Paul R. Lehman, Both Bill Maher and Sen. Ben Sasse complicit is reference to the n-word

June 7, 2017 at 3:37 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, American Racism, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Civil Right's Act 1964, desegregation, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, justice, Prejudice, Race in America, segregation, Slavery, the 'n' word, white supremacy, whites | 2 Comments
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What does one usually think of when the following pronouns are used: we, us, our, and my? Depending on the context in which they are used, Americans generally think they are included in those pronouns. For example when we read or say the phrase “We the people of the United States,” or “Our forefathers,” and “My country tis of thee,” we usually assume that we are personally included in the pronoun. The fact is that people of color, including Hispanics and Asians, as well as many Eastern and Southern Europeans were not included for many year prior to the 1900’s. Those pronouns referred only to American Anglo-Saxon males for the most part until the early 1920’s. Basically, when European Americans are asked to close their eyes and picture a group of a dozen Americans, the likelihood of the presence of people of color in that mental picture is not very great, unless the European Americans had frequent and close involvement with culturally diverse people.

Before school desegregation was instituted, many European Americans had little to no contact with people of color because the schools, churches, and communities were segregated. That segregation helped to condition the mental landscape of many European Americans to exclude African Americans as part of society. European Americans were conditioned to give little or no social value to African Americans which meant not viewing them as social equals. With the arrival of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, an awareness of African Americans as citizens with rights and privileges equal to those of European Americans, the mental picture of Americans began to change, a little. One of the things that the civil rights act did was to underscore the separateness of the various ethnic groups. This feat was accomplished through the use of language; the terms minorities and race underscore the existence of both entities. If so-called races did not exist, they could not be discriminated against. Right? They can only be discriminated against and deprived of rights only if they exist. So, when the Act outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, by naming the elements in the law, it underscored their presence in society.

The Civil Rights Act presented a series of new problems for European Americans because now they have to be mindful of other people in society besides themselves. The European Americans had to not only give social value to African Americans but also recognize the fact that they shared social rights and privileges with them. This law was a new and great departure from what was considered the norm for European Americans. The challenge to conform to the law still represents a challenge to many European Americans today.

Often, when European Americans are in the company of African Americans or know that an audience of African Americans will hear what they say, they will be consciously on guard to avoid any word of statement that might suggest ethnic bias of anything that might sound pejorative towards African Americans. However, if the European Americans are in the company of other European Americans, they will not be on guard relative to their ethnic biases unless the person or persons in whose company they are in are sensitive to ethnic slurs. Otherwise, the European Americans will voice their biases freely without concern for repercussions. Remember, these ethnic biases are not something extraneous to European Americans, but part of their normal mindset, part of the system of European American superiority and African American inferiority.

A recent incident captured on television involving Bill Maher and Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska during an interview demonstrates the challenges of replacing the system of ethnic bias. During the interview Sasse talked about his new book and also about people who dressed up for Halloween. Sasse said that the practice was frowned upon in Nebraska. Maher then said that he has to get to Nebraska more. Sasse then said that “You’re welcome. We’d love to have you work in the fields with us.” Maher narrowing his eyebrows stated, “Work in the fields? Senator, I’m a house (n-word).” For the readers unfamiliar with the term “house N-word,” the reference is to the duties given to African/African American slaves who were generally off-springs of the master or a male from his family. Their duties did not include the harsh and brutal work in the fields, but work in and around the master’s house. In addition, the status of the slaves was reflected in the duties he or she performed.

Once Maher made the statement, the audience noted the offense to which Maher stated that “It’s a joke.” Neither man stopped to comment on the reference, but continued the interview. The point here is that nothing was said at the moment, with the exception of Maher’s reference to it being a joke, to correct the disparaging remark and its reference to enslaved people.  One possible reason for the lack of attention paid to the seriousness of the remark is the fact that the two men forgot where they were, and being relaxed and familiar with one another simply let their guards down. Had the audience not reacted to the reference, chances are that both men would have continued the interview never realizing that something amiss had happened. Both men are guilty of failing to acknowledge the effect of the reference and to apologize immediately. That did not happen because the reference to the n-word has been a part of their normal social language that it did not represent a departure from the normal until the audience noted it.

Many changes are taking place in our society as well as in the world that affect us daily. One of the changes has to do with the changing demographics and the growing cultural diversity that has become a part of our everyday life. For many European Americans these changes bring great challenges because they slowly deconstruct what was considered normal to them. What at one time was considered normal and acceptable to European Americans in American society is no longer acceptable and continued use can result in serious repercussions. That is no joke.

Paul R. Lehman, Flawed School evaluation formula uses race in assessing achievement gaps.

