Paul R. Lehman, Charles Barkley comments on dirty dark secret

November 3, 2014 at 5:27 pm | Posted in African American, American Dream, American history, blacks, Charles Barkley, Civil War, equality, ethnic stereotypes, identity, President, skin color, skin complexion, Slavery, The Oklahoman, whites | 2 Comments
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The Oklahoman published recently (10/31/2014) some comments by Charles Barkley entitled “Barkley exposes ‘dirty secret.’ The comments were from an interview Barkley did with a Philadelphia radio station. What spurred the comments was when Barkley was asked about NFL player Russell Wilson being told by some of his teammates that he was not “black enough.” Although we certainly respect Barkley right to freedom of speech, we also recognize the responsibility to comment on his statement.
For example, Barkley stated that “’we as black people, we’re never going to be successful, not because of you white people, but because of other black people.’” Barkley assumed that so-called black people represent a monolith and exists with certain stereotypical characteristics. That assumption is false. Barkley never defines who black people are and if they receive their identity from their skin color or from some other source. What is obvious from his statement is that Barkley still holds on to the false belief in multiple biological races, like black and white. Those races exist in society as illusions, but many people hold on to them like they do the Tooth Fairy.
Barkley stated next that “’When you’re black, you have to deal with so much crap in your life from other black people.’” That statement would hold true regardless of ones identity. He continued “’It’s a dirty dark secret, I’m glad it’s coming out. It comes out every few years.’” What is not a secret is that children will ridicule other children for a variety of reasons; they do it constantly, but not necessarily for reasons of skin color or group membership.
Barkley noted that in his book stated that “…when young black kids, when they do well in school, the loser kids tell them ‘Oh you’re acting white.’ The kids who speak intelligently, they tell them ‘you’re acting white. So it’s a dirty dark secret in the black community.’”While we do not doubt Barkley’s sincerity, we cannot help but take note of how he sees society in black and white, and how that colors his perception of things. He speaks of the ‘black community’ as if it exists in some homogenous state, which it does not. He also gives some African American students little or no credit in recognizing that the criticism come from ‘loser kids’ and should not be taken seriously. The schools and the parents certainly play a part in determining the child’s well-being and underscoring the fact that negative stereotypes of African American experiences are not to be valued.
Barkley continued “One reason we’re never going to be successful as a whole is because of other black people. For some reason we are brainwashed to think, if you’re not a thug or an idiot, you’re not black enough. If you go to school, make good grades, speak intelligently, and don’t break the law, you’re not a good black person.’”What Barkley is speaking of here is the gap in education, social and economic levels that exist in society and covers people of all skin complexions. The only group to make it will be the human race of which we are all a part. Black has never been defined, so to use it as a unifying social term is false. The continued use of the terms black and white goes back to the days of American slavery where the two races were created. The brainwashing came into being when the slave masters associated power, privilege, superiority, and arrogance with being European American (white). African Americans were brainwashed into believing what their slave masters and society forced them to accept about themselves. After slavery, laws were created to keep the former slaves ignorant. The result can be seen today in Barkley’s comments about white being better.
What does not come out in Barkley’s comments is the concern of those who identify themselves as black; they are ignorant, fearful, intimidated, and insecure. First, they are ignorant of themselves and history; if they were aware of history, they would know of the many contributions made by African American men and women who overcame great obstacles to make a mark in society and our world. The list is too long to include, but we only have to look around to recognize them from the President, to the Attorney General, to company and corporation heads and even prominent sport commentators like Barkley.
They are fearful because they want all the people to identify with one group, blacks. And when they see someone who they believe is achieving more success than the group permits, they fear loosing members of the group. To them, it is important to keep the group together, so when someone appears to be moving beyond the borders, they try to pull then back in by appealing to an identity—“you’re not black enough.”
In addition to being fearful, the loser also feels intimidated by the African American who is perceived as getting ahead. Having a group identity for some people creates a feeling of safety and unity because everyone is thought to be the same. When it appears that one is exceeding his bounds and enjoying success at a new level, it creates a feeling of separation from the one who is still at the former level. In essence, the one who is moving upwards is viewed as leaving the group and by doing so, becomes better than those in the group. Hence, the intimidation.
Group membership and identity promotes a variety of concerns like, loyalty, dedication, unity, and security. When individuals thought to be group members appear to be moving away from the group, the comfort and security of the group comes into question. Barkley stated that “’This debate is funny. We’re the only race that tells people if you…have street cred—that means you’ve been arrested—that’s a compliment. We’re the only ethnic group that say ‘Hey if you go to jail, that gives you street cred.’” Barkley is mistaken by placing all African Americans into a group and assuming that they all walk in lock-step. Any rational person knows that all people are individuals, and yes, we are part of the environment in which we were raised, but that does not define us. The real secret is that no one wants to be defined by ignorance and stupidity which is what the losers represent.


