Paul R. Lehman,Trump’s statement to police underscores ethnic bias in criminal justice system

August 6, 2017 at 1:27 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American Indian, Bigotry in America, blacks, Civil War, criminal activity, democracy, Department of Justice, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, fairness, Freddie Gray, justice, justice system, Oklahoma, police force, Prejudice, President Trump, protest, race, Race in America, racism, respect, skin color, social justice system, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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What are Americans to think when their President tells law enforcement members to break the law and abuse citizens who have been arrested and when questioned about his statements, they are passed off as if they were jokes? Why would the President want to joke about asking or telling the police to break the laws they are hired to enforce and follow and to abuse the citizens while doing so? To make matters worse, the President aimed his words for the unjust, unlawful, and abusive treatment of people of color. Through his comments, he gave permission to police officers to express their ethnic biases with physical violence and abuse of the people of color.

European Americans have been conditioned to view African Americans as criminals and less than first-class human beings. The media since before the Civil War have pictured and described African American in a negative and unflattering context. That practice still exists today, to a great extent. So, when the President made the statement about police officers throwing thugs in the back of a “Paddy wagon” (his words which are considered a pejorative phrase regarding the Irish) the immediate reference goes to Freddie Gray, the young African American man who died from injuries incurred from being put in a police van without proper restraints. None of the police officers were held responsible for Gray’s death. So the President, evidently, saw nothing wrong with the way citizens, especially African American citizens, are treated by the police.

A point of interest relative to the President’s statement is the fact that he used the term “those thugs” rather than citizen or person. The term “thug” when used in a certain context and by certain people like the President, is a direct reference to African Americans. In his recently released book, CHOKEHOLD [Policing Black Men] Paul Butler, a former prosecutor and presently a Georgetown University Professor, devoted a chapter of his book on “Constructing the Thug.” In that chapter, he explained that “the construction of the thug [is] based on the presumption that every African American man is a criminal. It is important to remember that this is a rebuttable presumption: African American men can do things to communicate that we are not dangerous.” In addition, he added that “It would not be an understatement to say that the vast majority of black men engage in those kinds of performances every time we step out of the house. It’s also true that many people can and do treat individual African American men with respect and kindness.”The overwhelming sentiment relative to police behavior towards African Americans is based on fear, anxiety, and the presumption of them as criminals. Those feelings are enough to clear the bar and justify the unjust, unlawful, violent, and abusive treatment of African Americans.

When the President made his statements relative to how the police officer should treat ‘thug’s he was standing in front of a large number of police officers. To the surprise of many top law enforcement agents, police chiefs, and others in authority, many of the officers in the President’s background smiled and applauded their approval of his comments. Why? Many applauded because they felt relieved that the President agreed with the way some police officers treat African American citizens. The comments served as encouragement to officers to continue their unlawful and abusive treatment of citizens of color. One wonders if some of those officers joined the force, not to protect and serve, but to harass and punish African Americans for being African Americans.

Many of the police chiefs and enforcement leaders were quick to call the Presidents statements, not in keeping with the law and practices of law enforcement, and issued statements to the effect that their departments will not tolerate the rough treatment of prisoners nor will violations be taken lightly. Some others police leaders underscored the fact that training focused on treating all citizens with respect and dignity.

Not all police officials felt the President’s statements were out of order: “For example, Detective Stephen Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, excused Trump’s comments in a statement to CNN as ‘completely taken out of context by the racially exclusive and divisive profiteers’ seeking to question Trump’s support of all law-abiding citizens…”  Loomis included “the law enforcement officers that live and work among [law abiding citizens] them.” In other words, as far as Loomis is concerned all law enforcement officers are perfect; they make no mistakes or break laws and arrest only citizens who break the law. Everyone, according to Loomis, should realize that the President was simply joking when he made those comments. The concept of innocent before proven guilty for those arrested seems to have lost its value among some police union representatives.

The President’s comments, whether serious or not, makes the assumption that when police officers arrest African Americans and people of color that official protocol can be dispensed with in favor of officers acting as judge, jury, and executioner. In many of the recent video showing police abuse of African Americans and other people of color, male and female, law-abiding citizens see for themselves how some citizens of color are treated by some law enforcement officers. If the trend continues, one will have to ask where the law-abiding officers are hiding. Many American citizens turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to these unlawful and abusive happenings simply because they think they are not directly implicated in them. However, nothing could be further from the truth because when an officer is caught breaking the law and he or she is exonerated from a criminal quilt, many are sued and found guilty in civil court. The involvement of the law-abiding citizen comes into play when an officer and his or her department are sued in civil court.

The cost to the uninvolved law-abiding citizens for not holding the criminal justice system responsible for the abuses committed by its officers is large and growing. Unfortunately, many African Americans and other people of color have suffered abuse and often death at the hands of police officers and in return sued the police in civil court. Recently, in Oklahoma City, two African American men who had their murder convictions overturned have both sued the state for $32 million each. One former inmate has already settled his case; the other is yet to be adjudicated.

When the unlawful, unjust, and abusive treatment of citizens start to make a greater impact on the uninvolved law-abiding citizens, then they will join with citizens working to change the criminal justice system and make it serve all citizens fairly, justly, and lawfully. Living in a democracy requires all to learn that injustice for some is an injustice for all.

Paul R. Lehman, President Obama signed a bill eliminating the word Negro that signals change in identities

August 15, 2016 at 11:24 pm | Posted in African American, American history, American Indian, American Racism, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, discrimination, DNA, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, Hispanic whites, identity, immigration, law, minority, Non-Hispanic white, President Obama, public education, Race in America, skin color, skin complexion, Slavery, U. S. Census, U.S. Supreme Court, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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When Africans were brought to this country and enslaved, one of the first things taken from them was their identity. Taking away their identity was important because it represented the history of who they were and that they were valued. Although each enslaved African would be given a slave name, they would all be commonly called black or negro because of their skin color. The African identity was taken away from the enslaved, but the slave sellers and owners knew who they were, what they did (farmer, fisherman, craftsman, etc…) and where they were from because their selling price would be influenced by that information.

