Paul R. Lehman, The University of Oklahoma’s SAE video offers a chance for change

March 11, 2015 at 2:41 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American Dream, American Indian, American Racism, Bigotry in America, blacks, Constitutional rights, democracy, discrimination, Disrespect, education, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, Ferguson, Human Genome, justice system, liberty, life, Oklahoma education, Prejudice, race, Race in America, racism, skin color, skin complexion, socioeconomics, whites | 1 Comment
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A recent video of students riding a bus enjoying themselves, laughing, and singing a song was broadcast via social and regular media. The young men singing the song were members of The University of Oklahoma’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. The picture and the entire atmosphere on the bus seemed a fun-filled and joyous occasion, and it was until the words of the song were revealed. The words of the song stated that “There will never be a ‘N’ word in SAE,” and included “You can hang them from a tree.”This song was sung by these young people because they felt safe, secure, and comfortable on a bus that included no African Americans. Why did they believe that singing this song was acceptable? The answer is they were taught this by their parents, schools, and society.

America is and has always been a diverse society, not of races, but of people from different cultures and geographical locations. Generally, American parents teach or tell their children that America is a democratic society that respects the liberties, rights, and freedoms of all people. However, the actions of the parents contradict the words. Whether conscious or not, children are made to see differences among themselves and others and the focus on group identity begins. As children grow they learn to recognize the benefit of group identity, an identity usually reflected in the family relationships, with other people in school, church, neighbor, and community. So, the young people on the bus reflect a sense of community of like people.

In our schools, children are force to identity with a variety of groups that include social-economical, cultural and ethnic. Rather than focusing on the similarities of the students, emphasis is usually placed on differences which are few and minor. Students learn through social activities as well as curriculum to place social value on individuals. Although they are taught that all people should be treated fairly, the language and social practices underscore the idea of separateness. The concept of many biological races has been debunked for years; yet, teachers continue to use terms such as black, white as if they were legitimate. American history underscores the lack of value places on the lives, value, and contributions made by African Americans as well as other people of color. Teachers and professors cannot teach what they do not know or accept.

Society tells our young people that bigotry is fine as long as they can keep it hidden; just do not put themselves on the spot by blatantly saying or doing anything in public that an be interpreted as biased. The young people of the frat bus thought they were in a protected environment, so they felt as ease in singing their song. In various aspects of society young people are shown that it is fine to discriminate against people of color; they see it in our criminal justice system, our educational and political systems. They are reminded time and again that African Americans have little social value, so denigrating them is perfectly okay as long as one is not exposed. Fortunately, the use of social media has provided an opportunity for all of society to see some of the things that have been happening in private for many years.

The behavior of the young people on that bus can be attributed to their parents, schools, and society. Their actions displayed an ignorance of a democratic sense of humanity and history; a belief in the value of each human being regardless of color, ethnicity, gender, social or economic status. Their actions showed at attitude of arrogance, supremacy, and tribal characteristics such “us versus them.” The first two lines of the song underscore the idea of group or tribal separateness with the understanding that the reason for there not ever being a “n” word in SAE is because of color and social value. Their actions, displayed stupidity. Why would anyone, especially young university students want to sing a song about lynching? Along with an ignorance of history, and an arrogance of privilege and power, these young people forgot about the power of social media. Sometimes the speed of the social media is faster than a speeding bullet as many people have learned to their regret.

Placing the entire blame on the students for their action would be to excuse the parents, schools, and society for their failures in preparing the young people for life in a diverse, democratic, society. We can begin to correct many of these failures by starting with the truth—bigotry was part of the American fabric from its beginning. As a society we have allowed bigotry to continue and grow through systemic creations enforced by laws, and lies. The concept for multiple biological races is false; only one race of human beings exists. Intelligence, character, physical and mental attributes are not based on skin color. The history and struggles of African Americans, Asian Americans, American Indians, and Hispanic Americans to gain their civil rights have been glossed over and not made relevant to days’ students, just as they were not valued by their parents. So, we arrive at ambiguity and ignorance in many young people; unfortunately, the only regret for some of these young people is the fact that their bigotry was exposed.

