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

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

Paul R. Lehman, The safety and well-being of African American males and all people of color are a constant concern

April 17, 2020 at 4:18 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, amygdala, anglo saxons, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Civil Right's Act 1964, Civil Rights Ats, Constitutional rights, criminal justice, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, fairness, incarceration, justice, justice system, law enforcement agencies, minorities, Police, police education & training, police force, Race in America, racism, respect, skin color, skin complexion, social conditioning, social justice system, The New York Times, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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African American men specifically and men of color in general, put their lives on the line every day when they walk outside of their residence or simply appear in public. For the people that are not of color in America, this statement might seem somewhat amusing or offered in jest. On the contrary, the statement is not an opinion, but a fact. The reason for this experience comes directly from the social conditioning of European Americans generally and law enforcement agents specifically. Society and by extension, the governments, local, state, and national have given the law enforcers the power to exercise total control of its citizens without fear of reprisal; that is, they have no fear of repercussions for their actions against citizens. The attitude and action of many of these law enforcers seem to be that people of color have no rights that the officers should respect. For the people of color, once they are stopped by officers, they lose all their rights and privileges while the officers exert total control over the individuals.
The criminal justice system works in favor of the officer, not the citizens of color because the word of the officer is taken over that of the citizens. Historically, the relationship between the African American community and the European American one has been one of dominance and control by law enforcement. According to Danielle Sered, “The racially inequitable legacy of policing stretches back to the formation of this nation, and police have not only failed to protect communities of color from harm, but they have enacted enormous levels of harm.” She continued by noting that “This [harm] is not simply or most importantly about individual police officers, many of whom have the best intentions and even behavior in their work. It is about an institution with a history of enabling and enforcing the worst disparities in our country’s history.” More specifically, she added that “It is about officers who returned escaped people to the plantations they were fleeing, officers who publicly announced the times of lynchings to be carried out in the backyards of their own precincts, officers who drove black residents out of neighborhoods where they had bought homes,” and finally, “officers who continue to arrest, assault, and shoot black people at glaringly disproportionate rates.” So the question of trust in the criminal justice system has never been one that people of color readily embraced.
Americans have been socially conditioned to fear African Americans generally, but especially one with whom they are not familiar. According to one source, new scientific research provides some data into how African American men are perceived: “When people see black men they don’t know, they have a physical response that is different from their response to other people. Their blood pressure goes up and they sweat more. When a white person sees an unfamiliar black male face, the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes fear, activates.” (American Values Institute, March 2013) When European Americans join the criminal justice system they do not leave their fear of African American males at home, but bring them to their workplace. This fear might explain why many European American law enforcers become excited and aggressive when engaging with an African American male.
Fortunately for the Law enforcement agents, their actions against people of color are not often questioned, so the fear of having to suffer any consequences for their unreasonable treatment of people of color is not usually scrutinized. The public record of their actions speaks for itself and supports the fact that officers are not held to the same standard of behavior as other citizens. So, they often misuse and abuse the power granted them by the system. A recent incident underscores the power given to law enforcers who are free to profile, stop, and detain men of color without offering any reasons for their actions. A recent New York Times article noted that an African American man wearing a protective mask and working outside near a white van when a Miami police officer drives up next to this man. Next, “The officer steps out of his squad car. Words are exchanged. Then the officer handcuffs and detains the man, Dr. Armen Henderson, who was recently featured in a Miami Herald article about volunteers who provide free coronavirus testing for homeless people in downtown Miami.”Rather than seeking information from the doctor regarding his actions, the officer ignored the doctor’s informing him of who he was and what he was doing. The doctor did not have any identification on him and would have been taken away had he not called for his wife who came out of their home and confronted the officer. Once the officer realized that he had made a mistake, he removed the handcuffs from the doctor and left the scene without any word of his actions or an apology.
What this incident shows is the vulnerability of African American males to the justice system that ignores everything but skin color in administering their control. The fact that Henderson is a doctor, a volunteer risking his life in helping to fight the coronavirus or the fact that he was working in front of his home wearing a protective mask made no difference to the officer who did not take the time to inquire about or grasp the nature of Henderson’s presence at that location. One wonders what kind of education the officer received at the academy regarding the treatment of citizens.
If society can benefit from this crisis of the coronavirus it should be in the fact that to the virus we are all one. The virus does not discriminate on the bases of ethnicity, age, economic or educational status, social position, religion or health. We, hopefully, understand that by working together even though we are sometimes put in harm’s way, that our combined efforts and sacrifice will help us to finally successfully control and manage this crisis thereby contributing to our mutual survival. We must learn that our strength is our unity.

