Paul R. Lehman, The problem with an assumed colorblind society and social justice

November 4, 2016 at 5:02 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, American Racism, Bigotry in America, blacks, Chief Justice John Roberts, discrimination, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, John Roberts, justice, justice system, Mother Jones, Prejudice, race, Race in America, skin color, skin complexion, social justice system, Stephanie Mencimer, U.S. Supreme Court, voting rights act, white supremacy | 2 Comments
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For a number of years now, this blog has been trying to make clear the misconception and lack of understanding relative to why any effort to fight racism is wasted time and energy. The reason racism cannot be fought or manipulated is because it is not a thing, but a concept. When the founding fathers invented and instituted the concept of race by identifying two races, one white and the other black. The reasons for the concept of race were to maintain the power and control of American society. That power and control were represented in a system known as white supremacy with whites being the normal and natural human beings, superior to all non-white people, and blacks being inferior to all people, especially whites. As instituted, it was a system of ethnic bigotry constructed to promote and protect itself. One of the primary features of this system was the belief in the naturalness and normalcy of the supremacy by whites. The question regarding the validity of the term race and races as used by the founding fathers was seldom raised. So, everyone assumed that the term race used as social identity was legitimate and based in fact. So, many Americans never realize that their conception and perception of reality was false and biased towards people of color.

When the subject of racism or white supremacy is brought to public scrutiny, it is often described as being a fabric of American society. An example of how the system of bigotry works can be seen in the words and works of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts Jr. In an article by Stephanie Mencimer, “Colorblind Justice,” (Nov/Dec 2016 Mother Jones) we learn how Justice Brown’s conception of race influences his work. She noted Robert’s effort in “gutting a civil right law he has been fighting his entire career.” She continues her claim by stating that “Roberts has argued that the United States has become colorblind to the point where aggressive federal intervention on behalf of voters of color is no longer necessary—and this case, Shelby County v. Holder, was the pinnacle of that crusade.” One wonders how a society that has and still uses the terms black race and white race as social identities can be considered a colorblind society.

The invention of races by color is the glue that continues to challenge the well-being of American democracy by preventing society from moving forward without regard to skin color. The concept of whiteness and blackness forms the core of many European Americans identities. So, how can America be colorblind? What justice Roberts does not realize is the fact that he has viewed America through biased eyes for all his life as something normal. In essence, because he is biased and does not realize it, his words show a lack of understanding of reality. Perhaps a little more information about Roberts’ background will help us to better understand his words and actions.

Mencimer noted that “Roberts honed his views on race and voting as a clerk for Justice William Rehnquist, a man who as a court clerk himself had written a memo endorsing Plessey v. Ferguson, the ‘separate but equal’ doctrine upholding segregated schools.” So for Roberts, the concept of separate races was valid and correct for American society. Because of his views in opposition to civil rights laws, Rehnquist used his “commitment to color-blindness, and he used this theory to undermine the 1965 Voting Rights Act.” Roberts shared this view with Rehnquist. The problem with Roberts’ shared views with Rehnquist is the contradiction of identifying people as black and white and then saying that we live in a colorblind society where skin color does not matter.

To underscore the point of this blog in pointing out the lack of awareness of a biased perception by many Americans, including Justice Roberts we reference his actions relative to voting rights: “Echoing Rehnquist, Roberts has long insisted the United States has achieved a postracial, colorblind society, a point he emphasized in his 2013 majority opinion in Shelby County v. Holder. For Roberts to refer to America as a postracial society is to admit that prior to becoming a postracial society, it was a racial one. What evidence does he provide to mark or note society’s transition from racial to postracial or from color to color blindness? None whatsoever. Roberts does not recognize or understand the system of European American (white) supremacy and African American (black) inferiority of which he is and has been a part of for all his life.

One way to try to understand the delusion and hypocrisy relative to race in America is the see how the system of supremacy was invented and how it continues today. Picture a tree with its parts represents American society: roots, trunk, branches, and leaves. The roots of the tree represent race; the trunk of the tree racism, the branches of the tree represent all the area of American society: government, education, science, education, law etc. Looking at that picture of the tree and its parts, what becomes apparent is the fact that the false concept of race has been the root of America’s problem since the beginning. Therefore, trying to fight racism is impossible in America without recognizing that the tree is not and has never been real, just assumed so. As Americans, we have been socially conditioned to see that tree as real, but to ignore the fact that the term race is not valid or factual relative to mankind and skin color. For America to overcome its problem of ethnic bias, the false tree must be replaced with a tree that reflects the reality that does not begin by identifying people of color as inferior or of a different race.

