Paul R. Lehman, America needs to start showing the world what an American looks like

September 17, 2013 at 12:02 am | Posted in African American, blacks, democracy, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, immigration, Prejudice, Race in America, skin color, Slavery | 2 Comments
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What does an American look like? If we were to go back to the 1840s in America, we might find some people who believed that the “real population” of America was of “Anglo-Saxons, Celts, Teutons, Slavs and a few other races. This description would be misleading because the Celts, Teutons, and Slavs were not accepted as “the real population” and were depicted not as racially distinct “but as consanguine ‘whites.’” Many Americans who today consider themselves white were not viewed as such until around the 1920 and after. The reason for all the fuss was that the Anglo-Saxons believed themselves the model of the human race. Some Americas were so consumed with the concept of America being a nation of white people and for white people with the Anglo-Saxons being the supreme white people that they were instrumental in getting laws passed to restrict the immigration of non-white people.
Harry Laughlin was one of the most active individuals in influencing the American eugenics policy. He was especially effective in obtaining compulsory sterilization legislation. He was once described him as “among the most racist and anti-Semitic of early twentieth-century eugenicists.” In 1934, he advised the Special committee on Immigration and Alien Insane “That no immigrant be admitted, whether by quota or otherwise, who is not—First, a member of the white race’; and that, for the purposes of immigration law, ‘a white person be defined as one all of whose ancestors were member of the white or Caucasian race.’” So, regardless of America telling the world that it was a nation open to all people with each citizen’s right guaranteed, we find the hypocrisy and prejudice apparent in who could qualify as a citizen or even who could be admitted to this country based on a created concept of race.
America has always been a country built on ethnic diversity and as early as the middle 1700s an observer of American society, Michel-Guillaume Jean de Crèvecoeur, wrote “What, then, is the American, this new man? He is neither an European nor the descendant of an European; hence that strange mixture of blood, which you will find in no other country.” He continued by underscoring his point concerning American diversity, “I could point out to you a family whose grandfather was an Englishman, whose wife was Dutch, whose son married a French woman, and whose present four sons have now wives of different nations.” He defines an American by stating that “He is an American, who leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraces, the government he obeys and the new rank he holds.” We should have no doubt about America being a diverse nation with no one group holding claim to the nation’s identity.
Unfortunately, when the concept of race was created and instituted in society, it was done so by people who identified themselves as Anglo-Saxons. Bringing their old prejudice with them from England, they assumed their group to be superior to all others. Their beliefs were contrary to the creed of their new nation since slavery was also instituted as an acceptable social feature. If hypocrisy was a joke, we would forever be laughing because rather than using diversity as a strength to unify the country, it was used in a contrary way. Instead of society working towards unifying the country, efforts were made to ensure class differences while not admitting to a class structure. The statement about “what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive” seems appropriate to the conundrum in which America finds itself today relative to diversity. Society puts on the mask of unity to hide the face of bigotry and prejudice because it still has not come to grips with the fallacy of multiple biological races.
So, what ignited this discussion on American ethnic hypocrisy? We began with the question of “what does an American look like?” The reason for the question was based on the reactions of some citizens to the selection of Nina Davuluri as Miss America 2014. Miss Davuluri is an Asian American and what should have been received as evidence of a nation growing in acceptance of its creed accepting our diversity as a strength, turned into a display of bigotry and prejudice. To make matters worse, her platform for the contest was called, “Celebrating Diversity Through Cultural Competency.” The runner-up for the title was also Asian American.
As a society, we need to start being more accountable for educating those who have no idea of what American democracy means. Those people who made disparaging remarks concerning the ethnicity of the new Miss America showed their ignorance of American history as well as a prejudice that is based on that ignorance. People who still want to hold on to the idea that America is a white country owned and controlled by white people need to be informed that the concept is false, an illusion. At one time in our history the concept was promoted because the people with money and power as well as the government had the ability to control the concept. Today, we know beyond a doubt the truth of mankind being of one race. We need to spread the word to those who still embrace the illusion.
The judges in the Miss America contest did a number of services for the country in choosing Miss Davuluri as the new Miss America for 2014. First, by choosing an Asian America they showed America and the World that the standard of beauty is no longer that of the European American. For years, no ethnic American was allowed to enter the contest. The second service they rendered was to show America and the world that America is indeed a nation of ethnic diversity and just what Americans look like. The process is slow, but each day brings us closer to the realization of the American creed that speaks to all people being created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights. Many young American girls who watched the contest can rest easily now knowing that Miss America can and does look just like her.

