Paul R. Lehman, Bigotry in our language is a not so hidden secret we can afford to ignore

September 3, 2018 at 6:44 pm | Posted in Africa, African American, African American hair, American history, American Racism, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Civil Right's Act 1964, Constitutional rights, criminal justice, Declaration of Independence, discrimination, DNA, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, fairness, Hair, Human Genome, identity, justice, justice system, language, law, Media and Race, minorities, Negro, Prejudice, race, Race in America, racism, skin color, skin complexion, Slavery, social conditioning, social justice system, socioeconomics, white supremacy, whites | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The objective from the very beginning was division and on a permanent basis as the reason the founding fathers invented two races, a black and a white. Unlike the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution that said we are one people, the concept of race has kept us separate and unequal. Subsequently, if we continue believing in the concept of races we will continue to be separate and never fulfill the objective of our democracy. If we are to ever have one nation, we will have to change the way to look, speak, and act towards one another. We also need to understand that the language we use helps to keep us separate. For example, as long as some people view themselves as black and white, they will not come together because of the historical significance of those words. They were meant to keep us apart.

Many well-meaning civic groups actually work against themselves by choosing a name that creates a negative and defensive feeling in others towards them. Take, for example, Black Lives Matter, a group that has an objective that is in keeping with the concept of democracy, but because of the word black in the name, it creates a defensive reaction in the minds of many European Americans.

We also have groups that use words like white, Aryan and caucasian that they believe makes them different from people who do not look like them. Their pronounced goal is to save or preserve the so-call white race. They need to visit history to learn what happens to people who are separated or separate themselves from other people; they become extinct, like for example, the Australian Tasmanian Aboriginals, and in America, the Eire people and the colony of Roanoke.

When civic activists call for unity among people of color, they miss the opportunity to enhance their programs by not inviting all concerned people. We as a society have been conditioned to identify ourselves based on our so-called differences when our objective should be for all to use the same identity. We are all Americans, so why is it necessary to use color or ethnicity as part of identity? When visitors come to America, they come using their cultural identity. When Americans get a passport they provide a picture, but no racial or ethnic identity, because our cultural identity is American, not black or white, Hispanic or Asian etc.

We do ourselves a constant disservice by identifying ourselves as separate groups which have been our legacy since slavery. We have to grasp the reality of our situation understanding that the concept of biological races is a myth, invention, social construction, and lie. Prior to the Human Genome Project, everything about races with the numerous divisions, classifications, and characteristics was conjecture and opinion. We now have scientific proof, validation, and evidence that all human beings are more alike than penguins, and the skin complexion, eye shape and color, and hair texture are not unique to a select group of human beings. We are of one race of beings whether we like it or not.

We might think that language does not play so great a part in our lives and our behavior, but studies old and recent underscore the fact that when the words black and white are used in a sentence referring to an identity, a measured reaction occurs. The reaction for the European American, usually an increased heartbeat, is observed when the word black is used because of the social conditioning associated with the word. African Americans do not experience a similar reaction when the word white appeared in a sentence because they are conditioned to seeing it and without feeling threatened.

The media in American society contributes greatly to the separation of ethnic groups by the way they use inappropriate identity language. For example, if a bank is robbed and the robber was apprehended, nothing pertaining to the robbery is gained when the ethnicity of the robber is identified. Except, in American society today the identity of the robber is omitted if he or she happens to be European American, but the identity is almost always given when the robber ‘s identity is a person of color. The effect of the naming the identity of the ethnic person serves to strengthen the negative stereotype society already has of the person of color.

Another way in which the media contributes to the negative stereotypes and biased attitudes held by some Americans relative to people of color has to do with the mentioning of the geographic location of an incident that is readily identified as being in a location where predominately people of color reside. Again, the mere mention of the location adds to the negative stereotype held by many people familiar with the location.