Paul R. Lehman, The movie “12 Years A Slave” provides 12 valuable lessons for America

March 23, 2014 at 3:47 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American Indian, blacks, Christianity, democracy, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, identity, justice, liberty, movies, Prejudice, race, segregation, skin color, skin complexion, Slavery | Leave a comment
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The movie, 12 Years a Slave, won an Oscar award as this year’s the Best Picture, and well it should have because of the picture of slavery it presents. Many viewers based their evaluations of the movie on how the system of slavery dehumanized and denigrated the slave, showing the harshness of the punishment and pain endured by the slaves. In those cases, once the movie is over, the memories of the viewers rest with the experiences of the slaves. However, the movie’s most valuable and significant element rest in its intrinsic objective—to provided a gift to America of a valuable teaching tool.
The movie, followed by mature and informed discussions, should be a requirement for all Jr. High and High school students because of the way the movie presents the concept of slavery, and how it reflects American life. By doing so, we all can gain unique lessons from it. Let us take a look at twelve of the most obvious lessons we learn from slavery. These lessons are not arranged in an order of priority and most of them overlap, but relate to slavery as viewed from the movie.
First, the movie shows how the enslavers become dehumanized when they treated the slaves as animals. Watching a human being degraded through inhumane punishment and pain reflects on the ones inflicting the actions and the reasons for doing so. The power to whip a human being to death does not make one a human being for using that power, but more a brut for dropping to that level of behavior.
Second, the movie shows how the actions of the enslavers to dehumanize the slaves represent a form of insanity. Although the slaves were human beings, they were viewed and made to view themselves as animals; most people treat their animals with a degree of respect for the service they render. So, when the action of an enslaver goes against common sense, and what is considered normal thoughts, the result is a form of insanity.
Third, the movie shows that all African Americans were not slaves; many were free, educated, business and property owners. For example, Paul Cuffee owned several sailing ship, made and sold sails. In Louisiana, Cyprian Ricard owned almost a hundred slaves (Yes, even some African Americans owned slaves, but not all African slaves); a cabinetmaker from North Carolina, Thomas Day, employed a number of European Americans; and in New York City in 1924, seven African Free Schools were supported by the public. The schools were called African Free Schools, not Negro or black or colored because those terms lacked specificity. So, Solomon being a free man was not an isolated case; not all African Americans were slaves.
Fourth, the movie shows how all European Americans were not supporters of slavery. Had it not been for the characters played by Brad Pitt, and Mr. Parker, both European Americans, Solomon would not have regained his freedom. We also note the behavior of Solomon’s first young master how Solomon was treated with a small degree of respect for his knowledge and skills. All enslavers did not treat their slaves the same.
Fifth, the movie shows how slavery created guilt-feelings in some of the European Americans who knew that slavery was a false concept and that the Africans and African Americans were human being, just like themselves. The guilt came from the fact that they knew slavery was wrong, and in contradiction to the Declaration of Independence and the Bible. Yet, the suspension of truth and reality was substituted for the make-believe concept of viewing human beings as animals and property. The fact that any form of formal education was denied the slaves to promote the idea that they could not learn. This action was a deliberate effort to hide the truth and protect their guilt.
Sixth, the movie shows how laws regarding the ownership of property were generally respected. The laws of property rights reflect the world of finance and business. These laws seemingly took precedent over laws regarding human concerns. A man’s worth was indicated not only in his money, but also in his property including land and slaves. The laws were created and enforced by the wealthy property owners.
Seventh, the movie shows how the insanity of slavery helps us to understand many of the attitudes and actions of some people today, especially the concepts of ethnic bigotry based on skin complexion. European Americans firmly believed that the color of their skin was a biological fact of superiority. The reference to their color as a sign of power was used constantly, especially the European Americans who were hired hands.
Eighth, the movie shows how the belief in slavery promoted a false sense of power, privilege, arrogance, and prestige. For all intent and purpose, the movie shows how some slave masters viewed themselves as gods, controlling the total lives of their slaves. In addition, other European Americans believed that they were created to be masters over other ethnic Americans, so they behaved as though it was a fact.
Ninth, the movie shows how slavery used Christianity in a hypocritical way, for generating fear, intimidation, and discipline. In essence, if the slaves did not practice being good slaves, then God would punish them through the slave masters. Church service for the slaves was a mockery of Christianity since the preachers always quoted scripture that encouraged the slaves to obey the masters and be good slaves.
Tenth, the movie shows how some European Americans believed that the Declaration of Independence was for all people, and some European Americans believed it applied only to them. The European American property owners believed they were entitled to more power, privilege, and prestige than the average European Americans. The country, in essence, belonged to them.
Eleventh, the movie shows how the secular and Christian standards and values did not apply to the enslavers. If a master wanted to procreate with his female slaves, he did so without impunity. His neighbors and fellow citizens gave little thought to what he did to his slaves regarding morals and values.
Twelfth, the movie shows that wedding vows were simply a matter of convenience, not law, with regards to who the master slept or with whom he fathered children. The wives of slave masters knew their place generally, but none-the-less, witnessed daily the handiwork of their husbands in and around the plantation.
The movie, as an invaluable gift, should be used because it tells us who we were, how we got to where we are, and what we need to do to move forward.