The concept of racism is irrelevant in today’s society since only one race actually exists. To call someone a racist is to give approval to their false concept of races. An individual can not be a racist in isolation because the term refers to a group. To ascribe responsibility to an individual accused of ethnic bias, the term is bigot. Young people as well as society in general need to learn and accept the meaning and nature of living in America. Because the changes in society have become more apparent in recent years, the challenge of change makes life difficult for those who prefer the status quo. When any American is discriminated against or denigrated because of some superficial difference, all Americans are impacted because that thinking goes against what we say we believe in and stand for as citizens— life, liberty, freedom, and justice for all.

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Paul R. Lehman, Mother Jones article, “Are You A Racist?” falls short on logic

December 12, 2014 at 8:14 pm | Posted in African American, American Racism, amygdala, blacks, discrimination, DNA, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, justice, justice system, liberty, Prejudice, race, racism, skin color, skin complexion, socioeconomics | Leave a comment
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In a current (January/February 2015) article by Chris Mooney in “Mother Jones,” “Are You Racist? Science is beginning to unmask the bigot inside your brain,” we are introduced to a number of tests, exercises, games and other activities that are focused on helping to identify and control our prejudice. Most of the tests and activities involve our association with things that seemingly feed into our prejudices. Unfortunately, the article failed to achieve its objective if that objective was to help us identify ourselves as racist and to try to address the problem in a rational way.
The first problem in the article was its failure to define racist. Had the term racist been defined, then we would have a basis from which to launch a rational discussion. Racist is a spin-off of the term race that is generally associated with science. The concept of race in America is based on an illusion, a creation, and a lie when it becomes plural, as in black race and white race. As far as science is concerned, the only race we need be socially concerned with is the human race, and it is not based or defined by skin color.
Rather than making clear or defining the terms African American and European American, Mooney uses the words black and white interchangeably with them respectively. These terms are not interchangeable—they have separate and unique meanings; that is, all blacks are not or consider themselves African Americans, and all whites are not nor do they consider themselves European Americans. The article does not make that distinction. Consider the following statement regarding the test referred to as Implicit Association Test: “The test asks you to rapidly categorize images of faces as either “African American” or “European American” while you also categorize words (like “evil,” “happy,” “awful,” and “peace”) as either “good” or “bad.” Faces and words flash on the screen, and you tap a key, as fast as you can, to indicate which category is appropriate.
Sometimes you’re asked to sort African American faces and “good” words to one side of the screen. Other times, black faces are to be sorted with “bad” words.”
We notice the shift from African American faces to black faces in the about quote and this is no exception regarding these terms; it happens throughout the article. According to Mooney these tests and activities were created to measure ethnic prejudice in society, but seemingly overlook the fact that we were born into an ethnically biased society. Our perspectives are based on our social conditioning. The assumption made in the article is unrealistic:
“You think of yourself as a person who strives to be unprejudiced, but you can’t control these split-second reactions. As the milliseconds are being tallied up, you know the tale they’ll tell: When negative words and black faces are paired together, you’re a better, faster categorizer. Which suggests that racially biased messages from the culture around you have shaped the very wring of your brain.”
For the most part, the article examines activities that tell us what we already know—ethnic prejudice is a part of our mental make-up and is based on our social/cultural conditioning. What we should be focusing our attention on are ways to overcome these biases. Unfortunately, the article never debunks the notion of race as unacceptable but instead moves to the concept of tribalism as rationale. We know the benefits associated with tribal membership: identity, security, comfort, value, unity to mention as few.
Mooney’s visit with the scientist, David Amodio, a member of New York University’s psychology department, acquaints him with research regarding the brain, tribalism and prejudice: “One simple, evolutionary explanation for our innate tendency toward tribalism is safety in numbers. You’re more likely to survive an attack from a marauding tribe if you join forces with your buddies. And primal fear of those not in the in-group also seems closely tied to racial bias.” The professor added that his “research suggests that one key area associated with prejudice is the amygdala, a small and evolutionarily ancient region in the middle of the brain that is responsible for triggering the notorious “fight or flight” response.” The article continued; “In interracial situations, Amodio explains, amygdala firing can translate into anything from “less direct eye gaze and more social distance” to literal fear and vigilance toward those of other races.”
What seems apparent in this article is the fact that some scientists seem to want to verify what we already know—that prejudice exists in us and our society. The challenge is to over-come the prejudice, and we do that by educating our brains to recognize a different tribal group—the human family. One would think that the first order of business in making this shift is to first debunk to idea and concept of multiple biological races—we did it with Santa and lived through it. We certainly can do it with the illusion of race, notwithstanding Amodio’s research. We can not begin to deal with the problem of ethnic bigotry and prejudice until we face the fact that we have been living with an illusion for a few hundred years and now the time has come to face the truth.
Mooney recognized the problem of ethnic prejudice and realized that: “To be sure, it will take more than thought exercises to erase the deep tracks of prejudice America has carved through the generations.” He concludes the article with the statement: “Biases have slipped into all of our brains. And that means we all have a responsibility to recognize those biases and work to change them.” Actually, biases did not slip into our brains; in America they were cultivated through our culture, laws and social systems. One of the first things we can do is recognize that we belong to the same group by not referring to each other as black or white. What the European American needs to know is that each time he or she refers to him/herself as white, the race card is being played. Of course, the same goes for the African American and black. Ethnic bigotry, prejudice and racism will not simply disappear, it must be eradicated.

