in top-ranked universities.
Justice Scalia demonstrated an ignorance of his own ethnic history–his ancestry is Italian. He seems to have apparently abandoned his Italian heritage in favor of a Caucasian identity where he can demonstrate his ethnic bigotry without having to feel guilty for expressing feeling against others that were experienced by his Italian American ethnic group. Anglo-Saxon Americans did not want Italians, both from the South and North Italy coming to America because they were viewed as “racial undesirables, who were, according to men like Madison Grant and Lothrop Stoddard, as well as to their many allies in magazines, newspapers, and grassroots organizations, a biological, cultural, political and economic menace to the American nation.”(Thomas A. Guglielmo, White On Arrival: Italians, Race, Color, and Power in Chicago, 1890-1945, Oxford University Press, 2003, p 59) One wonders if Justice was so immersed in European American society that he was deprived of the history of many Italians upon arrival in America.
In different places in his comments, Justice Scalia uses the terms black and African Americans; he needs to know that these terms are not synonymous—black refers to a color, not an identity, or a culture, although some people have tried to use it as such. African American identifies both an ancestral and cultural identity. So, when he stated that “I don’t think it stands to reason for the University of Texas to admit as many blacks as possible,” to whom was he making a reference? Many students of color from many countries attend the University of Texas. If the Justice is speaking specifically of African American students, he should make that clear.
Ethnic bigotry is part of the fabric of American and has been since the founding fathers introduce it into psyche of European Americans—not at European Americans, however, practice bigotry, but they cannot ignore the fact of its presence in our everyday lives. For someone of Justice Scalia’s stature and standing, his comments show a lack of either knowledge or understanding of American history his while underscoring an attitude of arrogance expressed through bigotry. America deserves better representation on our highest court in the land than what we have been subjected through the comments and person of Justice Scalia.
The history of bigotry in America is no secret and especially to a Supreme Court Justice, so for him to make comments that smack of ethnic bigotry is disheartening. Certainly many Americans are bigots and do not know it because it they have been conditioned to view it as natural—anyone who does not look like them is different. But, for someone like Justice Scalia whose life’s interest is the law to express biased ethnic sentiments, it should give us great pause for concern about his sense of justice and fairness.
Tags: Affirmative Action, African American, African American Community, African American History, African Americans, black, Charles Dickens, Civil Rights, ethnicity, European American, European Americans, President Obama, Race in America, unemployment, Voting Right Act
Shortly after President Obama was elected a cry of America being a post-racial society was heard. The thinking was that since America had elected an African American president that all the concerns about race and its negative derivatives had been addressed and was now in the past. The truth of the matter is that America has yet to deal internally with the concept of race other than to continue its illusion. What might be passing for social progress is mostly illusion since not much has changed for the betterment of African Americans relative to employment, education, and incarceration. Certainly, we can point to a number of areas where African American involvement and participation in society have made them more visible, but that visibility usually underscores their ethnicity rather than their being viewed as simply Americans. The stigma of race (ethnicity) always accompanies the African American and the attention, positive or negative, received. In a democratic society the resolution of one problem usually represents the creation of two or more problems. A case in point was school desegregation beginning in 1954. Using a phrase from Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times; it was the worse of times,” when we examine some of the repercussion visited on African Americans as a result of desegregation.
Education in America prior to the Brown decision in 1954 was separate, but certainly, not equal. Education in America can never become equal, because that term pertains to mathematics, not sociology—nothing involving human beings can ever be equal. That term was used to create an illusion of fairness. The idea that African Americans wanted to attend school alongside European American students for social reasons was false; they just wanted an education comparable to that of the European American students. Fortunately, and unfortunately, the only way to ensure that all students receive a fair and comparable education was to discontinue segregated schools. For the African American community, that created numerous problems, two of which involved education and economics.
When the schools were segregated, the African American students were the recipients of information relative to African American history, past and present–information that helped to created a positive self-image as well as one of self-value. The history underscored the many individuals who time and time again triumphed over challenges to achieve some measure of accomplishment. These examples helped the students to develop the courage and desire to accept the many challenges they must face in an ethnically biased society. American history from an African American perspective was not simply an objective look at past events, but a continuing story of the struggles of African Americans to gain fist-classed citizenship in America.
