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.

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Paul R. Lehman, Communication is a process, not just some comments

March 27, 2019 at 3:23 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, blacks, criminal justice, discrimination, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, Prejudice, Race in America, whites | 4 Comments
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After leaving security in the airport I began walking through the concourse towards my terminal gate. Walking next to me was a young man, probably in his mid-thirties, who suddenly began talking. He asked a number of questions, like “How are you?”And “How are things going with you?” to which I promptly responded. We continued walking towards our respective gates and he continued talking. Naturally, I continued to respond. This activity went on for about thirty seconds when the young man turned and headed in another direction, I assumed towards his gate. What puzzled me was his quick turn without any word of warning to me. I watched as he walked away and suddenly realized that the man was still talking, but not to me or anyone else in sight. I continued to look after him for a while when I realized that he had a device attached to his ear. That is when reality slapped me in the face—this young man was never talking to or with me; he was on his cell phone. A new lesson learned about communication that can be applied to our everyday experiences. Communication is a process that involves someone sending a message, another one receiving the message and responding to the message sent. The lesson is to know with whom one is speaking to so all parties will understand the message and its intent.

That lesson could easily be applied to the many discussions in society today involving relationships among African Americans, people of color, and European Americans. The distance that exists between people of color and European Americans communicating with each other cannot be easily bridged without each side knowing first that a language and knowledge gap exists. Too often people representing African Americans and European Americans agree to get together to discuss issues such as race, injustice, criminal justice, and a host of other topics assuming they share the same or similar perspectives and understanding of the topics. Unfortunately, conversations might extend for hours with both sides thinking that they are making progress in gaining a better understanding of one another when, in fact, they have not made any progress at all. The reason for the lack of progress comes from the fact that they do not know the mindset each side brought to the conversation. Each side speaks thinking their point of view or perspective is fully understood and appreciated when the opposite is true. Let us look at an example of this conundrum focusing on race.

When Americans talk about race the meaning and significance of the term are not the same with all people. The reason for this conflict has to do with the social conditioning each side received living in American society. As a matter of fact, many Americans do not realize the fact of their social conditioning since it is hardly ever discussed. For example, many Americans do not realize that bigotry is viewed as a natural part of American society. Some European Americans do not realize that they belong to the human race because they have been led to believe that they are representative of the human race. In other words, all the other people in American belong to a race, but not them; they are the model.

When Americans look around society they see markers and symbols that reflect European American life and history. When we look at the names of the streets, buildings, parks, and even some communities, we realize that these usually underscore aspects of European American life and history.  Everything in society appears natural to the European American, even slavery at one time. Although legal slavery ended with the Civil War, the legacy of the institution of European American (white) supremacy still manifest itself today in the way some people talk, think and act.

For many European Americans, the mere mention of the word race brings to mind African Americans because race is viewed as restricted to African Americans. History has traditionally placed the African Americans in a position of inferiority compared to European Americans, so viewing African Americans as inferior is not viewed as unusual but natural. The topic of race to many European Americans is anathema because it brings up many things in today’s society that they must refuse to recognize or simply plead ignorance to knowing like social injustice, social inequality, discrimination in the criminal justice system, voting rights, and other equally important concerns. That being the case, problems involving race cannot be resolved by people who view race from different perspectives regardless of how long they talk about it. Each side believes the other side understands their perception of the issue when they actually only see their own view.

When an American citizen identifies himself or herself as black or white, they are in fact saying that they believe in a race by color and by extension believe in European American (white) superiority. What this situation means is that an acceptance of the false concept of race makes it impossible to resolve any problems involving race fairly unless the concept of race is debunked at the very start of the conversation. Unfortunately, for many European Americans taking the action of debunking the false concept of race is extremely difficult because they do not realize that the perspective they hold is biased towards African Americans and other people of color and was acquired from their social conditioning in everyday life. They do not realize that they live in a society where to accept the concept of race by color is the very essence of ethnic bias, so anytime they refer to or think of themselves as white, they are talking about race.