An example of the value of the African’s identity was underscored in a 1764 poem by James Grainger, “The Sugar Cane.” This poem was constructed using four parts called books; the fourth book, “On the Genius of Africa,” shows the value of a slaver knowing the identity of the African captives: “Negroes when bought should be young and strong. The Congo-Negroes are fitter for the house and trades, than for the field. The Gold-Coast, but especially the Papaw-Negroes, make the best field-Negroes: but even these, if advanced in years, should not be purchased.” This information focuses on males, for females the advice is when looking for a sound Negro: “Where the men do nothing but hunt, fish or fight, all the field drudgery is left to the women: these are to be preferred to their husbands.” The reference continues for males: “The Minnahs make good tradesmen, but addicted to suicide. The Mundingoes, in particular, subject to worms; and the Congas, to dropsical disorders.”(The Making of the Negro in Early American Literature, Paul R. Lehman, 2nd edition, Fountainhead Press, 2006, P. 38)

For enslaved Africans in America, their identity was taken away so their history and value would be tied to American slavery. If the only identity an enslaved person had was that of being American black or Negro (both terms mean the same) then they did not exist except in the system of slavery. The only personal identity they had linked them to their owner, as in the reference—John Smith’s Negro, “Tom.” During the early 1700’s,the term for slave went from Negro and black to simply “slave” due to the common coupling of the two phrase “black slave” or “Negro slave.” However, many of the enslaved were still Europeans and American Indians, but the majority of the enslaved was African/ African American.

Once the government instituted the system of white supremacy and black inferiority, race by color became an important part of personal identity in American society. Americans were no longer able to identity with a particular ethnic or culture group. Kamala Kelkar, (PBS NEWSHOUR, 5/22/2016), noted that “In 1790, the U.S. Census counted people by lumping them into one of three categories—slaves, free white females and males, or all other free persons.”The most important identity an American could have or want to have was white. The most damning identity one could have was that of either slave or Negro.

Immigration to American from around the world, but especially Eastern and Southern Europe brought many changes to the invented concept of race. Although most European immigrants were not referred to as white, they all were willing to give-up their cultural identity to be called white. For people of color, the term Negro was used regardless of their place of birth outside of the U.S. As recently as 2010, the Census form still included the term Negro or black, but the list for other people of color had expanded. Kelkar explained that “The Department of Energy Act has for decades described “minorities” as, “Negro, Puerto Rican, American Indian, Eskimo, Oriental, or Aleut or as a Spanish-speaking individual of Spanish descent.”Because of the system of white supremacy and black inferiority, people of color were identified as “minorities.”

For over two-hundred years the words race and ethnicity were generally undefined and used indiscriminately to the confusion of all, especially the U.S. Census. As recent as 2010, Americans in a number of categories were told on the Census form to identify themselves as white, if they could not find an identity that suited them. This group included mixed-ethnic individuals such as Asian Americans, American Indians, and Hispanics. In effect, the concept of race by color had reached a point of meaninglessness. The problem was that the terms race was interpreted as pertaining to multiple biological groups of human beings or ethnic groups. The fact is that only one race of human beings exists—Homo sapiens. Ethnicity or ethnic groups pertains to the variety of cultural groups within the human race.

Every human being on the planet Earth has two identities—one ancestral or ethnic, one cultural. The ancestral or ethnic identity is represented by a person’s biological parents; the cultural is the identity the individual selects. For example, an Asian American has Asian as an ancestral identity, and American as the cultural which he or she embraces. The terms Negro and black do not allow for either identity nor does the terms white and Caucasian.  Fortunately, things are about to change.

President Barack Obama just recently signed H.R. 4238 “which amends two federal acts from the 70’s that define “minorities” with terms that are now insensitive or outdated.” In addition, the bill was sponsored by Rep. Grace Meng, D-NY, with 74 Democratic co-sponsors and two Republican ones;” it passed with 380 votes. The two words removed from the books are Negro and Oriental. According to Kelkar “The new bill changes the language to, ‘Asian American, Native Hawaiian, a Pacific Islander, African American, Hispanic, Puerto Rican, Native American or Alaska Native.’”

The changes in identity were inevitable because race by color was an invention based on false assumptions and beliefs. Black or Negro and white or Caucasian were never biological categories of the human race but were put in place because of the government’s control. No one ever came to America with only the identity of black, Negro, or Caucasian or white; they always had an ancestral and cultural identity. Once in America, however, the Europeans recognized the value of being identified as white and so the abandoned their ancestral and cultural identity for white. People of color coming to America realized the stigma associated with being call Negro or black and usually decided to retain their ancestral and cultural identity. Now the people of color who were previously called Negro can be specific in their ancestral and cultural identity—African American. For whites and Caucasians, no official changes have been made although the term European Americans was used on occasion by the Supreme Court, but they always had the freedom to identify themselves using their ancestral identity such as Irish, Italian, Polish, German, etc. In any event, the fact is that identity-based on race by color is rapidly being deconstructed.

Paul R. Lehman, Actions speak louder than words.

April 22, 2016 at 2:22 pm | Posted in African American, American Indian, criminal activity, discrimination, education, equality, European American, justice, law enforcement agencies, lower class, minority, Oklahoma, police force, poor, poverty, public education, Public housing, race, social justice system, socioeconomics | 4 Comments
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What can be frustrating to many people who attend public panel discussions that focus on a particular concern is the lack of resolution to the problem; that is, they leave the event with a few new data, but nothing to build or act on. For example, a recent public panel discussion on the “Mass Incarceration in Oklahoma: When Will It End?”Featured on the panel were representatives from the clergy, the state legislature, and the criminal justice system. The obvious and over-riding question for the panel was “Why are so many people being sent to prison in Oklahoma?”

The first panel member was from the clergy and he spoke to the problems involving the laws that place an unfair hardship on poor people and people of color. He mentioned the laws that treat minor violations as major ones such as small quantities of marijuana or drugs found in the possession of first-time offenders. In Oklahoma the law involving possession of drugs calls for prison time regardless for the person’s criminal record or lack of one. He continued in casting blame on the state and what was referred to as the “Criminal Prison Complex System,” that view prison as economic engines and fosters a climate of greed. References were made to the State’s high ranking nationally for incarceration in general, but also for the disparity of African Americans and Hispanic Americans in the prison population compared to the general population. The number one national ranking of women incarcerated in Oklahoma was underscored. The basic response of the clergy’s representative to the question was simply greed.

