Paul R. Lehman, Christianity and the church’s failure to address the problem of race

April 24, 2020 at 3:13 pm | Posted in Africa, African American, American Bigotry, American history, American Indian, American Racism, Bible, Bigotry in America, biological races, black inferiority, blacks, Christianity, desegregation, discrimination, Disrespect, education, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, Jesus, Nigeria, Pilgrims, race, Race in America, racism, segregation, skin color | 2 Comments
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In the fall of 1947, a young African American man entered the doors of a traditional Christian church near the downtown area of the city and asked to speak to the pastor. This particular church was located in a segregated area of the city and its parishioners were all European American. The young man met with the pastor and explained that he and his family had recently arrived in the city and could not locate a church of his denomination that included African Americans. He asked the pastor if God was worshiped in his church and if so, could he and his family could worship there. The pastor said that indeed, God was worshiped in his church, but he would have to get back to him about him and his family attending service there. A short time later, the pastor informed the young African American that he and his family could attend services at the church, but they would be required to sit in the rear of the church and wait to be last to partake of the Eucharist.
One might imagine how pleased the congregation felt about itself permitting a family of African Americans to worship God in their church. A gold star might be given the church for doing God’s work. After all, ethnic segregation was the norm for America during this period of history, and to go beyond the limits of the law was quite courageous for a European American church. While this incident might seem heart-warming and appropriate for a Christian community sharing God’s love, the action of the church were not consistent with the concept of Christianity.
Christianity, and by extension, the church, has always been complicit in the inhumane treatment of people of color. Before coming to America, the Portuguese and Spaniards destroyed many of the cities and enslaved many people of Mexico and portions of South America. In America, the Explorers from Spain and England captured American Indians and sold them into slavery. In the year 1535, Cabeza De Vaca and his party “…encountered a party of Spanish slave hunters under Diego de Alcaraz in Western Mexico. Seeing the terror of his American Indian escorts at these “Christian slavers,” as he acerbically called them, Cabeza de Vaca became openly critical of Alcaraz, who arrested him and sent him south and seized as slaves the six hundred natives in his company.”The explorers often referred to the Pope as giving them the authority to do whatever they wanted while enslaving the native people to enrich their investors.
When the English came to America under the guise of seeking religious freedom Christianity was used to both defend and condemn slavery and since the majority of the founders were slaveholders the only thing consistent relative to Christianity and slavery was the argument. Karen Armstrong wrote that “After the Civil War, demoralized by their failure to resolve the slavery question, many of the Evangelicals withdrew from public life, realizing that they had marginalized themselves politically. Their religion thus became separate from their politics, a private affair—just as the Founders had hoped.”The key point Armstrong made was the actions of the clergy and the church explains the situation today: “Before the war [Civil War] preachers had concentrated on the legitimacy of slavery as an institution but had neglected the issue of race.” She added that “Tragically, they would remain unable to bring the gospel to bear on this major American problem.” She also noted that for one hundred years after abolition African Americans continued “to suffer segregation, discrimination, and routine terrorism at the hands of white supremacist mobs, which the local authorities [including the church] did little to suppress.”
In recent years the church in America has given some attention to the problems of civil rights for people of color by working independently and with various civic organizations. However, the church has yet to speak to the primary issue of race, only the consequences of race in America. The ignorance or lack of action by the church relative to ethnic biases is not confined to America. A recent article’s (cruxnow.com>church >in>Europe>2020/04) opening sentences brought this message home clearly: “A Nigerian priest in Germany has been forced to leave his parish over concern for his safety after his car and house were attacked and he received a death threat. Catholic officials in Germany say the priest, Patrick Asomugha, who is the head of a parish in Queidersbach, a small municipality in western Germany, will leave his post this week.”The article stated further that “ ‘Concerns for the safety and wellbeing of pastor Asomugha makes this step unavoidable,’ Andreas Sturm, vicar general for the Speyer diocese’s bishop, said in a statement. It would be irresponsible to continue exposing pastor Asomugha to the threat.”One wonders why the church would place a person of color in a congregation that clearly showed ethnic bias.
The article referenced two statements made by members of the church served by Asomugha. The first stated that: “I won’t let my child be baptized by a black man.” The second also noted that “During communion service, one parishioner is also reported to have said: ‘I’m not taking anything from those dirty black hands.’”These two statements underscore a plethora of concerns the church had not addressed.
The Christian church, meaning protestant and catholic religions, have yet to debunk the false concept of races either biological or by skin color on a national and international level, and as a result, have helped to promote the concept of European supremacy. The church has not used the Bible to educate it, followers, that all people are God’s creation and reflect his image, so no one should be discriminated against because of their ethnicity. By not making the effort to educate its parishioners, the church invites segregation and discrimination to perpetuate among its members. The church fails to consider the ethnic and cultural differences among its members and places members of its clergy in harm’s way by not preparing the congregations and the priests appropriately relative to the challenges they face. The experiences faced by the priest could have and should have been avoided had the church done its job.
The church may have done considerable work in combating bigotry, but little work has been done to replace the cause of that bigotry—race.