Unfortunately, many Americans believe they already know everything there is to know about race and proceed to talk about it without caution. Fortunately, my lesson in the airport taught me to make certain that what I hear someone saying is meant for me and that they are speaking to me. The onus falls on me to recognize what is communication and what is just talk.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Paul R. Lehman, Mayor fails to see the hypocrisy and bigotry in his banning of Nike products

September 23, 2018 at 2:57 am | Posted in African American, American history, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, Colin Kaepernick, Constitutional rights, democracy, Disrespect, Donald Trump, equality, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, freedom of speech, interpretations, justice, language, minority, NFL, political power, politicians, Prejudice, race, respect, skin color, social conditioning, The Huffington Post | Leave a comment
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The headlines read “Mayor Bans City’s Recreation Facilities From Buying Nike Products” and immediately informed the public that he, E. Ben Zahn, was angry about the move by Nike to make Colin Kaepernick the face of their new advertising campaign. In addition to showing the public his anger, he also showed his ignorance of the Kaepernick story, his arrogance to follow his ignorance with his order, and his bigotry towards Kaepernick whether he admits it or not.

Because Zahn chose to ignore the facts surrounding the Kaepernick protest and decided to interpret it as an insult, disrespecting the national anthem and the American flag, his ignorance and anger led him to his actions. While he may certainly ban any purchases of Nike products as mayor, he cannot forbid people from wearing or using Nike products nor does he make mention of any penalty or consequence for anyone ignoring the ban. Being mayor does not give him the right to ignore the Constitutional rights of each citizen. He might want the citizens of his city to follow his biased and ignorant thoughts and actions, but they are in no way obliged to do so simply because he is mayor. His ignorance is further demonstrated by his focusing on a brand name to protest against, a company that surely took into account the market risk involved in putting Kaepernick’s face on their advertisement. According to recent HuffPost news reports, Nike sales have increased since the move to have Kaepernick featured despite President Trump’s Twitter and claim that it was “getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts.”

One wonders just who Zahn thinks he is punishing with his band other than the people who work for his city and enjoy using Nike’s products. Because he is upset with Nike he wanted to show his public the power he has as mayor to express his dislike of Nike, and so he issued a ban. His show of arrogance was not accompanied by an explanation of just why the ban was instituted. His statement read: “Under no circumstances will any Nike product or any product with the Nike logo be purchased for use or delivery at any City of Kenner Recreation facility.”Zahn has every right to disagree with Nike’s choice and every right to be angry as an individual, but to extend his personal anger to the city and punishing the children and adult citizens that use the recreation facility is certainly a display of arrogance.

Zahn added to his ignorance and confusion when he stated that “I applaud Nike’s message of inclusion and encouragement for everyone to be their best and dream big, but I also recognize that Nike, in its zeal to sell shoes, chose to promote and sell a political message.” Because of his ignorance, Zahn does not see the irony of his actions; the ban is a form of protest that emanates from a politician, the mayor. He, apparently, believes that he is doing a public good by protesting and banning the purchase of Nike products. He is, in effect, doing the same thing for which he accuses Kaepernick of doing—exercising his constitutional right to peaceful protest. However, in his case, Zahn see what he is doing as patriotic and what Kaepernick did as unpatriotic. His feelings are, evidently, strong and sincere for him to issue a ban on all purchases of Nike products by his city. One wonders about the effects of his ban relative to what he views as the problem he wishes to address.

As a seemingly European American, Zahn probably grew up in a social environment that viewed people of color as inferior to those of European ancestry. That perspective was part of the normal everyday experience and not something that stood out as being strange and unusual. The values and standards of his community are what informed his perception and they were/are considered correct and appropriate to him. The historical actions of the government helped to foster the perception of Anglo superiority over that of people of color. So, Zahn sees nothing amiss in his banning based on his dislike of Nike’s advertisement featuring Kaepernick.

