Paul R. Lehman, The killing of George Floyd underscores the bigotry in America and its law enforcement

May 28, 2020 at 7:17 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, American Racism, anglo saxons, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Constitutional rights, criminal justice, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, identity, jail & prison overcrowding, justice, justice system, law enforcement agencies, Media and Race, Minnesota, Police, Prejudice, race, Race in America, racism, skin color, skin complexion, social conditioning, social justice system, tribalism, whites | 3 Comments
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The killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police should leave no doubt in our minds of fact that ethnic bigotry is a fabric of the European American psyche regardless of the geographical location. The bias they have been conditioned to accept as normal prevents them from seeing people of color as human beings; they, the European Americans, are to themselves, the only real human beings. In addition to seeing people of color as less than human beings, they also are conditioned to see them as a constant threat to their safety, comfort, and privileges. These people of color must be controlled under all circumstances if the well-being of European Americans is to be maintained. While the European American psyche readily embraces this bigotry, the problems of fear and hate of people of color and especially of African American men become inflated in law enforcers.
As a matter of fact, contrary to law enforcer’s accounts, African Americans are not usually the initiators of physical force against officers. Rather than treat them as citizens deserving respect and courtesy, African Americans are viewed as criminals first, last, and always by law enforcers. The concept of innocent until proven guilty does not apply to people of color. More often than not, when we see a video of an officer interacting with an African American the officer never listens to what the African American says even if it’s a plea for help. The videos from Eric Gardner to George Floyd show the callousness of the officers to the cries and pleas of the victims. Studies have shown that European American law enforcers seemingly lose touch with reality when they confront a person of color.
When European immigrants came to America they came using their national and cultural identities like German, French, and Italian etc….But once they arrived, they learned that abandoning those identities that at time also brought discrimination and social rejection, offered them so much more. In particular the identities of Irish, Italian, and Jews, not to mention the Polish and Slavic, rushed in claiming whiteness.The pseudo science of race was firmly in place in the late 1800s and the immigrants worked hard to claim that whiteness because if they were seen as white, their former identity would be of little concern. In essence, the European immigrants submerged themselves in whiteness because of the power and privilege it offered. But by abandoning their former identity, they lost the value and self worth that came with it and embraced a color that offered nothing of personal value but membership in the white tribe.
Time is the only thing that is consistently changing and so over time many European Americans not only forgot who they were but also had nothing of personal cultural value to pass on to their children except to tell them that they were white. Of course, whiteness has never been defined, only described. The fear that many European Americans have and causes then to react violently and aggressively towards people of color is the loss of their white identity. For European Americans to lose their white identity would render them, in their eyes, valueless because they abandoned their ethnic identities to become white and now would have nothing of themselves to value. Evidently, being an American is not enough if the white is omitted.
Today, more and more European Americans are experimenting with their feelings of privilege and power as in the example of a European American woman who threatened an African American male who was bird-watching in a park and mentioned to the female who had a dog with her that the park had a leash law. She became upset with him after an exchange between them and called 911 saying that she thought an African American man was about to attack her. Fortunately, the incident was resolved without anyone being harmed. However, the woman displayed the power of her whiteness by calling the police and saying that she was being assaulted by an African American man. Had the woman used the word black instead of African American man, the impact would have probably been more alarming to the police, because the word black would bring help running. Studies have shown the psychical and emotional reactions experienced by European Americans and especially law enforcers to the seeing or hearing the word black. To be sure, the word black ignites an alarm in their psyche similar to that of the word fire. Both words trigger a similar reaction—contain, control, and kill.
The increase in displays of bigotry by European Americans come from their fear of loosing the one thing of value they have—their whiteness. They have a reason to be frightened because the rapidly changing cultural demographics spell an end to the concept of a white and black race. The power of whiteness today comes from the use of the reference to black. Bigots might appear to dislike the word black being used in various civil and civic organizations like Black Lives Matter, but the opposite is true; they love and encourage the usage of black because it is the fuel that keeps their whiteness in power. Most people are not mindful of the practice in the media that has existed for too long—when an item of interest is broadcast involving people, the only ones described by skin complexion are people of color. If no person of color is involved, no description is given. The reason for this is the concept of European Americans being the only normal people on the planet; all others are abnormal and need to be described.
European Americans and especially those in the criminal justice need to know that changes are coming relative to race and color and the way people are perceived and treated. When we realize that eighty percent of the world’s population is people of color and the population of America will have a majority of brown people by 2045, they are and will continue to lose the numbers game. Looking at the videos of George Floyd and other victims of bigotry makes us mindful of the saying—what’s done in the dark will come to the light. As the darkness comes to light it brings with it the need for reckoning.

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

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

Paul R. Lehman, Addressing the problem of Jail and Prison overcrowding should begin with examining the police Officers

June 17, 2019 at 11:59 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, Arizona, Bigotry in America, blacks, criminal justice, discrimination, equality, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, fairness, justice, justice system, law enforcement agencies, Police, police education & training, police force, Prejudice, Race in America, respect, skin color, skin complexion, social justice system, whites | 2 Comments
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Another in the continuing series of videos involving police officers and their actions relative to African Americans and other people of color show police officers in Arizona assaulting a young African American family. We have heard the excuse that these officers represent only a few “bad apples” and should not be seen as representing all police officers, but the frequency of occurrences and the lack of reactions from the “good ones” lead us to recognize that bigotry is part of the culture of law enforcement in America. If the criminal justice system is to be examined for the numerous problems related to community relations and the incarceration of people of color, then the examination should begin with the police officers, the police unions, and the local court systems.