Paul R. Lehman, Identity confusion persists among Americans concerning race, ethnicity, and nationality

March 24, 2020 at 3:45 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, American Racism, anglo saxons, Bigotry in America, biological races, black inferiority, blacks, China, DNA, education, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, France, Human Genome, identity, immigration, language, Media and Race, minority, Negro, race, Race in America, racism, skin color, skin complexion, social conditioning, white supremacy, whites | Leave a comment
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When the founding fathers invented and instituted their system of Anglo-Saxon/ European Identity confusion persists among Americans concerning race, ethnicity, and nationality American supremacy they knew that it was based on a myth and using color to define race was an illogical choice, but as long as they could maintain, support, and promote the concept, there was no fear of the myth being replaced by facts. Unfortunately, time has a way of uncovering things meant to stay hidden, but race as an identity is not one of them. Today, many Americans are confused as to their identity because society and the government have deliberately invented the confusion by mixing terms that are distinct and different from one another and using them as though they are interchangeable. All the words focus directly on personal identity, but when used refer to different things: race, ethnicity, and nationality.
What happens, generally, when Americans are asked their race? Too many will respond with an answer that includes a color; usually black or white because that is how society and the government have conditioned society to see themselves. If the words black and white were not used then words that signify the same idea are used like negro, colored, and Caucasian, etc… While these words might make reference to a so-called race, the fact is that race is an invented word and does not exist in the taxonomic classification. In addition, these words actually prevent a person’s factual identity from being recognized or used.
After delivering a lecture one afternoon at a small community library, one of the attendees, a senior European American woman raised her hand to ask a question. After I acknowledged her, she asked, “What is the European American you keep speaking about?” I explained to her that if she identified herself as white then she was a European American as far as society and the government was concerned. She responded that she was actually white. I asked her what did white mean. Her only answer was the color of her skin, she had forgotten about her ethnic identity and nationality. My next comments went to explain to the group the concept of ethnicity and ethnic groups.
Early scientists discovered variations in our species and found no biological differences in those variations, but because of their observations and experiences involving other peoples, they formed ideas and biases relative to many of these people. Rather than credit the cultural differences to the groups and their ways of life, many of these scientists, scholars, doctors, and others used their biases to identify various groups. All people belong to an ethnic group in some way or another. An ethnic group is defined as a group that sees itself and that others see them as a distinct community that possesses certain characteristics that sets them apart from other groups. What is considered ethnicity are shared characteristics such as culture, language, religion, and traditions, which contributes to an individual or person’s identity. None of these characteristics are biological, so they cannot be transferred from one person to another biologically.
So, every person on the planet has two identities, one ancestral and one chosen. The ancestral identity occurs when a person is born because that person takes the identity of the parents whatever that happens to be. For example, if both parents were Korean than the child’s identity would be Korean. However, if both parents had different ethnic identities, then the child would share both identities, but conform to the cultural practice of the group as to which one to present publically. In this example, the ethnicity and culture are the same, Korean. However, what would happen if that Korean child grew up and moved to France and decided to become a citizen there? Well, the child’s ancestral identity would remain the same, Korean, but the cultural identity would change to French.
“So, why do I identify myself as white,” she asked. I explained that probably because your parents decided that life in America would be more rewarding by discarding their ancestral and cultural identities for the one highly prized white identity. She seemed satisfied.
The American identity confusion persists in that race and ethnicity are perceived as the same which they are not; race is a myth, and ethnicity has nothing to do with biology. Nonetheless, the confusion continues when we introduce the term nationality. This term nationality refers to an identity that includes culture and a geographical location that is distinctive from other cultures and locations, like China or America. When Americans leave America to travel to other parts of the world the primary identification they take with them is a Passport. A brief examination of the Passport will show that no reference to a person’s physical appearance except in a photo of the person; no reference to skin color or ethnic identity is included. The same is true for individuals entering America. In essence, a person’s identity is based on their nationality, not their skin color or ancestral identity. Nationality has no biological component to its definition because it is inclusive to all that take shelter under it. When foreigners become American citizens they simply become Americans, not Irish Americans or Haitian Americans, just Americans.
Demographics have been rapidly changing America’s social landscape to the point that predictions indicate by the year 2045, the majority of Americans will be people of color. What that means is the system of European American supremacy will have a loss of its power to control the majority by using skin color. America’s practice of grouping people together by skin color was a way to control and discriminate the population and although other avenues of approach to achieve those ends exist, at least this one will no longer be available. Simply said, a person’s race is human, their ancestral ethnic identity comes from their parents, and their personal identity comes from their nationality. So, unless someone is writing an article or a book about someone, no need exists to provide an ancestral or cultural identity. In America, when someone is asked, “What are you,” the answer is simply—American. And what does an American look like? Just like you. And that’s all folks.

