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,The 2020 U.S. Census still shows ignorance, stupidity, and bias concerning race

March 18, 2020 at 9:36 pm | Posted in African American, American Indian, anglo saxons, biological races, black inferiority, blacks, DNA, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, Human Genome, identity, law, minority, Race in America, skin color, skin complexion, social conditioning, U. S. Census, UNESCO, whites | Leave a comment
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Ten years have passed since the last Census and one would have thought that the government or at least the Census Bureau would correct the mistake it has been making for too many years; that mistake is using the word race as though it is legitimate which it is not. At least three reasons exist for the continued use of the word race in the Census and they are ignorance, stupidity, and bias.
If the reason for their use of race is due to ignorance, then the people of America should demand that competent, intelligent, and knowledgeable people be employed to handle the Census. For example, we know from the Gnome study that no such thing as a black or white race exists; all humans are 99.99% alike. Nothing in our DNA indicates a fixed group or place that can be identified as a race distinct from the human race. Of course, if the people at the Census Bureau are not acquainted with this information then they can plead ignorance. As early as 1945 America was cautioned to stop using the word race because it has no scientific value, only social and political. So, it should not be used for identity, the word ethnic or phrase ethnic group should be used instead. America, however, ignored that cautionary warning and instead began using all three words that served to cause more confusion. Let us take a look at the problem.
In 1737 Carl Linnaeus invented Taxonomy, the system of classification of living organisms including man, which we still use today. His classification began with Domain and continued with Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family Genus, and Species. He found that all human beings belong to the same species, but there could be variations within the species, though not biological ones. In essence, if species is a pie, then all the pieces of the pie regardless of the shape and size would still be the same as the pie. Unfortunately, some people, including prominent scientists, scholars, and others saw an opportunity to insert their biases into the variety within the species and began to identify different groups as nations, and associated certain characteristics as superior or inferior to one another. Once the English established themselves as the superior and dominant nation the element of biology became more prominent and the term race replaced nation in some instances to underscore the biological connection. The English believed in a myth that supposedly identified their biological superiority in all areas and acted on that belief although it was continually debunked.
Nonetheless, the English brought to America the belief that their nation/race was superior to all others and so to ensure the maintenance and promotion of that belief, they put into effect the system we have today of European American superiority. All other nations/races are viewed as inferior to them by virtue of their skin complexion; if they considered you acceptable to them, then you were identified as white or Caucasian; all others were considered as black or at least non-white. So society and the government began using in documents, laws, and other forms of communications the words white race and black race knowing full well that no factual or biological basis existed for usage.
For some readers who might consider my comments conjecture, let me call your attention to the current 2020 Census form. The question on the form states: “What is (person’s name) race? (Help)”
This is followed by the sentence: “Select one or more boxes AND enter origins. For this census, Hispanic origins are not races.” This is where the ignorance comes into play. Nowhere is race defined, so the reader is presumed to know what race is, except people of Hispanic origins are told not to use race.
Next, the word White is listed alone followed by suggestions for people considered white: “Enter, for example, German, Irish, English, Italian, Lebanese, Egyptian, etc.”White is not defined, so how are people not listed to identify themselves? The next words listed are Black or African American and the following are examples to consider entering: “Enter, for example, African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Somali, etc.”Just a note, are Egyptians not from Africa? So why are they to be considered white and not black? Just asking.
The section for American Indian or Alaska Native is listed and they can “Enter name of enrolled or principal tribe(s), for example, Navajo Nation, Blackfeet Tribe, etc.”What follows this section is a list of specific cultural/geographical ethnic groups, but they seem to be identified as races. They include Chinese, Filipino, Asian Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese. Other Asians (for example, Pakistani, Cambodian, Hmong, etc.) Native Hawaiian, Samoan, Chamorro. Other Pacific Islander (enter, for example, Tongan, Fijian, Marshallese, etc.)
The last choice is Some other race (Enter race or origin). The list of all the groups identifies their culture and ethnicity, not their race. Everyone’s races are human, but the census suggests that biological differences exist among these groups. Listing and identifying as a member of an ethnic group is in keeping with collecting data, so why the confusion?
What seems somewhat stupid (defined as showing a lack of intelligence) are the labels that can accumulate over a brief time. How would parents identify their children if each parent was from a different so-called race? To be fair to the children, the parents would have to select both of their ethnic identities so as not to discriminate against one another. Unfortunately, no slot exists for that kind of response. The Government and the Census Bureau seem to view ethnic groups as fixed races which are totally irrational, illogical, and unreasonable, yet they want intelligent citizens to respond to their equally confusing questions about race. Also, what happened to the Caucasians? They are not listed as a choice with whites.
Finally, the system is rigged in favor of the European American/white when the word race is used as though it is legitimate because it performs precisely what it was invented to do in the first place back in the 1700s: to unite, and separate, control and discriminate. Therefore, as long as the word race is used as a form of identity the system will remain intact.