Paul R. Lehman, We are not coming back, says Rabbi Pruzansky, because of Obama.

October 7, 2014 at 8:22 pm | Posted in African American, American Dream, American history, Congress, democracy, Democrats, discrimination, employment, entitlements, Equal Opportunity, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, freedom of speech, identity, integregation, liberty, life, lower class, Medicare, minority, politicians, poor, President Obama, Respect for President, state Government, upper class | 1 Comment
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In a recent article entitled “We Are Not Coming Back,” by Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, a Jewish Rabbi from Teaneck, New Jersey, he laments the state of affairs in America and places the blame on President Barack Obama, totally disregarding facts, history, Congress, and common logic. His article appeared in The Israel National News. We will take a look at this article in an effort to enlighten the Rabbi.
The claim the Rabbi makes via Obama’s election is that “We are not coming back.” What specifically does he mean? Where would we come back to? Times when we had dirt roads, when women could not vote, when we had outdoor toilets, back when Jews and other lesser Americans were being discriminated against? Because the article begins with an illogical statement, we can safely assume that the remainder will be opinions and conjecture regarding the state of affairs. We are not disappointed in that respect when the Rabbi noted that Mitt Romney lost the presidential election because he did not get enough votes, but then added:” That might seem obvious, but not for the obvious reasons. Romney lost because the conservative virtues – the traditional American virtues – of liberty, hard work, free enterprise, private initiative and aspirations to moral greatness – no longer inspire or animate a majority of the electorate.” He does not include justice, fairness, charity, compassion, care for the poor and helpless in his virtues—things that America is known for around the world and at home.
The reason he gave for Romney’s loss to Obama “was because it is impossible to compete against “free stuff.”Under ordinary circumstances we might give him the benefit of the doubt, but he began to employ code words of the right-wing conservatives that point an accusing finger to people of color as well as poor people as villains rather than victims:
Every businessman knows this; that is why the “loss leader” or the giveaway is such a powerful marketing tool. Obama’s America is one in which free stuff is given away: the adults among the 47,000,000 on food stamps clearly recognized for whom they should vote, and so they did, by the tens of millions; those who – courtesy of Obama – receive two full years of unemployment benefits (which, of course, both disincentivizes looking for work and also motivates people to work off the books while collecting their windfall) surely know for whom to vote. The lure of free stuff is irresistible.
What the Rabbi fails to point out is that long before Obama, President Reagan attacked the unions in an effort to destroy them—he fired 11,000 Air Traffic controllers. In addition, he made it easy for businesses to file reorganization bankruptcy which caused workers to loose their salaries, employment benefits, retirements, and health benefits, along with other perks. Add to these conditions in the workforce, the introduction of NAFTA. In addition to the jobs that were lost through union busting and bankruptcy, many employers started to move their businesses outside of America, thereby displacing thousands of working Americans.