Paul R. Lehman, The Customer is not always right, especially if she is bigoted

March 5, 2020 at 9:08 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, Amira Donahue, biological races, discrimination, Disrespect, employment, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, justice, law enforcement agencies, race, racism, respect, skin color, social conditioning, U. S. Census | 1 Comment
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An incident in an Olive Garden restaurant in Evansville, Indiana reported in the U.S. News, (3/4/2020) by Janelle Griffith, involved a European American female customer requesting that she and her party not be served by a person of color. The manager of the restaurant accepted and accommodated the customer’s request. Obviously, the manager’s action relative to the customer’s request caused a number of problems for a variety of people at the time. His reactions to the customer’s request affected the employees, all the employees, but especially those of color. His actions also affected the customers, and again, especially those of color. Regardless of what the manager’s objective was in acknowledging the request, the repercussions revealed at least four levels of social conditioning in society relative to ethnic bigotry.
The first level of social conditioning was that of the customer who felt well within her rights and privileges to make the request. Since the Anglo-Saxons came to American from England, they have sought to instill their myths and superstitions about their superiority and dominance over all people of color; they do not consider themselves to be of color but to represent the human race. Therefore, everybody but them is identified as belonging to an inferiority ethnic group. That attitude of superiority became a part of the American fabric of belief that was conditioned in the homes, schools, churches, courts, jobs and every place that people frequented. Whenever an Anglo-Saxon/European American person felt uncomfortable in the presence of a person of color, they simply requested that the person color be removed usually by the local law enforcers, and their request was honored. That practice still exists today in many places as many of the videos on social media attest. So, for the customer to make her request was not something out of the ordinary; she has been socially conditioned to believe her request would be honored given past experiences.
The second level of social conditioning appeared in the actions of the manager. The primary reason for his accepting and honoring the customer’s biased request was due to the fact that he shared her mindset. What he did not consider at the time was where he was and what he was doing. Had he not shared the same attitude of Anglo-Saxon bigotry he would not have even entertained the request from the beginning. In essence, he ignored the rights and privileges of the employees who were people of color to accommodate the wishes of this Anglo-Saxon European American customer. He might have thought that he was following the business mantra relative to the customer being right, but the customer is not within his or her rights to assume an unreasonable request would be honored. Again, social conditioning is very difficult to overcome when it has been a part of a person’s everyday experience and generally, not questioned.
The third level of social conditioning involved the people of color in the restaurant who were employees. For the employees, the manager and customer seemingly joined forces in honoring the obviously bigoted request. In addition, while the customer’s request was despicably biased, the actions of the manager were equally despicable and denigrating to the employees. Rather than standing up for the principles and the dignity of the employees, the manager sided with the customer and thereby lost the respect, trust, and confidence of his employees. Why would anyone want to work for or with someone who does not respect them as human beings with all the rights and privileges of any other human being? The problem is Anglo-Saxons/European Americans are not conditioned to view people of color generally, as valuable human beings.
Amira Donahue, 16, a hostess at the restaurant said she was so upset by the incident that she began crying, all of which was witnessed by Maxwell Robbins, a customer: “The young lady was in tears and had no one to support her,” Robbins said Wednesday. “So I felt if I didn’t write this post, nothing would have happened and she would continue to go to work for a place that she feels uncomfortable at and unwanted at.”
The people of color who were customers in the restaurant experienced the fourth level of social conditioning that all too frequently occurs in America today. Fortunately, as customers, they expected to be treated with the civility and respect as the other customers, but when they see an injustice taking place, they no longer ignore it but call attention to it so that some positive action can be taken to prevent it from reoccurring. However, the people of color also understand that the social conditioning in America has been to accommodate the requests of Anglo-Saxon European Americans where possible in spite of the concerns of the people of color. In other words, after the request has been honored, an apology is forthcoming to the people of color with promises of a repeat occurrence not happening again. Of course, the request should have been denied at the start, but old habits die hard.
Education in America has failed to promote the truth about the myth of race and the superstition of accepting it as legitimate and factual. We are asked to believe that the characteristics of one individual are representative of an entire group of people and so anyone that looks like or shares some cultural characteristic of that group become fixed forever. That is exactly what happens when people are identified on the bases of their skin color or ethnic history. Society and the government are complicit in the promotion, maintaining, and supporting the concept of a race without ever defining it. The U.S. Census Bureau continues to use the words race and ethnicity as though they are synonymous with each other which they are not, but not being able to define a word does not seem to represent a problem for them.
The incident in the Olive Garden was not something out of the ordinary from both the customer’s request and the manger’s honoring the request. Several years ago, a European American male entered a public hospital in Pennsylvania with his pregnant wife and requested that no people of color attend her during her visit. His request was granted. Of course, apologies followed after the birth of her child and the wife’s release from the hospital.

Paul R. Lehman, A lesson in classroom conflicts about the “n” word in literature

November 27, 2019 at 12:56 am | Posted in African American, American history, Brown v Topeka, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, Disrespect, education, equality, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, fairness, integregation, Oklahoma education, respect, social conditioning, the 'n' word | 2 Comments
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Sitting in her classroom listening to her teacher read a passage from a classic novel, a sophomore English student asked her teacher if she would stop saying the ‘N’ word because hearing it offended her. She suggested that the teacher use another word instead. The teacher responded that she always said the word, which was an indication that she was not about ready to change the way she read the work. The teacher noted that to change the word from the text would be lying. The teacher suggested the student talk to someone about feeling offended. This was a situation that could have easily been avoided had the teacher been properly educated relative to the rapidly changing demographics in society, educated in how to teach works that include socially unacceptable language, and educated in how a school system should have the vision to anticipate these types of situations.(KFOR.com 11/22/2019, by Peyton Yager)

The student was in her right to inform the teacher that the language she was using although in the text of the novel, offended her. The teacher’s response to the student showed a lack of understanding and a disregard for the student’s feelings or education. The teacher’s attitude reflected a combination of ignorance, arrogance, stupidity, and bias. When the public schools were desegregated in 1954, the primary change from that time to the present was the classroom became more diversified with students from many ethnic identities. Because the schools did not integrate, the European American teachers did not have to change their method of teaching to accommodate the changes in the student body. What desegregation meant to the non-European American students was that they had to adjust to the traditional curriculum that generally excluded them. The exception to the exclusion was to be found in the literature that reflected the ethnic biases of the society during the time pictured in the work. The teacher’s comment that she always said the ‘N’ word indicated not only how she felt about offending the student, but also her ignorance of how her use of that word affected the other students and reflected directly on her character.