Paul R. Lehman, The picture of President Obama and a banana reflects negatively on the sender

February 11, 2014 at 1:18 am | Posted in African American, Constitutional rights, democracy, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, European American, freedom of speech, justice, Prejudice, President Obama, Race in America, Russia, skin color | 2 Comments
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The phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words” has been around for a few hundred years and it still has relevance today. The concept of the phrase whether it is one thousand or ten thousand words concern not only the picture itself, but also the creator as well as the producer and user. Each has its own reason for the picture’s value; so, the image that constitutes the picture is not the only concern of the viewers. In an article from the Guardian, “Russian MP’s Obama with banana picture sparks racism debate” (2/9/14) a discussion concerning racism began. The picture in question is a doctored photo of President and Mrs. Obama; the picture has been changed to make President Obama appear as though he is chewing on something while he stares wide-eyed at a banana that seemingly is before him.
The article noted that “The subject of racism has become the focus of a public discussion in Russia after an MP from Duma caused outrage by posting an image of Barack Obama that was photoshopped to include a banana. It continued by stating that “Irina Rodina, an MP from Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party and a triple Olympic champion figure-skater, posted the picture on her personal Twitter account.” Rodina apparently saw nothing amiss with the picture she claims was sent to her from friends in the U.S. She was quoted as saying “Freedom of speech is freedom of speech, and you should answer for your own hang-ups.”
If we take the time to look at the photo, we can recognize that the image of President Obama has been altered, so that he does not appear to be in a normal state, but a contrived one. His eyes have been made to seemed fixed on a banana magically suspended in from of him. We do not know what the person who altered the photo had in mind, but a suggestion might be that an effort was made to associate the President’s image with that of a monkey or something similar that likes to eat bananas. The irony of the photo is that many people like and eat bananas, so why try to focus attention on the image of President Obama looking at the banana unless it is an attempt to try and make a denigrating statement regarding him. In fact, because the photo is so contrived, the effect probably rest with the question it raises—why?
The answer to that question never is given because the charge of racism came quickly to the front. The article noted that “The incident was widely discussed in the Russian press, with many commentators coming to the defence of the MP and figure-skater.” We agree with a person’s right to free speech, so as far as Rodina having the right to Tweet the photo we have no argument. Our concern is to why? What was the objective? We do not know because no one, including Rodina has said. What we do know is that most educated and informed individuals generally have a working knowledge of their actions, especially if they are deliberate.
The article reported that the United State ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, was not pleased and believed “that Rodina was guilty of ‘outrageous behavior which only brings shame to her parliament and country.’ A spokesperson for the U. S. embassy quoted Thomas Jefferson in response to the tweet: ‘Bigotry is the disease of ignorance.’” The response is appropriate in this instance because to identify the photo as racist is to support the concept of multiple human races, which in turn feed the illusions of bigots. The ignorance associating people as members of a race because of their color, religion or beliefs is like saying that fresh water from different parts of the world is different just because it changes from country from country. We know that certain things can be and are added to the water, but take away the additives and it is all the same. So it is with people.
When something so contrived as the President Obama picture is offered to the public, the logical response is to simply ignore it and let it pass, because that is not what the presenters want to happen. They want to raise the ire and alarm at what they know can appear degrading not only to the President, but to the country as well. By acknowledging the photo, the viewer gives in to the trap and brings attention to a cause that is lost and dying—racial superiority.
Rather than the picture being viewed as disparaging and denigrating to the President, the fact is that the ignorance of the people who created, produced and promoted it is underscored. The use of the word racist does not fit the situation, although the people responsible for the picture might think so. By accepting the term racist, the blame for the action can be displaced among the larger group of like-thinkers. The appropriate word is as the embassy spokesperson noted from Jefferson is bigotry. The bigot has to accept personal responsibility for his or her actions, not the group. Obviously, seeing the photo will generate questions, but by letting it pass, since nothing positive is to be gained from an angry reaction, does not give comfort to the instigators.
Yes, we can agree with the phrase that “a picture is worth a thousand words” but we need to always keep in mind that the picture did not create itself, and there has to have been some motivation for the production. We are correct to question the purpose of the photo as well as the expectations of different viewers to the photo. However, once rational and reasonable people understand that the use of the photo is for negative propaganda, we can then remove ourselves from any attempt to call attention to it. When some people have lived their entire lives internalizing a myth, then no amount of common sense or facts can change their biased minds.

Paul R. Lehman, Census Bureau fails to recognize its core problems with new plans

August 19, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Posted in American Bigotry, American Racism, blacks, equality, Ethnicity in America, fairness, Media and Race, minority, Prejudice, public education, U. S. Census, whites | 1 Comment
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Hope Yen, a writer for the Associated Press, published an article, “Census plans to change how it measures race,” in The Oklahoman today (8/9/12). The article stated the purpose: “To keep pace with rapidly changing notions of race, the Census Bureau wants to make broad changes to its surveys that would end use of the term  “Negro,” count Hispanics as a mutually exclusive group and offer new ways to identify Middle Easterners.” Basically, what it will do is add more confusion and complexity to the problems it already has.

