Paul R. Lehman, American social progress is not possible inside the race box.

June 5, 2014 at 7:38 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American Dream, American history, blacks, democracy, DNA, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, I have a dream, March on Washington, Martin Luther King Jr., mixed-marriage, race, Race in America, skin complexion, Slavery, U. S. Census, UNESCO | 2 Comments
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Too many Americans have brains that have fossilized on the concept of multiple races and this concept keeps them from making any progress towards the goals of our democratic society– life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all people. In turn, American society has not come near the potential it is capable of achieving. Before America can make any progress towards its future and its mantra “E Pluribus Unum,” it will have to remove itself from the so-called race box it created when the country began. Although we knew then and certainly know now, since science has come to support the fact through DNA, that only one species of humans exist on the planet, and that all mankind belongs to one race. Nonetheless, many Americans cannot bring themselves to accept the truth of that information. So, we continue as a society to be held back to a degree from social progress.
Regardless of the efforts of some Americans to hold on to their concept of race, American society is changing as evidenced from the 2010 Census report. That report showed an increase in the mixed ethnic households. In addition, that report also indicated concern for present and future problems associated with defining race. Those problems lend support to the inevitable action to remove the word race as it pertains to a social identity. Therein lays one of the problems, because many people have used race as part of their identity, thinking it was accurate and valid: for example, black race and white race. Unfortunately, we discovered that race is not and cannot be defined by skin color. Yes, for several hundred years we have tried to make the fallacy true, but to no avail. So, what alternative do we have as a society to address this problem?
Some sixty-five years ago, scholars and scientists from UNESCO recommended that the word race not be used for social identity, and that the words ethnic group and ethnicity be used instead. The reason for the recommendation was due to the fact that they knew that only one race of mankind existed on the planet, so why continue to use bogus information? Society ignored the recommendation, but time and social progress has made a difference in how we look at ourselves and each other. Many American people of color now refer to themselves as African Americans. Also, many Americans of European decent refer to themselves as European Americans. We have become aware of the fact that the identities of black and white refer to races that do not exist except in reference to the past and American slavery. Since personal identity is a cultural and/or geographical association, the individual can choose the identity that best fits his or her experience or wishes. That choice cannot include black or white unless used as an adjective.
So far, many Americans are not comfortable with accepting the truth of race and removing themselves from that box. As long as they maintain a racial perspective, they are trapped in the past. That past is well documented in what we call history. When we look at history, we see not only a record of our past experiences and how we dealt with then, but also how much progress, if any we have made from the time of the event. If we do not use history as a tool for learning, and for making progress, then it simply becomes entertainment for us. For example, in Dr. M.L King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, he spoke of his vision for the future America. If today all we do is repeat the speech having made no progress in making King’s dream a reality, and moving beyond the race box, then the speech has only entertainment value for us.

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, the renowned African American astrophysicist, made the statement that:

To make any future that we dreamt up real requires creative scientists, engineers, and technologists to make it happen. If people are not within your midst who dream about tomorrow – with the capacity to bring tomorrow into the present – then the country might as well just recede back into the cave because that’s where we’re headed.

Today, too many scholars, teachers, and leaders keep us in the past and present with no glimpse of the future. They vividly recapture history with details and facts that help us to see and understand the past and present, but do not take us beyond the present. At some point we must move beyond history and the race box. We can start our movement out of the race box by avoiding the use of the word race except in its science, not social context. We can also education ourselves and one another to the reality of our common humanity. Yes, we have man-made differences based on culture and geography, but we have more similarities than differences.

If we would stop and think rationally about our race problem, we would quickly understand that since race is a social creation, then all its derivatives are also social creations. Yet, because of our illusions of race, we treat these creations as though they are real. Really, how can the complexion of a person’s skin make him or her superior or inferior to another human being? We have no valid answer to that question except, it cannot. If, for example, we look at our human family like the apple family, we certainly see diversity in color, shapes, sizes, taste, and uses. However, regardless of the diversity, all the apples are defined and seen as belonging to the same family.

Our society might not be able to ever impact those fossilized brains regarding the misconception of race, but we can eliminate creating future problems for our children and grandchildren and doing away with the hypocrisy and bigotry based on the concept and employment of race and color as social identities. We know that the very use of the word race separates human being, so why continue to use it? We as a society must as Dr. Tyson stated, “work to bring tomorrow into the present.” We must first, however, get a glimpse of ourselves outside of the race box, so we will know we are headed in the right direction.

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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
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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 from a racist society will require time and patience.