Zahn seems to be under the impression that politics are different and distinct from everyday life; however, he never defines or states clearly what he means by politics. One of the many definitions of “Politics (from Greek: πολιτικά, translit. Politiká, meaning “affairs of the cities”) is the process of making decisions that apply to members of a group. It refers to achieving and exercising positions of governance—organized control over a human community, particularly a state.” Therefore, practically everything that has to do with influence and control, physical or mental of a human community is political. In essence, Zahn accused Nike of trying to promote and sell a political message while he bans a city to not purchase Nike products, but does not see the close if not identical relationship involved in both situations. Because of Zhan’s social conditioning, he does not see the hypocrisy in his actions but protests the actions of Nike.

The real fact of Zhan’s protest is his ethnic bigotry and anger because the face of Nike’s advertisement happens to be a man of color whose protest Zahn does not understand or like. In his own words Zahn said that he approves of the message Nike is promoting, so it has to be the face that is used for the promotion that troubles him. Therefore, his feeling of superiority, power, and prestige told him that it was okay to ban the purchase of any and all Nike products from all the Kenner City recreational facilities. The saying “Ways and actions speak louder than words, “serve to underscore and explain the anger and bigotry Zahn communicates through his decision to issue a ban.

Unfortunately, Zahn does not understand the message that Nike is promoting to the general public that supports the constitutional right of all Americans to practice peaceful protest against something in society that is inconsistent with our concept of democracy. How sad.

Paul R. Lehman, The use of the word Racism precludes the appropriate use of the word Bigotry

August 7, 2018 at 2:40 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, Bigotry in America, blacks, Constitutional rights, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, fairness, justice, Prejudice, race, Race in America, racism, skin color, skin complexion, social conditioning, social justice system, socioeconomics, the Black Codes, whites | 1 Comment
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For far too many years we Americans have employed a term that did not reflect the actions and deeds of individuals represented by that term. The term is racism and as defined by most dictionaries resembles the following: “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and those racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” In America race was described and identified by skin complexion of black and white with white deemed the superior of the two. Subsequently, whenever anything in society points to or indicates a privilege or advantage for the so-called white race (European American) over that of the so-called black race (African American) the act is labeled as an act of racism. If we were to follow the logic of the acts of racism, we might determine that the whole of the African/African American experience has been one of racism. All one needs to do to verify racism is to look at several significant legal adjustments made since the Civil War regarding the treatment of African Americans.

The term racism was taken from the term race which has been misappropriated and misinterpreted in order to justify its use relative to the superiority of the European Americans. The fact that the term is still in use today is owing to the social conditioning of American society that invented the social elements that underscored and guaranteed the essence of European American superiority. When we look at the history of social concerns such as jobs, education, housing, finance, to name a few, that were used to control the progress of the African Americans we realize that they were designed to keep the African American in a state of inferiority compared to the European American.  For each of these social concerns African Americans had to fight in courts, usually, the Supreme Court, to finally receive some semblance of fairness. The fight was against the government, not individuals, and the fight was not against racism, but against injustice and bigotry.

African Americans and many conscientious Americans have been fighting since before the Civil War for justice and full citizen rights for African Americans and other people of color. Although the term racism has been employed as the cause of the bias, prejudice, and discrimination preventing full civil rights for African Americans the fact of the matter is that racism was just an excuse to maintain psychological control of the race concept and the perception of superiority. The reason for the persistence of the social concept of racism is because it is a belief, not an action or a thing. A belief cannot be destroyed; it must be replaced. An example of how a belief can remain unchallenged or in place is found in our view of the tomato, which for many years we thought to be a vegetable but in fact is a fruit. Nonetheless, in almost all supermarkets and grocery stores the tomato is placed in the vegetable produce section. By placing the tomato in the vegetable section, our false concept of it as a vegetable and not a fruit is reinforced. So it is with the term racism that when we see it being employed we do not think about it reinforcing ethnic superiority, but simply focusing on some reference to social injustice.

Unlike the term racism that is based on a false concept, the term bigotry is free from any sense of illusion, myth or social invention. Bigotry is defined as a “stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own.” In other words, bigotry is the property of the individual, not a group and as such any act of bigotry reflects on the individual who owns total responsibility for the act or action. A bigot would possess the elements of narrow-mindedness, biases, and discrimination as part of that mindset. Here the difference between a bigot and a so-called racist is that while the racist only believes in ethnic superiority, the bigot acts on the biases to prove or underscore the belief.