When we look at the videos of police officers interacting with people of color one of the first things we notice is a lack of respect given to a fellow human being. The language and tone of voice is usually laced with profanity and bellowed or shouted at the citizens. In many cases orders are issued to the citizens so quickly and inconsistently that the citizen cannot comply in a reasonable and timely manner. When citizens ask questions as to why they were stopped or being detained or arrested, the police usually ignore them and disregard anything they might say. Rarely do we see on these videos officers speaking to citizens of color in a calm, civil and respectful manner, the opposite is generally the rule.

Another element of the videos that calls attention to the police officers is their physical demeanor and body language when engaging with an African American or person of color. Their initial contact with the citizen is one that assumes guilt, and the posture suggests high emotional tension, fear, and general uneasiness similar to that of a combat zone. Any physical contact between the citizen and the officer is usually instigated by the officer. The citizens are generally treated as though they are wild animals that need to be restrained because they are very dangerous and vicious.

Another element the videos show is the number of police officers participating in an incident that could have been resolved by one officer asking a few simple questions and getting an assessment of the situation. The recent video of the young African American family in Phoenix, Arizona that was harassed by local police is a prime example of unnecessary escalation of negative action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaqjO5cWJeo the actions of the police were so outrageous that the mayor of Phoenix issued an apology for the city and promised to have this incident investigated. Had it not been for the alert and timely action of a bystander who captured the action on camera, the case would have been the word of the citizens against that of the police. We know the history of how many police reports do not coincide with the videos and create doubt in what officer’s report.

After calling attention to the language, demeanor, and physical actions of police in general, one has to wonder about the education and training would-be-officers receive and the continued training officers are required to receive. A common excuse given by officers or their supervisors regarding accusations of excessive force or physical abuse is that they were simply following training procedures. When officers show general disrespect for citizens of color in their use of language and their excessive physical force in their dealings with them, one has to wonder about the education and training they receive from the academy or source of training. When and where are they taught to treat each human being with dignity respect regardless of their skin complexion or social and economic status?

The young father from the Phoenix video mentioned that he had been teaching his five-year-old daughter to respect the police because their job is to protect and ensure safety. However, after her experience with officers point a gun in her face along with those of her mother and father, he would have a difficult time getting her to believe that the police are our friends.

Focusing on the negative and outrageous actions of some police officers are not meant to cast aspersion on all police officer, but to underscore that regardless of the complaints and claims against the police regarding their experience with the communities of color, little to nothing has changed. The lack of any significant change can be attributed in part to the Police unions because of their power and prestige within city government. The union has worked hard to foster the idea of the police officers being extraordinary because they put their life on the line supposedly for the citizens. If law enforcement is viewed as a profession, then many other professions involve individuals putting their lives on the line every day as well, but they are not viewed as extraordinary as law enforcement. Why? The unions have a lot to do with this image because it supports and empowers them. Some mayors in cities across the nation are subjected to the power and influence of the police unions in how the police departments are operated.

So, if the many civic groups and organizations working to address the many problems concerning jail over-crowding and excessive incarcerations in the prisons, then the first place to seek redress is with the element in the criminal justice system responsible for supplying the individual to the system. Attention should be given education, experience, the background of the individuals that want to serve as law enforcers. In addition, education and training are both important requirements of law enforces with education receiving equal or more attention to those who want to serve and protect the community. We have to stop the supply of individuals to the jails and prisons if we want to have any impact on the problem of over-crowding.

For all intent and purposes, controlling the supply pipeline to the jails and prison are essential to addressing any of the other problems with reference to correcting the criminal justice system. Once a citizen is arrested a whole new set of problems come into play—the court system.

Paul R. Lehman, Correcting problems in the Criminal Justice System begins at the top

March 19, 2019 at 3:07 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, American Racism, Bigotry in America, blacks, criminal justice, Department of Justice, desegregation, education, entitlements, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, fairness, integregation, justice, justice system, law, law enforcement agencies, mass incarceration, Media and Race, Michelle Alexander, minorities, Oklahoma, police force, Prejudice, President Obama, race, racism, reforms, respect, segregation, skin color, skin complexion, social justice system, socioeconomics, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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The announcement made recently about the decision to not charge the police officers who killed Terence Crutcher and Stephon Clark might have come as a surprise to some but was expected by others because of the history of criminal justice relative to African Americans and other people of color. The decisions to not charge the officers could have been easily made by someone blind and brain-dead. When Eric Holder served as Attorney General, he along with then President Obama made attempts to challenge law enforcement to change the practices, policies, behavior, and laws that discriminate against African Americans in particular and about all people in general. Since that time, many changes relative to criminal justice have been addressed in many locations throughout the United States. The focus of these changes and challenges varies from excessive fines for people who cannot pay them to redefining sentences of people of color whose only serious offense was the color of their skin. Once they get caught up in the maze of the criminal justice system, their lives are completely and forever negatively altered.