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Paul R. Lehman, Why is America experiencing a changing reality in race and color

March 31, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Posted in African American, American Indian, blacks, Chief Justice John Roberts, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, Hispanic whites, justice, Media and Race, Prejudice, Race in America, whites | 1 Comment
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Some African Americans do not like the term African American because they believe it links them directly to Africa. Basically, what they generally think of Africa is not very complimentary because of the images of Africa that American society created when ethnic bias was fashionable. Rather than picture it as the diverse continent it is, Africa was described as a dark, mysterious, cannibalistic, dangerous place where ignorant savages lived. The natives were so ignorant that the fictional white man who ruled the African natives, Tarzan, had a chimp as a partner rather than an African man. Tarzan was called “King of the Jungle” although he was not born there and was raised by apes. That image of Africa was created to discourage African Americans from wanting to embrace it as their homeland. The idea promoted was that it was better to be a slave in America than a savage in Africa. Of course, anyone with an elementary education knows what a tremendously important Africa is to the world and its history. Unfortunately, many people still hold on to the negative concept of Africa.
How people view themselves has a direct impact on what they say about themselves and especially how they act. For example, if someone is called a thug and accepts that identity, then he will use the language associated with being a thug. In addition, his behavior will reflect his idea of how a thug acts. The same thing applies to people who identify themselves as black or white—they speak and behave the way they belief they are expected to speak and behave. Most often their examples are passed on to their children and family. In this way ignorance about race and identity is embraced and promoted.
We know for certain that no such thing as a pure 100% black or white person exist on the planet. Yet, we bought into the absurd concept of “one drop” of blood changing a person’s so-called race from white to black. When America created and enforced the concept to two races—black and white, the other associated concepts like racism, biracial, mixed race, racial etc… were not challenged successfully. However, today we know better, but keep doing and saying the things that reinforce the false and negative concepts of race. For example, some scientist will conduct studies using as subjects black and white people. The problem with those kinds of studies is that black and white is never defined. In effect, does the terms black refer to only people with very dark skin or was the term used to suggest all African Americans? If it was the latter, then were light-skinned African Americans included? Many Americans with dark complexions are not African Americans. Would they be included in such a study? If they were not, then of what value was the study?
Most social scientists and historians know that in America, social and economic status along with ethnic identity play a major role in people achieving their American Dream. Historically, non-European Americans have encountered a more challenging experience is striving for and achieving their dream because of ethnic prejudice. Since the late 1960’s more non-European ethnic Americans have achieved success because the Civil Rights Acts have removed some of the social barriers that obstructed success. Unfortunately, many of those barriers remain, but in a subtle state. Part of the problem has to do with how people view themselves and each other. When Americans view themselves as black and white, they simply reflect the ideology of America’s past that embraced two races. The terms African American and European American eliminate the two race concept and underscore the one family of man concept. When all people belong to the same race or family, comparisons relating to superiority or inferiority of race will decline. However, prejudice among ethnic groups will also exist, but not on a biological race bases. If all people belong to the same family, they can express differences in beliefs, culture, religion etc…but not racial differences.
We create problems for ourselves and our children when we send mixed messages to them regarding a so-called racial identity. For example, when a child has been taught in a General Science class that all people belong to the same race, how do the parents who maintain an identity based on color resolve the conflict for the child? Interestingly enough, CNN had a series of programs about who is black in America. Unfortunately, the program caused problems for a number of young African American ladies because they did not know who they were, thinking that they were either black or white. Seemingly, the majority of people with this problem of identity in America are the African Americans. Other people of color use their cultural or geographical identity like Cuban, Jamaican, Haitian, Puerto Rican, etc… The identity conveyed by these identities leaves no doubt about the culture and geography of the individual. Black and white, on the other hand, give no information whatsoever other than color. Even if American is added to these words, they still provide little meaning until the history of American slavery is brought into the picture.
If we need evidence that the word black is no longer applicable as a reference to African Americans, we can look at the recent comments made by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, during the hearing of arguments concerning voting rights:”At one point in the oral argument held Feb. 27, 2013, Roberts asked Verrilli, “Do you know which state has the worst ratio of white voter turnout to African-American voter turnout?”(The Boston Globe.com) Roberts used the term African American on numerous occasions during the hearing rather than the word black. (Now we need to get him to use the term European American instead of white)
In addition to the Roberts use of the term African American, we need to know that efforts have been underway for a number of years now to build a museum in Washington, D.C. to house and exhibit information relative to the African American experience in America. The name of this museum is The National Museum of African American History and Culture. Our world and society are changing and either we change with them or be left behind.
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