Justice Roberts’ view of America retains and promotes the system of ethnic bigotry because he refuses to recognize its existence. Roberts ‘ actions and words regarding voting right laws, for example, indicates that he is not blind to color, but justice. He does not see the whole picture of the American experience.  “He probably still believes he is right, because he likely sees what is going on as simple partisan politics,” says Hasen (Richard Hassen, a University of California-Irvine law professor who specializes in election law). “But for many of us, we see a world in which it is once again getting harder, not easier, for people—especially people of color—to cast a ballot which will count.”How’s that for a colorblind society and social justice.


Paul R. Lehman, Colorblindness in a biased society is impossible

October 16, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Posted in American Bigotry, blacks, Ethnicity in America, Prejudice, Race in America, whites | 1 Comment
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On any number of occasions we have heard someone say something
to the effect that when they look at someone they do no see color. In other
words, they consider themselves colorblind when looking at other people.
Actually what they are saying is not that they are colorblind, but that they do
not regard color as essential to that person’s social value or that they are
not biased relative to a person’s color. While that might sound okay, the fact
of the matter is that being colorblind in a society that bases ethnic identity
on color is impossible.

When we look around society we recognize the part that bias
plays in our lives. We see that so-called black Americans with college and
university educations are unemployed two times that of so-called white
Americans. In addition, while so-called blacks represent a small percentage of
the population, around 12to 13 percent, their representation in prisons is
disproportionate to that of so-called whites. The statistics are not much
better if we look at the biases of Latinos in comparison with so-called whites.
The point being made is that color is a primary element of ethnic bias in
America society today.

Some people have tried to use the election of Barack Obama
as President of the United States as proof that color bias is no longer a
determining factor in valuing all Americans. Sally Lehrman, in an article
(2003) “Colorblind Racism,” states that “While many Americans agree that open
racial bigotry is generally a thing of the past, stark disparities in daily
life persist, as documented by academic researchers, the U.S. Census Bureau and
the Institute of Medicine.” More specifically, Lehrman notes that “when blacks
and Latinos are hospitalized with a heart problem, they are less likely than
European Americans (whites) to receive catheterization, be sent home with beta
blockers, or even be advised to take aspirin to protect their health.”

When a society continues to use color as part of an ethnic
identity, escaping the consequences of ethnic bias is impossible. The problem
does not rest with the color, it rest with the concept of race. The fact that
during slavery in America color was viewed as something of extreme value,
especially if one was considered white , and it still has meaning in today’s
society. People are still being recognized by their ethnic identity and the
amount or degree of so-called whiteness they have. Since color that
characterizes ethnic identity is not a constant entity, the question arises of
how amounts and degrees of color are measured in people. Fortunately, we have
an answer to that question. The answer comes from the Human Genome Project that
reported that race has no biological foundation as a way to categorize human
beings. In other words, a person’s color is insignificant when it comes to
being identified as a human being.

America has known for many years that color is not a factor
with respect to a person’s intelligence, physical and mental well-being.
However, because of the social value placed on color historically, many people
find it impossible to accept the fact that all human beings belong to the same
family. When some people who do accept that fact try to express it by saying
they are colorblind, they misunderstand the reason for the bias being present.
The problem is not with the person of color, it is with the person who tries to
disregard color. Unless a person identifies him or her self without a reference
to color, in other words, African American and European American, color still
remains are part of their perception. As long as the government allows people
to identify themselves as blacks and whites, the social and historical
significance of color will remain a part of the bigotry in society.

When one hears someone saying they try to be colorblind, the
statement rather than being interpreted as a compliment on their good character
of the person of color, actually reflects on a sense of superiority of the
speaker. This superiority is based on the judgment rendered in granting the
people of color some social value. In other words, if they do not consider
color a detriment in society, then the person of color is acceptable to them in
spite of his or her color. Anyone making the statement does no understand the
problem; they are, in fact, blind to it.

The problem is and will continue to be the false concept of
race and the association of color with ethnic identity. Prior to the 70’s the
color white had significance in society relative to privilege and special
treatment. Today in our culture of greed, the only color of primary value is
green, the color of money. The fact that the color white is being eroded strikes
fear in the minds of people who rely on that color as a source of their importance
and social value. When color as part of ethnic identity no longer has
significance in society, so-called racial bigotry will be forced to find
another home.

Being colorblindness was supposed to signal a sensitive and compassionate
feeling towards those of color by someone whose color was seen as superior. The
irony of colorblindness comes from the fact that if the essence of color is not
a factor in judging another, why would there need to be a reference to color
and blindness at all? If the person making the reference to colorblindness places
no value on color, then the statement actually shows ignorance, arrogance, and
bias because a person’s color is a factor in his or her physical identity and
as such should be respected and valued, not ignored. Accepting people as human
beings with no reservations to their physical appearance is the objective;
after all, we’re all human.

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