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, What about this thing called reparations

October 26, 2019 at 3:08 am | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American Dream, American history, Bible, blacks, Christianity, Constitutional rights, Declaration of Independence, democracy, discrimination, Disrespect, education, equality, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, fairness, Georgetown University, justice, Prejudice, protest, race, Race in America, respect, Slavery, social conditioning, social justice system | 1 Comment
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Visiting with some acquaintances recently, the subject surfaced of the students at Georgetown University considering ideas on reparations for slavery and its influence on the university. A number of the acquaintances stated frankly that they did not believe in reparation as a consequence of slavery. Some stated that they did not own slaves nor had any direct relations to slavery; they believed that slavery had ended and they felt no responsibility for the tragedies the slaves experienced. While all of the responses were sincere and honest, they were not based on facts and knowledge of history.

Many European Americans as well as some other Americans, in general, share the concepts regarding reparations. Part of their reason for believing as they do is based on a number of points beginning with the social conditioning they experienced growing up in America. For example, when American slavery is taught in schools it is from the perspective of the European American which is biased. The concept of American slavery is limited to viewing it as a set period of time with a beginning and an end. So, after slavery ended at the conclusion of the Civil War, 1865, everything relative to slavery also ended. Finally, since slavery is part of the American past the idea of considering reparations for slavery has no place in the present or future. These views and opinions are very common among many Americans.

The problem with these views and concepts is that they avoid history, reason, and common sense. When we consider the history of slavery in the world, we can find no examples of where the enslaved thanked their enslavers and praised them for kidnapping them from their homes and forcing them to give free labor and to obey all the commands of their masters. The most popular account of slavery in ancient history is recorded in the Bible book of Exodus where we learn of the Hebrews being slaves of the Egyptians and their God coming to their rescue, with the help of Moses. We also are generally familiar with the Greeks being slaves to the Romans. Slavery in the ancient world was common and slaves despite their being in bondage were still considered human beings which were not the case in American slavery. In any event, slavery, wherever it occurred was considered morally wrong. No one should be kept against his or her will and forced to comply with the wishes of another. The fact that slavery is wrong is the most important point to acknowledge when considering the process of reparation.

Acknowledging American slavery as wrong does not mean simply saying the words I am sorry or I apologize but fully grasping the experience and understanding their implications in it and those elements of its legacy that still exists in society today. For one to fully acknowledge American slavery is to recognize the fact that the concept of European American supremacy that initiated it still exists so, in effect, aspects of slavery have never really ended. We know this is factual because African Americans today still have to fight and protest just to receive the rights, liberties, and freedoms that are guaranteed in the Constitution. So, arriving at this point of acknowledgment for many European Americans is very difficult because their social conditioning can prevent them from accepting the reality of European American supremacy and the brutality of slavery and it’s after-effects.