Today, with all the problems America is facing relative to our government and the various policies being addressed both positively and negatively, we need to take the opportunity to add our concept of race and identity into the mix and deal with it once and for all. We continue to talk about racism as if it was legitimate rather than bigotry which is what has been and continues to be practiced in society. Yes, our language uses the word racism to talk about social biases, but simultaneously serves to keep the concept of races alive and our society separate. We need to decide what kind of society we want to live in as well as our children and grandchildren. Once we make that choice, we need to get to work and make it happen. We have been talking about racism for three hundred years to no avail because we are still talking about it without a change in the daily behaviors of people. Racism is not the problem, we are because we refuse to accept the fact that we have been living in a false reality. What we cannot continue pretending to not see is the rapidly changing demographics that will force changes in society relative to cultural and ancestral identities.

We currently have an opportunity to make great strides in addressing our oneness as a society by debunking the myth of race and working to make America what it was meant to be a democracy. We will not and cannot get to where we want, and need, to be if we do not change from using our misleading ethnically biased language of bigotry.

Advertisements

Paul R. Lehman, The unexpected results of DNA programs regarding genetics, ancestry, and race

February 23, 2018 at 7:23 pm | Posted in Affirmative Action, African American, American Bigotry, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, discrimination, Disrespect, DNA, DNA programs, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, Genealogy,, Human Genome, identity, justice, Michigan, Prejudice, race, Race in America, racism, respect, skin color, skin complexion, U. S. Census, University of Michigan, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Genealogy has become a popular area of concern for many Americans lately, and many organizations have sprung up to help people needing assistance in building their family tree. Many Americans start out by using research tools available on the internet and in many libraries; much of their early searches involves a paper trail. However, since the advances of science and the introduction of DNA, many successes, as well as many disappointments have resulted in what is discovered. In an article entitled “Unexpected Roots,” (2/12/2018) by The Washington Post writer, Tara Bahrampour, the leading phrase of the article points to the conundrum: “As more people learn of their genetic makeup, African heritages emerge.”

The article focuses on a few people who took advantage of the two currently popular programs for help: “Now, for under $100, it has become increasingly easy to spit into a vial and receive a scientifically accurate assessment of one’s genetic makeup. Companies such as 23andMe and Ancestry.com provide a list of countries or regions where the predominant genetic traits match those of one’s forebears.” While the test results might seem reassuring to some of the test takers, they can be unsettling to others because the outcome was not what was expected.

Many Americans accept the false concept of race by color, and because no standard exists for color, no factual or concrete definition of race has ever been forthcoming. So, many Americans simply do not question the false concept of a race until it directly impacts them. The article noted that “While little data exists comparing people’s perception with the reality of their ethnic makeup, a 2014 study 23andMe customers found that around 5,200, or roughly 3, 5 percent, of 148,789 self-identified European Americans [whites] had 1 percent or more African ancestry, meaning they had a probable black ancestor going back about six generations or less.” How many of the individuals deal with their newfound information varies from one to the other depending on their self-identity.

Much of the blame for many European Americans seeing themselves as white can be traced to our founding fathers who deliberately instituted a two-race society—one black, and one white, with the white being superior to the black and all other people of color. That system had faults from the very beginning because many Americans, whose skin complexion and hair texture was similar to that of the European Americans, simply “passed” or assumed the race of white. An excellent example of “passing” by an African American was in the novel, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912) by James Weldon Johnson. This novel is mentioned because it fits the actual life experience of Nicole Persley, in the article: “For Persley, 46, the link [to her African ancestry] turned out to be her grandfather, who had moved away from his native Georgia as started a new life passing as white in Michigan. He married a white woman, who bore Persley’s father.” The results of her DNA confirmed that she is nearly 8 percent African. Her reaction was “That was a bombshell revelation for me and my family;” she adds later that “I’m absolutely proud of my genealogy and my heritage, but I think my father would have thought I was dishonoring his father, because it was a secret and I dug it up.”

While the article was interesting and entertaining, it was also informed in the sense that many people still do not know who they are. Many people do not know the difference between race and ethnicity or know the meaning of a cultural identity and an ancestry one. Part of the reason for this ignorance is society’s conditioning towards ethnic biases and away from reality. More precisely, we know any number of things that could help us avoid the problem of identity. Namely, only one race of human beings exists today, Homo sapiens; the Homo sapiens originated in Africa so all Homo sapiens will have a degree of African ancestry in their DNA. While these testing programs like 23andMe and Ancestry.com might be able to show ethnic relations, they cannot indicate race. Why?  Bahrampour noted, “There is no DNA category for race, because a genetic marker for it does not exist.”If some programs inform customers that they belong to a certain race or races then the program is a scam. That information might be difficult for some people to accept because they want to believe something else.

