Paul R. Lehman, The Department of Justice Report on Ferguson and America.

March 6, 2015 at 5:15 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, American Racism, Bigotry in America, blacks, Constitutional rights, Darren Wilson, democracy, Department of Justice, discrimination, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, Ferguson, justice, justice system, law enforcement agencies, liberty, Michael Brown, police force, Prejudice, Race in America, racism, segregation, skin color, social justice system, socioeconomics, state Government, The New York Times, tribalism, whites | 1 Comment
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The Department of Justice just recently published its report on the city of Ferguson, in an effort to get a clear picture of the community relations involving African American citizens. Since before the death of Michael Brown, the African American citizens had been complaining about the unfair and abusive treatment they have received from the police department as well as the municipal court and jail. Many outsiders questioned the complaints made by some of the African American citizens because of the trust and expectation for justice that has always been a part of common belief relative to these entities. The DOJ’s report should give some credence to the African American citizens’ complaints.

A typical example of what the report indicated regarding a community 67% African American and the percentage of African Americans stopped by the police. The report indicated that over the past 2 years, the police conducted traffic stops where 85% were African Americans. From those stops, 90% of the African American citizens were issued tickets. In addition, the record shows that 93% of the total arrests were of African Americans. Finally, 95% of the stops made by the police were for Jaywalking. The report further indicated that African Americans were two times as likely to have their autos searched than European Americans (whites) and if arrested, African Americans represented 95% of citizens kept in jail more than 2 days.

Other aspects of the report serve to underscore the systemic discrimination and abuse perpetrated on the African American citizens of Ferguson by the municipal and police agencies. Because of the amount of monies generated from the citizens’ arrest, fines, and incarcerations the report indicated that it constituted 21% of the city’s budget. The DOJ sees the means for collecting that money as a violation of the citizens’ First and Fourth Amendment rights. In effect, the operation of the city of Ferguson, in part, is dependant on the unfair and unjust treatment of its African American citizens.

To those American citizens who had doubts relative to the reports of African American citizens who raised complaints regarding the treatment they experienced by the police and other public agencies, the report should be sobering, to say the least. However, if the reaction of those Americans who do not feel that this DOJ report reflects only on the people of Ferguson, they are sadly mistaken. If they choose not to realize that ethnic bigotry and discrimination is an American problem, then they are living in an illusion. Some police and local governmental official can no longer use the excuse that only a few “bad apples” create the problems that the entire department or agency must bear. When we look at the numbers in the report, we must conclude the possibility of a number of things: one, the problem of bigotry is part of the system, or two, only the “bad apples” do most of the work.

If the arguments of only the “bad apples” create the community relations problems involving the African Americans, and the police and municipal government know this as a fact, why have they let it continue without recognizing the injustices and moved to correct them? One reason has to do with the community being conditioned to see the police as “never at fault” in making an arrest or using deadly force. The number of African American men killed during police interaction in the past two years is proof that something is not working in the African American’s favor. When one public official from Ferguson was asked about the large percentage of African American arrests, he shifted the responsibility to the people being arrested by saying that they should not have committed an offence or they deserved to be arrested.

While the DOJ report is important and informative, the conditions in Ferguson will not change unless and until some definite action to address and correct the problems are pursued, and soon. To many of the European American officials in Ferguson, the problem is minor and simply involved hiring a few people of color and maybe dismissing a few employees. Unfortunately, they do not realize that they are part of the problem—their mind-set does not encompass the systemic presence of bigotry. They are not exceptions, many European Americans do not understand, accept, or appreciate the presence of ethnic bigotry in America. We must await the reaction from the citizens of Ferguson to the following statements in the article, U.S.|​NYT, “Now Ferguson Police Tainted by Bias, Justice Department Says,” by MATT APUZZO and JOHN ELIGON, MARCH 4, 2015:

“The Justice Department on Wednesday called on Ferguson, Mo., to overhaul its criminal justice system, declaring that the city had engaged in so many constitutional violations that they could be corrected only by abandoning its entire approach to policing, retraining its employees and establishing new oversight.”

That statement did not call for the hiring or firing of a few individuals, but “to overhaul its criminal justice system.”Obviously, simply replacing parts of the present system will not suffice. Chances are the officials in Ferguson do not view the problems in the same context as the Justice Department. The problems as the DOJ see them are systemic, not modular. The next statement is more specific and direct relative to the experiences encountered by the African Americans citizens of Ferguson”

“In one example after another, the report described a city that used its police and courts as moneymaking ventures, a place where officers stopped and handcuffed people without probable cause, hurled racial slurs, used stun guns without provocation, and treated anyone as suspicious merely for questioning police tactics.”