The second panel speaker represented the state legislature and non-profit organizations working to decrease the rate of the poor being incarcerated. The audience was greeted with information relative to the number and variety of programs that are meant to help relieve the number of people in poverty who are constantly being incarcerated for lack of funds to pay fees and fines. He focused on the need for attention and treatment of the mentally ill and drug addicts who would benefit greatly from pre-prison programs which would not destroy their efforts to rebuild their lives without a prison record. His response to the question of mass incarceration was a lack of funding for the programs that could help to eliminate the prison over-crowding conditions. He lamented that unfortunately, with the state suffering from a budget deficit of over one billion dollars, the likelihood of any programs receiving relief was slim to none at the present time.

The third and final panel speaker represented the criminal justice system; he brought with him many years of service in the law enforcement area. He defended the system by first disagreeing with the clergy with respect to the lack of fairness towards the poor and people of color. He maintained that every person in prison was there because he or she committed a crime or was found guilty by a jury. In essence, the people in prison are there because they deserve to be there. In his staunch defense of the system he never made reference to the system of poverty and neglect that the low socio-economic level of society experience or the exploitation they receive because they are easy prey. As far as he was concerned the system of criminal justice was totally impartial towards all citizens and made no difference because of ethnic, social, or economic status. His response to the question of mass incarceration was due to a lack of family values, education, and unemployment.

The responses of each panel member were offered to show how an audience can become frustrated when no one actually addressed the question. Each representative had a response, but not an answer to the question of why the mass incarceration. What they had to say was related directly to the problem of incarceration, but more to the effects of the system in place rather than an alternative to the system to decrease the prison population. If all we had to do in order to solve a problem is to say the words that identified how it could or should be resolved, then no problem would too big to solve.

Unfortunately, the panel never approached the real issue involving mass incarnation because they were talking at each other rather than communicating with one another. An example should underscore the problem. If the three panel members were riding in a car and suddenly to car started to move erratically, one might suggest that the cause is the rough road; another might say the cause was maybe a flax tire, still the third one might suggest in might be a problem with the car. All three individuals might be correct to an extent, but they will never know for certain until they stop the car, get out and look for the cause of the problem. If it turns out to be a flax tire, they must decide if they will changes the flax tire and put on the spare, or call the auto club to come and fix the problem or should they call someone to come and pick them up and deal with the car later. First, the three people must agree that the problem is the flat tire. Once they agree on that, they must also agree on what plan of action to take. Finally, they must put the plan of action into effect or all their efforts will have gone for nothing.

What panel discussion organizers and participants should keep in mind when offering problem solving information are plans that can be put into effect to address solving the problem. Most people know what the problem is and how it manifests itself with them and the community. They want to know how to go about resolving the problem—do they sign petitions, join protest groups, donate money to organizations fight for the cause, start groups, write letters? The people want to be given an avenue of approach for working toward resolving the problem. Words are important, but change comes from action.

Paul R. Lehman, People of color want just and fair treatment from the law

July 20, 2014 at 10:45 pm | Posted in African American, blacks, equality, European American, fairness, justice, Oklahoma, Prejudice, whites | 1 Comment
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Eric Garner of Staten Island, New York, an African American man, was put in a chokehold, a procedure against NYPD policy, for allegedly selling single cigarettes. He was physically subdued and taken into police custody (July 2014).
Luis Rodriguez of Moore, Oklahoma, a Hispanic American, was physically detained for questioning by the police outside a local theatre relative to a domestic matter involving only his wife and daughter. He was physically subdued and taken into police custody (Feb.2014).
Often times when African Americans or Hispanic Americans complain about the unjust treatment of the police in relations to them, some Americans think that those claims are far-fetched. Usually, those not thinking the claims are unjust and false are European Americans whose relationship with the police is different—non violent and generally positive. The recent incident of New York Police’s actions involving an unharmed, African American man, Eric Garner, created a variety of questions about the police, their training relative to people of color, and society.
Because of past experiences involving the police (not just in New York) and people of color, we know the importance of eye-witness and video accounts of these incidents. One fact is certain involving the police actions is that without creditable eye-witness and video accounts of an incident, the police’s word is accepted above and beyond what any citizen has to say. Even with eye-witness and video accounts, most cases where police extreme force is alleged and death or injury to a citizen occurs, the police actions is usually found to be justified. Evidently, the only actions evaluated during these types of incidents are those of the policemen; the citizens are usually presumed to be at fault. Why is it the case that police use more force in encountering people of color?
The recent case of extreme force in New York involving an African American man shares a number of similar things with a recent case in the Oklahoma City area involving Luis Rodriguez, a Hispanic man. In both cases, numerous policemen were involved in the physical altercation. The first thing these two cases have in common involves the apparent haste by the police to physically subdue them. What seems out of reasonable thought is the lack of patience by the police to converse with the citizen when little or not threat of harm is imminent. Common decency would suggest that the police would want to get information relative the situation before initiating any physical action. That was not the case in the two incidents in question. Rather than trying to become informed about the situation, the police, as the videos show, simply order the men to submit to being arrested and placed in handcuffs without any stated cause for their actions.
In both cases, when the men try to speak to the police in an effort to understand the police orders to be handcuffed, the police apparently interpreted their actions as refusing to obey a command and begin immediately to physically subdue them. Why? Are the police taught during their training that physical restraints are necessary for all subjects regardless of what their offense might be? Why do the police not take more time to discern the situation before resorting to physical action against a subject? Is there a time limit involved in making an arrest? The actions of the police appear to be a rush-to-judgment rather than the use of rational judgment as in these two cases.
In addition, the lack of patience and communications demonstrated by the police in these two cases, the use of physical force as seen on the videos is appalling. We must keep in mind that the two victims did not have weapons nor were they attacking the police—they were trying to get information as to why they were being arrested. However, as soon as the order was given by the police, if the victim did not act immediately in compliance with that order, he was physically restrained. What seemed appalling during the physical restraint by the police was the lack of resistance from the victim. One notices that not two or three policemen are involved in the restraining but usually four or more. The actions of the police involved in the restraining resembled something like a scene from a National Geographic video where some lionesses have just made a kill, and the rest of the pride comes in to take part in the feast.
What was generally missing from the total incident was the rationale for treating the victim like a wild animal, rather than a human being. Once the victims are on the ground and under control why press their heads into the concrete; they have been subdued, and not fighting, why keep applying unnecessary pressure and pain? What seemed out of place to most objective viewers of these incidents were the inhuman and unjust actions of the police. Where does the mantra of to “Serve and Protect” enter the minds of the police? All the police seem to be in agreement when subduing a subject and applying unnecessary force, because not a single one finds the action not in keeping with proper conduct or try to prevent or discourage the others from their action. The actions of these officers are more a disservice to the police force than a service in that the impression one takes away from viewing these videos is one of callous disregards for the feelings of a human being.
In each incident, the victims told the police that they could not breathe. In each case, the words, and pleas of the victims were disregarded. Once they stopped breathing, no immediate medical assistance was offered. Both victims died. The irony of their deaths is that neither of these men had committed a crime that warranted arrest; at worse, had they been treated with respect and dignity as a human being, they probably would have been given a citation. In effect, the only crime, if we can call it a crime, these men are guilty of is not responding immediately to the policeman’s order to submit to being arrested.
The cases of Garner and Rodriguez, two men of color follow a long list of other victims of unjust and unfair treatment by some members of police forces across the country. Why is it that a herd mentality seems to take over when some police confront people of color? We suggest that in addition to honoring the mantra “To Serve and Protect” that police receive training in recognizing the challenges involved with treating human beings with respect and dignity regardless of how they look. The officers should be trained to think of themselves as being in the subject’s place. The phrases “We are Family,” and “Patience is a virtue, “if considered by police, would go a long way in helping police do a better job in closing the gap in their relationship with people of color.