The numerous incidents of European Americans calling 911 to report a person of color being in a place the caller thought were not appropriate for them to occupy demonstrates acts of bigotry. Any individual can possess a belief and never act on it, but once an act has been committed, the experience becomes real, not imaginary. Since racism is not a legitimate term relative to race by color, the appropriate term for the individual committing the biases act is a bigot and the belief system is bigotry.

To ethnically biased Americans the words racist and racism do not give a reason for pause because they serve as a compliment since it underscores their mindset. The social conditioning that many European Americans experience views ethnic bias and European American privilege as natural and right. When those concepts are challenged the European American automatically becomes defensive and strives to protect what is considered an infringement on their Constitutional rights. One can understand the European American’s reaction because American society has spoon-fed the European American to view these privileges as ordinary, lawful, and socially acceptable. For example, when the Starbuck employee called 911 because two African American men in the store made her feel uncomfortable, her efforts were recognized and rewarded by the law enforcement officers when they arrived; they handcuffed the men and led them out of the establishment. Although the men were not charged and finally released, they had never done anything wrong in the first place, including not causing a disturbance. The employee who made the call was never made to view her feeling of discomfort as a part of her biased social conditioning.

When we look back at the definition of bigotry and bigot, we recognize that the bigotry of the Starbuck employee as well as most of the other incidents where European Americans that called 911 relative to the presence of people of color was what initiated the action against the people of color, not the belief that they belonged to a race superior. Bigots can be held responsible for their actions, racists not at all. In America, racism is a safe haven for bigots

Paul R. Lehman, Trump’s positive contribution to a better America in spite of his bigotry

July 25, 2018 at 3:02 am | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, Bigotry in America, blacks, criminal justice, discrimination, Donald Trump, entitlements, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, interpretations, justice, justice system, Media and Race, police force, Prejudice, Race in America, respect, skin color, skin complexion, social conditioning, social justice system, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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One of the most important results of Donald Trump’s election was America’s recognition of its diverse population. For certain we all knew that America was a diverse population but we were not as aware of the bigotry that existed within some Americans towards others. Trump did not create the bigotry but he has been very instrumental in bringing it out in other people. Many Americans did not realize that they were bigots until Trump along with members of his administration and party began focusing on the concept of ethnic bigotry. Even today, many Americans do not realize or accept the fact that we have been socially conditioned to accept bigotry as normal as it pertains to people of color.

Regardless of the efforts of Trump to point out and comment on ethnic diversity in American society, because of the rapidly changing demographics, the fact would have eventually presented itself—America continues to change. The effect of America’s changing demographics is like the bottom of a lake that has dried up because of a drought or being drained; a lot of debris is uncovered and what becomes visible for the first time in a long time speaks to a variety of discoveries. Many European Americans have never seen themselves as being biased towards other Americans for any reason. They might be considered ignorant since they lacked the knowledge of their social conditioning towards people of non-European heritage. That form of ignorance can be easily seen and experienced if these Americans live in a predominantly European American environment where they have little exposure to people of color or of diverse ethnicity. If nothing ever happens to call their attention to social and ethnic differences, then their perception will continue.

For many European Americans, ignorance is an excuse to continue to practice bigotry because they believe that they cannot be held responsible for something for which they are ignorant. Unlike the European Americans who are rarely exposed to ethnic differences, these European American are fully aware of the social privileges provided them because of their identity. However, when and if these European Americans are questioned about their display of social bias, they usually feign ignorance of their bias. Since they are not aware of their bias, they cannot be held responsible for their actions or judged negatively because of them; they believe that get a pass.