In any event, an acknowledgment must be made in order for one to move on to the next element in the process of reparation which is accountability. If one admits that slavery is wrong and that innocent people have been deprived of their human rights, then the people who enslaved and profited from the labor of the slaves must be held accountable. Many Americans do not realize that had it not been for the institution of American slavery America would not have achieved the success it continues to experience. The conditions of the slaves and their subsequent release from bondage with nothing but their few meager belongings coupled with the constant forms of discrimination have affected their ability to gain upward mobility, in general. On the other hand, European Americans have enjoyed all the blessings granted in the Constitution. Accountability then is about accepting the responsibility for addressing the injustice America perpetrated on the slaves and showing remorse for the injustice.

For many people, the idea of reparations simply means giving money to people who have been victims of injustice. That approach misses the intent of reparation. The intent is to address those areas where the enslaved were denied access and an opportunity to achieve and compete unencumbered by biased animosity. As mentioned earlier, some undergraduate students at Georgetown University in Washington DC felt a need to show some form of accountability for the injustice done to the 272 slaves owned by the Jesuits who sold them in 1835 to pay off the institution’s debts. The students decided that they and the school should consider paying the tuition cost for the descendants of those 272 slaves who want to attend Georgetown. Not all the students agreed, but two-thirds voted to approve the plan. The fact that the students had given thought to how the selling of those human beings help to make possible the educational experience they are presently enjoying shows their understanding of American history and slavery as well as compassion for the slaves whose lives impacted it.

Reparation, when it is fully understood forces us to consider not only the injustice or wrong committed against other human beings, but also how we might acknowledge, apologize, feel remorse, repair, and start to heal or make right the wrong that was done. In small ways, we understand what it feels like to experience an injustice that goes un-redressed. For example, when a man returned home from a few weeks’ vacations and received his monthly water bill, he discovered that the bill was far too much since he was not home to use the water. After investigating around his home he discovered that his next-door neighbor had a hose running from his home to the neighbor’s property and that he has been using it to water for his yard. The neighbor had not consulted the man prior to his leaving and has not said anything to him since his return. The man still, however, must pay the bill. What would be your expectations from the neighbor? Chances are you would expect some form of acknowledgment, apology, remorse, and repair from your neighbor—that would be a form of reparation.

We as a society must learn how to recognize, accept, and account for our debt to those who labor continues to enrich our lives.

Paul R. Lehman, Sometimes just good intentions and advice on race are not good enough

August 14, 2019 at 4:06 am | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, blacks, discrimination, DNA, education, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, identity, language, Prejudice, race, Race in America, racism, respect, skin color, skin complexion, social conditioning, white supremacy, whites | Leave a comment
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When a person is born into a society everything that impacts that person’s life comes through association. As that person grows bits and pieces of life’s puzzle are added and continue to influence that person’s perceptions, language, and behavior. All those things represent normalcy to that person because they are reflected in others in the community. However, what seems normal to one person may not be normal to a person in a different community and so a problem is created when the values, ideas, and opinions are challenged when the people from two different communities come together. This problem presented itself recently as recorded in an article, “Adulting While White,” (8/12/2019, Nation) under “Asking for a Friend,” by Liza Featherstone.

The problem involved a “35-year-old white woman” who was befriended by “a 12-year-old” African American girl from the South Side of Chicago. They developed a good relationship where the lady would help her young friend “with homework and occasionally taking her and her siblings to dance lessons.” The girl’s parents approved of the friendship. The problem surfaced when the African American girl, who is of light brown complexion, felt that the people around her might think that the European American friend was her mother. As a result, the young girl began to distance herself from the lady when in public, and in some instances, ignored her altogether. The European American lady wrote to Featherstone seeking help.

In her letter, the lady wrote: “I don’t know what to do. She is a bright, fun child and seeks me out regularly. I enjoy hanging out with her. Yet her embarrassment over my whiteness makes me feel sad, conflicted, and ashamed.”She continued, “Should I stop going to her events, even though I’m invited? Should I ignore the fact that she ignores me? I don’t want to be oversensitive, but I don’t know how to navigate this.”