Oklahoma leads America, and in some instances, the world in incarceration especially of women. Efforts by many civic groups are working to reduce the numbers. Some of the efforts have been successful via bills the public supported and approved. While all the efforts of groups like the ACLU and others in addressing the problems in the criminal justice system, they have not yet focused on the primary problem of the system—the biased culture within the criminal justice system beginning with law enforcement and including the courts as well as officers of the court. That is, rather than focusing on the cause of the problems attendant to citizens who have been arrested, the majority of the efforts by interested and involved groups are on the problem of those incarcerated. In order to correct the many problems in the criminal justice system, we must look first at where the system begins—what puts the wheels in motion.

What determines the attitudes and actions of the law enforcers from the small towns to the large metropolises begins with the mayors, the councils and courts. They are the ones who make the laws and create the climate and culture that informs the police and other law enforcers. If change is to come to the criminal justice system in American then it must begin with those who administer the programs that represent the criminal justice system. Having the administrators and city or town council members undergo diversity training is generally a waste of time and money because that training does not address the issue of ethnic bigotry that is a part of the everyday cultural climate. We know this biased culture exists from the plethora of incidents that occur and are shown daily on social media. These incidents occur in spite of the diversity training these administrators, council members and court officers have received. We know this ethnic bias exists from the numerous police officers that have suffered no legal repercussion from having shot and killed a person of color.

One thing that needs to happen in order to make the criminal justice system applicable to all citizens is to educate the top administrators, council members and court judges and other officers to what democracy looks like from a perspective that recognizes the bias that presently exists and how they are implicated in the culture and climate that promotes, support, and maintains it. The fact that the majority of people incarcerated are people of color seemingly represents no call for action or consequence. The fact is that the number of people of color is adjudicated differently and more harshly than European American citizens seem to be viewed as acceptable represents a big problem that begs for attention and correction. However, if the people who administer and are the caretakers of the system of criminal justice are fine with the status quo then something needs to be done to alert them to the injustice they are delivering to American citizens who happen to be people of color.

If the problems of bigotry and injustice in the criminal justice system today are promoted, supported, and maintained through ignorance, then education, not training should help in remedying some of the problems. Other avenues of approach would be removal from office via election or for some judges, impeachment. The citizens should be made aware of the amount of money they pay out to citizens that receive judgments from the civil courts for the misconduct of police and other law enforcement officers. One would think that the officers found guilty in civil court should shoulder some of the monetary responsibility as well as the unions that support and represent these officers. That way the citizens would not have to bear the entire expense for the officers’ actions.

The American system of criminal justice is generally a good system when it is administered in a democratic and fair way; however, when ethnic and cultural biases are represented in the outcome negatively affecting people of color, then corrective action must be taken. Again, the actions of the many concerned groups addressing the problems that focus on incarceration are welcomed and, indeed, applauded and encouraged, but their efforts are focused on the citizens that are already incarcerated and part of the system. In order to impact positively the system of criminal justice, the focus must be at the beginning. Michelle Alexander noted in her work, The New Jim Crow, that “A study sponsored by the U.S. Justice Department and several of the nation’s leading foundations, published in 2007, found that the impact of the biased treatment is magnified with each additional step into the criminal justice system.” The evidence is clear.

The biased treatment of people of color in the criminal justice system is due to unconscious and conscious ethnic bigotry that infects the decision-making process of those entrusted with those powers. In order for the system of criminal justice to be fairly administered, those biases must be addressed at the beginning before the arrest is made. So, now that we know where to begin, if we are not part of the solution, then we are the problem.

Paul R. Lehman, Five questions that can aid in reducing arrest of people of color due to 911 calls

November 21, 2018 at 1:00 am | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, blacks, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, justice, Prejudice, Race in America, whites | Leave a comment
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Although they occur with too much frequency, we must not let the incidents of police arrest of people of color and other poor citizens for being in a place that appears uncomfortable to some European Americans become acceptable and ordinary. What seems like a daily occurrence of a person being arrested by the police in response to a 911 call must be addressed and corrected. In order to make the corrections three areas must be targeted: the citizen who makes the 911 call, the 911 dispatcher, and the police officers who respond to the 911 call.

Individuals that serve in any of the three above capacities must be taught that their choices can and often make the difference between a person’s life and death. Therefore, before the choice to act or react relative to a 911 call the following questions should be addressed: who, what, where, when, and why. If the small amount of time it takes to consider these questions by individuals in each of three areas of concern, society would benefit greatly with fewer arrest, fewer deaths, and less money paid by the citizens to settle civil cases. These questions should accompany any orientation relative to the service of a 911 emergency call because they provide the necessary information from which to make a reasonable and rational decision and choice relative to a perceived emergency.

Any number of reasons can be recalled for why a European American citizen calls 911 for assistance. For example, a university professor from the University of Texas in San Antonio called 911 to have a student remove from class because the student had simply placed her feet in or on the chair in front of her. Prior to making the call, if the professor had taken the time to ask herself the question why she wanted the student removed, the subsequent action that took place might not have happened. We might assume from the report that followed the incident that the professor felt that the gesture by the student was interpreted as an insult to her. The student’s actions were not based on anything having to do with the teacher; she just simply wanted to stretch her legs. Unfortunately, the police arrived and escorted the student from the classroom. We might add that the student was an African American and was simply unaware of the professor’s thoughts and reactions, but had to bear the brunt of the incident by being removed from the class. The information derived from asking the five questions could have offered a remedy for the problem.