Once the schools were desegregated, many of the former African American teachers were dismissed in favor of European American teachers. Of course, we would be remiss if we did not note that once desegregation became the law, many European Americans who could afford it, moved to suburbs in an action that came to be known as “white flight” because they did not believe in ethnic mixing in any context, but especially at school. As a result of “white flight” the court required bussing of students to achieve desegregation. Since most of the African American schools were physically inferior to those of the European American schools, African American students were bussed to European American schools. These changes, white flight” and “bussing” had a dramatic affect on the African American students.
Once the African American students were bussed to their new schools, they had to adjust to totally new and different environments where they were generally in the minority. Without a doubt, European American students had to make adjustments as well, but they had the benefit of attending their home schools and being taught by familiar teachers. No special considerations were made for the African American students relative to their social adjustment; they were expected to simply “fall in line” along with the majority students. One major difference existed relative to the African American students involved in this desegregation experience; they no longer received or learned African American history. The fact that the majority teachers had no background and little or no knowledge of the African American historical experience, they could not bridge the ignorance gap that could have provided some insight into the problems that created the need for desegregation in the first place. In this case, all students were disadvantaged.
A second negative affect of desegregation to the African American community was the loss of an entrepreneurial class of business men and women. Once the schools became desegregated, many chain-store businesses came into the community and ended much of the “Mom and Pop” businesses that existed in the community because the chain-store business could easily offer goods, services, and products at a lower price. The smaller, African American owned businesses could not compete with the larger ones; so many African Americans who formerly worked at these businesses were displaced. So, the immediate affect of desegregation for the African American community was mixed in that while the African American students would share classrooms with European American students, and thereby receive a comparable education, the African American community would lose many of its entrepreneurial members and businesses and be changed forever.
So, the people who would like to think that America is in a post-racial present might want to reconsider that thought when they examine areas of: education, where we learn that schools today are rapidly becoming more segregated rather than integrated; or consider the wealth gap among ethnic Americans of color compared to European Americans, and the unemployment rate that contributes directly to the standard of living; or to the recent and current news items from Florida, to New York, from Illinois, to California, and places in between where young African American men have been killed by law enforcement agencies; or the fact that many of the previous accomplishments relative to social progress have been eroded, like voting rights, affirmative action, and economic upward mobility in general.
Rather than talking about a post-racial society, America should be looking at the debunking of the illusion of race. One of the primary problems in America today is that too many people do not want to face facts and the reality of those facts—race is and always has been an illusion. The idea of America as a post-racial society is an oxymoron.
Paul R. Lehman, George Will’s Commentary on the high courts challenge for Michigan on race lacks good reasoning.October 14, 2013 at 9:17 pm | Posted in Affirmative Action, African American, American Racism, blacks, Civil War, college admission, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, Equal Opportunity, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, integregation, justice, Michigan, minority, Prejudice, segregation, Slavery, The Oklahoman, The U.S. Constitution, U.S. Supreme Court, whites | Leave a comment
Tags: Affirmative Action, African Americans, bigotry, black, Civil Rights, college admission, current-events, discrimination, diversity, ethnic diversity, ethnicity, European Americans, George Will, Michigan, preferential treatment, race, The Oklahoman, The U.S. Constitution, the University of Michigan, Univerity of Michigan, University of Michigan, white
One of the ironies in America today is the lack of acceptance of the fact that America, from its beginning, was a biased society. Europeans who called themselves white, created a society of two so-called races—one white, one black. The character of each so-called race was also created; the white race was to be superior to the black race in every way. The problem with this creation of races from the beginning was that it was not logical because race was never defined, just assumed. Shortly after Africans were introduced into American slavery, the problem of race reared it ugly head in the form of children produced by individuals representing each so-called race. Society met this problem by creating laws based on its conception of race to keep the separation in place. The laws, however, were based on the assumption of race by color, an assumption which nature and biology did not share. Society, nevertheless, continued to ignore nature and biology while creating and enforcing as best it could laws to address the continuing racial problems. Had America used another form of separation in its creation of and assumptions of races by color, the problems society is incurring today might not be so challenging.