The answer provided the lady by Featherstone showed a lack of knowledge and understanding of American society, its history and culture. She stated: “The situation is awkward for you, Mentor, but the feelings of this young person may be healthy.”Featherstone added that “For this girl, being viewed as biracial—if she sees herself as black—complicates the process of developing that identity.” Her final advice was to “Keep showing up to her events, and worry less about your feelings. After all, in general, it’s easier being a white grown-up than a black middle-schooler.”Unfortunately, the answer provides no comfort to the mentor but showed a lack of knowledge and understanding from Featherstone.

The central problem of this situation is that all participants live in the past as indicated by their language and attitude. What is missing is an understanding of how they were all socialized to see each other as different based on skin complexion and the concept of race. The mentor identifies herself as white and that tells us that she still accepts the false concept of race by color. Because she still accepts this concept, she will never be able to see her young friend as a normal human being. Colors do two things simultaneously; they unite and separate people into groups. So, as long as the mentor see herself as white and her young friend as non-white, a divide will always exist between them.

Featherstone, unfortunately, falls into the same boat as the mentor because she also accepts the concept of race as valid. An opportunity to teach and enlighten not only the young African American girl but also the two European American women was missed because they were all trapped in the race box. Most people today know that race was invented by the leaders of the majority society to control and discriminate. The term race was invented to take the place of the term species, but the two words are not the same nor can they be used interchangeably. Species is a scientific term that places all human beings in the same family, while race is a non-scientific term used to unite and separate people. To underscore the unscientific use of the term race we simply need to reference the times people identify themselves as being or belonging to a white or black species or being bi-species or mixed-species.

The rapid pace of ethnic diversity development in America is also aiding in debunking the concept of race and color. When we fail to accept the scientific findings that help us to exit the race box, we stay trapped in the past and continue to be burdened with all its negative baggage. Given the appropriate information, all the participants in this situation can begin to move forward in their understanding of our changing American society. Once they can replace the false concept of race by color with the understanding that all people are brown, just different shades, and that we belong to the same species—human beings, then their perceptions, language, and behavior will also change.

What we need to know is that all people have two identities: a national (cultural) identity, and an ancestral (ethnic) identity. We choose our national identity, but our ancestral identity comes to us from our birth parents. We have been conditioned to give our ancestral identity rather than our national identity when asked our identity. A person’s ancestral identity is separate and apart from the national, and color has no part in either. For example, when a visitor from another country comes to America, the only identity that is required is national, i.e. German, French, Spanish, Nigerian, etc., because their ancestral identity is insignificant. However, in America, since we have used color and ancestry to discriminate against some people, social value is often associated with it.

Although we have not yet arrived at the point in America where the concept of race and color are no longer an integral part of the social fabric, we are headed in that direction. The biased perceptions of human beings must be challenged and replaced so the relationships among ethnic groups can occur freely without the barriers of ignorance

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, Communication is a process, not just some comments

March 27, 2019 at 3:23 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, blacks, criminal justice, discrimination, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, Prejudice, Race in America, whites | 4 Comments
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After leaving security in the airport I began walking through the concourse towards my terminal gate. Walking next to me was a young man, probably in his mid-thirties, who suddenly began talking. He asked a number of questions, like “How are you?”And “How are things going with you?” to which I promptly responded. We continued walking towards our respective gates and he continued talking. Naturally, I continued to respond. This activity went on for about thirty seconds when the young man turned and headed in another direction, I assumed towards his gate. What puzzled me was his quick turn without any word of warning to me. I watched as he walked away and suddenly realized that the man was still talking, but not to me or anyone else in sight. I continued to look after him for a while when I realized that he had a device attached to his ear. That is when reality slapped me in the face—this young man was never talking to or with me; he was on his cell phone. A new lesson learned about communication that can be applied to our everyday experiences. Communication is a process that involves someone sending a message, another one receiving the message and responding to the message sent. The lesson is to know with whom one is speaking to so all parties will understand the message and its intent.

