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 | 2 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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Paul R. Lehman, Race is being replaced by ethnic group and ethnicity to eliminate confusion

February 14, 2017 at 4:32 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, American Indian, American Racism, blacks, DNA, education, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, Human Genome, identity, India, Media and Race, mixed-marriage, race, Race in America, Russia, skin color, skin complexion, U. S. Census, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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When the founding fathers invented the system of European American (white) supremacy and African American (black) inferiority their basic mistake was to base their system on race by color. As long as they controlled society, they controlled the system, but they could not control the color of each group or the fact that we humans belong to one species of Homo sapiens. Time would eventually debunk the myth of race and begin to deconstruct the social conditioning forced on society. Many Americans are still today confused relative to the difference between race and ethnicity. Much of the confusion was caused by the scientist who wanted to push their own theories about race since it has never been defined socially. Even the term “white” experienced a number of transitions in its application to various immigrant groups to America—examples of Anglo-Saxon whites, free whites, lesser whites, and Caucasians were common. All these groups, including people of color, were considered ethnic groups, except the Anglo-Saxons.

With all the demographic changes taking place in America and the world today, a clear understanding of the terms race and ethnicity is in order. We began by stating that all human belongs belong to one race.  What we commonly refer to as races today simply does not exist. We are all of one blood. The differences we experience in others come from our cultures and places of habitation. Those differences represent our ethnic differences and have nothing to do with race. The problem has been that we use race to mean ethnicity or confuse something purely cultural with something we think is biological. According to Bill Nye, author of Undeniable, (2014) “In evolutionary terms or fact, we are all almost identical. We each share 99.9 percent of the same DNA.”

All of our social identities are based on either our cultural and/or geographical attachments; one or the other or a combination of both geography and culture represent the ethnic identity. People from countries like China or India will have their culture included in the country’s name. The name of the country usually serves as the person’s ethnic identity if that country is the one of his or her birth. If, however, the parents of the person are known for their cultural identity, for example, American Indian, then the cultural identity serves as the ethnic identity. Because of these two influences, all people have two separate and often distinct identities—one ancestral or ethnic, and one cultural.

An example is in order here: If a Russian male and an Iranian female marries and have a child, that child will have an ancestral (ethnic) identity that includes both Russian and Iranian parents. However, depending on the country in which the parents are living, their child’s cultural identity might be totally different from the parents. That is, if the family is living in Iran, then the child’ cultural identity will, unless certain circumstances prevent it, reflect that country and culture. If for example, the couple lived in America, the child’s cultural identity would be American. At some point in the child’s life, a choice of a parent’s ethnic identity might be embraced. The child’s cultural identity of American will remain unless and until it is relinquished.

Another way of viewing ethnicity is by looking at the identities of the diverse people who come to America. No one comes to America legally with an identity where color is stipulated, only the geographical identity which more often than not includes the cultural identity. For example, many professional athletes from foreign countries come to work in America and regardless of their ethnic and/or ancestral identity, are identified by their geographical identity. For example, the following professional basketball players of brown complexions, are simply called  Brazilians: Nene, Anderson VarejaoTiago Splitter, Lucas NogueiraBruno Caboclo, and Leandro Barbosa. Two players from Australia, Kyrie Irving and Patty Mills, players with brown complexions, are known as Australians, not by their ethnic identities, but by geographical (cultural) ones. That is not to suggest that their ancestral identities are not important to them, they are not necessary to underscore their cultural identities.

Because our founding fathers instituted the system of supremacy and forced the social conditioning on all Americans, race has been at the core of all social challenges. All the social biases Americans of color experience today are based on race. Now that society is starting to understand the confusion caused by race by color and is working to replace the system of bigotry, not knowing what to do about race is a problem. We know that race is an illusion, but one that we have been living with since the beginning of our society. As race continues to lose its social value, it has to be replaced with something and that something is ethnic and cultural identities. Ethnic identities were and are important in collecting data so society and the government can monitor what is taking place relative to the general population and each ethnic group. The U.S. Census began in 1790 was a way to maintain and control the population, especially the ethnic groups of color. The changing demographics in our world and society continue to blur the lines of race as an acceptable term suitable for social identities.

Today, if each group is identified by ethnicity rather than race, discrimination by race would no longer possible. As society pushes through this process of change from racial identities to ethnic ones, we must recognize that arriving at ethnic identities is just a temporary pause, because the end result, in an idealistic sense, is having a need for no other identity than American.

The primary reason for some Americans to identify themselves as European American, African American, and Asian Americans etc…comes from a lack of information about their countries of origin. The results are seen in the terms European, African, Hispanic, etc… that rely on either geography or culture to fill in that space before “American” for ethnicity identification. The over-all objective of identity in our democratic society is for everyone regardless of their ancestral, ethnic or cultural identities to be seen and known as Americans. Embracing, promoting, and being proud one’s ethnic identity does not take away from the fact that America should value all ethnicities. Two facts remain—no one chooses his or her ancestral (ethnic) identity, and everyone can choose his or her cultural identity.

