Paul R. Lehman, Recent police videos indicate more than training is needed today.

April 23, 2015 at 12:11 am | Posted in African American, American Racism, Bigotry in America, blacks, Constitutional rights, democracy, discrimination, Disrespect, education, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, freedom of speech, justice, justice system, law enforcement agencies, liberty, life, lower class, minority, police force, Prejudice, race, Race in America, social justice system, socioeconomics, whites | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

To many Americans, especially people of color, the idea that the training received by law enforcement agents and police is inadequate and too limited helps to create its counter-productiveness. Thanks to the recent spate of videos showing the activities of some law agents in action, we can actually observe how that training fails to have a positive impact of the citizens directly involved. Some of the scenes depict, in effect, the abuse and excessive use of force on helpless individuals. We know, and underscore, the fact that the videos do not reflect all law enforcement agents, but what is presented certainly helps us to raise questions about the limits of officer preparedness.

We have seen enough videos to know that office training relative to equipment and emergencies is usually top quality. What we have also witnessed, however, is the need for more than training in some situations, and the introduction of the use of common sense and rational thought. In effect, while the training is important and necessary, it alone is not sufficient to address the needs of today’s population. The philosophy of viewing some people as suspects that deserves little or no respect comes through in many of the videos in the manner in which they are addressed and treated. Education and instruction must begin to represent part of the preparation of law enforcement agents if their efforts are to be productive.

One of the common complaints of some officers who patrol areas inhabited by people of color whose social and economic status is less than middle class is the lack of coöperation by the citizens relative to police business. Why is it that these citizens generally do not help the police? One answer can be found in the area of community relations. Because the majority of the experiences involving law enforcement in these communities are negative, the first reaction of the citizens to the law officers will be guarded. After witnessing the treatment of a citizen by some officers, the last thing other citizens want to do is attract the attention of the officers. Law enforcement officers need to know that people of color as well as other people in the lower social-economic class generally react to them with fear. They know through experience and observation that they are not valued as human being by some officers. So they avoid taking an unnecessary chance of interaction with the officers.

What has happened in the past as well as presently regarding officer interaction involving people of color shows a need for better education and instruction for the officers, primarily, and the citizens, secondarily. Today, the training of the offices might be adequate for the job in general, but not sufficient for the needs of today’s diverse society. Depending on the nature, content, and objective of the current training, the results might produce more of a separation and discrimination mindset that focuses on human differences rather than commonalities and fairness.

Part of the problem with police preparedness has been the lack of education from a historical and cultural perspective relative to the communities being served. The frequently asked question of why people of color at times do not help police doing investigations underscores the problem of a lack of positive community relations. The police might take for granted that just because they represent the law and its authority that people will automatically come to assist them is based on a false premise. The make-up of the communities represents the underpinning of the problem, which is trust.

Often the attitudes of the law enforcers are a turn-off to the citizens because they show a lack of respect for the citizens and their rights. Unfortunately, the recent videos show time after time the abuse, excessive force, and total disregard for the citizens’ efforts to communicate. In many cases, the law enforcer is focused on doing his or her job which might include a disregard of rights of the citizen involved. For example, in the Eric Gardner situation, the officers were focused and intent on forcing Gardner to the ground and subduing him. During this process, they showed little or no concern for his repeated statements of “I can’t breath.”While they were probably following their training in subduing Gardner, they were ignoring the pleas of a human being under distress. The officers simple focused on a selective part of their preparation and conduct– the training, and not the education and reasonableness to examine the law infraction to the punishment being administered.

One aspect of the law enforcement agents’ current practice is the lack of concern that seemly concern for the interpretation of their actions by the public and other observers. The way citizens are treated by officers sends a message to the citizens relative to how some human beings are valued. Too often, as some of the videos indicate, when injuries inflicted on a citizen by officers are apparent, but ignored, the message sent to the public is one of little or no concern for the person being detained. The apparent philosophy is to value only the life and wellbeing of the officer, not the citizen. Of course we know that is not the case in every instance, but the videos show that this philosophy does represent a problem in current law enforcement shortcomings. People will not trust or coöperate with officers they fear and do not respect.