That lesson could easily be applied to the many discussions in society today involving relationships among African Americans, people of color, and European Americans. The distance that exists between people of color and European Americans communicating with each other cannot be easily bridged without each side knowing first that a language and knowledge gap exists. Too often people representing African Americans and European Americans agree to get together to discuss issues such as race, injustice, criminal justice, and a host of other topics assuming they share the same or similar perspectives and understanding of the topics. Unfortunately, conversations might extend for hours with both sides thinking that they are making progress in gaining a better understanding of one another when, in fact, they have not made any progress at all. The reason for the lack of progress comes from the fact that they do not know the mindset each side brought to the conversation. Each side speaks thinking their point of view or perspective is fully understood and appreciated when the opposite is true. Let us look at an example of this conundrum focusing on race.

When Americans talk about race the meaning and significance of the term are not the same with all people. The reason for this conflict has to do with the social conditioning each side received living in American society. As a matter of fact, many Americans do not realize the fact of their social conditioning since it is hardly ever discussed. For example, many Americans do not realize that bigotry is viewed as a natural part of American society. Some European Americans do not realize that they belong to the human race because they have been led to believe that they are representative of the human race. In other words, all the other people in American belong to a race, but not them; they are the model.

When Americans look around society they see markers and symbols that reflect European American life and history. When we look at the names of the streets, buildings, parks, and even some communities, we realize that these usually underscore aspects of European American life and history.  Everything in society appears natural to the European American, even slavery at one time. Although legal slavery ended with the Civil War, the legacy of the institution of European American (white) supremacy still manifest itself today in the way some people talk, think and act.

For many European Americans, the mere mention of the word race brings to mind African Americans because race is viewed as restricted to African Americans. History has traditionally placed the African Americans in a position of inferiority compared to European Americans, so viewing African Americans as inferior is not viewed as unusual but natural. The topic of race to many European Americans is anathema because it brings up many things in today’s society that they must refuse to recognize or simply plead ignorance to knowing like social injustice, social inequality, discrimination in the criminal justice system, voting rights, and other equally important concerns. That being the case, problems involving race cannot be resolved by people who view race from different perspectives regardless of how long they talk about it. Each side believes the other side understands their perception of the issue when they actually only see their own view.

When an American citizen identifies himself or herself as black or white, they are in fact saying that they believe in a race by color and by extension believe in European American (white) superiority. What this situation means is that an acceptance of the false concept of race makes it impossible to resolve any problems involving race fairly unless the concept of race is debunked at the very start of the conversation. Unfortunately, for many European Americans taking the action of debunking the false concept of race is extremely difficult because they do not realize that the perspective they hold is biased towards African Americans and other people of color and was acquired from their social conditioning in everyday life. They do not realize that they live in a society where to accept the concept of race by color is the very essence of ethnic bias, so anytime they refer to or think of themselves as white, they are talking about race.

Unfortunately, many Americans believe they already know everything there is to know about race and proceed to talk about it without caution. Fortunately, my lesson in the airport taught me to make certain that what I hear someone saying is meant for me and that they are speaking to me. The onus falls on me to recognize what is communication and what is just talk.

 

Paul R. Lehman, PNAS study shows ethnic biases still exist in treatment and medication for African Americans

February 18, 2019 at 4:02 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, blacks, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, Medical Aparteid, myths of pain for African Americans, PNAS study, Prejudice, Race in America, whites | Leave a comment
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A young man navigated himself into the hospital emergency room and to the reception desk where he complained of an extremely severe headache. What happened to him after his alerting the reception desk of his condition is not clear, nor is the treatment or lack of treatment he received by the medical staff. The fact that he was not admitted to the hospital was evident because the man was found lying on the sidewalk in front of the emergency room door by the local police who had been called by the hospital staff to remove him. The man’s pain was so severe that he could not speak clearly with the police when they tried to question him. Not being able to communicate with the man, the police drugged him to their vehicle, took him to the local jail where after a few short hours, he was reported to have died.