Paul R. Lehman, President Obama signed a bill eliminating the word Negro that signals change in identities

August 15, 2016 at 11:24 pm | Posted in African American, American history, American Indian, American Racism, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, discrimination, DNA, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, Hispanic whites, identity, immigration, law, minority, Non-Hispanic white, President Obama, public education, Race in America, skin color, skin complexion, Slavery, U. S. Census, U.S. Supreme Court, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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When Africans were brought to this country and enslaved, one of the first things taken from them was their identity. Taking away their identity was important because it represented the history of who they were and that they were valued. Although each enslaved African would be given a slave name, they would all be commonly called black or negro because of their skin color. The African identity was taken away from the enslaved, but the slave sellers and owners knew who they were, what they did (farmer, fisherman, craftsman, etc…) and where they were from because their selling price would be influenced by that information.

An example of the value of the African’s identity was underscored in a 1764 poem by James Grainger, “The Sugar Cane.” This poem was constructed using four parts called books; the fourth book, “On the Genius of Africa,” shows the value of a slaver knowing the identity of the African captives: “Negroes when bought should be young and strong. The Congo-Negroes are fitter for the house and trades, than for the field. The Gold-Coast, but especially the Papaw-Negroes, make the best field-Negroes: but even these, if advanced in years, should not be purchased.” This information focuses on males, for females the advice is when looking for a sound Negro: “Where the men do nothing but hunt, fish or fight, all the field drudgery is left to the women: these are to be preferred to their husbands.” The reference continues for males: “The Minnahs make good tradesmen, but addicted to suicide. The Mundingoes, in particular, subject to worms; and the Congas, to dropsical disorders.”(The Making of the Negro in Early American Literature, Paul R. Lehman, 2nd edition, Fountainhead Press, 2006, P. 38)

For enslaved Africans in America, their identity was taken away so their history and value would be tied to American slavery. If the only identity an enslaved person had was that of being American black or Negro (both terms mean the same) then they did not exist except in the system of slavery. The only personal identity they had linked them to their owner, as in the reference—John Smith’s Negro, “Tom.” During the early 1700’s,the term for slave went from Negro and black to simply “slave” due to the common coupling of the two phrase “black slave” or “Negro slave.” However, many of the enslaved were still Europeans and American Indians, but the majority of the enslaved was African/ African American.

Once the government instituted the system of white supremacy and black inferiority, race by color became an important part of personal identity in American society. Americans were no longer able to identity with a particular ethnic or culture group. Kamala Kelkar, (PBS NEWSHOUR, 5/22/2016), noted that “In 1790, the U.S. Census counted people by lumping them into one of three categories—slaves, free white females and males, or all other free persons.”The most important identity an American could have or want to have was white. The most damning identity one could have was that of either slave or Negro.

Immigration to American from around the world, but especially Eastern and Southern Europe brought many changes to the invented concept of race. Although most European immigrants were not referred to as white, they all were willing to give-up their cultural identity to be called white. For people of color, the term Negro was used regardless of their place of birth outside of the U.S. As recently as 2010, the Census form still included the term Negro or black, but the list for other people of color had expanded. Kelkar explained that “The Department of Energy Act has for decades described “minorities” as, “Negro, Puerto Rican, American Indian, Eskimo, Oriental, or Aleut or as a Spanish-speaking individual of Spanish descent.”Because of the system of white supremacy and black inferiority, people of color were identified as “minorities.”

For over two-hundred years the words race and ethnicity were generally undefined and used indiscriminately to the confusion of all, especially the U.S. Census. As recent as 2010, Americans in a number of categories were told on the Census form to identify themselves as white, if they could not find an identity that suited them. This group included mixed-ethnic individuals such as Asian Americans, American Indians, and Hispanics. In effect, the concept of race by color had reached a point of meaninglessness. The problem was that the terms race was interpreted as pertaining to multiple biological groups of human beings or ethnic groups. The fact is that only one race of human beings exists—Homo sapiens. Ethnicity or ethnic groups pertains to the variety of cultural groups within the human race.

Every human being on the planet Earth has two identities—one ancestral or ethnic, one cultural. The ancestral or ethnic identity is represented by a person’s biological parents; the cultural is the identity the individual selects. For example, an Asian American has Asian as an ancestral identity, and American as the cultural which he or she embraces. The terms Negro and black do not allow for either identity nor does the terms white and Caucasian.  Fortunately, things are about to change.

President Barack Obama just recently signed H.R. 4238 “which amends two federal acts from the 70’s that define “minorities” with terms that are now insensitive or outdated.” In addition, the bill was sponsored by Rep. Grace Meng, D-NY, with 74 Democratic co-sponsors and two Republican ones;” it passed with 380 votes. The two words removed from the books are Negro and Oriental. According to Kelkar “The new bill changes the language to, ‘Asian American, Native Hawaiian, a Pacific Islander, African American, Hispanic, Puerto Rican, Native American or Alaska Native.’”

The changes in identity were inevitable because race by color was an invention based on false assumptions and beliefs. Black or Negro and white or Caucasian were never biological categories of the human race but were put in place because of the government’s control. No one ever came to America with only the identity of black, Negro, or Caucasian or white; they always had an ancestral and cultural identity. Once in America, however, the Europeans recognized the value of being identified as white and so the abandoned their ancestral and cultural identity for white. People of color coming to America realized the stigma associated with being call Negro or black and usually decided to retain their ancestral and cultural identity. Now the people of color who were previously called Negro can be specific in their ancestral and cultural identity—African American. For whites and Caucasians, no official changes have been made although the term European Americans was used on occasion by the Supreme Court, but they always had the freedom to identify themselves using their ancestral identity such as Irish, Italian, Polish, German, etc. In any event, the fact is that identity-based on race by color is rapidly being deconstructed.

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