We certainly recognize that some people will play any system that is created to help people in need, but to characterize all the people needing food stamps and unemployment insurance as recipients of “free stuff” are un-American. A worker cannot receive unemployment insurance unless he or she has worked and contributed to the insurance fund through the employer. So, what is society to do with the American citizens who are in need? Ignore them? That is not who we are as a society.
We also noted that the Rabbi did not mention the “free stuff” the government gave to the banks, corporations, and industries, while the Congress failed to pass a minimum wage. Even one of the world’s riches men, Warren Buffet, complained that his secretary paid more income tax than he.
So, according to the Rabbi, the “giveaways” and “free stuff” represent the first reason for Romney’s defeat. He added that Obama’s actions also helped to point out the second reason: “That engenders the second reason why Romney lost: the inescapable conclusion that the electorate is ignorant and uninformed. Indeed, it does not pay to be an informed voter, because most other voters – the clear majority – are unintelligent and easily swayed by emotion and raw populism.”Although this comment was meant for liberals and democrats, it also represents the people who continue to vote against their own best interest, especially in the red states.
A known fact in America today is that the majority of the wealth is owned by one percent of the population. We also know that the average wage has not gone up along with inflation. Because of the wide gap in income, we know that the middleclass is disappearing. So, people are working more and making less. Still the Rabbi noted:
Obama could get away with saying that “Romney wants the rich to play by a different set of rules” – without ever defining what those different rules were; with saying that the “rich should pay their fair share” – without ever defining what a “fair share” is; with saying that Romney wants the poor, elderly and sick to “fend for themselves” – without even acknowledging that all these government programs are going bankrupt, their current insolvency only papered over by deficit spending.
What are people to think when Congress wants to not raise minimum wages, cut health insurance, not fund workers compensation, but continue to give tax breaks to the wealthy? What the Rabbi did not mention, however, was that today, the economy has recovered from the 2008 fall, banks and businesses are making large profits, the unemployment rate is down to 2008 level, and the deficit has been cut in half. So, why preach doom and gloom?
None-the-less, the Rabbi sadly predicts a win in 2016 of Hillary Clinton because she will follow Obama’s lead. He closes with the statement: If this election proves one thing, it is that the Old America is gone. And, sad for the world, it is not coming back. The problems we face today are there because the people who work for a living are outnumbered by those who vote for a living.”How illogical and irrational can one be? America and the world are constantly changing.
The Rabbi places all the responsibility for all the ills, as he sees them in society, on President Obama. Any person with knowledge of history and government knows that in a democracy we have three divisions of government, not a dictator. No, we are not coming back, and indeed, we should not even think of going backwards to whatever he had in mind. The Rabbi should gather his facts and history then provide for his audience with positive information that can be used to build on, not tear down and despair over. The Rabbi should be ashamed of himself.