Too often the 911 caller is in an emotional state of mind and cannot reason or adequately address the situation that is thought to require a 911 call. In that case, the 911 dispatcher should try to obtain that information before it is dispatched to officers in the field. In any number of incidents, a little time and a little more information might have prevented the need for law enforcement assistance. If we were to examine the situation that occurred at a Starbuck’s restaurant involving two young African Americans waiting on another colleague to join them being arrested and escorted out of the establishment by the police, we realize that simply answering the five questions might have eliminated the need for law enforcers. Had the dispatcher taken the time to ascertain just what was the problem involving the African Americans before contacting the police, the incident might have been avoided. However, the social conditioning of many European Americans often causes them to react in fear or dread at the mention of or sight of a person of color in the near surroundings, so the first reaction is to call 911.

When police receive information from a 911 dispatcher, they usually react based on the information they receive. One serious problem generally associated with this action has to be with the education the police receive in the orientation to the job and its responsibilities, namely, attitude and judgment towards the citizens. We know from many studies and experiences that European American law enforcers have a different emotional reaction to incidents involving African Americans and European Americans. Too often the attitude of officers toward people of color is one of fear, dread, and guilt. In essence, too often people of color are viewed and treated as criminals before any questions are asked or additional information acquired beyond what the dispatcher offered.

For example, when a convenience store employee thought a young African American college student had used a fake $20 bill to pay for his merchandise, he immediately called 911. The dispatcher relayed the information to the police and they rushed to the store. When they arrive inside the store, they went immediately to the African American student and commanded him to show an identification card. Nothing was said to him prior to this command. Based on their action, they assumed that the student was a criminal as in this case; the officers thought the student was not producing his identification fast enough so they ordered him to place his hands behind him, and thus instigated what they describe as the need for physical force. After throwing the student to the floor, shocking him, and placing him in handcuffs, the officers asked the store employees for the fake $20 dollar bill only to discover that it was nowhere to be found. The student was taken to jail for not obeying a direct command.

When we look at the actions and reactions of the three areas of concern relative to some European American citizens calling 911, the actions of the 911 dispatcher, and finally, the involvement of the police in these incidents, we can certainly justify the need for the use of the five questions along the chain of information from the caller to the police officers. As citizens, we pay for and depend on the services of the dispatches and the police officers to do their jobs, and we should also expect them to show respect and courtesy to everyone without first prejudging them.

Paul R. Lehman, Trump’s positive contribution to a better America in spite of his bigotry

July 25, 2018 at 3:02 am | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, Bigotry in America, blacks, criminal justice, discrimination, Donald Trump, entitlements, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, interpretations, justice, justice system, Media and Race, police force, Prejudice, Race in America, respect, skin color, skin complexion, social conditioning, social justice system, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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One of the most important results of Donald Trump’s election was America’s recognition of its diverse population. For certain we all knew that America was a diverse population but we were not as aware of the bigotry that existed within some Americans towards others. Trump did not create the bigotry but he has been very instrumental in bringing it out in other people. Many Americans did not realize that they were bigots until Trump along with members of his administration and party began focusing on the concept of ethnic bigotry. Even today, many Americans do not realize or accept the fact that we have been socially conditioned to accept bigotry as normal as it pertains to people of color.

Regardless of the efforts of Trump to point out and comment on ethnic diversity in American society, because of the rapidly changing demographics, the fact would have eventually presented itself—America continues to change. The effect of America’s changing demographics is like the bottom of a lake that has dried up because of a drought or being drained; a lot of debris is uncovered and what becomes visible for the first time in a long time speaks to a variety of discoveries. Many European Americans have never seen themselves as being biased towards other Americans for any reason. They might be considered ignorant since they lacked the knowledge of their social conditioning towards people of non-European heritage. That form of ignorance can be easily seen and experienced if these Americans live in a predominantly European American environment where they have little exposure to people of color or of diverse ethnicity. If nothing ever happens to call their attention to social and ethnic differences, then their perception will continue.

For many European Americans, ignorance is an excuse to continue to practice bigotry because they believe that they cannot be held responsible for something for which they are ignorant. Unlike the European Americans who are rarely exposed to ethnic differences, these European American are fully aware of the social privileges provided them because of their identity. However, when and if these European Americans are questioned about their display of social bias, they usually feign ignorance of their bias. Since they are not aware of their bias, they cannot be held responsible for their actions or judged negatively because of them; they believe that get a pass.

Another group of European Americans with biased social conditioning believe these biases to be normal and an accepted way of life. Rather than accept the social privileges they received as based on ethnic bigotry, they choose to ignore the reality and continue to accept the illusion of ethnic superiority as real. Anyone who challenges their view of society and the world is viewed as an enemy or at least suspect. We have over the past few years witnessed many instances of European Americans using their social privilege to call attention to their lack of comfort relative to an incident involving ethnic Americans of color. Unfortunately, many of their efforts are rewarded by the law enforcement establishment because they too, in many instances, share the same biases.

The biased social conditioning of many European Americans gives them a sense of not only privilege but also entitlement. Their sense of entitlement leads them to believe that they should feel safe and comfortable in any and all situations, and when they do not enjoy these feelings, they can call 911 and receive immediate satisfaction. To many of these Europeans Americans, they believe that they are not bigoted or biased; they are simply exercising their God-given rights as they interpret them. They have not accepted the fact that America is a diverse society and all Americans deserve the opportunity to exercise the same rights and privileges as they enjoy.