Paul R. Lehman, The ignorance and stupidity of race rears it head on Fox News

December 16, 2013 at 9:49 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American Dream, American Indian, American Racism, blacks, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, Disrespect, DNA, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, Hispanic whites, Human Genome, identity, immigration, integregation, justice, liberty, Media and Race, minority, Non-Hispanic white, Prejudice, Race in America, segregation, skin color, skin complexion, Slavery, U. S. Census, White on Arrival, whites | 1 Comment
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Christopher Morley once said that “If you have to keep reminding yourself of a thing, perhaps it isn’t so.” That particular scenario seems to be the case with America and its attachment to the conception and perception of race. For far too many years, many people have been trying to prove the existence of race by color and/or geography to no avail. They have gone to enormous lengths to try and prove their assumptions to the point of creating official sounding terms to underscore their belief, trusting that no one will recognize the fallacy behind the initial assumption. In America, many people still believe that such a thing as multiple biological races exist in spite of the over-whelming evidence to the contrary. Some Americans, like Morley’s suggested needs to remind themselves why they see themselves as black, white or other. Maybe it is because it isn’t so.
The American system of education failed to provide accurate information to the students concerning the myth of race. Many Americans grew-up believing that only three major races existed—one black, one white, one miscellaneous. In essence, the people who came to America as our founding fathers were, for the most part, Anglo-Saxons. They held the beliefs that they were superior to all other men because they were the model God used to make the rest of mankind, and next, they believed that God had given American specifically to them. The concept of race they employed early on was based on color, and that worked for many years because they controlled society. However, in the early 1800’s things began to change when the Anglo-Saxons began to realize that the new immigrants did not measure up to their expectations. They did not see whiteness as a sign of racial identity.
Matthew Frye Jacobson in his book, WHITENESS OF A DIFFERENT COLOR, told about the European immigration problem from 1840 to 1924 and how it caused “a fracturing of whiteness into a hierarchy of plural and scientifically determined white races.” These new immigrants were considered to be not as good as the old Anglo-Saxons. Since the old Anglo-Saxon leaders could not accept these new immigrant whites as true whites, a new racial category was made for them “and granted the scientific stamp of authenticity as the unitary Caucasian race—an earlier era’s Celts, Slavs, Hebrews, Iberics, and Saracens, among others….”
The nation’s concern with immigrants being “white people” led to the creation of the Johnson-Reed Act, (1924) an immigration policy that placed emphasis on so-called race. The policy created an opening for the not-so-white to join the club through assimilation “(the process by which the Irish, Russian, Jews, Poles, and Greeks became Americans)” and “racial alchemy (the process by which Celts, Hebrews, Slavs and Mediterraneans became Caucasians). “ In addition, “The European immigrants’ experience was decisively shaped by their entering an arena where Europeanness –that is to say, whiteness– was among the most important possession one could lay claim to.” Ironically, Herbert Fisher, author of A HISTORY EUROPE (1925), commented that “Purity of race does not exist. Europe is a continent of energetic mongrels.”
The challenges of immigrant identity can be found in American history if one looks carefully enough; the concern with the concept of white races diminished greatly after 1925. The emphasis on the concept of there being three races, although a fallacy, did not decrease, but actually increased because the country experienced growing pains through civil right movements that called attention to the principles of democracy concerning the rights and privileges of all Americans being abused and ignored. America is still left with the conundrum of the myth of race.
After many years of study and research America as well as the world knows that only one race of human being exist. Yet, as a society, America has failed to debunk the myth of race which does a disservice to us and our youth. How can we expect our youth to accept the findings of DNA scientists who say we are all one family of human beings, or anthropologists who have mapped the origin of the human race and its peopling of the earth, if we still hold on firmly to the myth of a black race, white race, and a Mongoloid race? On one hand we tell ourselves and our children that all people are alike and that we should not discriminate against one another. Then, one the other hand, we talk about ourselves and others as being biologically different when we identify ourselves as black, or white or other. Ambiguity rules the day. Just what do we want our children to learn?
To add to the ignorance and stupidly relative to the conception and perception of race by color, just recently(12/12/13), a Fox News show host, Megyn Kelly, responded to a statement made by an African American about the possibility of Santa Claus being black. Kelly responded that “Jesus was a white man, too. It’s like we have a historical figure that’s a verifiable fact, as is Santa”(POLITICO.COM). If anyone knows about the myth of Santa Claus, they know that the real life man, St. Nicholas, was a monk from Turkey and that Jesus was born to a Jewish family in the Middle East. Neither man would be considered white in America; they might have passed as Caucasians to someone who subscribes to that line of thought.
By the way, people who define themselves as Caucasians should know that their so-called race did not exist prior to the 1800s:
The concept of a Caucasian race or Varietas Caucasia was developed around 1800 by Johann Blumenbach, a German scientist and classical anthropologist. Blumenbach named it after the Caucasian people (from the Southern Caucasus region), whom he considered to be the archetype for the grouping. He based his classification of the Caucasian race primarily on craniology [the size and shape of the head].(America’s Race Matters)
As a society, we know that the concept of multiple biological races is a myth; yet, many people hold on to the concept as though their very lives depended on it. And some might say that it does if their belief in their skin complexion makes them different from the rest of humankind. Eventually, our society will make it to that place where intelligence will dictate the measure of a person’s identity and character, not some out-dated myth that plays to our lowest elements of ignorance and prejudice. As Morley said, if we have to keep reminding ourselves of the thing, “maybe it isn’t so.”