Paul R. Lehman, Race as a social identity has outived its usefullness to American society.

September 2, 2014 at 6:36 pm | Posted in African American, American history, Bigotry in America, blacks, Chief Justice John Roberts, Civil Rights Ats, Constitutional rights, discrimination, employment, entitlements, equality, Ethnicity in America, fairness, immigration, justice, minority, Prejudice, race, Race in America, skin color, skin complexion, Supreme Court Chief Justice, The Huffington Post, whites | 2 Comments
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Without realizing it, many educators and people of influence are supporting and promoting the separation and discrimination of people by race and color. The way it is being done is through the use of race by color, i.e., black race and white race. Let us take a close look at these phenomena called race by color and see what problems and challenges it continues to place of humanity, especially in America. The word race initially did not contain an element of color when it was used by the Angles and Saxons to distinguish themselves from the Brits. To the people then, the word race carried a sense of a biological difference among nations. Today, we know “What is false in this dogma is the belief that a nation is a race, a group sharing a common biological descent. Equating nation with race defies the most elementary knowledge of history. From time immemorial, Europe and America have been playgrounds of miscegenation” (Jacques Barzan, From Dawn to Decadence, 1500 to the Present).
Race by color became important in America when Africans became the primary source of slaves. Creating two races, one black and one white served to strengthen the power, prestige and control of majority society. The Europeans/European Americans were identified as white; meaning that all the positive attributes of human beings would be posited in them. For the African/African Americans, the reverse was alleged to be true. This illusion of race would and could work because the enslavers held all power over the slaves, and to a large degree, society. The power did not reside only in the skin color, but how the skin complexion was valued in society. For example, under the belief system of race by color, only a so-called white man and a so-called white woman could produce a so-called white child. In effect, no other man or woman on the planet could do that. All people of color (who were less valued in society than the so-called white) could never produce a so-called white child. Any and all off springs of European men would take the identity of the mother. In an effort to prevent European servant women from marrying African men, the state of Maryland created and passed the first miscegenation law in 1661. The slave industry even created a system whereby the degree of whiteness could be measured in Africans and other slaves of color which increased their market value—mulatto, quadroon, octoroon, etc.
The illusion of human and social value associated with the skin color is still very much a part of American society today, and because of that, America can make only limited social progress. Part of the problem comes from many Americans who are unwilling to recognize the fact that race is an illusion and want to hold on to their color as an identity. The problem with holding on to race by color is that it cannot be defined except on a very limited basis, and then it falls apart. People who identify themselves as black may not in fact have a black skin color, so what does black mean in those situations? Some people will suggest that black means African American. Well, black and African American are not the same or interchangeable. Black does not distinguish a personal identity based on color, culture, ethnicity, or geography—the only relevance black has is to a black race that was created during slavery with all negative contexts. The same thing can be said of European Americans who call themselves white, except the contexts are positive.
When the young Civil Rights workers of the ‘60s reacted to the phrase “white power” with “Black power,” they were able to change to the sentiment of blackness from negative to positive, but only in the African American community. The white or European American community did not have to change a thing regarding color. So, today when word, black or white, is used with reference to a person’s identity, it serves to support and promote so-called racial separation and all the things that accompany it. Chief Justice of the United States, John Roberts, was correct when “In a 2007 case, he wrote: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”That is, when we stop using race as if it is accurate and valid, we can get to the real problems of justice and fairness. Getting rid of race does not mean getting rid of ethnic or cultural differences, but it means changing the focus from our differences to our commonalities.
In a recent article, “The Emotional Toll of Growing Up Black in America,” Marian Wright-Edelman wrote that:
“Everybody in the classroom and teaching children today — when for the first time White students will no longer be the majority in our nation’s public schools — needs to be culturally sensitive and culturally trained. This is true for all child-serving institutions. We need to watch out for the subtle as well as the overt ways in which we treat non-White and White children and those who are poor differently. And we need much more diversity in children’s literature so that White, Black, Latino, Native American, Asian American, and all children can be exposed to the rich mosaic of America’s melting pot to help them see themselves and what they can be.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marian-wright-edelman/the-emotional-toll-of-gro_b_5738420.html?utm_hp_ref=email_share
The primary point that this blog makes is the very point that is missed in the above article—people, especially children, do not want to be treated differently; they want to be treated fairly and justly, regardless of their ethnic and/or cultural identity. We know that the metaphor of the melting pot nation was never realized and the proof is seen in the misrepresentation of African Americans in many of the social categories of unemployment, ineffective education, and incarceration rates. We certainly need to respect ethnic, cultural, and geographical differences where necessary, but we do not need to burden our children with false identities such as black and white. If a child is the product of a mixed ethnic couple, identifying with either the mother or father would not be fair to the parents or the child. In that case, let the parents decide the cultural identify of the child, but not mixed-race or black and white. Ethnically or culturally mixed children simply want to be children, no more, no less. Race as a social identity has outlived its usefulness to society.

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.

Paul R. Lehman, The picture of President Obama and a banana reflects negatively on the sender