The concept of race by color in America is undergoing a rapid change due to the demographics as the article reported: “In recent years, multiracial Americans have increasingly entered the national consciousness. Between 1970 to 2013, the portion of babies living with two parents of different races rose from 1 percent to 10 percent, the Pew Research Center found.” In addition, “From 2010 to 2016, those who identified as being of two or more races grew by 24 percent, according to census data, a jump that could have had as much to do with the changing way in which Americans identify themselves as an actual increase in the racially mixed population.”

While this Bahrampour article was interesting and informative, it was disappointing in the final analysis because it continued to use the language that keeps the conundrum alive and well. She informed the readers that no DNA marker exists for a category of race. Subsequently, if no category for races exists, then no way to identify that races exists as well. So, why continue to promote the myth and add to the confusion by using the terms race, racist, racial, mixed-race, and multiracial? Of course, she was seeking the responses of other people, not making judgments or pronouncements on her own relative to race and DNA,

In her article, her use of the terms European-American, and African-American indicates the changes taking place in the media moving away from the stereotype of black and white. We know that just simple steps as small as these can help to change the perceptions of many Americans who view themselves through a color.

Paul R. Lehman, Mother Jones article, “Are You A Racist?” falls short on logic

December 12, 2014 at 8:14 pm | Posted in African American, American Racism, amygdala, blacks, discrimination, DNA, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, justice, justice system, liberty, Prejudice, race, racism, skin color, skin complexion, socioeconomics | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

In a current (January/February 2015) article by Chris Mooney in “Mother Jones,” “Are You Racist? Science is beginning to unmask the bigot inside your brain,” we are introduced to a number of tests, exercises, games and other activities that are focused on helping to identify and control our prejudice. Most of the tests and activities involve our association with things that seemingly feed into our prejudices. Unfortunately, the article failed to achieve its objective if that objective was to help us identify ourselves as racist and to try to address the problem in a rational way.
The first problem in the article was its failure to define racist. Had the term racist been defined, then we would have a basis from which to launch a rational discussion. Racist is a spin-off of the term race that is generally associated with science. The concept of race in America is based on an illusion, a creation, and a lie when it becomes plural, as in black race and white race. As far as science is concerned, the only race we need be socially concerned with is the human race, and it is not based or defined by skin color.
Rather than making clear or defining the terms African American and European American, Mooney uses the words black and white interchangeably with them respectively. These terms are not interchangeable—they have separate and unique meanings; that is, all blacks are not or consider themselves African Americans, and all whites are not nor do they consider themselves European Americans. The article does not make that distinction. Consider the following statement regarding the test referred to as Implicit Association Test: “The test asks you to rapidly categorize images of faces as either “African American” or “European American” while you also categorize words (like “evil,” “happy,” “awful,” and “peace”) as either “good” or “bad.” Faces and words flash on the screen, and you tap a key, as fast as you can, to indicate which category is appropriate.
Sometimes you’re asked to sort African American faces and “good” words to one side of the screen. Other times, black faces are to be sorted with “bad” words.”