Paul R. Lehman, America’s problem: the myth and superstition of race and bigotry

April 1, 2020 at 7:24 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, anglo saxons, Bigotry in America, biological races, black inferiority, blacks, criminal justice, democracy, discrimination, DNA, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, identity, justice, law, Negro, Prejudice, President Obama, race, Race in America, racism, respect, segregation, skin color, social conditioning, tolerance, U. S. Census, white supremacy, whites | Leave a comment
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For centuries man has viewed the cat as having mystical powers, some for good, and some for evil and has even included the concept of the cat having nine lives. We generally view the many and various beliefs concerning the cat as myths and even superstitions. However, before a superstition can become a superstition it must first begin as a myth, a story, event, action, person or thing possessing magical, mystical, illogical or irrational powers. The accounting of the myth provides the necessary information for the possibility of belief. For example, at one time it was a common belief that it was a sign of good luck if a black cat came into a house or onboard a ship uninvited. The belief was that the owner of the house or ship would experience good luck and that the cat should never be chased away because by doing so, the good luck would go with the cat. So, the statement simply provides the information relative to the powers of the cat. As long as the information serves as just information, it remains a myth. However, when the supposed powers of the cat become accepted as real and influence the actions and expectations of the home or ship-owner, the myth becomes a superstition. In effect, the information moves from a passive to an active form and become a part of the individual’s psyche.
Why do myths and superstition still exist when the knowledge to explain the so-called mystical or magical powers posited in them can easily be debunked? Scholars say that present-day myths and superstitions are the remains of faded or forgotten faiths, rituals, and beliefs and that in spite of the passage of time the acquisition of information has not robbed them of their powers to still influence people today. For example, “When we touch wood to avert misfortune or drop pins into a wishing-well, or bow to the new moon, we do so only because of a vague idea concerning luck.”That idea of good luck is something passed down to us: “Our pagan forefathers did much the same, but they were moved by a genuine belief in the sacred character of trees, or water, or the moon, and their power to affect those who reverenced them for good or evil. Because of that belief, their actions were rational.”Unfortunately, Christianity and science have not been sufficient to eliminate the power of superstition from many modern-day minds.
In one of his hit songs, Stevie Wonder summed up the primary mental condition and challenges in American society: “When you believe in things you don’t understand, then you suffer. Superstition ain’t the way.” America has been living a life based on superstitions in that it accepted the story of the myth of race and then began living life as though the myth was real. Because the majority of society invented and instituted the myth, the rest of society went along with the program. However, when we take the time to examine just what society has believed relative to the superstition of race, we must ask ourselves, why? The answers are easily recognizable: social control and dominance based on ethnic biases especially of African Americans and other people of color.
Believing that bad luck will follow when a black cat crosses your path is one thing, but believing that simply because of a person’s skin complexion that each and every person of color possesses the same exact characteristics and that these characteristics are biologically fixed in every individual is lunacy. Nonetheless, America has been embracing this concept as real since its beginning. We can see evidence of this lunacy in practically every institution in society. In many rural towns across America one can still find cemeteries marked “Colored” and “White” as signs of just how deep and ubiquitous superstitions can affect a society. Ethnic bigotry has been a part of the American social fabric for so long that trying to acknowledge its existence causes a challenge—the preverbal elephant in the room.
People of color and especially African Americans have had to pay the price for America’s superstition but the changes in the nation’s demographics escaped notice, for the most part, until Barack Obama was elected President of the United States. That election sent a shock wave through a part of America that challenged the myth and subsequently the superstition because Obama represented the antithesis of how the African American is perceived. According to Peter Loewenberg, “In the unconscious of the bigot, the black represents his own repressed instincts which he fears and hates and which are forbidden by his conscience struggles to conform to the values professed by society.”He added that “This is why the black man becomes the personification of sexuality, lewdness, dirtiness, and unbridled hostility. He is the symbol of voluptuousness and the immediate gratification of pleasure.” Finally, he noted that “In the deepest recesses of the minds of white Americans, Negroes are associated with lowly and debased objects or with sexuality and violence.”In essence, the superstition that had been in effect since the founding of the nation had been debunked by Obama’s election and the country was turning sane, almost.
Leaders in Congress, rather than accept the reality of the race superstition being debunked, gathered forces to combat the sanity and reinforce the superstition. We must remember that myths and superstitions are based on belief and according to Solomon Schimmel, “…beliefs are often affirmed even when they are highly implausible, irrational, or even absurd, because of their actual or presumed rewards for the individual and community who affirm and reinforce them.” He further noted that the reason for resistance to letting go of a belief can be extremely difficult in spite of all the evidence against it because of “…the actual or imagined aversive effects of doing so, for the individual and the community. The believer is not always fully aware of these underlying fears and anxieties.”Therefore, while beneficial changes are being made to replace the superstition of American bigotry, efforts continue to promote, maintain, and support it.
With the rapidly changing demographics and greater involvement and participation of people of color in politics and government, the battle for America’s sanity is gaining momentum. The first order of business for America in removing ethnic bigotry, however, is to recognize and then acknowledge the myth and superstition of race.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Paul R. Lehman, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the book, is not revered by all readers