Another group of European Americans with biased social conditioning believe these biases to be normal and an accepted way of life. Rather than accept the social privileges they received as based on ethnic bigotry, they choose to ignore the reality and continue to accept the illusion of ethnic superiority as real. Anyone who challenges their view of society and the world is viewed as an enemy or at least suspect. We have over the past few years witnessed many instances of European Americans using their social privilege to call attention to their lack of comfort relative to an incident involving ethnic Americans of color. Unfortunately, many of their efforts are rewarded by the law enforcement establishment because they too, in many instances, share the same biases.

The biased social conditioning of many European Americans gives them a sense of not only privilege but also entitlement. Their sense of entitlement leads them to believe that they should feel safe and comfortable in any and all situations, and when they do not enjoy these feelings, they can call 911 and receive immediate satisfaction. To many of these Europeans Americans, they believe that they are not bigoted or biased; they are simply exercising their God-given rights as they interpret them. They have not accepted the fact that America is a diverse society and all Americans deserve the opportunity to exercise the same rights and privileges as they enjoy.

We Americans owe Trump and his administration a debt of gratitude for bringing out the problems relative to cultural biases that exist in society today. The warning America has been given relative to our diverse society is that we must learn to live together as brother and sisters or perish as fool unable to resolve our differences. What we must learn to accept is that all Americans are ethnic Americans and no one ethnicity is superior to another. The problems we face affect all Americans because they either add to or detract from us all regardless of our petty differences. Once the problems from the Trump experience are exposed, we will become aware of the challenges we must address to make certain we do not face the same ones again.

Ignorance is a key ingredient used by society to keep the status quo from succumbing to reality. For example, the contributions of African Americans to American society from Crispus Attucks to Katherine Johnson are quite relevant to our American story but mention either one to almost any educated European American and he or she would not recognize either name. Unfortunately, one could do the same with almost any educated African American with the same results. The problem is that knowledge of these individuals and their accomplishments would provide an element of pride in the African Americans and a sense of surprise in many European Americans. The fact that the information relative to these two Americans is available but not included in most American History books is due to both ignorance and bias. The ignorance represents a lack of knowledge; the bias represents a deliberate action to keep positive and image-influencing information from the readers.

American society, in general chooses, to ignore the factual information and knowledge relative to the myth of races but refuses to accept and promote it as an act of ignorance. Fortunately, facts and truth have a timely way of pushing ignorance to the side like water bursting from a dam overwhelms anything in its path. For American society, the changing demographics are like that dam water waiting to find its path. Ignorance can prevail for just so long before the truth comes in to replace it. When the truth comes, ignorance will be destroyed.

Paul R. Lehman, Arizona Rep. Stringer’s comments on (im) migration show a lack of understanding of democracy

June 21, 2018 at 2:50 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, American Indian, American Racism, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, desegregation, discrimination, education, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, immigration, Pilgrims, Prejudice, Puritans, race, respect, skin color, social conditioning, The Associated Press, tolerance, white supremacy, whites | 2 Comments
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When the Puritans came to America in 1630, they came with the idea that God had given this land to them based on the Mayflower Compact that John Winthrop drew-up while on board the Arbela during a storm. The Compact was not preplanned but was deemed a necessary safeguard against death and destruction. Winthrop stated that “Now the only way to avoid this shipwreck, and to provide for our posterity is to follow the counsel of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God.” So, the possibility of being shipwrecked prompted the compact which stated these requirements: “For we must consider that we shall be a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us, so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world.”(John Winthrop, “A Model of Christian Charity”)

The “we” of which Winthrop spoke was not a diverse ethnic group, but Anglo-Saxons who believed that God gave America to them. The idea of America being the country of Anglo-Saxons and later European Americans (whites) continued throughout America’s history. The discriminatory treatment of the African Americans has been a never-ending story. Some Americans came to the belief that the European American was the God-ordained superior human being on the planet and would eventually rule the world. The idea of the superiority was based on the belief of a race by skin color with the Anglo-Saxon (white) being the highest order of mankind. All the laws and practices supported that concept of Anglo-Saxon or Nordic supremacy. The challenge for the Anglo-Saxons in America was knowing how to control the population so as to keep the race as pure as possible.

