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,Ethnic bigotry on the judicial bench—a case in point

May 3, 2017 at 12:10 am | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Criticism, democracy, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, fairness, interpretations, justice, justice system, law, Oklahoma, race, Race in America, respect, skin color, social justice system, socioeconomics, the 'n' word, The Oklahoman, white supremacy | 1 Comment
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Many Americans believe that as a society we have made tremendous progress in our acceptance of one another as equals regardless of our skin color. Although we would like to believe this, the fact of the matter is that ethnic bigotry permeates the whole of American society in the system of European American (white) supremacy. In many cases, the bigotry is subtle and often passes for ignorance or innocence. At other times, the bigotry is so apparent; it cannot be excused with some form of rationale. One of the features of European American supremacy is expressed in an attitude of superiority over the ideas, opinions, and statements of people of color, especially African Americans. A case in point occurred recently in an article by Randy Ellis, in The Oklahoman, “Black judge: Repeating ‘n’ word in appellate opinion was ‘unnecessary.’(4/29/2017)

According to the article, the only African American judge on the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, Vice Presiding Judge David Lewis, made the statement regarding his fellow judge’s opinion: “I concur in the decision reached by the court in this matter. However I write separately to point out that the author of this opinion did not have to repeat the repugnant language used by the appellant.” Lewis’ words to his colleague, Judge Gary Lumpkin, were to alert him to the sensitivity of the word to him, and indeed to the public, and that he found its frequent repetition unnecessary. Lewis wrote that “The repeated use of the ‘n’ word in this opinion was unnecessary to the reader’s understanding of the language used by the appellant, and unnecessary to the court’s resolution of this case.”

In many cases like this one, the judge receiving comments of this nature would recognize the lack of sensitivity shown in his or her case and offer an apology for the offense and a “thank you” for the cautionary note from the colleague. One would think that a judge on the bench today would be fully apprised of the sensitive nature of the ‘n’ word. The article noted that: “Judge Lumpkin quoted the racial slur verbatim in his opinion, while Lewis used the euphemistic expression ‘n’ word in his criticism.”

What followed, according to the article, underscored the apparent ethnic bigotry that exists not only in society but also on the bench: “Robert Hudson, another judge on the court, defended Lumpkin’s decision to quote the racial slur.” Rather than accepting Lewis’ words to Lumpkin as a form of “corrective criticism,” and an appeal to his better judgment, Hudson interpreted Lewis’ comments as an affront to Lumpkin’s judgment and continued “Our cases reflect reality and that reality is oftentimes not pretty.” In other words, Hudson seems to imply that one reality trumps another reality; in this case, the reference to an African American slur word, which could have easily been avoided, should be used regardless of its offensiveness to his fellow judge and society. The question is why would a judge continued to use an offensive ethnic slur word when he knows that it can easily be avoided. European American arrogance?

Robert Hudson excused Lumpkin’s use of the ‘n’ word by noting that: “’…if we are willing to erase highly relevant—albeit offensive—facts from our opinions, we will send a terrible message to the bench, bar and public that the truth, when objectionable, should be redacted merely to avoid controversy.” Hudson tried to use aspects of the case to make his point, but it fails on the history of prior court practices. The details of a sexual attack perpetrated on some young female would be not reused time and again verbatim if the judge knew that the language was sensitive to her and the court.

The point relative to this article focuses more on the attitude and actions of the two European American judges rather than the actual case. For example, if the three judges were having lunch together, and one of the European American judges started to tell an offensive ethnic joke and the African American judge stopped him and asked that he not tell the joke in his presence because he found it to be offensive, common sense dedicates that a reasonable person would acquiesce and not tell the joke. However, if the other European American judge wanted to hear the joke and encouraged the teller of the joke to continue, we would realize that he had no regards for the feelings of his African America colleague. In addition, he showed disrespect by his actions, and that his selfish desire was more important than his colleague’s feelings and request. The African American’s request was that the joke not be told in his presence, not that it not be told at all.

The system of European American (white) supremacy has conditioned the European Americans to view African Americans and other people of color as inferior regardless of their social, economic, educational, political and judicial status. That system causes European Americans to view reality through a warped sense of value. For example, when the topic of race is ever brought into a conversation, the European American rarely thinks of him or herself as being part of a race. They have been falsely conditioned to view themselves as representatives of the human race—everyone else belongs to a different race. In addition, they see themselves as being the center of the universe and in control of society.

So, when Lewis, the African American judge said to his colleague that he found the repetition of the ‘n’ word to be excessive and unnecessary to the case, Hudson, a European American judge, and colleague of both Lumpkin and Lewis took exception to Lewis’ comments. Lewis had said previously that the repetition of the ‘n’ word verbatim had no direct bearing on the outcome of the case. Hudson used his sense of superiority to castigate Lewis for speaking the truth to his European colleague. So, Hudson had to put the African American judge in his “place” as an inferior. Hudson, seemingly, believed that his opinion regarding Limpkin’s excessive use of the ‘n’ word over-ruled or trumped the opinion of Lewis for no other reason than he was European American.

Some people might think that these comments are simply making a mountain out of a molehill by suggesting that ethnic bigotry was at the core of Hudson’s criticism of Lewis. When read carefully, the article noted that Lewis agreed with the finding of the case. He just felt the use of the ‘n’ word was excessive. Because of the socially biased conditioning of Hudson’s and European Americans generally, their ability to relate to insensitive words or phrases directed at ethnic Americans of color are rarely perceived and understood. However, even large learning curves can be overcome with effort

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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