November 5, 2019 at 7:27 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American Dream, American history, American Racism, blacks, Christianity, Constitutional rights, criminal justice, democracy, discrimination, equality, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, happiness, integregation, justice, Negro, Prejudice, Race in America, skin color, Slavery, social conditioning, social justice system, white supremacy | 2 Comments
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According to a recent article in AARP: The Magazine, (June/July 2019) one of the most important books that helped to influence our thoughts about ethnic bigotry and prejudice in America is To Kill a Mockingbird, by the late Harper Lee. The article noted that “It’s one of our nation’s most revered texts—and it’s probably the book that has most shaped our collective understanding of the evils of Jim Crow.” How the writer arrived at that assessment of the book was not disclosed, but a number of people might question the supposed results of it being the most revered text that enabled our understanding of Jim Crow.

Any literature worth the ink used to print it can easily support a variety of interpretations and keep the reader searching for more points of interest. Mockingbird is such a work that invites the reader to find meaning and social value. Because of its popularity, “more than 40 million copies since it’s publication in 1960,” much has been written and said about it. A lot of the attention seemed to have fallen on the character of Atticus Finch who is often viewed as the story’s hero. While viewing Finch as a hero might be easily established and supported, one interesting assessment of the book leaned toward the book having no hero, but simply represented a picture of America’s society with emphasis on its past, present, and future.

Without having to deconstruct the entire novel, we can say that the story is told by Scout Finch, a young girl, the daughter of Atticus Finch. She and her younger brother Jem lived with their widowed father who was a well-to-do lawyer. They lived in the small southern town of Maycomb. Scout and Jem made friends with another young boy, Dill, who visited their town for the summer. The three children and their adventures represented one aspect of the book but also connected with another focus of the book that dealt with Atticus. A young African American man, Tom Robinson, was arrested and charged with assaulting a young Southern European American female. The sheriff of the town asked Atticus to represent the man and since he was one of the town’s people who had the least to fear or lose, he accepted. Another character that provided an essential social element to the book was Calpurnia, the housekeeper, cook, and guardian of the children. With this brief summary, we can now look at how the book represented the past, present, and future.

