Paul R. Lehman, The challenge of history replacing the myth of race and racism

January 25, 2019 at 8:33 pm | Posted in Africa, African American, American Bigotry, American history, American Racism, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Christianity, Confederacy, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, DNA, entitlements, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, Genealogy,, Human Genome, justice, language, minorities, Prejudice, race, Race in America, racism, segregation, skin color, skin complexion, U. S. Census, UNESCO, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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The old idiom of “beating a dead horse” comes to mind every time an incident involving ethnic bigotry occurs and affected and interested groups want to get together and talk about racism with the idea of defeating or overcoming it. The same scenario has been played for over three or more centuries and here it is today no further than before. Why? One might ask. The reasonable response is that racism cannot be defeated or destroyed because it is not a thing, but a concept. A concept is an idea and ideas are inventions, not facts. Racism is a concept derived from the false concept of the existence of biological races and as long as the concept is promoted, supported, and controlled it will persist. In order for racism to be removed from the psyche, it must be replaced. For example, when children are young and innocent they often ponder the question from where do babies come only to be told that a stork delivered them to their mommies. The stork story is an ancient myth generally thought to have come from Europe among other places. In any event, the idea of babies coming from a stork delivering them will stay with the children until they learn the truth about procreation. When that time occurs, the concept of the stork and the baby will be replaced by reality, not destroyed or defeated. Such is the case with racism.

Unfortunately, America and much of the Western world are not will to replace the concept of racism because it has and still works for them relative to providing privileges, power and prestige based on skin color. Much of the problem in replacing the myth comes from the fact that the myth of European American superiority has been tightly woven into the American psyche for so long that to many people it is no longer a myth. Over seventy years ago the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) issued several statements to the world regarding race:”These statements elucidated the genesis of theories of racial superiority. They emphasized that the biological differentiation of races does not exist and that the obvious differences between populations living in different geographical areas of the world should be attributed to the interaction of historical, economic, political, social and cultural factors rather than biological ones.” The critical point regarding race was emphasized in the statement issued in 2001, that: “Science – modern genetics in particular – has constantly affirmed the unity of the human species, and denied that the notion of `race’ has any foundation.” They further concluded that “Yet racism and racial discrimination have hardly vanished; Indeed, they have not only survived the scientific deconstruction of the concept of `race’ but even seem to be gaining ground in most parts of the world. In the age of globalisation, this situation may seem paradoxical.”In spite of all the data underscoring the concept of race, it persists today and will continue until the focus of inquiry moves from the results of racism to the cause.

In a recent article, Jonah Goldberg writes about how “out of step” the comments of Republican Steve King were when he spoke of white Nationalism, white supremacy, the Confederate flag and other elements of bigotry. The comments might appear out of step with what Goldberg sees as American ideals, but for King, and many other Americans, there was nothing unusual or wrong about those comments because they have been a part of the American experience since the beginning. A brief glimpse at history shows where the African American and other people of color have been deliberately discriminated against deprived of opportunities in education, housing, medicine, politics, and finance as a matter of life as usual. So, no wonder King’s anger and confusion about being cited and penalized for comments that he considered common and ordinary. What is missing from the article is the fact that many aspects of American History relative to the system of European superiority as it exists in America today has never been included in our public education.  Goldberg tried to underscore that lack of education relative to King by making reference to the myth of a white (and black) race in his statement: “Contrary to the prattle of white nationalists and supremacist, Western civilization is not synonymous with whiteness.” He added that many of the people thought to be white today:” Czechs, Hungarian, Poles, Italians, Greeks et al. weren’t “white” at the beginning of the 20th century.”

Goldberg’s article continued by providing a brief historical perspective on the early conceptions of race that included reference to a Dictionary of Races or Peoples that consisted of “a pseudoscientific grab bag containing ‘a motley compendium of ethnic stereotypes, skin complexion, head shape, and other hardy perennials of the race science literature.’” References to a number of ethnic groups and their contributions to Western society were included in the article in an effort to show the falseness of the white race superiority concept. He concluded that, “Among the best ideas and ideals of Western, Christian and most importantly, American civilization is that we are supposed to judge people on their individual merits, not keep score based on their ancestry.” While Goldberg’s article is factual and to the point relative to King’s perspective, the fact still remains that many Americans view history just as King does. So, what is gained by presenting his factual information about the false concept of race if nothing is offered to replace it?

Any meaningful discussion concerning race and racism must begin by deconstructing or debunking the concept of race. The reason for this action is because the discussion will produce nothing outside of race and racism and will continue in a non-ending circular state. The concepts of race and racism can be replaced with reality and factual information but not without the disruption of the psyche that is comfortable with the status quo and sees nothing to be gained from making the change. Too many Americans have shown that they are not ready to replace their ideas of race and racism with truth because some find beating a dead horse rewarding and entertaining.