We Americans owe Trump and his administration a debt of gratitude for bringing out the problems relative to cultural biases that exist in society today. The warning America has been given relative to our diverse society is that we must learn to live together as brother and sisters or perish as fool unable to resolve our differences. What we must learn to accept is that all Americans are ethnic Americans and no one ethnicity is superior to another. The problems we face affect all Americans because they either add to or detract from us all regardless of our petty differences. Once the problems from the Trump experience are exposed, we will become aware of the challenges we must address to make certain we do not face the same ones again.

Ignorance is a key ingredient used by society to keep the status quo from succumbing to reality. For example, the contributions of African Americans to American society from Crispus Attucks to Katherine Johnson are quite relevant to our American story but mention either one to almost any educated European American and he or she would not recognize either name. Unfortunately, one could do the same with almost any educated African American with the same results. The problem is that knowledge of these individuals and their accomplishments would provide an element of pride in the African Americans and a sense of surprise in many European Americans. The fact that the information relative to these two Americans is available but not included in most American History books is due to both ignorance and bias. The ignorance represents a lack of knowledge; the bias represents a deliberate action to keep positive and image-influencing information from the readers.

American society, in general chooses, to ignore the factual information and knowledge relative to the myth of races but refuses to accept and promote it as an act of ignorance. Fortunately, facts and truth have a timely way of pushing ignorance to the side like water bursting from a dam overwhelms anything in its path. For American society, the changing demographics are like that dam water waiting to find its path. Ignorance can prevail for just so long before the truth comes in to replace it. When the truth comes, ignorance will be destroyed.

Paul R. Lehman, Changing the criminal justice system and mass incarceration starts at the local level

July 10, 2018 at 4:13 am | Posted in African American, criminal justice, justice, justice system, law, lower class, Michelle Alexander, minority, non-violent crimes, Oklahoma, poverty, race, Race in America, social conditioning, social justice system, The Oklahoman | Leave a comment
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Often times, when something happens involving the criminal justice system that has a negative effect on a segment of society, that part of society that is not seemingly directly impacted will pay little or no attention to the problem Usually, they remain uninvolved and uninformed relative to the criminal justice until it affects them directly. What they do not realize is that they have always been directly affected by the system whether they know it or not. One way they, the public, is affected is through the high rate of incarceration and prison overcrowding that the citizens are financially responsible for paying. However, since they do not receive the bill directly, they give little attention to it. The groups that are forced to pay the bills are the poor and people of color. So, for many years mass incarceration has been about controlling people of color and the poor right in plain sight while nothing was done to correct the injustices that were committed against them.

Studies have been conducted relative to mass incarceration ascertaining that the phenomena are not simply an act of maintaining law and order, but a system of economic profit-making. A number of scholars have referred to the criminal justice system as the prison industrial complex because of the vastness of the system and the many people involved at many different levels. Although this system is a nationwide organization, what keeps it going happens at the local levels of society. So, if an effort is made to replace the unjust system, the initial action must take place at the local level. The first order of business is to re-educate the public and present a transparent picture of what happens to a citizen that is incarcerated at the local level and how he or she becomes part of the bodies working for the system.

Many citizens are led to believe that because a person is arrested, charged, and sent to prison that they deserve to be there because they broke the law. Generally speaking, that would be an accurate assessment. However, what created the present situation of mass incarceration had nothing to do with citizens breaking the law, but with the laws being changed to expand the number of people being incarcerated. When President Reagan instituted his war on drugs and crime, he caused a modification of the charges and length of sentencing. The system has since added the fees, fines, and numerous charges to the sentence of the incarcerated person, making freedom almost impossibility if one happens to be poor or a person of color. So, the more people introduced into the system, the more efficiently it runs. For an in-depth look at the subject of mass incarceration please read Michelle Alexander’s book THE NEW JIM CROW.

The state of Oklahoma is one of the national leaders regarding mass incarceration in general, but number one as far as incarcerating women is concerned. This problem was brought to the attention of the Oklahoma citizens in the form of two state questions that addressed the rate of incarceration of people with drug problems and non-violent crimes. The state actually passed the two questions 780 and 781 that sought to reclassify drug possession and some other lower-level crimes as misdemeanors. The objective of the questions was to use the money saved from not incarcerating people of these types of crimes and use that money for alternative programs. These types of programs are necessary for addressing the problems and redirecting the money.

Kris Steele, a former Speaker of the House, is the chairman of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform and leader in attempting to stop the mass march to prison of many citizens. Based on his studies and experiences relative to criminology he understands that prison is not the answer to problems involving drug use and low-level offenses. He expressed some of his concerns in an article, “Justice reform must have buy-in,” (7/9/2018) that underscored the injustice of the sentencing today. He also noted the importance of the people involved in the working of the criminal justice system understanding the problems and helping to overcome many of these problems, not trying to maintain the status quo. Steele noted the need for elected officials and others to accept the programs. He stated that “Unfortunately, some elected officials still haven’t accepted this approach. In the six months after the state questions were enacted, 882 people were sent to prison with drug possession as their most serious offense—directly rebutting the will of voters.”

One of the problems in this matter is the lack of concern of many of the citizens; they either do not care or do not know the seriousness of mass incarceration. Steele noted that citizens pay the price and it is significant: “If each of these 882 people sentenced to prison for drug possession spent one year in prison, it would cost the taxpayer $15 million, and if they were imprisoned for the statewide average for drug possession—25 months—it would cost $32 million.