In the late 1800 and early 1900’s, a fear among many Nordic (white) Americans were the expansion of power by people of color over them. One concerned European American, Lothrop Stoddard, stated in 1920 the fear that wars between white countries would provide an opportunity for people of color to take over power in those countries. He added: “However, such colored triumphs of arms are less to be dreaded than more enduring conquest like migrations which would swamp whole populations and turn countries now white into colored man’s lands irretrievably lost to the white world.”He saw migration as the destruction of whites.

Echoing the same fear of migration of people of color as the enemy of the Nordic people, Madison Grant stated that “Democratic ideals among an homogenous population of Nordic blood, as in England or America, is one thing, but it is quite another for the white man to share his blood with, or intrust his ideals to, brown, yellow, black, or red men.” In effect, measures must be taken to control the population of immigrants in order to protect the Anglo-Saxon or Nordic racial superiority. Grant was a lawyer, writer and more importantly, a eugenicist. He was responsible for one of the most important works of scientific racism and along with Stoddard played a significant part in promoting anti-immigration and anti-miscegenation legislation in America.

The results of Stoddard and Grant’s efforts were the Immigration Act of 1924 or Johnson-Reed Act. This was a federal law that effectively excluded Asians from immigrating to America. In addition, it established quotas on the number of immigrants coming from specific countries and included money to make certain the ban on non-white immigrants was firmly in place. Because of the fear of race contamination, the law focused on “decreasing immigration of Southern Europeans, countries with Roman Catholic majorities, Eastern Europeans, Arabs, and Jews. The law affirmed the longstanding ban on the immigration of other non-white persons, with the exception of black African immigrants.”The immigrants from these countries except for Africa, were later to be called Caucasians, not white.

The point for providing this historical background on a small portion of America’s immigration actions involves a news report in The Associated Press (2/1/2018) regarding Rep. David Stringer, a Republican from Prescott, Arizona.  Stringer was reported to have made a number of statements that mirror the attitude on immigration discussed earlier. Following are a few of his comments: “Sixty percent of public school children in the state of Arizona today are minorities. That complicates racial integration because there aren’t enough white kids to go around.” He also stated that “immigration is politically destabilizing” and “immigration today represents an existential threat to the United States.”

He issued a note of warning when he said that “If we don’t do something about immigration very, very soon, the demographics of our country will be irrevocably changed and we will be a very different country and we will not be the country you were born into.”

In summing up his fears  Stringer stated that “I maybe touched a third rail of politics but what I said is accurate. Anybody that talks about this in this way is shut down and called a racist. I’m speaking the truth.” He added: “Diversity may be a great thing, there might be a lot of advantages, I’m not arguing against diversity at all, but no country can be demographically transformed without any political or social consequences.” His statement is definitely true, and what is also true is that America is changing demographically.

Many Americans love to say that we have come a long way in accepting our diversity and addressing our socially constructed biases, but after reading Stringer’s comments we must confess that some of us still have not taken that first step towards accepting democracy and  America as a country indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

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.

 

Paul R. Lehman, Trump’s use of the s—hole word more than a slip of the tongue

January 27, 2018 at 1:46 pm | Posted in Africa, democracy, ethnic stereotypes, European Americans, political tactic, President Trump, racism, respect, The Oklahoman | 1 Comment
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A recent statement published in the “Your Views” section of The Oklahoman (1/24/2018) by Georgia Newton showed how brief statements can reveal more about us than we might think. The title of the statement is “Grow up,” which can suggest a number of interpretations. Although the statement is brief, it provides a considerable amount of food for thought.

The first sentence stated: “President Trump’s alleged question about  ‘s—hole countries’ reminds me of something that happened when I was 12.” We know that Newton is an adult and has an opinion concerning the question allegedly made by Trump concerning countries inhabited primarily by people of color. We also know that she will compare Trump’s use of that “s” word to something remembered from her past. We know, in addition, from the title, that she has an emotional connection to the word.