 

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Paul R. Lehman, Freedom Summer after 50 years– the beast still lives.

June 26, 2014 at 4:27 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American Racism, blacks, Civil Right's Act 1964, democracy, DNA, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, Human Genome, liberty, President Obama, skin color, skin complexion, UNESCO, voting rights act | 2 Comments
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This year marks the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, a summer when thousands of young Americans of African and European decent descended on the South to help African American citizens register to vote. One of the painful reminders of that summer is the death of three young Americans—two of European ancestry, one of African ancestry. These three young civil rights workers, Michael Henry Schwerner, James Earl Chaney, and Andrew Goodman were killed by a group of Klansmen in Neshoba County Mississippi. They were killed because they recognized the gross injustice in America—preventing African Americans the right to vote—and wanted to help in rectifying that problem.
Many Americans understand and appreciate the ultimate sacrifice these three young men made for their country; however, one question continues to hang over the occasion of the deaths—why? The beast of hatred, fear, anger, and prejudice still lingers in society regarding the African American and his presence in society. What is it about African Americans that would cause other Americans to murder three young men who only wanted to help America live up to its promise of liberty and justice for all?
Whether we accepted it or not, the very beast that led to the murder of Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman is still alive and well in America today. We must ask the question of those who would do harm to Americans who are working to correct injustices, what good does the violence and killing do to relieve the angry, hatred, and fear? The fear was so great in those Klansmen that they killed these three men before they were able to begin work. We must surmise that the threat of exercising their right to vote would give the African American an opportunity to participate in their government. For bigots, and others, any involvement in decision-making by African Americans would be too much. Why?
Before, during, and after the Civil War, the culture of the South was based on European Americans depending on African Americans for their livelihood. Without African American slaves, and subsequently, freed African Americans, the South would not have existed to any appreciable degree because the people of color represented the workforce. African Americans represented the life-blood of the southern economy, but more importantly, they represented the only thing that gave the European Americans social value. With the help of the governments, national and state, laws and practices were created and enforced to keep the African American in a position of servitude to European Americans.
In addition to the physical restrictions placed on the African Americans, social conditions based on myths were created that separated the African Americans from the European Americans. The concept of biological races was introduced into American society prior to slavery that led the European American to believe that he belonged to a superior biological race. In his book The Descent of Man, (1871), Charles Darwin expressed the belief that the human races, regardless of the obvious differences in appearance, were not different enough to be considered separate species. His comments on the human races were ignored. Later, others would concur with Darwin, but with more specificity noting that all human beings belong to the same species. UNESCO has continued to make that pronouncement since 1945, and the recent Human Genome study verified the fact that all human beings belong to the same species. Despite the evidence to the contrary, the power and prestige that accompanied the belief in white supremacy was too much to consider loosing or giving up.
More than anger and hatred is the element of fear that continues to feed the beast that fights against social, democratic progress. When the fear of loosing the belief of ethnic superiority is so great that people strike out violently against the threat of change in that direction, then we realize just how serious it is. Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman were not killed for personal reasons; their killers did not know them. They were killed for what they represented—social change. For the bigot and others any change that brought the African American closer to 1st class citizenship represented a threat to the status of the European American. So, any effort towards social change in behalf of the African Americans wherever it occurred, north, east, west and south, had to be met with serious force and resistance.
The problem with the bigots is complex in that while they fear the change that social progress means for African Americans, they do not want to lose the physical presence of the African Americans. Without the African Americans to point to as being inferior, the bigots would have no reference on which to base their sense of superiority. If no African Americans were around the bigots, they would have little or no social value except that which comes from wealth, property, or position. Without African Americans, the bigots would have no need to feel proud of their skin complexion, because they would not have another color with which to compare; so, they need African Americans, but only want to accept them on a level that underscores the sense of supremacy, pride, and power they derive from seeing themselves as different.
Fifty years ago thousand of young Americans, African American and European American, joined forces to combat the injustice they saw in America. One wonders where those voices are today. We recognize the efforts of the beast to appear in plain sight as in the numerous cases involving President Obama and the many states trying to restrict voter’s rights. The President’s critics are not fighting against him personally, but what he represents. Yes, some of his critics attack him personally, but that action is just for them to try and underscore their illusion of their superiority and his supposed inferiority. Regardless of the bigots’ efforts, social progress continues. What the bigots and those fighting against social progress do not realize is that their bigotry and hatred is a self-made prison that keeps them from enjoying freedom. They are so obsessed with fighting against all signs of social progress that it keeps them from enjoying the freedoms and privileges they have.
Freedom summer was an effort by young Americans to try and create a society that would mirror the ideals that the society said it embraced. The beast of anger, hatred, fear, and bigotry that they encountered is still alive in America. What we Americans have confronting us can best be described by picturing two hungry elements inside of us that represent good and evil or a man and a beast, respectively. We must realize that the one we feed is the one that will grow..