The article reported on the confusion the Census survey created for the people taking it in 2010. Having written on this subject in this blog and my latest book, America’s Race Matters: Returning the Gifts of Race and Color, the need to change aspects of the Census form comes as no surprise. The Bureau will try to identify and fix the problems that revolve around the identity of various ethnic groups because an accurate accounting of some groups was not possible based on the selection offered on the Census form. We are told that “The research [Census Bureau’s] is based on an experiment conducted during the 2010 census in which nearly 500,000 households were given forms worded differently. The findings show that many people who filled out the traditional form did not fit within the five categories of race…” The five categories of race listed on the forms were white, black, Asian, Pacific Islander and American Indian/Alaska Native. Hispanics evidently caused a problem “because Hispanics is currently defined as an ethnicity and not a race, some 18 million Latinos—or roughly 37 percent—used the ‘some other race’ category on their census forms to establish a Hispanic racial identity.”

So, just how does the Census Bureau plan to address this problem in the future? We are told that “Under one proposed change, a new question would simply ask a person’s race or origin, allowing them to check a single box next to choices including black, white, or Hispanic.” Unfortunately, that would actually create more problems for the Census Bureau because people of mixed ethnicity would not identify with any of the boxes offered. However, the Census Bureau, not to be deterred, offered some other changes:”The other changes would drop use of “Negro,” leaving a choice of “black” or African-American, as well as add write-in categories that would allow Middle Easterners and Arabs to specifically identify themselves.” Well, if people are allowed to identify themselves would those identities in effect create other races or would they be considered simply ethnic groups?

The primary problem facing the Census Bureau has to do with a lack of specificity, namely a lack of definitions. People filling out the survey forms are left on their own to figure out what the Census Bureau means with reference to race and ethnicity. Part of the problem comes from the fact that many people do not see themselves the way the Census Bureau sees them. For example if a person has an Asian mother and a Hispanic father, what box would he or she check? Asian is listed as a race, but Hispanic is listed as an ethnicity. Would this person be considered a half-race person or half-ethnic person? The Census Bureau does not offer a solution to such a problem, but suggest that the person filling out the survey make a choice according to the boxes available which includes “some other race.”

The fact that new immigrants are arriving in this country daily, we need to have a system in place to identify them accurately. The present system leaves much to be desired. What needs to happen without question is for the Census Bureau to drop the use of the term race and go with the term ethnicity, allowing individuals a wide range of selections based on specific cultures and geography. The terms black and white should also be discontinued because they serve no useful purpose. For example, if one goes by color than certain Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Haitians, and a host of other people might be considered black; however, because of their cultural and geographical identity, refuse to be identified as black. The same problem exists for people who identify themselves as white. The Census Bureau does not define race, but uses the colors black and white as though they are races. Apparently, that line of action does not work; hence, the problems and confusion.

One thing about the census that cannot be ignored is the fact that the data collected is used in a variety of ways that impact people and society specifically. Politically, information about the cultural make-up of certain areas is important in order to address the problems and concerns in those areas. If the census information is faulty or inaccurate, then the likelihood of some areas receiving attention would be affected. Since the cultural and ethnic make-up of America is changing on a daily basis, it is incumbent on the Census Bureau to make some meaningful changes, but not changes that simply exacerbate the problems. The Census Bureau needs to recognize what the obvious nature of the problem is, and address that first. Unfortunately, the Census Bureau cannot seem to recognize that the problem has to do with their use of and dependency on terms that are no longer applicable to the objective.

Chances are we will be reading another article in the future about the continued confusion being experienced by the Census Bureau because they have received an overabundance of survey forms with the selection marked “some other race,” and they will not know what to do with the information because they have no idea of what that means. For many years now when forms come to me with a space requesting an identity under “race,” the word “human” is supplied.

Paul R. Lehman, Jasper, Texas, a study in historical bigotry and social control

July 1, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Posted in American Racism, Bigotry in America, blacks, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, fairness, justice, Lori Stahl, Media and Race, Prejudice, Race in America, U.S. Education Department Office for Civil Rights, whites | 5 Comments
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If the name Jasper, Texas sounds familiar it is probably from the news created in 1998 when an African American man named James Byrd was killed. Byrd was walking home at night when three European American men picked him up, took him to a secluded wood, tied his hands and feet, and then tied him to the back of the truck. He was then dragged for several miles until he was decapitated from that experience.  An enormous amount of media attention was paid to the incident, which produced a variety of activities, some from the Ku Klux Klan as well as the Black Panthers. After the arrest, trial, and conviction of the perpetrators, the town seemed to undergo a dramatic change regarding ethnic relations—a positive change. Unfortunately, the change did not last very long.

In a recent article in the Washington Post,”Racial tension still an issue in Jasper, Texas” (6/15/12) by Lora Stahl, healing and reconciliation didn’t really take place.  Since the killing of Byrd, a number of things happened to indicate that the town was dealing with some of the bigotry that is part of its history. Over the past few years, four African Americans had been elected to the City Council and the town had recently hired an African American as Chief of Police. The participation of these African Americans in the town’s affairs seemed too much for some of the European Americans to take. So, something had to be done.