A pregnant young woman waited for some 30 minutes in the waiting room of her obstetrics office after calling ahead and informing them of her condition—very uncomfortable pain and vaginal bleeding. After she bled through the chair cushion in the reception room, she asked her husband to see if she might be taken to a private area.  The doctor visited briefly with her, commented on her weight, said that her spotting was normal, and sent her home. When the pain continued through the day and evening, she spoke to her mother then called a nurse who asked if she had pain in her back. She replied no, that it was in her butt. The nurse said she was probably suffering from constipation. After numerous confrontations with doctors and nurses she was given an ultrasound that revealed her serious condition—one baby and two tumors. Had the ultrasound not been performed she would have died; she did lose the baby.

These two incidents represent the thousands that have occurred and many that still occur today throughout America. The two main reasons for these occurrences are: the patients are African Americans, and the myths believed by the medical community concerning African Americans and pain. One would think and certainly hope that ethnic myths based on skin color no longer play a role in the treatment of African Americans in today’s world. We would be mistaken in that belief.

A study that focused on these myths was conducted by PNAS, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. (Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Apr 19; 113(16): 4296–4301.) The study employed the terms black and white assuming that the reader would know their significance. This writer for the sake of clarity, viewed the term black to mean African Americans, and the term white to mean European Americans. The significance of the study was stated as follows:

“The present work examines beliefs associated with racial bias in pain management, a critical health care domain with well-documented racial disparities. Specifically, this work reveals that a substantial number of white laypeople and medical students and residents hold false beliefs about biological differences between blacks and whites and demonstrates that these beliefs predict racial bias in pain perception and treatment recommendation accuracy. It also provides the first evidence that racial bias in pain perception is associated with racial bias in pain treatment recommendations. Taken together, this work provides evidence that false beliefs about biological differences between blacks and whites continue to shape the way we perceive and treat black people—they are associated with racial disparities in pain assessment and treatment recommendations.”(Italics added)

The myths in the study include: Blacks age more slowly than whites, Blacks’ nerve endings are less sensitive than whites’,  Black people’s blood coagulates more quickly than whites’, Whites have larger brains than blacks, Whites are less susceptible to heart disease than blacks, Blacks are less likely to contract spinal cord diseases, Whites have a better sense of hearing compared with blacks, Blacks’ skin is thicker than whites’, Blacks have denser, stronger bones than whites, Blacks have a more sensitive sense of smell than whites, Whites have a more efficient respiratory system than blacks, Black couples are significantly more fertile than white couples, Blacks are better at detecting movement than whites, Blacks have stronger immune systems than whites, and are less likely to catch colds.

Most people are generally encouraged to trust people in the medical profession; however, the words of the researchers from this study should give caution to African Americans as well as all people of color in general relative to the medical profession’s continued belief in many of these myths. We tend to believe that people with higher education and in professional occupations are not influenced so much by ethnic bigotry or prejudice. Unfortunately, the results of the PNAS study indicates that for many in the medical profession the biases acquired through their social conditioning are still alive and working. Many doctors do not realize that the myths play a part in their practice because attention is not brought to them. Patients of color need advocates to speak up for them.

As a result of the study, African Americans and other people of color should understand that their health and wellbeing still depends on their ability to receive appropriate treatment without the interference of some mythical belief. In other words, they should always question any procedure or medication that does not seem to address their illness, if possible. The questioning of the medical professional is not to challenge his or her decision, but to gain clarity about what the patient can expect of the treatment or medication.

The inhumane and unethical treatment of African Americans by many in the medical profession is not new, and if one wants to read about the extensive history of that treatment an excellent source is Harriet A. Washington’s Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present(2006). The fact that many of the myths are still believed today in spite of the DNA information that speaks to no biological differences between Homo sapiens underscore the need for caution relative to the medical profession and their relationship to African Americans and people of color. A new emphasis in the medical profession must be instituted to address this problem or it will continue.

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