Paul R. Lehman, Arrest of African American teens waiting for the bus show challenges for law enfforcement

December 9, 2013 at 8:56 pm | Posted in Affirmative Action, African American, Bigotry in America, blacks, democracy, discrimination, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, Hispanic whites, justice, minority, Prejudice, Race in America, USA Today, whites | 2 Comments
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By now, many people have heard the story of the arrest of three African American high school basketball players in Rochester, N.Y. for refusing to move away from the sidewalk where they were standing waiting to catch a school bus. Their coach had told them to wait at that location for a school bus which would take them to a school where they would play a scrimmage game. The arrest reportedly occurred when a police officer ordered the teens to move away from their location. At least one of the teens tried to inform the office that they were only following the orders of their coach. The explanation was not accepted, if even heard, by the office that proceeded to handcuff the teens. The basketball coach arrived on the scene to see his players handcuffed and in the custody of the officer. The coach’s explanation as to why the teens were waiting for the bus in that location was also ignored by the officer. The officer even threatened the coach with arrest if he did not stay out of the incident.
The teens were taken to jail where their parents had to pay $200 for release of their sons on bail. Fortunately, after the District Attorney reviewed what had transpired, she dismissed “the charges in the interest of justice.” The Rochester Police Chief said, however, that he believed “the arrest was justified.” Evidently, the location where the arrest took place had been the scene of disturbances at some earlier time. Regardless of the reasons given for the arrest, the incident reveals a number of problems involving police and certain ethnic Americans citizens.
If anyone has difficulty understanding why the police and certain ethnic American populations have relationship challenges, this incident should serve to underscore what is at the core of the challenges. First, from the perspective of the African American teens, the police failed to recognize them as valuable human beings. Next, the police ignored what the teens had to say as irrelevant to his objective; finally, the police acted on the basis of stereotypes in going about making the arrests.
First, the one thing that all human being expect from other human beings is validation. That is, when one person says hello to another person, a reply is expected as normal behavior. If a reply is not forthcoming, then some form of rationalization is provided to satisfy the lack of a reply. However, in most cases, a reply is usually forthcoming. The reply lets the first person know that he or she has been recognized and validated. For someone not to reply could signal a rebuff or a deliberate lack of validation. In most cases the greeting is followed by a reply. What the office did, relative to the teens, in not allowing them to explain their present was to not validate them; that is, to show them that what they had to say was of no value to him.
When the officer handcuffed and arrested the teens, he further communicated to them that he did not value them as human beings worthy of common decency and respect. If someone accidently steps on another person’s foot, a quick comment of “excuse me” is generally offered to show respect for the person who foot was stepped on and to acknowledge regret for the offense. Because the office ignored what the teens said about their presence and the fact that they were handcuffed and arrested without any acknowledgement as to their humanity, we might assume that they felt helpless and certainly not valued.
In addition to what happened to the teens, they also witnessed the way the officer treated their coach and the lack of respect given him. Some people might excuse the officer for showing a lack of respect to the teen, but the coach was a responsible adult who deliberately spoke to the officer in a respectful manner. The officer not only ignored the explanations of the coach for the teens’ presence at that location, but also even threatened to arrest him as well. The actions of the officer suggest that he was the only person with any rights and value that mattered. Had it not been for the presence of other people with cameras and access to the social media, the results of this incident might have very well meant a criminal record for the teens and legal expenses for their parents. From numerous past experiences we know whose words would be viewed as true in a court of law when the balance is between the officer and the accused.
Most national polls (Gallup,7/13) reveal that two out of every eight African American and Hispanic American men have had some direct negative contact will law enforcement. So there should be little doubt why African Americans and Hispanic Americans regard police officers as the enemy rather than friend or protector.
What does this incident say about the challenges of the law enforcement establishments regarding relationships with minority citizens especially African Americans and Hispanics? If the people that the police are to protect question the motives of the officers, little or no cooperation or respect will be forth coming from those people. Too often officers are ill equipped and educated to serve successfully in minority communities. In the above incident, the arrest and subsequent actions could have been avoided had the officer given the teens a little respect and valued them as human beings rather than following negative stereotypical perceptions. One of the teens said in remembering the treatment received from the officer that “not all teens are bad;”in other words, why would the officer assume that these teens were bad since they had not done anything unlawful? The answer to that question comes from a lack of adequate instruction and education relative to how police are perceived by minority citizens and why they are perceived in such a negative way.
In far too many cases the police seem to forget their mantra “to Protect and To Serve” when it comes to certain minority citizens. Too often they forget that they represent the laws of the people they serve; they are not themselves the law. One approach to changing the negative perception of minorities towards police would be for the police to ask themselves how would like themselves or any member of their family to be treated? Once they have answered that question, they should proceed to meet their objective.