The nature of the problem in Jasper as well as hundreds of other towns like it is the unwillingness of too many of the European Americans citizens to come to grips with the bigotry that has been part of their lives since birth. The stereotypical view of the African American by European Americans is one of inferiority accompanied by negative element such as ignorance, laziness, dishonesty, violence and a host of other descriptive adjectives. The problem stems from the belief that if African Americans occupy positions of leadership then the value and stature of the European Americans is diminished. Therefore, that situation should never be allowed to exist. The power and prestige of the European Americans would be in jeopardy of being lost if African Americans were to gain positions of power. So, when the presence of African Americans in the town’s government came to notice, something had to be done to protect the real [European American] citizens.

One of the first orders of business was to remove the African Americans from the City Council. That was done through a recall process. Apparently, the powers-that-be did not like the power the African Americans managed or simply working with them, so they had them removed using their power and influence. That power and influence was generated through creating fear and hatred of European Americans loosing the place of privilege.

The article noted that “On Monday, 16 months after he was hired by a black majority on the City Council, Police Chief Rodney Pearson was ousted during a tense council meeting. The council, which now has a white majority, voted 4 to 1 to terminate Pearson.” The reason for Pearson’s firing are not clear, except for the article stating that the Mayor, “Mike Lout grilled Pearson during a long session before the firing was announced. Lout reportedly questioned the chief about how many hours he worked and why he was not present at two high-profile crime scenes.”

Evidently, the Mayor had to lecture the chief (read boy) before he told him of his firing. The lecture was a show of power the mayor wanted to underscore not only to the chief, but also to all the townspeople. In effect, the European Americans were back in control—they took their town back.

To understand the way this change in power took place we have to look at a number of things that do not seem connected, but are. The chief, an African American, was married to a European American. On the surface, they had not encountered any problems in Jasper. However, we are told that “Pearson’s wife [Sandy] was let go about three weeks ago from her job managing a medical office because of ‘low morale’ in the workplace.”By the business letting Sandy go, it was suggesting that she was the cause of the “low morale.”

With the firing of Pearson, the powers -that -be in the town have successfully cut off the Pearson’s livelihood. They, in effect, have said that they have the power to destroy your way of life and make your time in Jasper difficult. What apparently started the power change according to the article was Pearson’s concern over the recall process: “Earlier this year, Pearson hired lawyers to represent him in an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claim. According to a report in the Beaumont Enterprise, the claim was not mentioned by the council during the meeting this week.” The complaint was not mentioned for fear that the dots would be connected and the truth comes out. The article continued with “The complaint was apparently filed after a local recall election last month resulted in several black council members losing their seats to whites.”

We are told that some African Americans launched a recall petition to unseat Lout, but were not successful. We need not wonder why.  The irony of it all is that just when people start to believe that society is beginning to realize that all  people live on the same planet, breath the same air, and meet whatever requirements necessary to life and livelihood, fear and hatred in the form of bigotry and prejudice comes forth to take center stage. Yes, the powers- that- be in Jasper have been successful in delaying social progress. However, they must realize that all their efforts did no more than delay progress. Their efforts to “take back their town” supposedly from African Americans are based on their fear of losing their sense of superiority. Their hatred comes from the fact that they realize they are fighting a losing battle and they cannot stop the inevitable loss. So, they do what they can to hold on for as long as they can.

Paul R. Lehman, Opinion writer shows fear and disgust for Jackson and Sharpton’s visit to Tulsa

April 15, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Posted in American Bigotry, American Racism, blacks, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, fairness, justice, Killings in Tulsa, Media and Race, minority, whites | 4 Comments
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Too often opinions offered on opinion/editorial pages of the newspaper as well as the electronic media cause confusion and misinformation if the writers or speakers are not informed about the subject. We certainly do not stand in judgment of someone’s opinion if it is offered as an opinion. However, when an opinion is offered as fact and it is inaccurate, then we should call it into question. A particular selection published in the Oklahoman (4-13-120) entitled “Media circus is the last thing Tulsa needs after killings” focused on the visits of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Rev. Al  Sharpton to Tulsa, Oklahoma. The language, attitude, and tone of the article promoted the ideas inconsistent with reality and the truth.

The choice of words used by the writer of the article seems to suggest disrespect and disgust with the subjects, Jackson and Sharpton, as well as the situation, the recent killing of three African American men and the wounding of two more by two European American males. The mere suggestion of a circus coming to town in the persons of Jackson and Sharpton creates a sense of entertainment rather than seriousness about the incident. The underlining suggestion is that Jackson and Sharpton are clowns and therefore their appearance in Tulsa is for a show or entertainment. The headline is correct in stating that a “circus is the last thing Tulsa needs after killings,” so why would it suggest the appearance of these two men would create a circus?