Paul R. Lehman, American social progress is not possible inside the race box.

June 5, 2014 at 7:38 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American Dream, American history, blacks, democracy, DNA, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, I have a dream, March on Washington, Martin Luther King Jr., mixed-marriage, race, Race in America, skin complexion, Slavery, U. S. Census, UNESCO | 2 Comments
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Too many Americans have brains that have fossilized on the concept of multiple races and this concept keeps them from making any progress towards the goals of our democratic society– life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all people. In turn, American society has not come near the potential it is capable of achieving. Before America can make any progress towards its future and its mantra “E Pluribus Unum,” it will have to remove itself from the so-called race box it created when the country began. Although we knew then and certainly know now, since science has come to support the fact through DNA, that only one species of humans exist on the planet, and that all mankind belongs to one race. Nonetheless, many Americans cannot bring themselves to accept the truth of that information. So, we continue as a society to be held back to a degree from social progress.
Regardless of the efforts of some Americans to hold on to their concept of race, American society is changing as evidenced from the 2010 Census report. That report showed an increase in the mixed ethnic households. In addition, that report also indicated concern for present and future problems associated with defining race. Those problems lend support to the inevitable action to remove the word race as it pertains to a social identity. Therein lays one of the problems, because many people have used race as part of their identity, thinking it was accurate and valid: for example, black race and white race. Unfortunately, we discovered that race is not and cannot be defined by skin color. Yes, for several hundred years we have tried to make the fallacy true, but to no avail. So, what alternative do we have as a society to address this problem?
Some sixty-five years ago, scholars and scientists from UNESCO recommended that the word race not be used for social identity, and that the words ethnic group and ethnicity be used instead. The reason for the recommendation was due to the fact that they knew that only one race of mankind existed on the planet, so why continue to use bogus information? Society ignored the recommendation, but time and social progress has made a difference in how we look at ourselves and each other. Many American people of color now refer to themselves as African Americans. Also, many Americans of European decent refer to themselves as European Americans. We have become aware of the fact that the identities of black and white refer to races that do not exist except in reference to the past and American slavery. Since personal identity is a cultural and/or geographical association, the individual can choose the identity that best fits his or her experience or wishes. That choice cannot include black or white unless used as an adjective.
So far, many Americans are not comfortable with accepting the truth of race and removing themselves from that box. As long as they maintain a racial perspective, they are trapped in the past. That past is well documented in what we call history. When we look at history, we see not only a record of our past experiences and how we dealt with then, but also how much progress, if any we have made from the time of the event. If we do not use history as a tool for learning, and for making progress, then it simply becomes entertainment for us. For example, in Dr. M.L King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, he spoke of his vision for the future America. If today all we do is repeat the speech having made no progress in making King’s dream a reality, and moving beyond the race box, then the speech has only entertainment value for us.

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, the renowned African American astrophysicist, made the statement that:

To make any future that we dreamt up real requires creative scientists, engineers, and technologists to make it happen. If people are not within your midst who dream about tomorrow – with the capacity to bring tomorrow into the present – then the country might as well just recede back into the cave because that’s where we’re headed.

Today, too many scholars, teachers, and leaders keep us in the past and present with no glimpse of the future. They vividly recapture history with details and facts that help us to see and understand the past and present, but do not take us beyond the present. At some point we must move beyond history and the race box. We can start our movement out of the race box by avoiding the use of the word race except in its science, not social context. We can also education ourselves and one another to the reality of our common humanity. Yes, we have man-made differences based on culture and geography, but we have more similarities than differences.

If we would stop and think rationally about our race problem, we would quickly understand that since race is a social creation, then all its derivatives are also social creations. Yet, because of our illusions of race, we treat these creations as though they are real. Really, how can the complexion of a person’s skin make him or her superior or inferior to another human being? We have no valid answer to that question except, it cannot. If, for example, we look at our human family like the apple family, we certainly see diversity in color, shapes, sizes, taste, and uses. However, regardless of the diversity, all the apples are defined and seen as belonging to the same family.

Our society might not be able to ever impact those fossilized brains regarding the misconception of race, but we can eliminate creating future problems for our children and grandchildren and doing away with the hypocrisy and bigotry based on the concept and employment of race and color as social identities. We know that the very use of the word race separates human being, so why continue to use it? We as a society must as Dr. Tyson stated, “work to bring tomorrow into the present.” We must first, however, get a glimpse of ourselves outside of the race box, so we will know we are headed in the right direction.