Black race and white race identity support and promote ethnic biases

July 28, 2013 at 5:50 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, blacks, Civil War, desegregation, DNA, Emancipation Proclamation, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, Hispanic whites, Human Genome, identity, minority, mixed-marriage, Race in America, skin color, Slavery, socioeconomics, U. S. Census, U.S. Supreme Court, whites | Leave a comment
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Many Americans do not know that society is experiencing growing pains. The pains come from the fact that the time has come for developmental changes that require a coming to grips with reality. What this coming to grips with reality means is facing the fact that the myths of a black race and white race are no longer important or necessary. However, the process facing the truth is not an easy one to experience; consider what a child goes through when he or she discovers the truth behind Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. Those myths we can readily recognize as myths because as children we outgrow then at a relative early age. The myth of race is a different problem because many Americans do not know or accept the fact that races of man is a myth. Society has so conditioned the minds of so-called white Americans to a place of power, privilege and prestige that trying to undo the damage is like removing heat from fire. America is moving towards a society of diverse citizens where race will play little or no role in personal identity. Unfortunately, too many European Americans (whites) cannot bring themselves to let go of the white race identity.
Let us clear the air with respect to the concept of races, especially the so-called black race and white race. These two races were created by the ruling class of slave owners for economic expedience. Taking the cultural, geographical, and personal identities from the Africans was a means of depriving them of any self-value and self-worth. At the same time, the ruling class gave to those lesser individuals of fair skin the illusions of hope and superiority because they looked alike, and that they might one day also possess power and wealth. In reality, the concept of race was to create a separation and conflict between the poor Europeans and Africans which constantly drew attention away from the ruling class and their activities. As society progressed, and the gap between the workers and the rulers became greater, the rulers used the Africans as a buffer to protect them from poor Europeans. The only thing of value the ruling class gave to the poor Europeans was the gift of a white identity.
After the Civil War, African Americans were given rights and freedoms the same as the European Americans. However, those rights and freedoms were short lived because most states began immediately to create and pass laws that took away those rights and freedoms; the results of the states efforts were written in laws known as “The Black Codes.” These codes were different for each state, but the results were the same—deprive the African Americans of all rights and freedoms. These codes also proved beneficial in promoting the idea of superiority of the “white race” by stipulating restrictions against African Americans that any European American could enforce legally. The most important thing of value for the European American was still his identity as a member of the “white race.” For example, imagine two sharecroppers working for the same landowner, both men are poor and uneducated. The landowner would favor the European American because he was white, and the white sharecropper would feel and act superior to the African American simple because of his color.
The value of a white identity started to change in 1954 when the Supreme Court ruled that separation was unequal. In subsequent years federal legislation began to eat away at what were once thought to be exclusive privileges for European Americans (whites). Today, a plethora of social activities and actions have challenged the once thought supremacy of European Americans; namely, the increase in ethnic minority populations, the increase in mixed ethnic marriages, the failure of the Census Bureau to define race so that the concept of race is on longer black and white, but blurred. The loss of the value of a white identity signaled by these changes in society has created fear, anger, frustration, and panic in some so-called white Americans. The problem for these people is finding a way to stop the changes from continuing, a problem they are beginning to realize is impossible to resolve. If America is to live up to its creed of liberty and justice for all,then the concept of race being black and white must be abandoned.
One of the contributing factors to the problem of race is the fact that too many Americans are ignorant, arrogant or stupid when it comes to understanding the fallacy of race. During the recent Martin and Zimmerman trial, many people raised the question of race, questioning whether race was involved. Let this next statement be perfectly clear, as long as European Americans identify themselves as white, everything they say and do comes from a biased ethnic (racial) perspective. For people to say they are black or white are a clear indication of the fact that they accept the concept of at least two races, one black and one white. Since science, technology, and even the Bible underscore the fact that all people belong to one race, the notion of more than one race must come from a lack of knowledge and understanding.
When a person identifies himself or herself as black or white, ethnic bias is embraced and promoted regardless of professions of colorblindness and justice. Many European Americans truly do not know how to identify themselves ethnically. Many refer to themselves as Caucasians, not realizing that Caucasians are not considered white or European. Caucasians did not exist until just prior to 1800. The name comes from the people who live near the Caucasus Mountains which are located in Eurasia between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea; they are considered to be of Iranian ancestry. The same ignorance can be associated with European Americans who identify themselves as Aryans, which is another way of spelling Iranians. The myth of an Aryan nation or race was started during Hitler’s time to help promote his idea of a super race. This race is supposedly directly related to the Caucasian race. So, even if the idea of Aryan and Caucasian races was plausible, they would not be considered today as white in America. The Supreme Court said so in 1923, Thind v. United States.
At some point in the future, biased Americans who retain their biases by holding on to their race by color concept will find themselves at a loss for an identity. Race serves to separate, and separation served as a base for bigotry. As the country becomes more ethnically diverse, the social value of individuals will not be based on a so-called race. One wonders why some European Americans with a large degree of social influence continue to refer to themselves as “white” unless they are ignorant of the fact that by doing so they place themselves on the side of ethnic bigotry. One cannot say he or she is white without the implication of race. Once the race is associated with the color, the element of bias comes into play whether he or she is a bigot or not. The only way to avoid this situation is to stop using race as black or white, which will, by the way, change the perspective of the self.