February 11, 2014 at 1:18 am | Posted in African American, Constitutional rights, democracy, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, European American, freedom of speech, justice, Prejudice, President Obama, Race in America, Russia, skin color | 2 Comments
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The phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words” has been around for a few hundred years and it still has relevance today. The concept of the phrase whether it is one thousand or ten thousand words concern not only the picture itself, but also the creator as well as the producer and user. Each has its own reason for the picture’s value; so, the image that constitutes the picture is not the only concern of the viewers. In an article from the Guardian, “Russian MP’s Obama with banana picture sparks racism debate” (2/9/14) a discussion concerning racism began. The picture in question is a doctored photo of President and Mrs. Obama; the picture has been changed to make President Obama appear as though he is chewing on something while he stares wide-eyed at a banana that seemingly is before him.
The article noted that “The subject of racism has become the focus of a public discussion in Russia after an MP from Duma caused outrage by posting an image of Barack Obama that was photoshopped to include a banana. It continued by stating that “Irina Rodina, an MP from Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party and a triple Olympic champion figure-skater, posted the picture on her personal Twitter account.” Rodina apparently saw nothing amiss with the picture she claims was sent to her from friends in the U.S. She was quoted as saying “Freedom of speech is freedom of speech, and you should answer for your own hang-ups.”
If we take the time to look at the photo, we can recognize that the image of President Obama has been altered, so that he does not appear to be in a normal state, but a contrived one. His eyes have been made to seemed fixed on a banana magically suspended in from of him. We do not know what the person who altered the photo had in mind, but a suggestion might be that an effort was made to associate the President’s image with that of a monkey or something similar that likes to eat bananas. The irony of the photo is that many people like and eat bananas, so why try to focus attention on the image of President Obama looking at the banana unless it is an attempt to try and make a denigrating statement regarding him. In fact, because the photo is so contrived, the effect probably rest with the question it raises—why?
The answer to that question never is given because the charge of racism came quickly to the front. The article noted that “The incident was widely discussed in the Russian press, with many commentators coming to the defence of the MP and figure-skater.” We agree with a person’s right to free speech, so as far as Rodina having the right to Tweet the photo we have no argument. Our concern is to why? What was the objective? We do not know because no one, including Rodina has said. What we do know is that most educated and informed individuals generally have a working knowledge of their actions, especially if they are deliberate.
The article reported that the United State ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, was not pleased and believed “that Rodina was guilty of ‘outrageous behavior which only brings shame to her parliament and country.’ A spokesperson for the U. S. embassy quoted Thomas Jefferson in response to the tweet: ‘Bigotry is the disease of ignorance.’” The response is appropriate in this instance because to identify the photo as racist is to support the concept of multiple human races, which in turn feed the illusions of bigots. The ignorance associating people as members of a race because of their color, religion or beliefs is like saying that fresh water from different parts of the world is different just because it changes from country from country. We know that certain things can be and are added to the water, but take away the additives and it is all the same. So it is with people.
When something so contrived as the President Obama picture is offered to the public, the logical response is to simply ignore it and let it pass, because that is not what the presenters want to happen. They want to raise the ire and alarm at what they know can appear degrading not only to the President, but to the country as well. By acknowledging the photo, the viewer gives in to the trap and brings attention to a cause that is lost and dying—racial superiority.
Rather than the picture being viewed as disparaging and denigrating to the President, the fact is that the ignorance of the people who created, produced and promoted it is underscored. The use of the word racist does not fit the situation, although the people responsible for the picture might think so. By accepting the term racist, the blame for the action can be displaced among the larger group of like-thinkers. The appropriate word is as the embassy spokesperson noted from Jefferson is bigotry. The bigot has to accept personal responsibility for his or her actions, not the group. Obviously, seeing the photo will generate questions, but by letting it pass, since nothing positive is to be gained from an angry reaction, does not give comfort to the instigators.
Yes, we can agree with the phrase that “a picture is worth a thousand words” but we need to always keep in mind that the picture did not create itself, and there has to have been some motivation for the production. We are correct to question the purpose of the photo as well as the expectations of different viewers to the photo. However, once rational and reasonable people understand that the use of the photo is for negative propaganda, we can then remove ourselves from any attempt to call attention to it. When some people have lived their entire lives internalizing a myth, then no amount of common sense or facts can change their biased minds.

Paul R. Lehman, The ignorance and stupidity of race rears it head on Fox News

December 16, 2013 at 9:49 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American Dream, American Indian, American Racism, blacks, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, Disrespect, DNA, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, Hispanic whites, Human Genome, identity, immigration, integregation, justice, liberty, Media and Race, minority, Non-Hispanic white, Prejudice, Race in America, segregation, skin color, skin complexion, Slavery, U. S. Census, White on Arrival, whites | 1 Comment
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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.”

Paul R. Lehman, The defense of the ‘n’ word by Charles Barkley cause for concern.