One such problem was published in The Oklahoman by George Will in his “Commentary “(10/13/13)on the Supreme Court’s up-coming hearing on the use of race by the University of Michigan in its admission’s policy. Will stated that “the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment says ‘No state shall…deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.’” He added that “the following provision of Michigan’s constitution violates the Equal Protection guarantee: No public university, college or school district may ‘discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis or race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin…” The provision continued with the conditions “in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.” The laws seem to cancel out each other, so Will believes the court will rule in favor of the 14th Amendment.
The problem with this case can be seen in the use and lack of definition of the word race and the history of America’s prejudice. From the end of the Civil War to 1954, America practiced segregation and discrimination, separate and unequal polices based on race. In 1964 when the Civil Rights Act provided relief from the practices of separate and unequal practices in public institutions, many states complained that the rights of some of it citizens were being denied because preferential treatment was being given to African Americans and other ethnic minorities. What society and Will does not say is that for over two-hundred years the equal protection in the 14th Amendment was not applied to African Americans, women, and other ethnic minorities, so the suspension of equal protection guarantees had to be put in place while an attempt to try and remedy the injustices of the past could be addressed.
Now the question of should race be included in consideration for admission to the University of Michigan, and if it is, will that serve as a form of discrimination against other students? Common sense should dictate a reasonable approach. How can an injustice be addressed by simply retaining the status quo, which is what the Michigan state provision suggests. The suggestion of fairness seems to reflect the idea that all citizens are equal have the same rights. History tells us that the concept of race has and still does play an important role in how some people; especially African Americans, women, and other minorities are treated. For someone to suggest that bias, prejudice, and discrimination does no longer exist in society is to ignore today’s reality.
The fact that Michigan created the law requiring that “”No public university, college or school district may ‘discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to…” anyone, suggests that many people believed that some people, African Americans and others, were receiving these preferences. They also believed that the preferences worked to the disadvantage of the majority population, regardless of the fact that they were not discriminated against in the past. Regarding those who were discriminated against in the past, the law suggests that they automatically and magically became equal and no program for addressing the inequities of the past need be instituted.
Interestingly enough, Will stated that “Michigan’s attorney general correctly argues that the voters who passed the amendment in 80 of the state’s 83 counties were not ‘restructuring’ the political process, they were using the process to give constitutional dignity to the valid ideal of a colorblind society.” One wonders if Will truly believes that the people in the 80 counties were voting without consideration of so-called race and color. If those voters in the 80 counties were not conscious of race during their voting, there would be no reason to vote. After all, the law was written to stop what they considered unfair treatment of themselves and preferential treatment of African Americans.
Part of the problem facing the court has to do with the concept of race and how the university might apply it in admissions. Because biased and prejudiced citizens accused the government of using race as a partial method to help remedy segregation and discrimination of Africans Americans in the past, and the Supreme Court agreed in part with them, the emphasis was redirected by the universities towards using race as a form of academic “diversity.” Now the practice of the University of Michigan in using race as a form of bringing diversity into the academic community is being challenged by people who believe that is also a form of granting preferences. At some point society will have to ask the question concerning addressing the injustices of the past to African Americans, women, and other ethnic minorities. So far, most of the people receiving complaints of preferential treatment in college and University admissions are African Americans. We rarely read of complaints of women receiving preferential treatment.
As a society, we must accept the fact that race was created to serve as a form of separation and discrimination and that society employed the concept of race by color to employ forms of preferences for European Americans while creating walls and roadblocks for African Americans and other minorities. The mere fact that Will made the statement that the people of Michigan voted “to give constitutional dignity to the valid ideals of a colorblind society” represents a form of hypocrisy, deceit, and ignorance. How can we believe in the ideal of a colorblind society when the majority population identify themselves as “white”?