We notice the shift from African American faces to black faces in the about quote and this is no exception regarding these terms; it happens throughout the article. According to Mooney these tests and activities were created to measure ethnic prejudice in society, but seemingly overlook the fact that we were born into an ethnically biased society. Our perspectives are based on our social conditioning. The assumption made in the article is unrealistic:
“You think of yourself as a person who strives to be unprejudiced, but you can’t control these split-second reactions. As the milliseconds are being tallied up, you know the tale they’ll tell: When negative words and black faces are paired together, you’re a better, faster categorizer. Which suggests that racially biased messages from the culture around you have shaped the very wring of your brain.”
For the most part, the article examines activities that tell us what we already know—ethnic prejudice is a part of our mental make-up and is based on our social/cultural conditioning. What we should be focusing our attention on are ways to overcome these biases. Unfortunately, the article never debunks the notion of race as unacceptable but instead moves to the concept of tribalism as rationale. We know the benefits associated with tribal membership: identity, security, comfort, value, unity to mention as few.
Mooney’s visit with the scientist, David Amodio, a member of New York University’s psychology department, acquaints him with research regarding the brain, tribalism and prejudice: “One simple, evolutionary explanation for our innate tendency toward tribalism is safety in numbers. You’re more likely to survive an attack from a marauding tribe if you join forces with your buddies. And primal fear of those not in the in-group also seems closely tied to racial bias.” The professor added that his “research suggests that one key area associated with prejudice is the amygdala, a small and evolutionarily ancient region in the middle of the brain that is responsible for triggering the notorious “fight or flight” response.” The article continued; “In interracial situations, Amodio explains, amygdala firing can translate into anything from “less direct eye gaze and more social distance” to literal fear and vigilance toward those of other races.”
What seems apparent in this article is the fact that some scientists seem to want to verify what we already know—that prejudice exists in us and our society. The challenge is to over-come the prejudice, and we do that by educating our brains to recognize a different tribal group—the human family. One would think that the first order of business in making this shift is to first debunk to idea and concept of multiple biological races—we did it with Santa and lived through it. We certainly can do it with the illusion of race, notwithstanding Amodio’s research. We can not begin to deal with the problem of ethnic bigotry and prejudice until we face the fact that we have been living with an illusion for a few hundred years and now the time has come to face the truth.
Mooney recognized the problem of ethnic prejudice and realized that: “To be sure, it will take more than thought exercises to erase the deep tracks of prejudice America has carved through the generations.” He concludes the article with the statement: “Biases have slipped into all of our brains. And that means we all have a responsibility to recognize those biases and work to change them.” Actually, biases did not slip into our brains; in America they were cultivated through our culture, laws and social systems. One of the first things we can do is recognize that we belong to the same group by not referring to each other as black or white. What the European American needs to know is that each time he or she refers to him/herself as white, the race card is being played. Of course, the same goes for the African American and black. Ethnic bigotry, prejudice and racism will not simply disappear, it must be eradicated.