November 18, 2013 at 9:56 pm | Posted in Africa, African American, American Bigotry, American Racism, blacks, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, identity, Media and Race, Prejudice, Slavery, whites | Leave a comment
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Charles Barkley recently expressed his thoughts relative to the ‘n’ word and in so doing exposed some gross defects in his thoughts. Barkley confused his freedom of speech with his personal freedoms not fully realizing the responsibilities of each freedom. In his comments on TNT he stated that “What I do with my black friends is not up to White America to dictate to me what’s appropriate and inappropriate.” He is absolutely correct in underscoring his freedom to associate with whomever he chooses. The problems come from his willingness to promote the idea of races based on color, and thereby underscoring the concept of ethnic biases. His thoughts on the use of the ‘n’ word also help to promote ethnic division in America.
As far as Barkley using the ‘n’ word is concerned, he is correct in exercising his freedom of speech. He is incorrect to think that his use of the ‘n’ word is excusable. Barkley is free to eat a gallon of ice cream in one sitting; however, his common sense should tell him that to do so would incur some negative repercussions: stomach discomfort, digestive discomfort, and dietary discomfort. So, although he has the right to eat the ice cream, he understands the negative effects of doing so. What Barkley, apparently, does not realize is the negative effects of using the ‘n’ word in any context.
What Barkley seemingly disregards is the historical significance of the ‘n’ word and how that significance does not change regardless of who utters the word. True, the emotional impact experienced when the word is use by someone historically associated with its negative context cannot be denied, but it is precisely the negative emotional experience related to the historical significance that creates the difference. Barkley supposedly assumes that people who identify with the ‘n’ word are immune from its negative effects when the word is used by people like them. That assumption is false because regardless of the word’s intent, its historical connotations remain intact. He seems to resent the thought of a so-called white America dictating to him what to say and what not to say. One wonders if Barkley realizes that the ‘n’ word was first used by European Americans to identify Africans and African Americans in a grossly negative concept. The continued used of that term regardless of the user simply extends its historically negative concept.
One of the underlining concepts to come from Barkley’s comments is the false belief in multiple races based on color. That concept always serves to separate and divide human beings one from another for false and illogical reasons. One of the results of America’s creation of two races, one black, one white, is the prejudice and bigotry based on the assumed superiority of the so-called white race over the so-called black. Whenever either word black or white is used, the image of two different so-called races comes to mind. A similar experience is possible whenever the ‘n’ word is used. America is changing with respect to ethnic identity and the use of the terms black and white will eventually come into disuse. Society will come to rely more on ethnic identities that are more accurate and precise.
For someone to stand on their rights of free speech with respect to a socially unacceptable word make little sense. The user of the ‘n’ word presents two pictures of himself or herself to society simultaneously: one, a picture of someone who is ignorant of the word’s historical significance, and two, a picture of someone who is selfish and intent on doing emotional harm to another. If, for example, an African American believes using the ‘n’ word around other African Americans is okay, than a false assumption is being made. Not all African Americans accept the use of the ‘n’ word with respect to themselves as well as with respect to others. They understand the negative implications of using the ‘n’ word. Some African Americans believe that while their use of the ‘n’ word is permissible, that is not the case for people who are not African American. Why? If the thinking is that the word was associated in slavery and afterwards with African Americans so it should be reserved for their use only, then that thinking is faulty. No one person or group has a monopoly on the use of a word. The fact that one group sees the word as special to them only means that the word still retains some of its power to do harm.
The late great comic genius, Richard Pryor, used the ‘n’ word for years as a staple in his comedy routine. He even produced an album with the ‘n’ word in the title. He recalled receiving an epiphany on day during a visit to Africa. He was sitting in a hotel in Kenya and began to look around the hotel lobby; he described what he saw as “gorgeous black people, like everyplace else we’d [the people traveling with him] been. The only people you saw were black. At the hotel, on television, in stores, on the street, in the newspapers, at restaurants, running the government, on advertisements. Everywhere.” Pryor realized something for the first time; he turned to his companion and said, “Jennifer. You know what? There are no niggers here…The people here, they still have their self-respect, their pride.”
Pryor realized that the ‘n’ word was given to enslave Africans in America when their personal identity was taken away. Once he understood the historical significance of the ‘n’ word he said that he regretted ever having uttered the word on stage. He went further in describing it as a wretched word and added that “To this day I wish I’d never said the word. I felt its lameness. It was misunderstood by people. They didn’t get what I was talking about. Neither did I … So I vowed never to say it again.”(youtube.com)
The historical significance of the ‘n’ word should discourage anyone from using it or even promoting its use. Regardless of what anyone thinks, changing the context of the word or the setting in which it is used does not change is negative stereotypical connotations. No one wants to deny Barkley his freedom of speech regarding his use of the ‘n’ word, but he need to be aware of its historical significance and the fact that freedom is not free.