December 2, 2013 at 10:06 pm | Posted in discrimination, equality, European American, minority, Oklahoma education, Race in America, socioeconomics, The Oklahoman, whites | Leave a comment
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Researchers at Oklahoma University and Oklahoma State University did an analysis relative to the grading of schools in an A-F system and found that system was flawed for a variety of reasons. This analysis was supported by a number of teacher and educational organizations in recognizing the failure of the A-F system to give an accurate assessment of the schools. According to an article in The Oklahoman, “Education Department criticizes grades study,” (12/1/13) the Oklahoma State Department of Education had some concerns with the analysis by the two Oklahoma Universities.
The writer of the article, Kim Archer, gave more specific information about the study:
In mid-October, researchers from the University of Oklahoma’s Center for Education Policy and Oklahoma State University’s Center for Educational Research and Evaluation released an analysis of the A-F school grading formula that concluded Oklahoma’s school evaluation system has fundamental flaws that make letter grades virtually meaningless and ineffective for judging school performance.
The analysis of the grading system has been questioned by “Megan Clifford, a Harvard University strategic data fellow ‘on loan’ to the state Education Department for the next two years, [she] conducted her own analysis of the system with input from her Harvard professors.” Clifford stated that one problem with the OU/OSU analysis was “that it relied on a ‘small, nonrepresentative sample of state data.” Consequently, the article continued, “State Superintendent Janet Barresi asked Clifford to see if she could replicate the OU/OSU research findings to determine how to use results from the critiquing study.”
As a result of the request, the department decided to look at three primary concerns of the A-F grading system from the OU/OSU analysis. First, the analysis indicated that “Differences between predicted A-F letter grades are small and effectively meaningless;” next, the analysis found that “Summarizing a school’s test performance on math, reading and science is neither a clear nor reliable indicator of school performance;” and finally, that “letter grades mask achievement gaps between poor and minority children and their wealthier, nonminority peers.”
In her response to these three concerns of the OU/OSU analysis, Clifford found for the first concern, that the “differences between ‘A’ and ‘F’ schools were much greater” than the analysis suggested. Her response to the second concern relative to performance grades, she stated that “It definitely is accurate in telling everyone what percentage of students at the school are proficient in” course and levels from low to high achievement levels. Her final response relative to gaps between poor minority children and their wealthy peer, was that “there is an achievement gap based on race, but that poor students in an A school did better than a poor student in an F school.”
While these concerns might appear to be logical and appropriate with respect to criticism of the OU/OSU study, they in effect support the conclusion of that report. In essence, the idea of a fair and accurate A-F letter grading formula must first of all take into consideration the specific demographics of each school. Once that is done, the value of each letter grade must be established based on the demographic information of especially the social, economic and educational levels of the communities in which the schools are located. In no manner should all the schools be assessed by the same standards, because they are generally, all different.
In his book, Coming Apart, Charles Murray talked about the problems we face in America today based on class structure. The problems have some influences on collecting data. From his book we learn that “a new upper class and a new lower class have diverged so far in core behaviors and values that they barely recognize their underlying American kinship.” Based on five decades of statistics and research, he added that “divergence that has nothing to do with income inequality and that has grown during good economic times and bad.” With this information in mind, an A-F letter grading formula would favor one group while it discriminates against another if the standards for the evaluation are based on one group, the upper class.
In addition, Murray noted that
The top and bottom of white America increasingly live in different cultures, Murray argues, with the powerful upper class living in enclaves surrounded by their own kind, ignorant about life in mainstream America and the lower class suffering from erosions of family and community life that strike at the heart of the pursuit of happiness. That divergence puts the success of the American project at risk.
So, regardless of the approach taken to assess each school with a letter grade, consideration must be given to the uniqueness of each school and the children attending those schools. If these concerns are not taken seriously, then the results of any evaluation will be faulty and unreliable.
Clifford’s assessment of the achievement gaps associated with race is of concern when race is never defined, but assumed. We would have to examine the data from the schools to determine how race is identified and used relative to the students. Since the concept of race defined by color or some other method is defective, one wonders just how the results from unreliable information can accurately reflect student or school performance. If the objective for evaluating each school is to discover what areas need addressing, then an accurate assessment that takes into consideration the basic demographics and other relative information must be brought into the equation-one size does not fit all.
The assessment by the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University were accurate when they indicated that the A-F school grading formula was flawed and made “letter grades virtually meaningless and ineffective for judging school performance.” We would hope that Clifford takes another look at the data in an effort to recognize what is best for the schools and their students. Whether it was meant to serve as a reward/punishment system, the A-F grading formula does just that when it passes judgment on the schools and the students representing those schools. We can do a better job in addressing the needs of our schools through evaluations

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