Tags: African Americans, Al Sharpton, black, Civil Rights, civil rights struggle, current-events, ethnicity, European Americans, Jonathan S. Tobin, March on Washington, North Carolina, north carolina legislators, party line vote, politics, President Obama, racial discrimination, Republicans, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Supreme Court, The Oklahoman, Voting rights laws, white
The North Carolina legislators signed new laws addressing voter ID. These new laws affect directly the poor, the young, and minorities, especially African Americans and Hispanics. Voting a party-line vote, the GOP-dominated state House now requires voters to present government-issued photo IDs at the polls; they also shortened early voting by a week, from 17 days to 10. In addition, the new laws also ends same-day registration, requires voters to register, update their address or make any other needed changes almost a month ahead of the election. In a move directed at the youth, the laws eliminated a popular high school civics program that registers tens of thousands of students to vote each year in advance of their 18th birthdays. No longer will straight-ticket voting be permitted. Why all these changes?
In a commentary by Jonathan S. Tobin entitled “Weak case against voter ID,” (The Oklahoman 8/17/13) he complains that Rev. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are exploiting the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington trying to convince the American people by relating it to the present civil rights struggle and the attacks on the voting rights laws. He states that “…like the fake outrage expressed by Democrats and liberals over the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision upholding the Voting Rights Act while mandating that the Justice Department acknowledge that it is 2013 rather than 1965, Americans should not be fooled by this scam.”So, people should disregard any complaints associated with the anniversary.
Regarding the action of the North Carolina legislators he writes “But whatever one may think of those measures, the idea that any of this has anything to do with racial discrimination or efforts to reimpose the racism that once characterized America’s political system is absurd.”A few questions regarding this remark will debunk his assumption. Who will be affected negatively by these new laws? The answer becomes obvious when we look at some of the particulars of the ID laws. How, where, and when can the voters acquire the new government-issued photo IDs? Why must the ID’s be government-issued rather than student or driver’s license IDs?
Tobin continued “No one is attempting to repeal the right to vote or to restrict the franchise.” We must ask, why would one try to repeal the right to vote when laws can be created and instituted which will give the same results? His next statement clears the air of his mind-set which is still somewhere in the 19th century: “Those who are making this argument in an era when African Americans are voting in numbers similar to those of whites and when we have just re-elected the first African American president of the United States are making a mockery of the legacy of the civil rights struggle.”
Clearly Tobin has not been living on the planet recently or if he has been here, he has not been paying attention to what has been happening regarding civil rights and voting rights. The primary reason for Republicans changing the voting rights laws is because the old ones worked. For proof, he mentions the number of African Americans voting in comparison with European Americans and note that they are similar. Shock! They are not supposed to be similar; African Americans are not supposed to vote in large numbers, but they did. So, in an effort to not experience a repeat performance, the Republicans decided to change the laws.
Tobin, evidently, does not realize that the information he offers as proof of social progress actually underscores the need to retain the old laws, because they worked; people voted. Why would anyone want to change the laws since they do what they were created to do? If we were to follow his philosophy we might think that a person with a dairy digestive problem who was given some lactase medicine to remedy his problem, switched to aspirin the next time the problem occured. Common sense would dictate that he stays with the medicine that works, not one that has no relations to his malady.
Rather than Jackson and Sharpton trying to run a scam on the American people, logic shows that it is the Republicans and thinkers like Tobin that want to mislead the American people. Tobin’s reference to President Obama being elected twice is offered as proof of African Americans and America’s progress relative to ethnic relations. However, he offers that information in an effort to convince his readers that society has reached it goal as far as justice and equality relative to African Americans are concerned and now things ought to be changed so as not to give then an advantage over the European Americans.
If Tobin would take the time to re-visit history just back to 1965, he might get a better understanding of why the voting act was created in the first place. Had not those laws been in place during the last two presidential elections, chances are Obama would not have been elected. The groups that played an influential role in electing Obama president both times are the very people North Caroline’s laws are seeking to negatively affect. Tobin is the one attempting to make a mockery of the legacy of the civil rights struggle by suggesting that ethnic and social bigotry did not play a role in the creation of North Carolina’s new voting laws.
The only absurdities we can recognize are Tobin’s comments supporting the passage of these new voting laws. They, in effect, are his efforts to try and “pull the wool” over the readers’ eyes, trying to make them believe that because of these new laws, voting will become easier for all. Some people who do not take the time to absorb what he wrote might agree with him, but those readers who are conversant with history and current events will certainly question his motives for defending the laws. The very claim used for creating the new laws is bogus—to prevent voter fraud. How does one prevent something that does not exist?
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 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