September 8, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American Indian, American Racism, blacks, CNN, democracy, discrimination, Emancipation Proclamation, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, identity, immigration, justice, mixed-marriage, President Lincoln, Race in America, skin color, Slavery, The U.S. Constitution, whites | 1 Comment
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Turn on the television, the radio, or even the internet and we find the common use of the word race in a variety of ways. We have been told that racism is a belief that people of various biological races have different qualities and characteristics that make them inherently superior or inferior to others. In American we have what is known as white racism. That means people believe that a white race exists and that this race is superior to all others. This belief came into existence in America as early as the middle 1500s when the Spanish would hunt, capture, and sell Indians into slavery. The words racism and racist as well as a host of others are derived from the word race. In America of the 1600s the word race was meant to indicate social and economic status and not color because the slaves in America during this time and later were of various skin colors. Counted among the slaves were Indians, Europeans, and Africans.
The demand for slaves created a problem for the ruling Europeans who quickly embraced the importation of Africans to fill the labor gap. With the introduction of the African into the system of slavery, the ruling Europeans decided to create a buffer among the slaves by giving special privileges to the European or white slaves. We are told that “In 1705, masters were forbidden to ‘whip a Christian white servant naked.’ Nakedness was for brutes, the uncivil, and the non-Christian. That same year, all property—horses, cattle, and hogs’—was confiscated from slaves and sold by the church wardens for the benefit of poor whites.” This was done to create a bond between the wealthy whites and the poor whites as well as create a distinction among the slaves. We learn that “By means of such acts, social historian Edmond Morgan arguers, the tobacco planters and ruling elite of Virginia raised the legal status of lower—class white relative to that of Negroes and Indians, whether free, servant or slave.”(See America’s Race Problem: A Practical Guide to Understanding Race in America)
So, the element of color became a major factor in America’s system of slavery as well as society in general, because all the Africans living in America were not now nor had ever been slaves. Color and Christianity became the criteria for discriminating against people. The problem of free Africans and Indians living in society along side Europeans was a problem for the Europeans. Making a contrast based on the physical appearance of the African and Indian became the primary criteria for creating biases. American society decided to create two biological races, one black, and one white based primarily on color of skin. We wonder why they did not create a race for the Indians. The white race was made to be superior to the black race in every respect. In essence, this was the beginning of racism based on color. Because the ruling class of Europeans had the power and control to create such a fabrication as race it became accepted by society.
Regardless of the truth of a concept, according to scholars, if it is repeated constantly for the benefit of some people, they will after a while ignore the fact that the concept is a fabrication and accept it for fact or truth. That has become the case with the belief in two races, both supposedly biologically different with one being superior to the other. Because of the acceptance of such a belief America and Americans became a racist society.
Some two hundred years after the introduction of slavery in American, we can see how thoroughly the biased and false concept of two races had affected America. When we examine the words of President Abe Lincoln in 1862 as he spoke to a group of free men of color, we recognize the conviction of his belief in race by color: “You [African Americans] and we [European Americans] are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races.” The broader difference Lincoln speaks of is basically, color; other differences existed because the slaves and free African Americans were prevented from experiencing those things written in the” Declaration of Independence” the “Constitution” about rights, freedom and justice.
What makes race so confusing in America is that it was illogically conceived using color as the base for determining superiority and inferiority. How can a society base superiority or inferiority on color and at the same time have slaves and free men of the same color exhibiting totally different characteristics attributed to differences of the condition and status of each individual? Logic does not enter the thinking process when one has accepted as truth or fact that races based on color really exist. Nonetheless, President Lincoln firmly believed that the two races and should be separated because they could not live together in peace because of their color. Fortunately, Lincoln later changed his mind about the latter.
So, what is the point of this discussion? When we examine the past objectively, we can understand many of the things taking place today, and why they are taking place. When American came into being, it came as a society that believed in race by class and economics; later color was added to the mix. One thought dominated the general thinking, however, and that was the supremacy of the whites. In effect, America wanted to be known as a white society with different classes of whites. Other non-European ethnicities were not considered suited for citizenship, but were allowed to live here. For over four-hundred-years or more the most cherished beliefs among many Americans are their white identity and that America is a white country—their country. The concept of race has undergone new analysis and the results reveal that only one race of human being exists in spite of color. So, the theories and beliefs that were created to separate various human beings from each other because of color are being debunked.
Unfortunately, as a society we have not pulled away from our use of the word race and all its derivatives that keep us tethered to the biased past. So, we continue to use words like racist, racism, etc…as if they are valid and accurate. In America, an African American cannot be a racist, if we accept the definition of that word, because in America, African Americans have never had the power or control to create the concept of race superiority and maintain and promote it. He can certainly be biased and prejudiced because those feelings are purely related to the individual, not a group or so-called race. America has been a racist society for a long time, so some patience is required while change is taking place. Progress for some people is very hard.

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