In her second sentence, we are told about her experience when she was 12: “My cousin and I were playing a game of Monopoly and something didn’t go my way, and I said the same bad word.”  We now know that her experience involved playing a board game with her cousin during which she encountered a bad experience. As a result of that experience, she uttered the same ‘s’ word which she labeled as bad. We learned that sometimes when things did not go her way she reacted by using bad words.

Her third sentence indicated that “My cousin said she was going to tell on me—and she did.” From the actions of her cousin, we learned that the ‘s’ word was not socially acceptable in her family. Had the word been acceptable, telling an adult would serve no purpose. We were not informed of the repercussion she encountered from her cousin telling on her.

Her fourth sentence told us more about Newton: “Our lawmakers are making such a big deal over this!” This sentence indicated a lack of understanding relative to the significance of the ‘s’ word used in a negative context and with direct reference to countries of people of color. The political implications relating to the diplomatic relations that America has with those countries were underscored by the “Lawmakers making a big deal over “ it because they understood the possible repercussions from such a negative characterization.

Newton’s next utterance of “Really?” showed that her attention was simply on the use of a “bad word” as opposed to who used the word, namely, Trump, when and where he used it. Had she been fully aware of the history of Trump and his history with people of color, she might have given it a second thought. The fact that she asked the question indicated that she did not place any diplomatic significance on the lawmakers’ reactions to Trump’s use of the word in conjunction with the negative associations of his biases.

Newton’s final words were:”Grow up!” We can only assume that her command was directed towards the lawmakers who were making a big deal of the use of the bad word. However, her choice of phrase reflected more on her arrogance and lack of understanding relative to the situation than to the lack of maturity on the part of the lawmakers. The phrase “Grow up” means to progress toward or arrive at the full stature of physical and/or mental maturity, or to develop from childhood towards adulthood. Evidently, that definition is not what Newton had in mind when addressing the lawmakers since the qualifications for officer holders are well-established for adults. Her use of that phrase was probably meant to challenge their intellectual growth.

The fact that Newton would criticize the lawmakers for taking offense at Trump’s use of the ‘s’ words in the context in which it was used indicated that she was not conversant with the diplomatic history of the situation. The command also indicated that she had no problem with the use of “bad words” in general since they represent no big deal. The fact that ethnic bigotry and the social value of people of color was not readily apparent to Newton indicated that she simply viewed the ‘s’ word in isolation. Evidently, she believes that using socially unacceptable language is fine if one is upset or things are not going his or her way. That attitude suggests behavior more akin to a child than an adult.

An indication of the level of maturity questioned in Newton’s statement occurred when she used and compared a childhood incident in which she used the ‘s’ word to the one used by the President of the United States. She, unlike the lawmakers, saw no difference in the use of the word. The fact that she equated the use of the word in both cases as similar speaks volumes about her intellectual maturity. No one questions Newton’s right to speak freely about whatever she wants to address; however, once she has spoken, and publically, the readers have the freedom to comment on what was said, and view it critically.

Newton’s command to “grow up” at the end of her statement suggested that she was a grown up and that she judged the lawmakers, and subsequently, those who believed as did the lawmakers, not to be grown-ups.  Unfortunately, the fact that she did not understand the seriousness of Trump’s use of the ‘s’ word and the political impact it would have on our diplomatic relations with the countries included in his statement showed a lack of knowledge regarding the situation. Her lack of knowledge, nevertheless, did not prevent her from assuming a lack of intellectual maturity on the part of the lawmakers. What we readers discovered from Newton’s statement was the lack of information, knowledge, perception, and maturity from her as an adult.

As she continues to mature our hope is that Newton realizes that words do not exist in a vacuum and depending on how they are used, they have consequences that can range from soft and sweet to dangerous. Words also have histories, and knowledge of that history can be very important when used in a certain context. Really? Really.