This incident points to another concern that should be addressed by society relative to teachers’ education. Unless someone lives in an exclusive area peopled with one ethnic group, most public schools will have a diversity of student populations. Teachers must be taught to recognize the importance of respect for each and every student regardless of diversity. The luxury of ignoring the diversity of students has passed because more and more will be represented in the schools. The traditional curriculum was written, in general, for European American students by European American Educators. Until recent times, the contributions of African Americans and other ethnic groups were not taught, with few exceptions. In other words, American society was seen as belonging to and controlled by European Americans and that being the case, the ethnic groups should learn to recognize their superiority and imitate them. Although that was more apparent in the past, today’s students have access to much more information and are willing to questions social assumptions especially about the way non-European Americans are viewed and treated in society. The educational institutions that prepare students to become educators should take into consideration the many societal changes that will confront the new teachers, especially regarding changing demographics.

The incident involving the student and the teacher and the use of socially unacceptable language could have easily been avoided if the teacher and school had been aware of the changes in our society. Unfortunately, many European Americans believe that no change from their perspective is necessary and that if the change is to come it must come from the other Americans. Well, as the student indicated, change has come and it is placing the responsibility for social adjustment on the European Americans as well as the people of color. The classroom is an important atmosphere for becoming aware and learning about one’s self and society.

Society recognized in 1984 that language and visuals presented in some movies represented a conflict to the values it wanted to be instilled in their young children. So, on July 1, 1984, the motion picture industry issued the following advisory: “Parents Are Strongly Cautioned to Give Special Guidance for Attendance of Children under 13 – Some Material May Be Inappropriate for Young Children”. In addition, television warned its viewers before questionable language or pictures are presented that what will follow may not be suitable for children. So, the viewers should take the proper precautions.

Likewise, teachers who know that works to be assigned to students that include socially unacceptable language should take the time to inform the students about the language. An introduction of the works, their setting and history would help the students to gain an appreciation of the works. The teachers should initiate a plan on how to deal with the offensive or unacceptable language.  Ignoring the language is not an option if the students will be required to read the texts. One option, as the student in this incident, suggested is to use other words when the text is read aloud. Another option would be to allow the students to read the text silently. Still, another would be to engage the students in a discussion of how they want to treat the language since they know it would offend some of their classmates.

The incident involving the student and her teacher discussed above is not unique and has happened and probably, will continue to happen until we realize that America is and has been a diverse society and that many European Americans have been deprived of learning about many of their fellow Americans. The process of learning about who we are as a society will be slow and challenging but rewarding and enriching. For too long the educational curriculum has focused on the story of the European American experience while neglecting the stories of the other Americans and often picturing them is uncompromising ways. The young student at the beginning of this piece has given a signal to the educational community loud and clear: things are not like they used to be, you have got to acknowledge and respect me and my classmates.

 

Paul R. Lehman, What about this thing called reparations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul R. Lehman, What’s in a name—the “N” word and Identity

May 4, 2019 at 4:34 pm | Posted in Africa, African American, American Bigotry, American history, biological races, black inferiority, blacks, Disrespect, DNA, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, France, identity, immigration, language, Media and Race, Negro, Prejudice, race, Race in America, respect, skin color, skin complexion, social conditioning, the 'n' word, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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Several years ago I had the occasion to give a lecture to some citizens of a small rural town at the town’s library. An audience of about twenty people attended the lecture and remained for a question and answer session. In responding to a question, I made mention of European Americans and their relation to the question. Soon after I finished my comments, a small, white-haired, senior lady raised her hand, and I acknowledged her. She asked, “What is this European American you talked about?” Smiling at her, I said, “you. You are a European American.” She seemed perplexed, so I explained to her that at one time in America the only people who could become citizens had to identify themselves as either Negro (black) or white. Many immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe did not qualify as either, so they had to use their ethnic identity which set them apart from the so-called whites. In the early 1920s, two Asian men applied for American citizenship and both were denied because the courts said they were neither black nor white. Following the second trial, a Supreme Court justice said that only Europeans could be considered white and they could recognize one from another. One of the consequences of that statement led many immigrants to stop identifying themselves by their ethnicity and just identify themselves as white because it provided elements of social and civic power and prestige.

Still looking somewhat confused, the lady asked, “What is my ethnicity?  I have always been told that I am white.” I asked her where she and her parents were born if not in America. She mentioned that her family had not spoken about being from another country in general but she had heard some references to France and Italy. I mentioned that the term European American provided a more specific identity reference than simply saying white because white does not refer to nationality, country, language, religion, or culture. She thanked me for the explanation.

This incident came to mind when I heard two young African American men talking on Facebook about economic challenges and problems experienced by African Americans and people of color. What caught my attention was their reference to African Americans as “N”. They used it as though it was an accepted and legitimate term with no historical or social significance. Evidently, they assumed that because they were, apparently, men of color their use of the word was okay. Their use of the “N” word actually communicated a number of things that were not positive. They ignored the word’s history, denotation, and connotation, social and cultural significance.

The word Negro comes from the Latin language as an adjective referring to the color black but came to be associated with people from Africa with dark skin complexions. When enslaved Africans were brought to America, they were stripped of their names, language, culture, religion, and personal history. They were forced to accept and adjust to the elements of slavery in America, but most definitely the new language through which they were to be known and referred to as Africans, Negroes, blacks, and slaves. The term Negro was the most commonly used term in America with the spelling and pronunciation varying from the different geographical areas of north and south. The slaves had no choice but to refer to one another as Negro or “N” because that was the only language they were permitted to speak.