The first paragraph of the article reads:”The Rev. Jesse Jackson came to Oklahoma City 17 years ago this month to express solidarity with black victims of the federal building bombing. Fortunately, we were spared the presence of Rev. Al Sharpton.” This statement suggests that Jackson came to Oklahoma City specifically to express solidarity with African American victims of that event only. To suggest that is misleading and untrue. Jackson expressed solidarity for all the victims. As a Christian and a minister he recognized that all people are children of the same God. The article reference to the city being “spared” the presence of Rev. Sharpton suggest that he would have brought something sinister or destructive to the city with him. One wonders what that might have been in order to cause such a negative reaction.

In the next paragraph we get a sample of more uncomplimentary language associated with Jackson and Sharpton: “ Tulsa won’t be so fortunate. Jackson and Sharpton will descend on Tulsa just as (and because) the national media has descended on Tulsa following the Good Friday killings that appear to be racially motivated.” So, the suggestion is that the national media is the real reason for Jackson and Sharpton “descending” on Tulsa, and not the killings. Wrong again. Jackson and Sharpton were both asked and invited to come to Tulsa because the people in Tulsa knew that the national media would follow Jackson and Sharpton. By bringing those two men to Tulsa, national attention would focus on the killings. History and experience underscores the fact that most crimes in America with African Americans as victims receive very little media attention if any at all.

In addition to the denigrating language associated with Jackson and Sharpton, the attitude suggested in the article is one of suspicion and deceit. The article states that “Police, prosecutors and city officials have their hands full trying to tamp down the emotions surrounding this case. The last thing they need is a media circus with Jackson and Sharpton serving as ring masters.” One wonders what evidence, facts and or experiences lead that writer to think that Jackson and Sharpton would start some sort of physical, violent, and unlawful disturbance? The only evidence of any kind of unlawful, unorganized, and disruptive actions comes from the writer’s own words. Jackson and Sharpton have always maintained that their objective in accepting the invitations extended to them by people involved in situations where justice and fairness is concerned is to seek justice and fairness, nothing more, nothing less. So, why would they be characterized as “ring masters” when, in fact, there is no circus in town?

The tone of the article is one of arrogance and stupidity regarding history and present day occurrences. The article’s author makes a reference to the national interest in Tulsa with reference to the 1921 Riot. The statement reads “What’s the connection? None. In the earlier case armed gangs divided along racial lines. It was certainly not a mass murder like the bombing or the Tulsa shootings. It was less a race riot that a race war.” Evidently, this statement shows a gross lack of concrete facts and reliable information regarding the 1921 riot as well as recognizing the difference between a riot and a war. He might want to read Tim Madigan’s The Burning, or Rilla Askew’s Fire in Beulah for an account of that tradegy. His emphasis is unfortunately, on the physical violence and destruction when the real problem is the administration of justice and fair treatment for all people. He certainly cannot say that the African American community in the Greenwood section of Tulsa was treated fairly after the 1921 riot, and to a degree today.

Without going over the entire article paragraph by paragraph to point out the various areas of ignorance and stupidity let us look at two comments to make our point. Again, referencing the 1921 riot, the article states: “What happened in Tulsa in 1921 was an outbreak of violence exposing widespread racial division that’s not evident in Tulsa today.”If that is true, then no bigotry exists in Tulsa, and the two European Americans arrested cannot be charged with a hate crime (they have been charged  with committing a hate crime). If bigotry is no longer a reality in Tulsa why have not the city moved to make amends for the destruction it participated in back in 1921? The article suggests that no so-called racial division exists in Tulsa today. How true is that? If that is so, why were three African Americans killed by the two European Americans and charged with hate crimes?

Finally, the article’s author asks the question why Jackson and Sharpton are in Tulsa: “So what’s the point of the Jackson-Sharpton visit and the lamentations of members of the Legislative Black Caucus? What will these things accomplish that excellent police work, vigorous prosecution and swift sure punishment of the guilty won’t do by themselves”? That is precisely the point! Jackson and Sharpton want exactly that to happen now, because it has not happened with any regularity in the past. By their presence, the need for equal justice and fairness for all American citizens will be closely scrutinized by the national media brought there by Jackson and Sharpton.

If the writer of the article would stop and think for a moment, what should become apparent is the fact that Jackson and Sharpton are not the enemy as they are portrayed. They simply want for African Americans and all Americans fair and equal justice under the law. Why would anyone object to that? The language, attitude, and tone of this article indicated a fear and expectation of evil, violence, and unlawfulness that is purely unwarranted.


Paul R. Lehman, New Book: AMERICA’S RACE MATTERS: Returning the Gifts of Race and Color

April 9, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Posted in American Racism, Bigotry in America, blacks, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, fairness, justice, Media and Race, minority, President Obama, public education, Race in America, U. S. Census, whites | 1 Comment
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The picture below is the front cover of my latest book which is now available from, barnes or your local bookstore. Why would you want to read this book? One good reason for reading it is because it is enlightening in a variety of ways. Several specific element set this book apart from others that address the subject of race.

First, this book questions the beliefs of race, and discusses the conflicts and confusion resulting from an unclear definition of race. Most people try to define race by using the word race which results in a circular discussion with no progress being made regarding the definition.