 

Paul R. Lehman, What’s wrong with white people (European Americans)

October 27, 2017 at 7:48 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, blacks, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, justice, Prejudice, Race in America, whites | 3 Comments
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Some European American people are in a quandary about what to do about their knowledge of bigotry and how it affects them. A number of things to consider in attempting to address this conundrum involve an awareness of reality, and an awareness of language. To deal with reality is to understand that many European Americans do not realize that society has conditioned them to view themselves as the model of humanity or see themselves as not belonging to a race but as representative of the human race. That conditioning also has them view all people not like them as inferior to them. This conditioning is something that is acquired from living in a society that controls the social atmosphere and shows the European Americans how to see other people, what to think about other people, and how to behave around other people. Therefore, being biased against non-European people comes naturally and seems normal, nothing out of the unusual. For European Americans seeing themselves as the center of the universe is also normal. The awareness is that all the conditioning is base in falseness, myth, lies, illusion and it is bigoted.

They could not see the illusion because society presented everything to them as occurring naturally. The bigotry, segregation, discrimination and other abuses were present in society, but because they were viewed as normal to many European Americans, they did not feel compelled to do anything to address them as social and human wrongs. When the African Americans protested for civil rights, many of the European Americans remained silent although many of them were aware of the injustices African Americans were experiencing. Regarding civil rights legislation, not a single act or law was directed specifically to African Americans, but all Americans. Never the less, African Americans were implicated in every piece of civil rights legislation that included the word race; an action used to make certain the concept of races continued.

One of the ironies relative to bigotry in America involves the efforts of the civil rights organizations. While many European Americans did not support the protests of the civil rights activists, the major segment of society to reap the greatest benefits from the civil rights gains is the European American women as a result of Title lX of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Today, some fifty years after the Civil Rights Act, African Americans experience the least success from Affirmative Action. For example, “The median white [European American] household has 13x as much wealth as the medium black [African American] household; and 10x as much as the medium Hispanic household. Even with a college education: The medium white [European American] person has 7.2x the wealth of a similarly educated black [African American] person.” (The Nation, September 2017, p.5)

The challenge for many European Americans comes from finding ways to deconstruct the illusion they have lived under all their lives. Their initial response to this awareness might come as a shock, not wanting to believe that their lives have been a game of pretending. Shock is the appropriate term because the other stages of awareness follow the Kubler-Ross stages of grief. These stages are important because for European Americans coming to the awareness of their lives being an illusion and replacing that illusion with reality is similar to losing someone to death. The stages are shock, denial, anger, rejection, examination, understanding and acceptance.

Once the acceptance of reality has been achieved next comes how to deal with the reality. Language is the biggest threshold to overcome because we never questioned the language since we grew up with it. So, if European Americans called themselves white now, what will they call themselves instead of white? The ideal would be that they call themselves Americans. Here we must introduce the two identities we all have: a cultural and an ancestral identity. The cultural identity is the one that we choose; the ancestral identity is based on the ethnicity of our birth parents. However, when the founding fathers invented the concept of race by color, both the cultural and ancestral identities was taken away and put in their place were the colors black and white. For many Europeans, the opportunity to call themselves white was worth giving up their identities; for African Americans, the choice was not available.

Unfortunately, many European Americans do not know that they have an ancestral and cultural identity; the only identity they know of is white. If that white identity is taken from them, they are left without a sense of value and worth. For those European Americans who know the value of white supremacy and white privilege, the fear of losing that white identity represents their reason for living. So, they become defensive when they believe that identity is threatened. Any social progress by African Americans and people of color represent to the bigots, a threat to their white privilege.

The constant challenge for America is that people of color see themselves as human beings, even when European Americans see only themselves as normal human beings; they see everyone else as different and abnormal. The problem is how they, the European Americans, see themselves and others, not how others see themselves and European Americans. European Americans have been socially conditioned to see people who do not look like them as inferior to them, and that conditioning, however, feels natural to them.  Undoing the bigoted social conditioning of European Americans must be the responsibility of enlightened and knowable European Americans who know and understand the system of white supremacy. The primary starting point for undoing the social conditioning is with language, beginning with the words race, black and white. Once those words have been debunked, then the process of replacing the bigoted concept of white (European American) supremacy can begin.

In looking at the topic of this essay, how it is interpreted depends on what word or words are emphasized—wrong or white people (European American), and who is doing the interpreting.

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