We know that mass incarceration is a feature of the criminal justice that keeps the system going; we also know that the system is unjust and unfair to people of color and the poor. We realize that we can start to resolve the problem if we work together. Steele noted that “Once this cultural change is embraced by those responsible for implementing reform, Oklahoma can safely reduce its incarceration rate, boost public safety and strengthen families.”  Oklahomans must keep the pressure for corrective action open and out front for change to occur.

Along with addressing the problem of mass incarceration is the need for prison reform from a national perspective. Michael Gerson in an article “An idea that should succeed in Washington,” (7/9/2018) citing the need for prison and sentencing reform referenced two scholars, Steven Teles and David Dagan who identified reform as “an example of ‘trans-partisanship,” and “a agreement on policy goals driven by divergent, deeply held ideological beliefs.” Everything depends on how people view crimes and criminals. They stated that “Liberals look at mass incarceration as see structural racism. Libertarians see the denial of civil liberties, Fiscal conservatives see wasted resources. Religious activists see inhumane conditions and damaged lives.”

Gerson summed up the solution for mass incarceration, prison, and sentencing reform by making one simple statement—“ All these convictions converge at one point: We should treat offenders as humans, with different stories and different needs, instead of casting them all into the same pit of despair.” Easy to say, harder to accomplish.

Paul R. Lehman, Reasons why European American (white) police shoot and kill African Americans

March 31, 2018 at 7:30 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American Racism, amygdala, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Breaking Ranks, criminal justice, discrimination, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, justice, justice system, law enforcement agencies, Norm Stamper, Race in America, social conditioning, the Black Codes, white supremacy, whites | 3 Comments
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The police officers shooting and killing an unarmed African American man in Sacramento, California recently should come as no surprise to anyone who has been following the news the last four to five years. The excuses for the shootings are always the same: the officers reveal that they feared for their lives or they felt their lives were threatened, or the victim made a threatening gesture or movement towards them or they thought he or she had a gun in their hands. All of these reasons are viewed as justifiable for the shooting of a suspect. On the other hand, the family of the victim always asks the questions: why did you not wait to assess the situation before you fired shots? Why did you not use another of the tools available to you like the tazer, rubber bullets, nightstick, and bean bags? Why could you not have shot him or her in the arm or leg or some non-deadly place? Why did you not give the victim time to respond to your commands?

The fact that this scenario keeps happening over and over again is not an accident or the action of a few bad officers but part of a culture that permeates the entire criminal justice system. Most officers know that regardless of their actions, their department and union will always take their word as valid over any citizen, so the fear of serious repercussions for a wrong deed does not represent an impediment to their actions. The American public has witnessed many times the results of a police shooting via video that contradicts the report of the officers. Yet, the officers walk away without being held responsible for the misdeeds committed. To blame be officers for not being held responsible for their deeds is not their fault but the system that supports them including the Attorney General, District attorney, prosecutor, judge, jury, and society.

What many African Americans understand about the criminal justice system in American is that it has always been biased against them as clearly recorded by history from before Reconstruction, the Black Codes, and Jim Crow. Many European Americans generally support law enforcement actions without question and by doing so allow injustices to continue against people of color. Some present and former police officers have readily admitted that a culture of hate, fear, anger, and bigotry against African Americans exist in law enforcement.  From where do these feelings derive? The most obvious answer identifies social conditioning as the primary contributor to ethnic bias in American society that is retained by people who become part of the criminal justice system directly and indirectly.

Norm Stamper, a former police officer and author of the book Breaking Rank (2005) underscored the European American law officers’ perception of the African Americans: “Simply put, white cops are afraid of black men. We don’t talk about it, we pretend it doesn’t exist, we claim ‘colorblindness,’ we say white officers treat black men the same way they treat white men. But that’s a lie.”These feelings are not reserved for European American law enforcers only. Paul Butler, in his book Choke Hold (2017), noted that recent scientific research shed some light on how many African Americans are generally perceived: “When people see black men they don’t know, they have a physical response that is different from their response to other people. Their blood pressure goes up and they sweat more. When a white person sees an unfamiliar black male face, the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes fear, activates.” Earlier studies also indicated that the negative reactions of European American law officers towards African American males may because by unconscious social bias rather than deliberate actions.

Michelle Alexander in her book The New Jim Crow (2013) noted that a number of studies showed how some European Americans reacted to images of European Americans and African Americans in an exercise that considered observation, interpretation, and reaction. She noted, “that racial schemas operated not only as part of conscious, rational deliberations, but also automatically—without awareness or intent.” This study might possibly explain why some European American police officers act irrationally when having to deal with African Americans and people of color in general:

One study, for example, involved a video game that placed photographs of white and black individuals holding either a gun or other object (such as a wallet, soda can or cell phone into various photographic backgrounds. Participants were told to decide as quickly as possible whether to shoot the target. Consistent with earlier studies, participants were more likely to mistake a black target as armed when he was not, and mistake a white target as unarmed, when in fact he was armed. This pattern of discrimination reflected automatic, unconscious thought processes, not careful deliberations (p. 107)

The fact that ethnic bias is central to the social conditioning in America accounts for the unconscious bias of many European Americans; that bias can be manifested either implicitly, explicitly or both. Consequently, many European Americans can honestly believe that they are not biased against African Americans because many of their friends, relatives, and associates are African American, however, that fact does not mean they are free of biases.  Alexander noted that “Implicit bias test may still show that you [European Americans] hold negative attitudes and stereotypes about blacks, even though you do not believe you do and do not want to. In the study described above, for example, black participants showed an amount of ‘shooter bias’ similar to that shown by whites” (107). Of course, fewer European Americans are shot and killed by African American police officers than by European American officers.