A reason for some people not liking to discuss race is because they know very little about it. Once they understand what is at work with the use of the word race in American society, they will be able to move forward in their appreciation in the vision this book provides.

Second, this book discusses the concepts of race today and in the future, if no changes are made in the way we view it. The discussion makes a clear distinction between the words race and ethnicity.

Third, this book suggests the discontinued use of the words race, black and white, because they are no longer accurate, valid, rational, or specific in today’s society. Many examples of the uselessness of the word race are provided.

Fourth, this work uses examples from society, current U.S. Government information as well as popular fictional and non-fictional works by American writers that address race matters.

Fifth, this book offers a vision for America that addresses the problems created by race in a sensible, rational, realistic fashion.

Most books on race deal with race as it exists in the American past and present. While the information those works provide is valuable, it cannot go beyond the present-day concepts of race because that concept is not challenged. This book takes the discussion of race to higher level and shows the possibilities for the future. Change cannot come without an interruption of the present; a seed cannot become what is destined to be without first breaking through the ground. The same thing must happen to our way of thinking regarding race. This book provides an avenue of approach to that end.

One of the book’s reviewers, Kerri Shadid, wrote in the Oklahoman (5-11-12) that “The book follows the history of race in America from its creation during the time of slavery, to its role in literature, to the confusion perpetuated today by the U.S. Census Bureau using “race” rather than “ethnicity” on the census.” She adds that Lehman believes society’s rejecting the idea of race will not come easy; she continues “However, the reward of discarding the outdated and dehumanizing concept of race is more valuable than the benefits of continuing to grasp onto it.”

In the conclusion of her review, Shadid writes that “America’s Race Matters” is an important book in raising awareness of race in America, which many of us prefer to push under the rug to our own detriment as members of humanity.”

Paul R. Lehman, The media fails its responsibility in the Trayvon Martin case.

April 1, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Posted in American Bigotry, blacks, Disrespect, equality, fairness, Media and Race, minority, Prejudice, Race in America | 5 Comments
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Who is Joe Oliver? If you have been following the Trayvon Martin case, then you know that for a few days Oliver was on all the major news shows telling the audiences what a good friend he is to George Zimmerman, the killer of Martin. Why was Oliver on all the news shows? The answer is because the media did not do their jobs. They took the word of some unknown person and let him have an audience with the program viewers. The media is at fault for creating much of the confusion surrounding this case.

Without first checking his credibility before allowing him air time, the media did the public a disservice because what Oliver had to say contributed absolutely nothing to our understanding of this case. One reporter, however, Jonathan Capehart, a writer for the Post, realized that Oliver was seeking publicity and had nothing concrete to share because it was not based on facts. Oliver convinced the media that he was “A man who knew the man who shot Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla. A man who could vouch for Zimmerman’s personal growth and character. A man who knew the gunman so well that he was certain that the voice screaming for help on one of the 911 calls was Zimmerman’s.” According to Capehart, while Oliver might have believed all this, the facts proved otherwise.

The game Oliver had been playing with the media came to a head on the MSNBC show The Last Word, with Lawrence O’Donnell. Capehart was also a guest on this show and took part in asking questions of Oliver. Any number of responses from Oliver to the questions put to him by O’Donnell could have proved  Oliver’s lack of credibility, but one response to a question sealed the deal. Oliver said that “I wouldn’t put myself out here on the line like this if I didn’t know in my heart that George Zimmerman was in a life-or-death struggle.”All the guests realized simultaneously that they had been had. What does knowing something in “your” heart have to do with hard facts? Nothing.

Finally, Joe Oliver was no longer invited to talk on any of the news shows simply because he had nothing to contribute. Why did not the media know this before hand? We might assume that part of the reason is the desire to be first in presenting what has been called “breaking news.” The problem with this concept is that the line defining news has been blurred to the point that one questions what really is defined as news today. Reporters and journalists used to verify their information before offering it to the public. However, since the advent of “breaking news” it seems that speed is more important the accuracy. Oliver is not the only person seeking “air time” regarding this case and the media has in a number of instances accommodated them.

Another problem that the media seems to create in a subtle way involves the subject of race. When a question about race is raised by a reported or journalist, then race inters the story. From the introduction of race comes the question of racism. Once racism has been introduced the charges of being or not being a racist become the center of attention. For some people, simply knowing someone of a different ethnicity is proof enough that the accused is not racists. Unfortunately, once the bridge to race, racism, and racist has been crossed the water beneath the bridge becomes too tainted to be of use. Using race as a decoy has become a popular ploy to try and defuse an issue. With respect to the killing of Trayvon Martin, we do not know for certain that it played a part. We do know that Trayvon is dead. As a society we need to stop using the words race and racist as catch-all words. In reality bigotry might have played a larger part in the activities surrounding Trayvon’s death than did racism. A person can have prejudices and not be a racist.