Paul R. Lehman, America as a post-racial society is foolish thinking

September 20, 2014 at 7:09 pm | Posted in Affirmative Action, African American, blacks, Civil Rights Ats, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, employment, equality, European American, fairness, identity, integregation, justice, liberty, Prejudice, President, President Obama, race, segregation, skin color, socioeconomics, U.S. Supreme Court, whites | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Shortly after President Obama was elected a cry of America being a post-racial society was heard. The thinking was that since America had elected an African American president that all the concerns about race and its negative derivatives had been addressed and was now in the past. The truth of the matter is that America has yet to deal internally with the concept of race other than to continue its illusion. What might be passing for social progress is mostly illusion since not much has changed for the betterment of African Americans relative to employment, education, and incarceration. Certainly, we can point to a number of areas where African American involvement and participation in society have made them more visible, but that visibility usually underscores their ethnicity rather than their being viewed as simply Americans. The stigma of race (ethnicity) always accompanies the African American and the attention, positive or negative, received. In a democratic society the resolution of one problem usually represents the creation of two or more problems. A case in point was school desegregation beginning in 1954. Using a phrase from Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times; it was the worse of times,” when we examine some of the repercussion visited on African Americans as a result of desegregation.
Education in America prior to the Brown decision in 1954 was separate, but certainly, not equal. Education in America can never become equal, because that term pertains to mathematics, not sociology—nothing involving human beings can ever be equal. That term was used to create an illusion of fairness. The idea that African Americans wanted to attend school alongside European American students for social reasons was false; they just wanted an education comparable to that of the European American students. Fortunately, and unfortunately, the only way to ensure that all students receive a fair and comparable education was to discontinue segregated schools. For the African American community, that created numerous problems, two of which involved education and economics.
When the schools were segregated, the African American students were the recipients of information relative to African American history, past and present–information that helped to created a positive self-image as well as one of self-value. The history underscored the many individuals who time and time again triumphed over challenges to achieve some measure of accomplishment. These examples helped the students to develop the courage and desire to accept the many challenges they must face in an ethnically biased society. American history from an African American perspective was not simply an objective look at past events, but a continuing story of the struggles of African Americans to gain fist-classed citizenship in America.
Once the schools were desegregated, many of the former African American teachers were dismissed in favor of European American teachers. Of course, we would be remiss if we did not note that once desegregation became the law, many European Americans who could afford it, moved to suburbs in an action that came to be known as “white flight” because they did not believe in ethnic mixing in any context, but especially at school. As a result of “white flight” the court required bussing of students to achieve desegregation. Since most of the African American schools were physically inferior to those of the European American schools, African American students were bussed to European American schools. These changes, white flight” and “bussing” had a dramatic affect on the African American students.
Once the African American students were bussed to their new schools, they had to adjust to totally new and different environments where they were generally in the minority. Without a doubt, European American students had to make adjustments as well, but they had the benefit of attending their home schools and being taught by familiar teachers. No special considerations were made for the African American students relative to their social adjustment; they were expected to simply “fall in line” along with the majority students. One major difference existed relative to the African American students involved in this desegregation experience; they no longer received or learned African American history. The fact that the majority teachers had no background and little or no knowledge of the African American historical experience, they could not bridge the ignorance gap that could have provided some insight into the problems that created the need for desegregation in the first place. In this case, all students were disadvantaged.
A second negative affect of desegregation to the African American community was the loss of an entrepreneurial class of business men and women. Once the schools became desegregated, many chain-store businesses came into the community and ended much of the “Mom and Pop” businesses that existed in the community because the chain-store business could easily offer goods, services, and products at a lower price. The smaller, African American owned businesses could not compete with the larger ones; so many African Americans who formerly worked at these businesses were displaced. So, the immediate affect of desegregation for the African American community was mixed in that while the African American students would share classrooms with European American students, and thereby receive a comparable education, the African American community would lose many of its entrepreneurial members and businesses and be changed forever.
So, the people who would like to think that America is in a post-racial present might want to reconsider that thought when they examine areas of: education, where we learn that schools today are rapidly becoming more segregated rather than integrated; or consider the wealth gap among ethnic Americans of color compared to European Americans, and the unemployment rate that contributes directly to the standard of living; or to the recent and current news items from Florida, to New York, from Illinois, to California, and places in between where young African American men have been killed by law enforcement agencies; or the fact that many of the previous accomplishments relative to social progress have been eroded, like voting rights, affirmative action, and economic upward mobility in general.
Rather than talking about a post-racial society, America should be looking at the debunking of the illusion of race. One of the primary problems in America today is that too many people do not want to face facts and the reality of those facts—race is and always has been an illusion. The idea of America as a post-racial society is an oxymoron.