Armed with the scientific information from the various studies mentioned, we can assert that much more than police training is necessary to replace the biased ethnic culture in our criminal justice system. The problem of ethnic bias must be the first item on the agenda to be addressed, not through training, but education. Society must fully understand and reject the bias before it can begin to replace it.

Paul R. Lehman, Americans and the challenge of the criminal justice system

November 13, 2017 at 4:35 pm | Posted in American Bigotry, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, criminal activity, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, interpretations, justice, justice system, law enforcement agencies, police force, Prejudice, Race in America, racism, respect, skin color, skin complexion, social justice system, The Associated Press, Tulsa, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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When Americans think of the criminal justice system in America they usually recognize it as a reasonable, rational, and fair agency of society. What we often do not see relative to the criminal justice system is the American society that is represented by the criminal justice system. We focus generally on the law enforcement agencies or courts rather than the people in society that make-up and contribute to the system. The fact that most of the law enforcement agents, police, are set freed or shown as not guilty of killing unarmed African Americans reflect on the people responsible for adjudicating justice. We acknowledge that the culture of the criminal justice system in America is biased against African Americans, but the system actually reflects the biased society.

A case in point is that of Betty Jo Shelby, a European American (white) female and a former Tulsa police officer who was acquitted in the fatal shooting and killing of Terence Crutcher.  According to media reports, Shelby was on duty when she saw an SUV that was stopped in the middle of the street, the vehicle belonged to Crutcher.  We learn that “Shelby testified at trial that she was scared because Crutcher appeared to be under the influence of drugs, didn’t obey her commands and looked liked he was reaching inside his vehicle.”(Justin Juoapavicus, Associated Press, 10/26/2017)

Videos of the incident did not coincide with Shelby’s testimony in that Crutcher was shown to be at least fifteen feet in front of her with both of his hands up in the air; the windows of his SUV were rolled-up. A fellow officer was standing next to Shelby when she fired her weapon killing Crutcher. After Crutcher was shot, no aid or medical attention was given to check on his well-being until after several minutes had passed.

The fact that Shelby shot and killed Crutcher cannot be disputed since the incident was captured on video. However, the reasons for the shooting by Shelby can be brought into scrutiny relative to those adjudicating her case, the jury. For the court to acquit Shelby of the shooting leaves us to question their qualifications to make such a judgment. The primary reason for the shooting according to Shelby was her fear of Crutcher. How can we explain the jury’s actions of a not guilty finding if police officers feel threatened or that their lives are in danger when an unarmed African American walking away from them with his hands in the air? If Shelby is simply afraid of African American men, then she should not be working in law enforcement or any other place where she will encounter African American men.

Since the jury accepted her defense of fear of African American men, we might assume that they consider it a legally accepted defense for European American (white) officers shooting people of color. What happens when officers walk into a supermarket or mall or church and there they see African American men? Do they fear for their lives in these circumstances as well and so would be justified in shooting them? Many of the videos in recent years have shown this to be the case. We must ask where is the reasoning, rationale, and justice for the actions of the jury?

One of the conclusions we must draw from these actions is that of ethnic bias of the jury. Since the majority of the jury make-up in American is European Americans (whites), we must also conclude that they do not represent for the African Americans a ‘jury of their peers’ but more a jury representing the European American (white) officers. Since fear of African Americans and people of color appears to be a problem for many European American (white) law enforcers, why are they hired? And if hired, why are they not educated to treat people of color with the same decency and respect they would give other citizens?

The answer is simply because of their social conditioning which underscores the privilege accorded to them, European Americans (white), for their skin complexion. Simultaneously, European Americans (whites) are conditioned to view people of color as inferior in general, but to view African Americans with fear, anger, and dream because they are dangerous. Many European Americans (whites) do not realize their bigotry because their acquisition was acquired through everyday life at home, school, church etc. As a cognitive scientist, Justin L. Barrett, noted, “What we learn through testimony or through behavioral imitation is importantly influenced by social context biases.” He added that “we model our thought and behaviors on others based upon what we perceive most others think and do (conformity bias), favor prestigious individuals for role models (prestige bias) and prefer to ape those whom we see as similar to ourselves or whom we want to be (similarity bias).” So, to many European Americans (whites) ethnic bigotry is not something that is unusual or viewed as out of the ordinary life experience.

What we find puzzling about the actions of the Americans citizens who serve as part of the criminal justice system is how they equate reason, rationale, and justice with their actions. For example, shortly after being acquitted for the shooting and killing of Terence Crutcher, that portion of Betty Shelby’s record will be removed, and subsequently, will be expunged: “District Judge William LaFortune also ordered all documents involving former Tulsa officer Betty Jo Shelby’s case sealed and kept with the court. The case will only be accessible through a court order and can be destroyed after 10 years, according to the law.” (Justin Juoapavicus)

What we can observe from Shelby’s case is that after shooting and killing an innocent American citizen because she was in fear, not threatened or felt to be in harm’s way, she was acquitted of all charges and walked away from the incident with no repercussions. We have learned that she has been recently employed in a law enforcement position in a nearby town. In 10 years, no one will even know what she did except the family and friends of Terence Crutcher, Shelby, and the jury. After all, it was incumbent on the jury to administer a finding based on reason, rationale, and justice, but they failed in every respect. We, Americans, cannot allow this form of injustice to continue because whether we realize it or not, the mistreatment of any American affects us all. Act–find a way to make a difference.