Under slavery’s rule in America, the denotation of the word Negro made reference to people, regardless of their skin complexion, who was known to have any African blood. In this context, the reference was made only for identity. However, in the connotation, the word took on a totally different meaning. As a form of projection the “N” personified sexuality, lewdness, laziness, dirtiness, and untamed hostility. In addition, the elements of foul odors, threatening, aggressive and libidinous behavior became associated with the character of the “N” and were perceived by the average European American as normal. Altogether, the concept of excrement came to be associated with the “N” to the point that his social value was equated with it and found to be of lesser value.

Before, and definitely after Reconstruction in America, African Americans have been trying to divorce themselves from the term “N” because it never did, in fact, defined or described them, but was used to enslave them mentally. Society has labeled the “N” word pejorative and socially unacceptable because of its historical significance. However, the word has been given a life-line through entertainment and artistic expressions by some African American performers. Unfortunately, the word does not lose its pejorative quality through continued use and speaks to a sense of historical ignorance or self-deprecation by the users.

An old saying advises that one cannot throw dirt on others without getting some on one’s self. This saying works equally with the use of the “N” word because it reflects on the character of the users by questioning their self-perception and their judgment of others they associate with the word. The objective of the slave masters in imposing the “N” word on people of color was to force them to see themselves through the biased eyes of the slave masters, not their own eyes. So, for as long as the people of color continue using the master’s language relative to themselves, they will remain mentally enslaved and unable to see who they really are.

If the “N” word did not carry negative social value in society then its use would not be in question. But it does still carry negative value. So, one wonders why two intelligent young African American males would constantly use the “N” word to their audiences unless they do not realize that by doing so they are showing disrespect to themselves and their audience. With all the demographic changes taking place in the world, and especially in America today, and with many people discovering their ancestral roots, one would think that constant reference to the past via a derogatory term would be counterproductive. The continued use of the “N” word seems to suggest that some people of color want to remain mentally enslaved or do not want to know their true identity.

Paul R. Lehman, Parents of mixed-race children that offer advice to Prince Harry and Meghan are bigotry blind

April 12, 2019 at 11:58 pm | Posted in African American, African American celebrities, American Bigotry, American history, American Racism, Bigotry in America, biological races, black inferiority, blacks, discrimination, DNA, education, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, Genealogy,, Human Genome, identity, interpretations, Prejudice, race, Race in America, racism, respect, skin color, skin complexion, social conditioning, white supremacy, whites | 2 Comments
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Have you ever had the opportunity to learn a life lesson by accident without it costing you anything? Back when I was in the eighth grade, I was sitting in my social studies classroom one afternoon, waiting for class to begin when all of a sudden a loud disturbance came rushing to the front of the room—two of my male classmates were involved in fisticuffs. Our teacher, Mrs. Kelly, quickly put a stop to this display and ordered the two young men to her desk. The students were Bill and Allen and as far as anyone in the class knew, they were friends; they sat next to one another. Mrs. Kelly looked at the two students and asked the obvious question: what happened to cause this disruption?

Allen spoke first and said that Bill had insulted his mother by calling her a bad name. Bill had called her an ugly whore. Mrs. Kelly turned her eyes on Bill and asked if that was correct. He answered yes. She then looked at Allen and surprisingly asked him if it was true, was his mother an ugly whore? Allen became somewhat flustered but blurted out—no, not at all! She then turned back to Bill and asked why he had referred to Allen’s mother in such a manner. Allen said that Bill and said something that angered him, so he just said something to him to get even, and that was when Allen hit him.

Mrs. Kelly looked at both students and asked Bill if he knew Allen’s mother. He said no. She then asked if he had ever seen Allen’s mother. Again, he said no. She spoke to Allen and asked if he knew that Bill did not know nor had not even seen his mother. Allen answered yes, he knew that.  She then asked, “Why were you fighting when both of you knew that what was said was not true?” She looked at Allen and asked “How could Bill insult your mother when he does not know her, and why you would punch him for saying something that you knew was not true? Can you understand the foolishness of your actions? They both nodded in the affirmative. She then told them to look at each, apologize for acting so foolishly and get back to their seats. As they were heading back to their seats, she said for the entire class to hear: “next time you want to react foolishly to something that was said to or about you, stop, use your brain and think.” I got the message.

What brought this childhood memory to my attention was an article by Sonia Smith-Kang, in The Washington Post, (4/8/2019) about Harry and Meghan having a biracial child. The article began with this statement: “The pregnancy announcement from Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, sent the multiracial community into proud cyber-auntie and -uncle mode. We are so excited to welcome one more into our fold as we continue the distinction of being one of the fastest-growing populations, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.”The article is written by someone who identifies as a biracial person and attempts to relate with Harry and Meghan since they are expecting a baby who she believes will be biracial.

The focus of the article was to give some advice, hints, and suggestions to Harry and Meghan relative to raising their so-called biracial child. While the multiracial community and their comments were given in good faith and positive intent, they all fail to recognize one primary fact—they all possess unseen bigotry. How can that be? The answer lies in the community’s acceptance of the concept of race, especially by color, as legitimate and valid. They either do not know or choose to ignore the fact that race is a social invention and only one species of human beings exist on the planet, Homo sapiens. So, when people self-identify as biracial, mixed race or multiracial they are saying that they are only a part human being. One wonders what other species contribute to their make-up.