Paul R. Lehman, Slavery’s legacy of privilege, for some, is still alive and well

February 26, 2014 at 7:36 pm | Posted in African American, blacks, democracy, discrimination, Disrespect, DNA, equality, European American, George Will, identity, justice, Michigan, Oklahoma, Prejudice, skin complexion, Slavery, The Oklahoman, Tulsa | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Any more, when the subjects of discrimination, prejudice, and bigotry come up in whatever venue, someone, usually European American, will always use the excuse that whatever happened in the past was not his or her fault. He or she do not have slaves or discriminate against minorities. The responses of such people reflect the ignorance of not only themselves, but also of American history. Why do they believe they have to defend the status quo? One reason is that they do not realize their desire to protect a mindset that was conditioned by ethnic prejudice. Chances are they do not realize the privileges they presently enjoy by virtue of their identity as European Americans (white or Caucasian). Although they accept the identity of white, they either do not know that it’s a myth, or refuse to believe it. However, a number of ways European Americans receive privileges can be seen every day.
European Americans see themselves and are seen as “normal” human beings. What that means is for them no race is necessary for their identity because they believe they represent the model of the human race. This myth was told them early in our country’s history and is still believed and promoted today. For example, when we read a newspaper article about some crime having been committed, if the article does not mention the ethnicity and/or skin complexion of the people in question, the reader automatically knows that the people in question are European Americans. Why? Because, if the people were other than European American, the writer of the article would have told us. The reason for the article not identifying the ethnicity of the people in the article is because they are considered normal. Let us take a look at two examples to underscore our point:
MUSKOGEE—Muskogee police are investigating after a patrol officer shot a man Thursday afternoon during a traffic stop.
Muskogee Police Cpl. Michael Mahan said officers stopped a stolen vehicle about 12:15 p.m. near the intersection of Fourth and Elgin streets.
When police attempted to take a male passenger into custody, a struggle ensued and the man was shot by a second officer when he attempted to grab the arresting officer’s gun, Mahan said.
A medical helicopter flew the wounded suspect to a Tulsa hospital. He was conscious at the time he was being flown, Mahan said. The names of the involved parties have not been released.
The car’s other occupants, the man who was driving and a female passenger, still were being questioned late Thursday afternoon but had not been arrested.
No officers were injured during the incident.
(Kendrick Marshall and Amanda Blanc, Tulsa World Staff Writers 1/3/14)
Notice carefully that no mention of color or ethnicity was mentioned in that news report, so the obvious conclusion the readers must come to is that the people involved in the incident are all European Americans. Now examine this next news report:
Police investigate shooting in NW Oklahoma City
Authorities were investigating a shooting Thursday near Northwest Expressway and Rockwell Avenue, police said.
Officers were searching for two black men and a black woman after a reported shooting about 2:10 p.m. Thursday. A male victim in serious condition was taken to OU Medical Center.
It wasn’t immediately clear what led to the shooting, said Jennifer Wardlow, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma City Police Department.
The shooting and investigation created traffic delays at the intersection. (The Oklahoman, Staff Writers, 1/3/14)
In this news story the skin complexion of two men and a woman was mentioned, but not a full description relative to size, weight, height, clothes etc. The skin complexion of the victim was not mentioned, so we can assume that he was European American. If a full description of the two men and one woman was not given as a lead relative to pursuing them, why was their skin complexion given, and why was the victim’s not given? The answer points to privilege given European Americans being seen as “normal” people, while anyone different is seen as not normal. Unfortunately, this practice is so common that most European Americans do not recognize it as being a privilege.
One example of special privilege occurred in Michigan in 2/20/13 as the headline notes: “ A Michigan hospital is under fire after a lawsuit claims it fulfilled a father’s request to have no black nurses look after his baby in the neonatal intensive care unit last fall.” If the man did not believe that he could be successful in getting his request, chances are he would not have made it. What motivated him to make the request? The point of interest in this incident is not whether or not the man’s request was honored, but the fact that it was even entertained. He, evidently, believed that as a European Americans he had the right to request and received this privilege from the hospital. He along with many other European Americans believe that American society belongs to them and they alone have the rights and privileges to receive special treatment.
As a society we have not done and still are not doing a service to ourselves and our future generations by debunking the concept of races. Like any myth, as long as we can view it objectively, we can deal with it logically, but when we make it subjective, then we have a different experience and expectation because it no longer becomes logical. Far too many people have not come to the acceptance of all human beings as one big family. George Will commented in an article, “For these we give our thanks” (Washington Post (11/28/13) that
“The story of human evolution may have been simplified by conclusions reached this year about a 1.8 million-year old skull found in the Caucasus in 2005. The earliest human remain found outside of Africa indicates that our ancestors emerged from Africa as a single species, not several species. Its brain was about one-third the size of today’s human brains.”
Some people do not want to accept the fact that as Americans, our society has changed; either we are all special with privileges and rights or something is amiss.

Paul R. Lehman, Changing America’s social conditioning a challenge for all ethnicities