The Martin and Zimmerman case underscored the biases present in American society

July 21, 2013 at 6:42 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American Racism, blacks, Disrespect, equality, ethnic stereotypes, European American, fairness, George Zimmerman, Hispanic whites, identity, justice, Prejudice, socioeconomics, Trayvon Martin, U. S. Census, whites | 3 Comments
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Following the decision of the jury during the Trayvon Martin trial the primary question asked about the trial was—was race involved? That question, unfortunately, was the wrong question to ask. Many Americans are great pretenders when the subjects are race and justice. They pretend that both race and justice exists for all Americans when they know for a fact that it does not. First, the term race is inaccurate, misleading, and incorrect because it supports the divide that is inherent it the term’s usage. Human beings belong to one race, so the appropriate terms should be ethnic groups or ethnicity when speaking of personal identity. Injustice in America we know is a fact. All one has to do is look at the number of women imprisoned in Oklahoma, or look at the gap in the jobs between African American and other American youths, or the arrest and imprisonment of African American males across America. So the question following the Trayvon Martin case should be how much did ethnic bias influence the decision in the case?
Not having an ethnic bias in America is impossible for anyone who has been here for a week, because we recognize that different ethnic groups are stereotyped by society in general in everyday life. What that stereotyping meant for the Trayvon Martin case was that the decision against Martin was a forgone conclusion once the jury was selected. Americans like to think that our criminal justice system is fair and impartial when we know that the outcome of any trial commonly depends on the level and degree of representation one can acquire. We know that a person who can afford a top tier lawyer stands a better chance of receiving a favorable verdict than a person with a Public Defender. Yet, we simply place our hope in our belief that the system works. What we do not consider is the fact that ethnic bias is a fact of life for all Americans. In addition to the ethnic difference, we must recognize that social and economic differences also take a toll on the justice system.
When we look at the ethnic differences involved in the case, we must consider that everyone involved came to this experience with some long-standing ethnic assumptions. Zimmerman, for example, assumed that Trayvon was a suspicious-looking person. We do not know why Trayvon was assumed to be suspicious to Zimmerman, but common sense dictates that if it is raining and one has a hood, then one will use that hood to protect one’s self from the rain. According to Zimmerman, the identity of past perpetrators was African American, so it stands to reason that he assumed Trayvon to be African American. Although Zimmerman ethnicity is Hispanic, the jury considered him to be “white,” like most of them. So, the division of ethnic bias was present in the perception of the jury regarding Martin, Zimmerman, and themselves. Since they identified with Zimmerman, and not Martin, they would offer a decision that was more in line with their perception. We must remember that Martin and Zimmerman are not viewed equally by the jury even thought they might say they are; ethnic stereotypes held by the jury were involved in the jury’s decision.
Our justice system says that we are to be judged by a jury of our peers, but we know that happening is next to impossible. The decision against Martin was made by a jury that had no idea of what his life and social environment was like. Without the ethnic associated with Zimmerman, the jury had no knowledge of his life as well. The lives of the individuals on the jury has no resembles to that of Martin—they would never meet in the same church, neighborhood store, park or school except by accident. Their social lives are completely different from that of Martin, so they form assumptions about his life as a young African American accompanied with all the negative stereotypes associated with those assumptions. They do the same with Zimmerman also, but from a totally perspective—he is considered “white.”
For many years in America, certain ethnic groups were not permitted citizenship because they were not considered European American. Included in that group were Polish, Irish, Italians, Jewish, Hispanics, Asians, and numerous others. After World War II, the government began to consider many of them as “white,” and because of this change, many were able to benefit economically, socially, politically as opposed to the opportunities of African Americans. Many of these new “whites” became staunch defenders of their new group, actually fighting against some other ethnic groups attempting to acquire social fairness and justice; they became more “white” than the European Americans in wanting to preserve the rights, privileges and power of their new group. Today, the U.S. Government and the Census Bureau allow any number of ethnic Americans to identify themselves as “white;”even Zimmerman could identify himself as a “white Hispanic.” The term “white” is inaccurate and incorrect as well as misleading. A person either has an ethnic identity or is considered European American, not white. So, what does this have to do with the trail? Simply stated, the members of the jury could not relate to Martin from an economical perspective because they do not live in the same or similar environment based on their economic status. They have no occasion to interact or get to know Martin, his family or the millions of families like his. And, yes, ethnicity biases did play a major role in this equation.
As a society, we need to recognize the fact that America is separated on many levels because of economics, education, religion, politics, and other elements, and that all citizens are not and for now, cannot receive fair and equal treatment through our justice system. The Martin case provides us with an opportunity to not only open a discussion about this problem, but also to create actions for addressing them. We are merely begging the question when we ask if race had anything to do with the Martin v Zimmerman case because we know that ethnic bias is a part of the American social fabric. What we must do as a society now is to create and implement plans that will bring us together as one society with diversity rather than a society separated because of our ethnic diversity. Too many Americans do not realize or recognize their bigotry because of their level of separation from parts of society, in many instances; their “level of separation” not only keeps others out, but imprisons them.

How long before we stop the confusion of race by color–black and white

June 30, 2013 at 7:49 pm | Posted in African American, Black Englisn, blacks, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, identity, Media and Race, Non-Hispanic white, Prejudice, President Obama, skin color, socioeconomics, U. S. Census, U.S. Supreme Court, whites | Leave a comment
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This past week brought with it a number of socially important experiences from the concerns of the Supreme Court to the illness of Nelson Mandela and the trial of Trayvon Martin. One of the elements these three concerns have in common is the reference to identity, more specifically, a reference to black as an identity. Unfortunately, race defined by color seems to be an extremely difficult concept to debunk because many people have accepted the concept as valid. However, some of the references used last week underscore the problems attendant with the continued use of the terms black and white as so-called racial identities.
With respect to the Supreme Court’s actions, the one case that focused primarily on the use of the word black involved the voting rights bill. The reference to the “black vote” by journalists and people in the media, for instance, might be interpreted as meaning the votes of African Americans. The purpose of the bill was to protect all citizens from being denied their rights to vote by the state or local jurisdiction, not just African Americans. The problems that caused the creation of the voting rights protection by the court was because African Americans were the primary targets and victims of abuse. The term black vote suggests that all African Americans vote in a block, which they do not. By simply referring to the rights of African Americans to vote, rather than the black vote, the idea of the black block vote is removed. Like all other citizens, African Americans reserve the right of a voting choice, and that should not be based on the color of their skin. Alas, unfortunately, today it still is.
The meaning of black in the above reference has been accepted as common practice, but that acceptance does not alleviate the problems caused by its usage. A case in point involves the illness of the former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. The media refers to Mandela as South Africa’s first black president, but what does black mean in the context in which they use it? Is it a reference to Mandela’s skin color or does it refers to the social and economic status of dark skinned South Africans? To further complicate the problem, President Barack Obama paid a visit to South Africa last week and the media referred to him as America’s first black president. So, if Mandela and Obama are both referred to as black, is it a reference to their skin color or to their personal identities or both? The obvious answer would be skin color, but that only works with the association of the historical significance. To identify Mandela as a man of color might confuse some who would see him as a colored person which is a different identity in South Africa. Usually, the South Africans of Dutch or European ancestry identify themselves as Afrikaners, so the simply reference to Mandela as South Africa’s first African president would be sufficient. For Obama, the reference to him as African American would leave little doubt as to his identity.
The use of the color words black and white as racial identities was obvious in the trial of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. The media has no problem with identifying Martin as black, but with Zimmerman, a problem is created because he can identify himself a number of ways. For example, he can identify himself as a Hispanic, or a non-white Hispanic, or as a white. How it is that he gets all those choices? The answer is because the Census Bureau says he can. They say it because they have yet to define race in any definitive, concrete, consistent and accurate fashion. The media generally refers to Zimmerman as white to create the contrast between the two principals in the trial. The contrast of black and white reinforces the social and historical symbolic significance of each term when used as race. The use of African American and European or Hispanic American would lesson the historical contrast.
In addition to the identities of Martin and Zimmerman and the use of color words relative to race, another disparity occurred during the testimony of Miss Rachel Jeantel, a friend of Martin. An observer of the trial was asked by a commentator to comment on Jeantel’s testimony. His first remarks centered on what he identified as her use of Black English. The reference to her language as Black English suggested that such a phenomena exists and is spoken and practiced by all black people. No one has ever suggested that other people with similar social, economic, and educational backgrounds speak a language that is characterized by a color. Again, we do not know if the color of the people’s skin is the key to their use of Black English or does black symbolize something other than skin color. In American, African Americans living in different parts of the country do not all speak the same as the term might suggest. We all recognize regional differences among Americans in general. We also recognize that the social, economical and educational status of all Americans have an effect on their use of the English language. All too often in American, a person’ skin color is often associated with their social status.
So, what is the point? We need to stop using color as an identity and excuse for ethnicity. We need to realize that as a society we are either progressing or regressing. We never reach a point where we can stop and say we have made it. Life does not work that way. Like when the butterfly finally emerges from the cocoon, its life’s journey is not complete, it has only just begun, as a butterfly. The identity of European Americans did not end with being called white, just as the identity of African Americans did not end with being called black. Life continues to the very end, and each day is a different and unique experience for us. Time to move on