Paul R. Lehman, The power of bigotry seeks to destroy either Obama or America

October 1, 2013 at 12:42 am | Posted in Affordable Health Care, African American, American Bigotry, American Racism, blacks, Congress, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, GOP, integregation, justice, Prejudice, President Obama, Race in America, Republican Party, the Republican Party, whites | 1 Comment
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Call it hatred, fear, politics, or any other stressful experience, but we all know that the primary reason for the Republicans shutting down the government is bigotry. Almost fifty years have passed since society has witnessed the degree of bigotry displayed through the actions of some conservative Republicans to deny President Obama and the country any success. The fact that this group of people is willing to let the country suffer because of their bigotry shows the degree to which the fear, hatred and ignorance have taken the place of common sense and decency.
Now that these politicians have shown the length to which they will go the deny President Obama any element of success, what will the rest of America do as our society slowly descends into a dysfunction state of confusion? For too long, America has tried to hide the bigotry that rests beneath the surface of everyday life. We pretend that bigotry does not really exist, or if it does exist, the degree is so small that it presents no serious problem to society. With the recent actions of the Republicans in Congress, we can rethink the seriousness of the problem of bigotry in society. The hatred for the President by certain Republicans has been underscored many times by any number of television commentators, including Ed Schultz and Lawrence O’Donnell, both on MSNBC.
Although the approach taken by the President’s critics usually focus on some piece of legislation or some action he has taken. Recently, the focus has been solely of the Affordable Care Act, or as some refers to it, as Obamacare. In any event, they are hell-bent on trying to delay its enactment since they could not defund it. This program of healthcare that will make care available for most Americans for the first time has been demonized by the Republicans. The only reason for their efforts to have the American people dislike the Affordable Health Act is their hatred for President Obama, an African American. Some will continue to see the actions of President Obama’s critics as political; after all, he is a democrat. But when reasonable approaches to the political problems are dismissed or rejected outright, what is one to believe?
To understand fully the reason for the Republican bigotry against President Obama, we must go back in history to the beginning of our country. Before the Europeans came to America, the word race was used to distinguish groups of people who looked alike, from one another. The Anglo-Saxons, for example, hated the Brits, and viewed them as brutes, and even considered them to be of a different biological race. The Anglo-Saxons thought themselves superior to all their neighbors, mainly because of their German ancestry. When the English came to America, their belief was that God had provided this land for them, and wanted them to take it away from the savages (Indians). If we stop for a moment and examine the names of the towns that the Pilgrims and Puritans settled, we discover that these town- names, many with biblical references, reflect the objective of these new immigrants, to possess this new God-given land. The objective was never to share the land with people who did not look like them; that was why they tried to eliminate the Indian population. In their minds, America was supposed to be a white country, owned and controlled by whites. One problem with that belief was it was based on a myth. Their words were put into God’s mouth.
When the first introductory lines of the “Declaration of Independence” were written, the language used was to help create an image and attitude that would attract world support. The phrase “All men are created equal,” was a catch-all construction that could not withstand actual scrutiny since slavery and class distinctions were intricate parts of American society at the time. A quick look at the signers of that “Declaration” will show that each and every man would not have been thought to be average or ordinary citizen, but all were considered Anglo-Saxons and member of the upper class. Fortunately, the document Jefferson wrote followed by The Constitution, years later, included language that could not be avoided without society being accused of hypocrisy. Nonetheless, the idea of a society owned, governed, and controlled by whites persisted throughout history in spite of its being based in myth.
When the Anglo-Saxons whites realized that their numbers were decreasing, they slowly started to recognize some of the lesser whites as acceptable to their society, but not as “real whites,” only Caucasians, because they were not of pure blood. Around the time of WWII segregation and Jim Crow issues brought about by civil right concerns aided in the consolidation of the “real Whites” with the Caucasians. The terms white and Caucasian became, for some, interchangeable. This change opened the doors of opportunity for many Caucasians. The point of interest for the society during this time is that it could call itself a white society, governed and controlled.
The idea of America as a white society began to come under attack during the middle and late ’60s when African Americans began to struggle for civil rights in earnest with great participation from many segments of society representing other ethnic groups. With the success of the civil rights movement came the fear of whites loosing privileges, power and prestige. The turning point came with the election of an African American as President. That was never supposed to happen. However, since it has happened, the bigots cannot accept the fact. So, they do everything they can to discredit President Obama. They could not prevent his re-election, so they are determined to reject any and all legislation they can to try to show that President Obama is unqualified to be president. Their effort to shutdown the government is aimed directly at foiling President Obama, to somehow make it look like he is responsible for the shutdown.
The bigots believe that they are in a war for the image of America, a European American image. Any success experienced by the Obama administration represents a nail in their coffin for retaining the image of America as a European American (white) nation. These bigots would prefer to see America’s people and its reputation destroyed rather than have President Obama achieve any measure of success. As we witness the descent of American society into a state of extreme confusion, we can also witness the power of bigotry and the ignorance that informs it. Those who have eyes need to see, and once they have seen, need to act to help prevent the power of bigotry from destroying what should be a beacon of freedom to the world, America.

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