Many European Americans do not see ethnic bigotry as a systemic problem affecting all Americans; rather they see it as separate instances involving individuals with personal problems. That might explain the Ferguson police department and municipal authority’s initial reaction to the report. Ferguson is not an isolated example of the refusal to accept ethnic bigotry as an American problem. However, if Americans do not recognize and accept their responsibility as part of the problem, then little positive change will take place. They need to see bigotry from their inside out, rather than from the outside only. The problems of Ferguson are America’s problems; America needs to address them.


Paul R. Lehman, Civil Rights Act of 1964 still misunderstood by many relative to African Americans

February 6, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Posted in academic qualifications, Affirmative Action, African American, American Racism, Bigotry in America, blacks, college admission, Constitutional rights, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, Equal Opportunity, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, integregation, justice, liberty, minority, Prejudice, public education, segregation, skin color, skin complexion, The U.S. Constitution, whites | Leave a comment
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Today, some fifty years after the Civil Rights Act was signed many Americans still do not know what it was about and some of the results of the signing. From a political and historical perspective, the 1964 signing of the Act by President Lyndon B. Johnson spelled the beginning of the end of the Democratic Party in the South. For African Americans, women, and other American minorities, it represented the beginning of new opportunities for life, liberties and the pursuit of happiness. Many European Americans viewed the Civil Rights Act as the government’s efforts to give special privileges to African Americans. The reason for the Act was due to many ethnic and minority Americans not being able to enjoy the rights and privileges of a first class citizen.
Many European Americans believe that the Civil Rights Acts was written specifically for African Americans because Martin Luther King, Jr.’s name has been associated with it. The truth is that the Act says absolutely nothing about African Americans or any other Ethnic Americans. So, the critics that try to discredit the Act by claiming it is for African Americans are just plain wrong. If one is serious about wanting to find fault with the ’64 Civil Rights Act, they need to take a time out and look at what has happened since the Act was signed.
Women and other minorities were prevented from attending some of the most renowned colleges and universities simply because the colleges had the right to pick and choose who they wanted at their institutions. For proof, all one needs to do is look at the graduation class pictures of any of these schools and count how many women and minorities are included. Then find a picture of a recent graduating class and compare the number of minorities and women. Chances are the results will show a drastic increase of women and minorities in the recent pictures. Why, because the Civil Rights Act made it unlawful for institutions to discriminate against individuals because of their color and/or gender. As a result many women European American as well as African American women have benefited from the new opportunities provided by the Act.
The first paragraph of the Act states that:
To enforce the constitutional right to vote, to confer jurisdiction upon the district courts of the United States to provide injunctive relief against discrimination in public accommodations, to authorize the Attorney General to institute suits to protect constitutional rights in public facilities and public education, to extend the Commission on Civil Rights, to prevent discrimination in federally assisted programs, to establish a Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity, and for other purposes.
If we look at the results that the Civil Rights Acts have had on African Americans, we discover a mixed- bag of experiences. The purpose of the Act was to ensure justice and fairness for all Americans because before the Act, only European American males enjoyed the liberties and privileges afforded the first class citizens. Discrimination against African Americans, women, and other American minorities existed in education, employment, public accommodations as well as some federal programs. Since the passage of the Act many Americans have experienced opportunities to improve their lives, none more than the European American female. So, for someone to say that civil rights is for African Americans is false; all Americans have civil rights, it is just that African Americans, women, and other Americans minorities were never provided with the opportunity to enjoy theirs.

The passage of the ’64 Civil Rights Act did not bring immediate relief to those Americans who had been discriminated against since the beginning of American society. A brief reminder of the past tells us that the American women did not get the vote until 1920; African Americans attended segregated public schools until 1954; and it was not until the 1964 Civil Rights Acts that women began making headway in the medical and legal professions. Again, we are not speaking of African American women, but all American women.

Much of the recent progress of African Americans, women, and other minorities comes as a result of programs like Affirmative Action and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act. Many people today take for granted the participation of women in the legal, medical, athletic professions, not to mentions the areas of service like law enforcement, postal workers, fire fighters, construction workers, and a host of others that were closed to women and minorities for many years.

African American and other minority males have benefited from the Civil Rights Act, but not to the extent that women have and still are benefiting. For example, more women attend and graduate from college than men. That is not the say that all Americans are treated fairly because of the Act. That would be false. The fact concerning the Civil Rights Act is that many Americans who never understood it are still against it. Some individuals continue to challenge programs like Affirmative Action because they believe it discriminates against the European Americans in areas like college and university admissions where they believe African Americans are given a preference.

After more than three-hundred-years of segregation, discrimination, and bigotry American society making a smooth transition to a fair and just society would be a miracle. Change takes time because some people who were born into a society where they received privileges and power, come to believe those things came with their birth and skin complexion. These people need to become acquainted with the Constitution under which they live so they will realize that the rights and privileges they presume to have are no longer given to people because of their skin color.