When people intentionally decide to identify themselves using race as a component in that identity such as biracial, mixed race, multiracial, they are in fact supporting, maintaining and promoting ethnic bigotry. Since race is a social invention and is based on skin color, we know that in America ethnic bigotry is part of the white supremacy concept. People who self-identify as biracial, mixed race and multiracial all accept the concept of white racial supremacy or there would be no value in their use of race.

All human beings belong to an ethnic group rather than the generally misused term race. Race has no scientific bases; a black race and white race does not exist. As a matter of fact, all human being are brown, including the extremes that are usually identified as black and white. Ethnic identity is based on geography and culture which includes language, religion, and customs. Biology has no involvement in ethnicity, but while many ethnic groups intermarry only the ones that accept the value of a white race use race as part of their identity. European Americans usually do not think of themselves as belonging to a race, but as the model of the human race.

Although the information provided by this group of self-identified mixed-race people appears helpful and thoughtful, it is very dangerous and harmful in that it isolates the mixed-race child from the population of human beings and treats the child as an alien. A person’s identity is based on his or her nationality, and nationality is based on geography and culture, not biology. Harry and Meghan’s child’s identity will be based on its nationality, not the cultural or ethnic identity of either parent. Even if that was the case, just what does an American and Englander look like? Forcing a child to view itself through the eyes of a race-biased culture would do extreme harm to its psyche.

The danger of a race-based concept comes from the association with social radicals such as the White Nationalist, the Aryan Nation, the Ku Klux Klan, and others hate groups that ignore the science that debunks the concept of race by color. Sharing the same or similar philosophy as hate groups serve to aid and abet them. Get the message!

 

Paul R. Lehman, Talking to kids about race should be a thoughtful, truthful, and rewarding undertaking for the kids

February 8, 2019 at 12:53 pm | Posted in African American, African American hair, American Bigotry, American history, American Racism, black inferiority, blacks, Declaration of Independence, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, DNA, education, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, fairness, Hair, Human Genome, identity, integregation, justice, language, Media and Race, minorities, Negro, Oklahoma education, Prejudice, public education, race, Race in America, racism, skin color, skin complexion, Slavery, social conditioning, The Oklahoman, tolerance, white supremacy, whites | Leave a comment
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An interesting and troubling article, “Diversity discussion: How to talk to kids about race,” by Melissa Erickson, (The Oklahoman 1/28/2019) appeared in the paper recently and caught my attention because of the topic and the subject mentioned. The first concern was the activity suggested that someone—talk to kids about race. The problem with that activity depends on several things:  the teacher must be someone familiar with race, ethnicity, culture, and nationality; the ethnicity of the students to receive the information, and the approach to discussing the subject. A closer examination of this article was necessary.

A six-year-old boy came home from school one afternoon and surprised his mother with the question, “are you white”? The irony in the question was the fact that his mom’s maiden name was White, so she had to ask him to be more specific. Since he did not have a grasp of the significance of “white” viewed as an ethnic identity, the mother took the time to explain that she was not white and that a person’s skin complexion does not determine an identity unless he or she believes in myths.  Since mothers are their children’s primary teachers caution must be taken in discussing the subject of race with children because the manner in which the information is presented can, and in many cases, affect the children’s psyche in a positive or negative way.

If the teacher or individual introducing the subject of race to children or anyone for that matter, is not knowledgeable regarding race, ethnicity, culture, and nationality then whatever information given the children will be questionable. The most important decision the teacher must make is whether to discuss race as a myth, or race as a reality, or race as a myth viewed as reality. The results of the teacher’s choice will have a lasting effect on the children’s psyche and how they see themselves as well as how they see others, and how others see them.

Serious challenges accompany each of the choices in that the invention/occurrence of race in American society must be presented and justified. If race is viewed as a myth, then its continuation in society is a problem that society must address until the facts become the guiding principle of its use. All myths can be replaced with facts, but not all people will freely accept the facts. The fact about race is that only one exist, the human race. The benefit in presenting race as the myth it is serves to discount all the derivatives associated with race like racism, racial, biracial, etc….

If race is discussed as a reality then the subjects of its derivatives must also be presented which would include bigotry, prejudice, segregation, discrimination, and integration all of which introduce the overarching topic of European American (white) supremacy. The effect that discussing European American (white)supremacy can have on children was noted in the article: “Studies from the 1940s demonstrated that black American children [African American] as young as 3 associated more negative characteristics :(”bad,” “ ugly,”) to dolls with darker skin and more positive attributes to dolls with light skin and blue eyes (“pretty, “good” ).” So, teaching information about race as a reality would produce a negative affect on how children view themselves and others based on their skin complexion. The teacher would also be tasked with justifying the system of European American (white) supremacy in its many manifestations, especially, European American (white) privileges.

If race is discussed as a myth viewed as reality then the teacher has the responsibility to acknowledge the difference between the two and deliberately choose the way of hypocrisy. In other words, if the teacher knows that race is not biological but chooses to ignore that fact and discuss the myth as reality then a gross disservice is committed against the children and society.  The teacher’s decision to follow the myth as reality involves viewing American society as two-sided—one side that wants and fights from the democratic principles imbedded in the Constitution and Declaration, and one side that is bigoted, self-centered, and controlling using a philosophy of ethnic supremacy  favoring European Americans. Although the teacher’s intentions might be seemingly good, the effect of teaching young children about race, diversity, and tolerance would condition their young minds to look for differences in each other that are man-made and minor while avoiding the majority of things they have in common that are good and biological.