November 25, 2013 at 8:40 pm | Posted in Africa, African American, American Indian, American Racism, blacks, discrimination, DNA, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, France, Human Genome, identity, Michigan, public education, skin color, Slavery, socioeconomics, South Africa, whites | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Americans are ethnically conditioned to discern other ethnic groups with one exception; that exception would be recognizing European Americans. Read any newspaper or magazine article and if the subject of the article is European American, that information is usually not stated, but assumed. If the subject of the article is other than European American, then the ethnicity is identified. The primary reason for this activity is based on the influence and control European Americans have had on Americans for several hundred years. During American slavery and shortly after the Civil War, emphasis was placed on the irrational conception of race by color; that is, society created two dominant races, one black, the other white. Ever since that creation, fruitless efforts have been made to try and make the myth reflect reality. Nonetheless, what American society has been able to do is promote the concept of multiple biological races with relative success. Along with the concept of multiple biological races came the acceptance of the European American as the only normal representative of human beings. In effect, European Americans were conditioned to see themselves as not belonging to a race or ethnic groups because they were the model of mankind. So, the inclusion or exclusion of the European American ethnic identity in the print media simple reflects that concept of normalcy.
The concept of European American as being normal manifest itself in a variety of ways daily in society. The majority of models used to sell goods and services are European American. When models of other ethnic groups are used to sell what is generally viewed as normal goods and services, they attract attention because they are not seen as normal based on how they look. For example, beauty products aired on television usually employ European American models, male and female. Today, when an ethnic American model is used in advertisement the recognition of the difference is almost immediate. Again, the reason for this recognition is based on the conditioning we as a society have been exposed to regarding what is seen as normal and what is not.
One of the great challenges we have in America today is discontinuing the misguided practice of discerning ethnic groups and then stereotyping them according to what is considered to be social norms. For each of the major ethnic groups in America today, society has a stereotype of some sore used to characterize that group. These stereotypes lend themselves to separating and dividing Americans rather than uniting them. Take, for example, the celebrations of Thanksgiving and Hanukah, occasions that serve to honor events in American and Jewish history respectively. As a diverse society America recognizes and supports the rights of the Jewish people to celebrate some of their history just as America celebrates part of its history. In effect, we are more alike as human being than we are different. We need to learn to accentuate our similarities rather then focus on our differences. First, however, we must become aware of how we continue to separate ourselves.
A recent headline from USA Today identified the movie The Best Man Holiday as having a race theme. That assessment was probably due to the fact that the cast was predominantly African American. The suggestion implied from the reference to race is that because of the color of the majority of the cast, the movie’s theme had to be about race. A number of concerns are presented with the assumption of a movie being associated with a race; first is the acceptance of the false assumption of multiple races, and second is the assumption that skin complexion determines a so-called race. We need to clear the air on the two false assumptions.
If a statement is made about a movie being a race-theme production, then the idea of either a black or some other colored race is intended, because movies using European Americans are considered normal. The faulty logic in a statement referring to a race theme movie is that no such race exists. If the reference is to a so-called black race, then any movie with a cast of people of color, regardless of their geography or culture would be considered black. For example, a movie made in Nigeria, with a Nigerian cast, or in South Africa, with a South African cast, or in Brazil with a Brazilian cast would all be considered a race theme movie, because of the skin complexion of the cast members. However, a movie made in England with an English cast, or Germany, with a German cast, or France, with a French cast would simply be a movie because of the skin complexion of the cast members. We can readily understand just how ridiculous the concept of race by color is confusing and useless.
Because Americans are conditioned to see race based on color, they also accept the idea of so-called racial differences associated with the stereotypes. In essence, a so-called race theme movie would depict the elements of love, hate, happiness, and the range of human emotions based on the idea of some specific so-called race. Therefore, following that logic, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet performed by African Americans would be a play with a race theme. How stupid are we?
We, as a society could eliminate a large part of the ignorance and stupidity by forgoing the use of the terms black and white and their reference to so-called races. We know, but need to accept, the fact that only one human race exists, and we are all part of it. Every American belongs to the human family regardless of his or her ethnicity. We readily acknowledge the cultural differences that economic, education, geography, and social standing represent, but all those things are man-made. When we take the time to observe and examine our differences, we learn quickly that we are more alike than different and that movies, regardless of the skin complexion of the cast, are about human beings and the challenges they face learning to live with one another