So, the next time someone makes the claim that civil rights are only for African Americans, like some individuals of national repute have done, they should be required to back-up those claims with documented proof. After all, the preamble to the Constitution states that “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United State of America.” Nowhere is there a reference to color, gender, or ethnicity in that statement. All Americans should enjoy their civil rights.

Paul R. Lehman, Comments of Phil Robertson of Duck Commander show social challenges

December 24, 2013 at 2:24 am | Posted in African American, Duck Commander, European American, freedom of speech, gays, Prejudice, socioeconomics, The U.S. Constitution | 1 Comment
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Much has been made recently about the interview conducted by GQ with Phil Robertson of the Duck Commander. Some people thought the comments on Gays and African Americans were disrespectful to those groups, but others thought that regardless of the content of his comments, the Constitution gives him the right to express himself without fear of retribution. Americans generally support the right of free speech even when it might be disagreeable. With respect to Robertson, the A & E organization’s action in suspending him from the show was not based on the people reacting to his comments; it was a business decision. Regardless of the reactions to Robertson’s comments, we learned a number of things from the experience.
When the Beverly Hillbillies show came on television, we all knew that the program was fiction and the characters were actors. With the Duck Commander, we know that these are real people, and as such are not restricted to delivering lines some writer has written for them. The show is called a reality show because the viewers are given an opportunity to see how these people live their lives in (supposedly) real time. One of the marketing ploys of most reality shows is to expose some of the show’s cast to the public, thereby creating more interest in and viewers to the show. These interviews generally focus on the show and the particular member’s contribution to it as well as how the show has impacted his or her life. When the viewer receives some inside information about the show often it sparks more interest. The comments generally do not go far beyond the show and the member’s personal life. That changed, however, with Robertson’s references to gays and African Americans.
One of the lessons we learned from Robertson’s comments is that many Americans support the right of the individual to speak his or her mind regardless of the content. Some Americans believe that the content should be reasonable and non-threatening. We know that when comments are made concerning politics, religion, or social identities by cast members that reflect a bias, public attention is usually created. The publicity created by the comments is generally good for the show which is one of the reasons for the comments in the first place. The entire phenomenon is usually just part of doing business in the entertainment world. What happened with Robertson’s comments about gays and African Americans was that they came as a surprise to the A&E organization. Robertson’s or any American citizen’s right to free speech does not extend to a business, only the individual. So, we might imagine that some of the Duck Commander’s sponsors questioned the mishap and demanded some action from A&E.
Chances are that Robertson never gave a second thought to his comments because they were his and not meant to cause any problems for anyone. Unfortunately, too often celebrities are placed in situations where their comments are expected to reflect a certain mindset and when they do not, unwanted attention is created. Most viewers of Duck Commander were probably not surprised to learn of Robertson’s views relative to gays and African Americans. When we take the time to assess the people in the reality show, the setting, background, and theme, our expectations should not rise above the reality that is presented. As the line in one of Elton John’s song states “you can’t drink whiskey from a bottle of wine.” So, based on the individuals and information presented in the show, we should have some idea of what to expect from what the show presents.
If we were to pass judgment on Robertson’s comments about gays and African Americans we would first need to look at three areas of society: educational, religious, entertainment. If we examine Robertson’s comments relative to African Americans, we have to first realize that his education did him a disservice when it left him with the misguided information about their experiences, state of mind and aspirations. One wonders if he is aware of whom the President of the United States is or what the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960’s are all about. His comments suggest he does not know about these things and that represents a failure of the educational system that informed his sense of history.
Robertson’s comments regarding the gay community reflect a religious perception of intolerance relative to the people he sees as unacceptable to God. Contrary to religion presenting a mindset of acceptance, love and understanding, Robertson’s comments shows a total rejection of gays and their lifestyle that he sees as based on the Bible and biblical teachings. Since the Constitution also grants the individual freedom of religion, Robertson is free to hold whatever views his religious beliefs promotes as acceptable.
The entertainment industry is without a doubt one of the most powerful and influential forces in America. We are shown or told what to eat, drink, wear, go, think, and see, like, dislike, how to act, and above all, what to believe. What we must remember is that individuals, more likely than not, reflect the standards and values of their community, not independent ideas and opinions that have been addressed individually for logic or rationale. Robertson’s comments to GQ simply reflect what he obtained from his community and justified through his observations and experiences. The likelihood of anyone changing Robertson’s perception of gays and African Americans are few and far between because he is thoroughly convinced that his way of seeing and interpreting these things is correct.
A&E suspended Robertson from his show because of his comments about gays and African Americans, but the negative reactions of the viewers of the show against A&E will probably have him back in no time at all; after all what we are talking about is money and business. Robertson’s family business is very successful on its own, so with or without the show he will continue his lifestyle as well as his beliefs. As far as the public is concerned, we would do well to heed the words of Gamal Hennessay: “Always consider the source of your advice. Advice cannot be neutral, the source of advice is just as important as actual words.” Enough said?

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