When race is taught so is bigotry because it unites and divides—us and them. One cannot avoid the facts of American slavery and ethnic diversity that accompanies a discussion on race. How would the teacher explain the actions of a Christian society that dehumanized people of color by enslaving them and then blaming their enslavement on the color of their skins? How would the teacher prevent the European American children from feeling guilty for the treatment of the slaves by their ancestors? How would the teacher underscore to the children the objective of teaching diversity that should seek to unite all people as one human family and not individual biologically races, while focusing primarily on their differences? The article noted Darnise C. Martin’s comment that “Conversations can be had about dolls, hair, superheroes and just generally helping children know that they are not any less because of skin color.” The problem with that comment is the underling assumption that race is acceptable and tolerable, but can be explained to the children without any psychological effects.

What happens at time when certain subjects are considered for discussions is that little effort is given to defining the terms to be used in and during the discussion because the assumption is that everybody already knows the meanings. Too often we act as though we do not see or realize the bigoted side of American society while we are enacting laws and policies that do just that. For example, sub-standard schools did not appear by accident nor were they invented by African Americans. The history of the African American and other people of color have never been a regular part of the public school curriculum, only Western civilization’s story. So why would we want to continue to promote a history of race to young children that would continue to promote, maintain, and protect bigotry?

So, what are we suppose to do? Why not just tell the truth about race being a myth and know that as long as we act like it is real, it will appear to be so, and in spite of the fact that our DNA says we are more alike than penguins? However, the minute we decide to focus on truth and facts, the myth will begin to deconstruct.

Paul R. Lehman, Five questions that can aid in reducing arrest of people of color due to 911 calls

November 21, 2018 at 1:00 am | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, blacks, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, justice, Prejudice, Race in America, whites | Leave a comment
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Although they occur with too much frequency, we must not let the incidents of police arrest of people of color and other poor citizens for being in a place that appears uncomfortable to some European Americans become acceptable and ordinary. What seems like a daily occurrence of a person being arrested by the police in response to a 911 call must be addressed and corrected. In order to make the corrections three areas must be targeted: the citizen who makes the 911 call, the 911 dispatcher, and the police officers who respond to the 911 call.

Individuals that serve in any of the three above capacities must be taught that their choices can and often make the difference between a person’s life and death. Therefore, before the choice to act or react relative to a 911 call the following questions should be addressed: who, what, where, when, and why. If the small amount of time it takes to consider these questions by individuals in each of three areas of concern, society would benefit greatly with fewer arrest, fewer deaths, and less money paid by the citizens to settle civil cases. These questions should accompany any orientation relative to the service of a 911 emergency call because they provide the necessary information from which to make a reasonable and rational decision and choice relative to a perceived emergency.

Any number of reasons can be recalled for why a European American citizen calls 911 for assistance. For example, a university professor from the University of Texas in San Antonio called 911 to have a student remove from class because the student had simply placed her feet in or on the chair in front of her. Prior to making the call, if the professor had taken the time to ask herself the question why she wanted the student removed, the subsequent action that took place might not have happened. We might assume from the report that followed the incident that the professor felt that the gesture by the student was interpreted as an insult to her. The student’s actions were not based on anything having to do with the teacher; she just simply wanted to stretch her legs. Unfortunately, the police arrived and escorted the student from the classroom. We might add that the student was an African American and was simply unaware of the professor’s thoughts and reactions, but had to bear the brunt of the incident by being removed from the class. The information derived from asking the five questions could have offered a remedy for the problem.

Too often the 911 caller is in an emotional state of mind and cannot reason or adequately address the situation that is thought to require a 911 call. In that case, the 911 dispatcher should try to obtain that information before it is dispatched to officers in the field. In any number of incidents, a little time and a little more information might have prevented the need for law enforcement assistance. If we were to examine the situation that occurred at a Starbuck’s restaurant involving two young African Americans waiting on another colleague to join them being arrested and escorted out of the establishment by the police, we realize that simply answering the five questions might have eliminated the need for law enforcers. Had the dispatcher taken the time to ascertain just what was the problem involving the African Americans before contacting the police, the incident might have been avoided. However, the social conditioning of many European Americans often causes them to react in fear or dread at the mention of or sight of a person of color in the near surroundings, so the first reaction is to call 911.

When police receive information from a 911 dispatcher, they usually react based on the information they receive. One serious problem generally associated with this action has to be with the education the police receive in the orientation to the job and its responsibilities, namely, attitude and judgment towards the citizens. We know from many studies and experiences that European American law enforcers have a different emotional reaction to incidents involving African Americans and European Americans. Too often the attitude of officers toward people of color is one of fear, dread, and guilt. In essence, too often people of color are viewed and treated as criminals before any questions are asked or additional information acquired beyond what the dispatcher offered.

For example, when a convenience store employee thought a young African American college student had used a fake $20 bill to pay for his merchandise, he immediately called 911. The dispatcher relayed the information to the police and they rushed to the store. When they arrive inside the store, they went immediately to the African American student and commanded him to show an identification card. Nothing was said to him prior to this command. Based on their action, they assumed that the student was a criminal as in this case; the officers thought the student was not producing his identification fast enough so they ordered him to place his hands behind him, and thus instigated what they describe as the need for physical force. After throwing the student to the floor, shocking him, and placing him in handcuffs, the officers asked the store employees for the fake $20 dollar bill only to discover that it was nowhere to be found. The student was taken to jail for not obeying a direct command.