Paul R. Lehman, Fairness and Justice not possible in America with the concept of races

February 19, 2014 at 6:26 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American Indian, American Racism, Christianity, democracy, DNA, equality, fairness, identity, justice, Puritans, Race in America, skin color, Slavery, UNESCO, whites | Leave a comment
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One of the great ironies in America is the fact that people try to act as if ethnic bias only exist part of the time. America has been a nation of bigotry from its beginning. The control of the power and privileges of their ethnic group was the concern of the Anglo-Saxons from the earliest accounts of their life in the new world. The pilgrims and Puritans did not believe in equality and fairness. They believed rather in class status based on wealth and titles. In their eyes, whatever status one was born into, he or she should remain in that status for life. They believed that if God had wanted them to be in a different social class, then he would have put them there at birth. They had little or no reservations about killing the Indians, whom they called savages, because they believed that God wanted them to clear the land for themselves. American was God’s gift to the Anglo-Saxons; they were to be the supreme and superior leaders of the new nation. In addition, while transporting their culture to the new world, they introduced along with American slavery, the creation of race by color and geography. Therefore, ethnic bigotry is one of the basic fabrics of American culture.
Fast forward to today and we find much of that sentiment still exists in the minds of many European Americans. Anglo-Saxons Americans controlled who came to America and who could live here and that was accomplished through immigration laws. One of the more significant and influential immigration laws based on ethnicity control was the Johnson-Reed Act:
The 1924 Immigration Act also included a provision excluding from entry any alien who by virtue of race or nationality was ineligible for citizenship. Existing nationality laws dating from 1790 and 1870 excluded people of Asian lineage from naturalizing. As a result, the 1924 Act meant that even Asians not previously prevented from immigrating – the Japanese in particular – would no longer be admitted to the United States. Many in Japan were very offended by the new law, which was a violation of the Gentlemen’s Agreement. The Japanese government protested, but the law remained, resulting in an increase in existing tensions between the two nations. But it appeared that the U.S. Congress had decided that preserving the racial composition of the country was more important than promoting good ties with the Japanese empire. (http://history.state.gov)
Ethnicity has always been a concern in America; especially with the citizens who call themselves white (European Americans). When these Anglo-Saxons realized that the ethnic composition of America was in danger of change, they had to take drastic actions. That action involved bringing into the so-called white race that group of European immigrants that had not been accepted as white were now admitted to the club. The use of a term, “Caucasian,” that came into existence just prior to 1800, was called into service: “The idea of a “Caucasian race” represents whiteness ratcheted up to a new epistemological realm of certainty “(Whiteness of a Different Color,” by Matthew Frye Jacobson). The reason for this change was to keep the country from changing its ethnic composition
Once a lie is told, more lies have to be told to continue hiding the truth. That has been the case for America since the creation of the concept of races, black and white. The truth has been available regarding race for many years. For example, in the Bible, we learn that all people are of one blood:
24 “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood[a] every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,” (Acts 17:24-26 KJJV)
On numerous occasions the scientists and scholars from the U.N. has made it known that the term “race’ is not correct or accurate because it has no basis in fact:
Science – modern genetics in particular – has constantly affirmed the unity of the human species, and denied that the notion of `race’ has any foundation. In the words of Article 1 of the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights, `the human genome underlies the fundamental unity of all members of the human family, as well as the recognition of their inherent dignity and diversity’. This Declaration was adopted unanimously at the 29th session of UNESCO’s General Conference on the 11th of November 1997, and then by the United Nations General Assembly on the 9t” of December 1998, as part of the celebration marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (UNESCO 2001)
We can even go the recent science where we learn from DNA that:
DNA studies do not indicate that separate classifiable subspecies (races) exist within modern humans. While different genes for physical traits such as skin and hair color can be identified between individuals, no consistent patterns of genes across the human genome exist to distinguish one race from another. There also is no genetic basis for divisions of human ethnicity. People who have lived in the same geographic region for many generations may have some alleles in common, but no allele will be found in all members of one population and in no members of any other. (geonomics.energy.gov)
What we discover is that America continues to live in denial about the myth of race, and until it can debunk that myth, the lie will continue. But even more, as long as the concept of races exist in America, fairness and justice are not possible, because everything is seen through the prism of race. Every American lives daily in an atmosphere where bigotry is so common that it is presumed not to exist. How can we talk of fairness and justice when we have not divorced ourselves from the concept of black and white races? Go study.

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