Study shows that housing discrimination still exist in America

June 16, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Posted in African American, blacks, desegregation, discrimination lawsuit, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, justice, minority, Prejudice, President Obama, Public housing, Race in America, segregation, skin color, U. S. Census, whites | Leave a comment
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Almost fifty years ago the Fair Housing Act came into effect. Following closely the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the act was to bring into effect the equal treatment of all American citizens. We like to think today that as a society we have come a long way in eliminating unfair treatment of our fellow citizens. True, time has passed, but according to a recent study conducted by The Department of Housing and Urban Development, discrimination still exists.
In an Associated Press article, “Housing inequality remains, study finds,” by Suzanne Gamboa, we are told that HUD deployed “pairs of testers—one white, one minority in each pair —to do more than 8,000 tests separately across 28 metropolitan areas in the $9 million, study the Obama administration conducted last year.” We were told that “Testers’ were the same gender and age and presented themselves as equally qualified to rent or but a unit…” The results showed that the “blatant discrimination of literally slamming doors in the faces of minorities” that happened during previous studies was not as prevalent as in the past studies. Minorities were generally able to “get appointments and see at least one unit last year. However, blacks and Asian-Americans were treated differently than white counterparts often given fewer options.”
An old saying that “old habits die hard” might easily be applied here regarding the practice of fair housing to all American citizens. Prior to 1963 segregated housing was encouraged and readily accepted in America. Still today in many of the large metropolitan areas ethnic enclaves still exist with little effort to change the ethnic make-up of these communities. The ethnic character of these communities serves as a symbol of uniqueness that invites protecting the status quo—strangers are not welcomed. Today, in some cities, street gangs appear to enforce the ethnic character of the communities by keeping out people they think are not one of them or making their lives difficult. Of course, the strategies for keeping the communities “ethnic free” vary with the economic and social status of the communities. Efforts are still being employed to control the access to housing by ethnic Americans, but because of the laws and subsequent penalties, these efforts are more subtle than before.
According to the article and the study, one case involved an Asian tester who went to see an agent about a two –bedroom unit. She was shown the unit and told it was available for rent as advertised. No other units were made available to her. Later, we learn, “a white tester saw the same agent and unit, but she was told about four more two-bedroom units that were available in other places.” While this agent did not break any laws, she obviously showed a bias towards the Asian tester. The article noted, “That’s typical of the kind of unequal treatment we observed across metropolitan housing markets nationwide.”
The idea that some European American have about non-European Americans wanting to live in a close proximity to them because of the skin color is as bogus today as it has ever been. The reason non-European Americans want to live in some of these communities is the same as anyone’s—price, work, location, schools, etc; the color of their neighbor’s skin in totally coincidental. At one point in American history, having a non-European ethnic American as a neighbor would negatively affect the value of the property because the real estate was organized to deliberately reflect the practice. The original practice was known as “red lining, “and was instituted by realtors to increase their profits. One suspects that seemingly some elements for that philosophy still exists and is reflected in the discrimination observed by the study.
The study added that “Unfortunately, our findings reveal a sad truth—that the long struggle to end housing discrimination remains unfinished,” so said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. Margery Turner, senior vice president for program planning and management noted that “It’s fundamentally unfair somebody would get information about fewer homes and apartments just because of the color of their skin. But it also really raises the cost of housing search for minorities and it restricts the housing choices available to them.” When the issue of housing becomes a matter of simply making money, much of the attitude will change because investors want to make money and if discrimination causes them to lose it, they will have a change of mind.
All indications from the latest Census report shows that American society is changing from a European ancestry majority population to a non-European ancestry majority population in just a matter of a few decades. That change is having an emotional affect on some European American who cannot accept the change or find it extremely difficult to accept the change. The fact is that in the near future where people live will have little to do with the color of their skin. The people who choose to hold on to their biases will have a challenge living in society, especially in metropolitan areas. An example of what could happen in the housing market that would upset the practice of ethnic discrimination might involve a mixed-ethnic couple. Let us say that the wife is European American and the husband an Asian American and the wife meets with the realtor and make all the arrangements for the housing without the husband. Once the process is finalized, the realtor has no say in the matter. The new neighbors might be up-set, but that’s life.
We know that discrimination will always be a part of society regardless of laws and policies because some people will never accept other people just because they look different from them. When people live in a society and enjoy the benefits that the society affords, they must realize that total freedom is impossible, that compromise and cooperation is necessary for each individual to experience the greatest degree of freedom available. They must learn that living in a society makes certain demands on everyone; and that total freedom is not possible.

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