The past is represented by the townspeople of Maycomb in their attitude and view of people of color generally, and the young accused African American male. With the institution of slavery and the concept of race by color, European Americans saw themselves as superior to all non-European American people. They saw African Americans as less than a human being and believed that treating them like animals was no crime against God or nature. The first inclination of the townspeople upon learning of the assault of the young woman was to get the accused and lynch him—a trail was not necessary. Fortunately, what saved the town from being viewed as savage and barbaric was the sheriff who exercised his legal authority and felt the need to protect the young African American, Tom, from a mob.

The present was represented by Atticus who served as the lawyer for Tom Robinson. Many readers relied on the performance of Atticus as the lawyer and his attempt to save his client as fuel for him being seen as a hero. In all likelihood, Atticus knew what the outcome of the trial would be even before he took the case. The case provided Atticus an opportunity to display his knowledge of the law and his dramatic presentations underscored his belief in the law. The words he spoke, however, fell on the deaf ears of the townspeople whose minds were already set and the African Americans who were forced to sit in the balcony of the courtroom and who had no expectation of justice from the court. The only people emotionally affected by the trial were the children, and they represented the optimistic hope for the future.

The future is revealed primarily through Scout, the children and their relationship to Calpurnia, an African woman, her African American community, and of course, the trial. The townspeople became angry at Atticus for defending an African American, but because he was wealthy and independent, they represented no threat to him or his well-being. His children, however, were not protected from the jabs and sneers of the local children.      When Calpurnia took the children with her to her African American community, the children saw for the first time, a contradiction in what they had been conditioned by their society to believe about African Americans. Rather than feeling fearful and threatening by the African American community, Scout and Jem felt compassion, warmth, and safe.

Scout experiences a loss of innocence throughout the story, but especially near the end after she and Jem were attacked. She knew what happened to Tom Robinson and what Boo did. She also heard what Heck Tate said about the experience: “Tom Robinson died for no reason, he says, and now the man responsible is dead: “Let the dead bury the dead.”  The townspeople knew that Tom could not have committed the crime, but punished him anyway. Tate knew that Boo had killed Bob Ewell, but looked the other way.

So, given the fact that an innocent African American man died for a crime, he did not committee and a European American man is excused for the crime he committed, we recognize how ethnic bigotry and prejudice along with European American privilege worked in America. In other words, a relationship with the younger European American generation gave hope to the future relations of the communities in that a bridge of ignorance was crossed that revealed the existence of other human beings, African Americans, not animals or inferiors.

When we read the book with reference to the past, present, and future, we wonder why the book is so revered. We find no hero or a need for one since the story looked at society and justice relative to time. The Maycomb community’s sense of justice was not changed; the African American community’s status did not change. Finch’s words defending Tom were like Shakespeare’s Macbeth, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”Could the importance of the book depend on the ethnicity of the reader?

We need to understand that change is the only constant reality we have to reckon with in striving towards social justice.

Paul R. Lehman, CSU’s McConnell’s comments show little understanding of moral and ethical values relative to race.

September 13, 2019 at 11:15 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, black inferiority, democracy, discrimination, Disrespect, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, freedom of speech, liberty, Race in America, racism, respect, skin color, social conditioning, whites | 1 Comment
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The Denver Post published an article, “CSU won’t punish students who wore blackface in a photo shared on social media, citing First Amendment,” (9/11/2019) that raised concern relative to the incident. According to the article, the photo showed “four students in blackface—some smiling, some crossing their arms—with the caption “Wakanda forevaa,” a reference to the “Black Panther” comic book and film.” The suggestion taken from the article’s title is that because the students exercised their First Amendment right, the incident should be viewed as socially acceptable. The article’s title comes as a result of the university’s President’s statement relative to the incident.

CSU’s President, Joyce McConnell, emailed the students, staff, and faculty that “Because of the long and ugly history of blackface in America, this photo has caused a great deal of pain to members of our community.” She added that “We have heard from many of you—and we hear you. Moreover, we respect your voices.” She continued with “We know that images like this one—whether consciously racist or not—can perpetuate deliberate racism and create a climate that feels deeply hostile.”