When we look at the actions and reactions of the three areas of concern relative to some European American citizens calling 911, the actions of the 911 dispatcher, and finally, the involvement of the police in these incidents, we can certainly justify the need for the use of the five questions along the chain of information from the caller to the police officers. As citizens, we pay for and depend on the services of the dispatches and the police officers to do their jobs, and we should also expect them to show respect and courtesy to everyone without first prejudging them.

Paul R. Lehman, The folly and phoniness of diversity training programs

February 12, 2018 at 2:36 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, black inferiority, blacks, Civil Right's Act 1964, discrimination, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, minority, Prejudice, Race in America, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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Prior President Truman desegregating the armed forces and the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v Topeka, European Americans (whites)had little reason to know or want to know anything in particular Prior to President Truman desegregating the armed forces and the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v about anyone in society but themselves. Changes in society in the late 1950’s that brought African Americans and women into the workforce placed a challenge on the European American (white)male to learn how to get along with the new people in the workplace. A decade later, when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 went into effect, the need for Americans to learn how to live and work together in a diverse environment became a necessity. One of the tools introduced to help accomplish that feat was called diversity training.

In an article in Time (2/8/2018) entitled “How diversity training infuriates men and fails women,” Joanne Lipman wrote the following description: “decades before Anita Hill, Gretchen Carlson or #Me Too, American companies dreamed up ‘diversity training,’ typically a course that last anywhere from an hour to a couple of days, with the goal of wiping out biases against women and others from underrepresented groups.” Please note that she identified American companies as being the instigators of diversity training. She continued: “For most of its history, diversity training has been pretty much a cudgel, pounding white men into submission with a mix of finger-wagging and guilt-mongering.”

The early diversity training seemed little more than an experimental effort, but Lipman noted that after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the training took on more urgency: “Within a decade, it had morphed into a knee-jerk response to legal actions, after a series of high-profile sex-discrimination suits.”Basically, companies invented diversity training as a safeguard against lawsuits that focused on some form of discrimination and also, a way to maintain the status quo. The more diverse Americans entered into the social institutions of society including education, civil service, medicine, politics, government employment, state, local, a federal, and business, the more the need for diversity training became important. Lipman noted that “I don’t recall ever hearing the phrase until the 1990s. By then, it had been reconstituted as a feel-good exercise in consciousness-raising. White men were told they should include women and minorities because it’s the right thing to do. It was all about the importance of “inclusion.” She added: “But here’s the thing about diversity training: It doesn’t work.”Whether it worked or not actually depended on the desired objectives of the promoters.

Lipman’s statement about diversity training not working was viewed from the perspective of wanting to see diverse people included on a fair-minded basis. She noted that Harvard professor Frank Dobbins and others looked into the data and discovered “that for white women and black men and women in management positions, it actually made things worse. That’s right: companies that introduced diversity training would actually employ more women and black men today if they had never had diversity training at all.”While many reasons exist for the failure of the programs, the primary reason is due to the expectations of a program that was not designed to address those expectations. Why?

American society has always been diverse; however, that diversity did not mean that all Americans enjoyed the same rights and privileges. The founding fathers were Anglo-Saxons from Europe and invented for American two races, one black and one white, based on the false premise of a race by color. Since they were in control of society, including government, they could impose their concept of race on the people of America, which they did. So, most European Americans (whites)grew-up in America viewing themselves as normal while all people not looking like them as inferior, especially, African Americans. The point of this historical information is to underscore the enormous challenge that any program whose objective was to change the European Americans(white) perception of themselves as not being superior to other people would face. What the programs in diversity training did was to encourage the European American (white)males to treat other people with courtesy, respect, and fairness as they saw it, but not relinquish their sense of superiority. How was that achieved? Well, when the program stressed the differences among the other people whether cultural, ethnic, religious, or gender, the perception of the other people came from the perception of the European American(white), not from just another ethnic American. So, whatever the outcome of the diversity program, the European American (white)male still retained his sense of place in society, although he might be upset.

In her article, Lipman referred to a portion of Dobbin’s study that noted reasons for programs failure: “He singled out three situations in which training is doomed to fail: when it’s mandatory; when it so much as mentions the law; or when it is specific to managers, as opposed to being offered to all employees.”  In addition, Lipman added that “Perhaps more to the point is the fact that the training infuriates the people it’s intended to educate: white men. ‘Many interpreted the key learning point as having to walk on eggshells around women and minorities—choosing words carefully so as not to offend.’”Any numbers of program interpretations do not necessarily favor the happiness of the European American (white) males.

The primary problems with programs of diversity training are that they have an unreasonable objective and little clarity of what they seek to achieve. The fact that their focus involves looking at the various differences among people and underscoring those differences would be cause for anyone to feel uncomfortable. But as Lipman noted earlier, only the feelings of the European American (white) man was of any concern relative to the program’s success. So, if the European American (white) males are not happy at the program’s conclusion, then it was a failure. Since most programs are designed to point out biases, it is a certainty that European American (white) males will not leave happy.

What programs designed to deal with social biases must do is identify the objective of the program, and not diversity training, but teaching about and understanding cultural biases. People, regardless of their cultural differences do not want to be set apart from other people because of their differences. According to Lipman: “ Women and minorities often leave training sessions thinking their co-workers must be even more biased than they had previously imagined. In a more troubling development, it turns out that telling people about others’ biases can actually heighten their own.”

One of the concerns Lipmann’s article exposed relative to diversity programs was the use of language that still serves to separate people rather than unite them—terms like minorities, white and black people. If the language and the object of the programs do not change, neither will the results of the programs.

 

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