Paul R. Lehman, “shopping while black” is profiling ignorance that can be fixed

November 4, 2013 at 5:51 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, Bigotry in America, blacks, democracy, discrimination, discrimination lawsuit, Disrespect, Equal Opportunity, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, minority, Swiss | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Although the phrase “shopping while black” has been used recently, the practice has been in effect since African Americans first started shopping. To those readers who are not familiar with this practice, an explanation is in order. Recently, the Associated Press reported a story (10-30-13) that focused on the problem of “Shopping while black.” The article related how a young African American teenager walked into a Manhattan luxury store and purchased a $350 belt. Shortly after he left the store he was arrested. Evidently, someone in the store thought that he could not afford the belt, so something had to be amiss with the purchase. What would cause the store personnel to question the sale to this buyer?
Americans are conditioned by society to base some actions on what we see and how we translate what we see. The image of the African American by many in society consists of negative stereotypes that reflect a variety of socially unacceptable characteristics such as a lack of sophistication, due to a lack of education and experiences generally reserved for the wealthy; a lack of finance, due to the lack of quality and high-paying jobs; and a propensity for crafty deceitfulness, stealing, and lying. In addition, majority society tends to picture African Americans, especially young males, as violent and dangerous, so one should avoid contact with them whenever possible.
The irony of the negative concept held by many European Americans towards African Americans and other ethnic Americas is that the African American generations beginning with the ‘80s are not aware of how they are viewed, so they act as if they can enjoy the same freedoms and privileges experienced by the European Americans. What they are discovering today is that the stigma of negative stereotypes still exists. The concept is not restricted to the U.S. since we learned that Oprah Winfrey was denied access to a $38,000 handbag because the Swiss sales clerk decided Winfrey could not possibly afford it. Being denied the opportunity to examine the merchandise is one problem; the greater problem comes after the African American customer has left the store.
The article tells of the experience Trayon Christian encountered after he left Barney’s New York; “it was what happened afterwards. In a lawsuit filed last week, the 19-year-old said that he bought a Ferragamo belt at the Manhattan store, and when he left he was accosted by undercovered city police officers.” What we further discover relative to the negative concepts held by the sales clerks is that the police also hold the same or similar views of African Americans as the article showed: “According to the lawsuit, police said Christian ‘could not afford to make such an expensive purchase.’ He was arrested and detained, though he showed police the receipt, the debt card he used and identification…” Obviously, African Americans shopping at high-dollar stores are being profiled and will continue to be until some changes in the image of African Americans are made.
One of the contributing factors to the profiling of African Americans shopping in high-dollar stores has to do with who is involved in the experience. In the article we were told that “Skewed views can affect who gets arrested for retail theft, said Jerome Williams, a business professor at Rutgers University who has studied marketplace discrimination.” He stated that “Many people justify racial profiling by saying that black customers are more likely to steal. But one study has shown that white women in their 40s engage in more shoplifting than other demographic groups…” Part of the problem of profiling comes from the fact that women of color are not seen in high-dollar stores as frequently as are European American women. When the sales clerks and police see the European American women, nothing seems out of the ordinary, because the European American women look like the clerks and the police.
Filing lawsuits against high-dollar stores for discriminating and profiling is one way to get their attention; another way would be to indoctrinate people in management and service at these large (and small) stores urging them to treat all people the same. Of course we know that neither of these suggestions will eliminate the problem of profiling, but they could raise the awareness of the people involved. We as a society continue to delude ourselves into thinking that much progress has been made regarding how we treat one another. Yet, when we read about ways African Americans are treated on a daily bases whether driving, walking, or shopping we have to question, when will it stop?
Many European Americans when they learn of ethnic profiling try to down-play it because they have never encountered it. They try to convince themselves and others that the occurrences of profiling are few and far between and usually isolated cases. The fact is just the opposite of the belief. The article referenced a young lady, Natasha Eubanks, who stated that “It’s one thing if you don’t understand. But don’t ever tell me it doesn’t happen to me.” Eubanks who shops frequently in high-end stores in New York City stated that “You can’t assume it doesn’t happen just because it doesn’t happen to you.”
On the positive side, the ignorance generally associated with profiling can be fixed. Yes, we can learn that ethnic minorities are in many ways like European Americans in that they represent a wide variety of incomes, education and finance. To lump them all in the same basket of negative stereotypes does a disservice to all concerned. The insult that accompanies the injury of being profiled is the arrest which can create a multitude of problems involving police, lawyers, and incarceration. In some instances the profiling has led to personal injury and death.
The social conditioning of many European Americans causes them to view African Americans as well as other ethnic Americans with suspicion because of ignorance and a lack of exposure to a variety of non-European Americans representing a stratum of society that encompasses the working class to the wealthy. If the victims of shopping while black continue to file lawsuits against the stores, chances are the ignorance will start to disappear. Ben Franklin once said something to the effect that experience is a hard taskmaster, but some will learn in no other school.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.