A number of concerns come to mind relative to McConnell’s statement. First, the fact that the students were identified as part of the CSU family made her a part of the incident. The actions of the students were a result of a choice they made—to denigrate or demean people of color. While the President noted that the history of blackface in America is long and ugly and can cause great pain, she never acknowledged the actions of the four students as being wrong. In fact, she does just the opposite: “We also affirm that personal social media accounts are not under our jurisdiction.” She added that “Our community members-students, faculty, and staff—can generally post whatever they wish to post on their personal online accounts in accordance with their First Amendment rights.” Rather than addressing the photo incident as a cultural and social problem involving ethnic bigotry, she dismissed it as liberty protected under the First Amendment.

McConnell’s attitude is similar to many European Americans who are not acquainted with the biased social conditioning they have been accustomed to all their lives. She made reference to the “pain” experienced by members of the community but made no mention of the need for the perpetrators of that pain to acknowledge the fact that what they did was wrong, not legally wrong, but morally and ethically wrong. She said that the students would receive no punishment for their deed, an action that could encourage more incidents of a similar nature. What is needed in this matter is not punishment but an acknowledgment of the injustice and a course of atonement taken by the students to indicate that they fully understand the “pain” their photo caused and their remorse for doing it. Just because the photo does not violate any legal or university rules does not mean that it should be considered acceptable and permissible. On the contrary, the denigration or degradation of any ethnic group should be viewed as intolerable.

McConnell mentioned the words racism and racist and noted that “We are all here at CSU to learn, and we believe that this [the photo incident] can be a powerful learning moment that leads to healing and reconciliation.”While her sentiment and wishes might be well-placed, her knowledge and actions regarding this incident show that neither healing nor reconciliation will take place unless someone with the knowledge and understanding of the European American (white) system of superiority and social privilege take the lead. Healing cannot take place until an acknowledgment of a wrong committed is made along with remorse for the wrong. Those two actions, however, do not conclude the healing process; an apology does not necessarily mean remorse. If someone bumps into another person holding a glass of water and the glass fall to the floor and breaks, saying “I am sorry” does not repair the glass or recover the water. What might help in this situation would be for the person who instituted the bump to ask, in addition to the apology, if another glass of water could be offered as atonement. In essence, an action underscoring the apology helps in the healing. She suggested no such acknowledgment or action from the students.

Reconciliation brings to the fore a number of preconditions that must be acknowledged and addressed before progress can be made especially with regards to anything involving race. In America, European Americans have been conditioned to view people of color as less than human as an ordinary part of their life. Generally, they do not see ethnic bias as morally and ethically wrong because it has been an ever-present part of their daily lives from home to community, to school and church. In essence, many European Americans are ignorant of their ethnic biases, so attempting to identify racism and racist as socially unacceptable represents a challenge. We know that a table set by ignorance leaves no room for reason or wisdom but allows fools to eat to their heart’s content.

Reconciliation would require the recognition and admission of race by color as a false concept and racism as a substitute for bigotry. In spite of all the evidence and information addressing the falsity of the concept of race by color, American society continues to ignore it and try to proceed as though nothing has changed and is changing in our society relative to the debunking of the race concept. While McConnell’s words seemed apt and appropriate regarding actions that could be taken and opportunities that are presented by this incident, chances are little or no positive changes will occur at CSU regarding ethnic bigotry from a moral and ethical perspective.

McConnell’s final words regarding the photo incident underscore the lack of commitment for positive change: “We urge every member of our community to listen [to what], and to hear [hear what], all voices that make up this wonderful, diverse campus family so we can move forward [to where] together, stronger than ever.”The genuineness of McConnell’s statement rings as sincere as that of the grocery checkout worker’s “Have a nice day.”

 

Paul R. Lehman, America is experiencing violence and death because of fear, hatred, and bigotry

August 6, 2019 at 11:57 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, American Indian, American Racism, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Constitutional rights, Declaration of Independence, democracy, discrimination, DNA, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, fairness, identity, justice, language, liberty, life, President Obama, race, Race in America, racism, skin color, skin complexion, Slavery, social conditioning, The U.S. Constitution, U. S. Census, white supremacy, whites | Leave a comment
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When Barack Obama became President of the United States a shock was felt in many parts of America that brought to the surface of many European Americans fear and dread—a person of color was President. The fear and dread came from the many years of being socially conditioned to view African Americans and other people of color including some Southern and Eastern Europeans as inferior, and not of the same race as the Anglo-Saxons. But from the beginning, Europeans Americans were led to believe that America was reserved especially for them, the so-called whites. American History would reinforce the concept of European American (white) superiority and the inferiority of all other peoples.