One thing the media can help the public to understand is that racism and prejudice is not the same thing. If they want to be accurate in reporting, they should try and ascertain the difference before assuming that race was involved. By not making a clear distinction between racism and bigotry the media is complicit is promoting the confusion. If they do not know the difference, then they should avoid using the words because their use creates a definite impression with the public. After all is said and done, if the public is not made aware of the misuse of the words race, racism, and racist chances are we will be back at the same place as before the news story of Trayvon broke—uninformed.

We have been led to believe that he media has a responsibility to the public, and part of that responsibility involves reporting facts. If we cannot depend on the media to provide us with the facts then they have outlived their usefulness to us and the public good. Unfortunately, what passes for news today is little more than entertainment, and not good entertainment at that. So, who is Joe Oliver and why do we want to hear what he has to say? Mr. Capehart was right when he said “Don’t trust Joe Oliver’s ‘gut feeling about his ‘friend’ George Zimmerman.” My response to that statement is why did I have to listen to Joe Oliver in the first place?

Paul R. Lehman, Anti-Obama bumper sticker underscores fear and bigotry

March 18, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Posted in American Bigotry, blacks, Congress, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, justice, Prejudice, President Obama, Respect for President, whites | 2 Comments
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A graphic from MSN, shows a bumper sticker in a red, white and blue rectangle separated in three sections: a white square with two smaller rectangles on top of each other. The top one is blue, the bottom one is red. In the square is the international symbol of “no” or “do not,” a red circle with a line diagonally through it from top left to bottom right. A picture is inside the circle that shows a blue sky with a raising three-quarter sun with red and white stripes of the flag completing the bottom of the circle picture. The blue rectangle has white lettering that reads:”Don’t Re-Nig.” The bottom, red rectangle also has white lettering that reads: “In 2012.” In smaller print at the bottom of this same rectangle is a message that reads “Stop repeat offenders. Don’t reelect Obama!” MSN shows the graphic with the following message:

Seller pulls website after racist anti-Obama sticker goes viral

This year’s presidential race is already one of the most ugly and nasty in recent history. But a photo of a racist anti-Obama bumper sticker that has gone viral across social media, ranks as one of the lowest of many low moments. The sticker reads “Don’t Re-Nig in 2012” in large white script, with “Stop Repeat Offenders. Don’t reelect Obama!” in smaller script below. The sticker originated from a site called Stumpy’s Stickers, which has since shut down and which also sold several other racist and anti-Obama-themed stickers, including one with hooded Ku Klux Klan figures bearing the phrase “The Original Boyz N The Hood.”

Since his election, even before he took office, the cry of President Obama’s critics flooded the media. The desire of wanting to “take back our country” was their objective. Many Americans thought the criticism of President Obama was based on his politics or party affiliations rather than his ethnicity. Little doubt should exist now as to why President Obama’s critics want him out of office—their bigot his ethnicity.

When most Americans heard the cry of “let’s take back our country” they probably  assumed the idea was political. That is, the Republicans and other Presidential critics wanted to regain power of the White House and Congress. Apparently, that was only part of the objective. The phrase “taking back the country” can now be viewed as a desire to turn back the clock to pre civil right times when African Americans and women were controlled by the European American males from pulpit to polling place and schoolhouse to courthouse.

The recent rash of legislation from Republican Governors restricting the rights of women seems to suggest that the fear and anger of losing power has grown from simple fear to near panic. If America could be brought back to a time when the European American male was in total control, the “good old days,” then “happy days,” would be here again. The problem with that idea is it is long passed for most of society. We cannot turn back the clock of history and relive our story.

The problem facing those critics wanting to “take back the country” is three-fold. First, they see themselves presently as loosing ground rapidly. That is, they see themselves loosing their power and privilege based on the color of their skin. Since African Americans had little or no social value to them prior to civil rights, the idea of an African American president is anathema to them. They will not accept him as their leader; they cannot accept him as the leader of the free world. They believe by accepting President Obama as their leader, they relinquish their power and privilege and value as European Americans.

Second, they realize that change has already taken place with respect to African Americans and women since the enactment of civil rights requirements. Since they could not prevent changes from taking place earlier, they will try and rescind them now while they have an element of political control. They have a difficult time seeing themselves living with people for whom they feel superior.

Third, they realize that if things are not stopped now and returned to the “good old days” the future of having to live with inferior people they generally despise, on a level playing field is terrifying. The only recourse is to try and “take the country back.” They are in a fight for their lives as they knew them or thought them to be. They knew they were slowly losing ground, but the election of Obama, and the increased power of women in society in general is considerably more then they had expected.

MSN referred to the bumper sticker as racists, but in actuality, it is bigoted. We must constantly be reminded that if we all belong to one race, racism among human being cannot exist. Getting the Obama critics to realize that they are the same as all the other people of the planet is the great challenge they face. Bumper stickers and name calling are the two main weapons they have to use to gain attention to their plight. Unfortunately for them, those two things will not be enough to get the job done.

The problem is that they have missed the train of progress, and it is not coming back. They have only two choices– run to try and catch the train, or stay where they are—left behind. Consequently, they are aware of their situation, so they continue to try and derail the train with weapons of bigotry made out of worn-out wishes and dreams.


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