Paul R. Lehman, Cal Thomas uses Charles Barkley and his comment to hide his biased view of history

August 23, 2017 at 12:53 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Charles Barkley, Civil Right's Act 1964, democracy, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, extremists, fairness, freedom of speech, identity, interpretations, justice, justice system, language, law, Media and Race, political power, politicians, Prejudice, protest, race, racism, representation, skin complexion, Slavery, social justice system, The Oklahoman | Leave a comment
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Cal Thomas in his (Oklahoman) column, “Barkley offers some solid advice,” (8/22/17) begins the article with a quote from Friedrich Hegel: “The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.” Unfortunately, some people take the quote to have value, others disagree with it. Hegel also stated that “Africa is no historical part of the world.” He added that “blacks had no sense of personality: their spirit sleeps, remain sunk in itself, makes no advance, and thus parallels the compact, undifferentiated mass of the African continent.” Whether one benefits from history or not depends on how one interprets the history being read, and who wrote it.

Thomas made the following statement: “We will learn even less from history if we wipe it clean, as some are trying to do by removing statues of Confederate leaders whose beliefs about slavery and race most, including me, find offensive. Conversation beats censorship.” If the people who want the statues removed also want the history relative to them wiped clean then that would be a tragedy. On the contrary, that is not what is wanted, because the history of the statues and the people and society that erected them and placed them on public property says much more than the traditional history books would tell. The majority of the mayors who have removed these statues maintain that they should be placed in museums or on private property, not destroyed. Most of the protesting people agree.

A misunderstanding has occurred relative to the selection of statues and who they honor in that some people assume that simply because an honoree was a slaveholder his statue should be removed. The fact is that only those statues that underscore and supposedly support the Confederacy (the losers of the Civil War) and supposedly continued slavery after the war are in question.  The majority of the statues that are believed to represent the Confederacy, in fact, only represent a bigoted society that wanted to flaunt its social control and power in the face African Americans. What are missing from Thomas’ comments are knowledge of history and an understanding of the hypocrisy that all Americans have been living under since the Revolutionary War—white supremacy.

Certainly, Thomas remembers the days of segregation when he witnessed the social injustices being visited upon people of color. We would also feel secure in thinking that his education made him aware of the many inhumane experiences African Americas experienced at the hands of a bigoted society. We have no history of how these experiences affected Thomas or if he supported these activities are not. We do know that through the efforts of civil rights activists many positive changes were made in American society, changes that benefited European American (white) females more than anyone else. In all of the civil rights acts, no special treatment was asked for or received by African Americans. The only request was that justice and fairness be served. Unfortunately, we are still waiting for that request to be honored. We are waiting for history to catch up.

According to his comments, Thomas seemed to believe that the protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, both sides, wanted to create chaos in society and that some of them confronted each other “causing death and destruction, not only to individuals and property but to the links that have traditionally held us together as a nation, in spite of our differences.”Evidently, Thomas was not able to discern one group as wanting to disrupt and destroy the progress the nation has made over the years to correct history. One side of the protestors wanted to help deconstruct the things that have kept us from being one nation, to remove the superficial link that has kept us apart.

Rather than addressing the issue of European American supremacy, Thomas turns to the media as one of the dividing elements in society: “As usual, the media have contributed to the cultural fracturing by elevating tiny groups of bigots and leftists to center stage.” He then moves over to the blame the government: “Part of this chaos comes from government’s inability, or unwillingness, to solve, or even address, major challenges.”His comments indicate an unwillingness to stick with the subject and gain some clarification. Instead, he plays” the blame game” that does nothing but takes up print space and distracts from the problem.

Finally, Thomas gets to where he always intended to go in the first place—someone to use as an escape hatch—Charles Barkley. He tries to denigrate those people who have concerns about the Confederate statues by questioning their level of education and said they are a “distraction designed to keep our minds on things other than solving real problems and pit us against each other for the cultural, political and fundraising benefit and goal of various groups on the left and right.” Thomas, it seems, does not regard the years of injustice, abuse, bigotry in the social, educational, economic, political, judicial institutions of America as real problems. He does not understand that he is a bigot and that as long as he sees himself as a white man, he will be a bigot. To excuse himself from being a bigot, he uses Barkley’s comments to hide behind. But, instead of hiding them, Barkley’s words expose Thomas.

When the founding fathers invented European American (white) supremacy, they took away the history of the Africans and called them negro or black.  Although the African had cultural and ancestral identities, they were deprived of them. The early European Americans called themselves white rather than using their cultural and ancestral identities because they had already made white represent power, privilege, and control of society. The language they employed was used to ensure the continuation of their power and control. Subsequently, the Africans and African Americans were forced to learn that language, not realizing that it supported their enslavement. What Thomas does not understand is that he and Barkley do not speak the same language. Yes, they use the same words, but the meanings are different. Barkley is not a historian or a scholar, but a sports figure who expresses himself freely on a variety of subjects; he does not purport to represent anyone but himself, certainly not all African Americans.  What Thomas did not realize from Barkley’s statement is that he is not satisfied with society and history the as it is. So, he will work to change it for African Americans and the world, for the better. That is precisely the message the protesters were making in supporting the removal of the statues.  What was that thing about history again?

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