European Americans have always lived with the fear and challenge of the national hypocrisy where the documents that carry the mantra of the nation’s democratic beliefs, the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States, discriminate against African Americans and people of color in general. For example, the Declaration of Independence states that all people have certain unalienable rights which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Yet, our history records that time and time again African Americans have been deprived of many of those rights up to the present time. We know that the Colonies supported slavery when the Declaration was issued and did not include women, children, and people of color. We also know that The Constitution referred to slaves as three/fifths a man or person and that designation were taken to refer to all African Americans, although many Indians and Europeans were identified as slaves. The inconsistency of what the nations says and how it acts continues to be a problem relative to it identity—is it a democracy or not?

Many Americans still believe and hold on dearly to the concept of a superior white race and that belief separates them from other Americans. Although their concept of a superior race has been debunked by social and medical science, they are at a loss to let go because they have nothing to fall back on except becoming an ordinary citizen. Unfortunately, the years of governmental and social conditioning that underscored, promoted, and maintained ethnic bigotry is not easy to relinquish in spite of it being undemocratic and un-American. Language serves as the glue that continues to hold the concepts of ethnic bigotry together. For example, the Census Bureau never defined the terms black and white, but gave a variety of citizens the option of selecting either for a an identity. After the 2010 Census, the Bureau discovered a problem in the results reported in that many citizens recorded their ethnic identity as white when prior statistics showed other figures that differed greatly with those of the Census. Race continues to be a problem because it cannot be defined using color.

Bigoted Americans keep trying to prove or convince others that the concept of a black and white race invented by the Founding Fathers is legitimate and accurate. The facts concerning the race concept are that black and white are colors, not ethnic identities. All human beings on the planet Earth, according to science, are brown. From a practical perspective if we were to mix the colors black and white together, the results would be a shade of grey, depending on the quantity of each color mixed. So, as some people hold to the view that a black and white race exists, then one might ask, where are the grey people? On the other hand, when a fair skin person (so-called white) joins with a dark skin person (so-called black) and creates an offspring, the offspring is always a shade of brown. Wow! What an amazing discovery! There goes that black race and white race theory. At some point Americans will wake up to the reality that we all belong to one family of humans, not races.

The recent increase of violence in America can be traced to the fear of some European Americans that brown people will take over society. That should not be a fear because by the shear numbers brown people already represent the majority in the world’s population and has since the beginning. As anthropologists have noted the Homo sapiens species originated in Africa and spread from Africa to other areas of the planet. No on questions the skin color of those first humans. Over the years the science of DNA has proven that the concept of a race or races cannot be obtained from an examination of DNA. Humans are more alike than Penguins. Nevertheless, some people want to violently fight society in a futile effort to try and prove the existence of a so-called superior European American (white) race.

America is experiencing dark times presently because some of the national leaders belong to that group of Americans who want to keep Americans ignorant and stupid regarding the concept of race. The changing demographics in society have continuously worked against that false concept and will eventually overcome it. Unfortunately, Americans will have to experience pain and suffering from the violence of those who know no other way to express their hurt, fear, and anxiety over being played the fool for so many years by society and the government. For all the pain and suffering caused by the people who spread bigotry, America will come back a stronger and more unified society because many of the weaknesses and problems that have contributed to our present situation will be exposed and resolved. We have not yet reached the point where Americans, in general, are ready to say enough.

America has always be a cultural experiment in progress, not a completed one, so we must continue to work towards having her achieve the objectives that were set forth at the beginning of the project. We all know what the promise of being an American is about—one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all. Our obligation is to ensure the liberties, rights, justice, and freedom of each of us for all of us.

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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