Today, the first order of business for law enforcers’ preparation should be to study American history that addresses the causes of ethnic injustice, not just the effects. Officers need a realistic and pertinent education that helps them to discard the prejudice, biases, and bigotry they brought with them to the job. They need to be taught to recognize social and economic characteristics of a community that will help them in their job to serve and defend all the citizens. So, the job of preparing the law enforcers must come from the top—the administrators. The officers can only reflect what they have inside and what has been made available to the public via videos indicate a lack of understanding and knowledge emanating from the top. The situation today relative to police and community relations requires a focus on the need for better officer preparation and instruction and how they should serve effectively in our ever-growing, diverse society. Our society needs law enforcement agents that are not only well-trained, but also well-educated regarding their responsibilities to the citizens—officers who can think as well as act.

Advertisements

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
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Paul R. Lehman, Judge’s comments to convicted man appear biased

February 24, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, Disrespect, equality, fairness, justice, Oklahoma, Prejudice, The Oklahoman | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tim Willert, a writer for The Oklahoman, reported on a case involving the shooting of an off-duty Oklahoma County sheriff deputy (2/22/13). At the sentencing of the man convicted of the offence, the judge made several questionable comments in additional to the sentencing that indicate a bias, a lack of information or a lack of fairness.
The first statement uttered by District Judge Kenneth C. Watson, according to Willert’s article was “You are a disgrace to your family.” Unless the judge knows the convicted man, Christopher Travis Baker, and his family, his comments appear biased and focused on the individual rather than the crime committed. If he does not know Baker and his family, his comments, although well-intended, should not be uttered unless they are uttered to all persons convicted of the same or similar crimes. If the comment was made to impress the family, chances are the family was already aware of the social affects the crime had on the family. If the comment was meant for Baker, what was the purpose? He could not undo the crime; he could only apologize to his family if that was his desire. The comment should have not been uttered for whatever reason the judge might offer; it served no useful purpose.
The next comment made by Judge Watson was “You are a disgrace to our race.” Again, if the judge is having Baker serve as a representative of the human race and he makes the same assessment to all the individuals who appear before him, then his comments are well-taken. However, if he singled out Baker for this comment, then he was not being fair. The judge also showed a lack of current information if his reference to “our race” was meant to be interpreted as “African American people.” The only race of human beings is the human race—Homo sapiens. One wonders why the judge would place on one individual the reputation of an entire ethnic group. Evidently, if the judge sees Baker as a member of a separate race, then he must also see each person from his or her ethnic group as representatives of a separate race. If this is the case, the judge need to be better informed about the changes in society regarding the concept of race.
Before we get to the Judge’s last comment, we want to underscore the point that we understand the rights of a judge to make whatever comments or statements he or she feel important to the convicted person, their family and the courtroom audience at the time. Our concern is that the comments be made without a biased or unfair undertone that somehow makes an example of the convicted in addition to what the law provides. If the Judge uses his or her comments and statements on a regular basis to all individuals without prejudice, then we have no compliant; however, when a person is singled out for criticism based simply on so-called race, then the Judge owes the convict, the family, and the court an apology. The Judge’s job is to administer justice. The convicted are punished for the crimes they commit, not defects in their character or stereotypes associated with their ethnic group identity.
The third comment made by Judge Watson was “You are a disgrace to the African American race.” This statement has a number of problems because it assumes a number of things that are not accurate. The first is that Baker does not represent anyone but himself. Yes, he is a member of the human race, but that does not make him a representative of all human beings. Yes, he committed a crime for which he is going to be punished, but he is not the crime, so the actions should be condemned, not the person. The person can change, the crime cannot be undone. If no hope exists for change, why waste the people’s money by sending him to prison?
The reference to “disgrace” seems to suggest that a certain show of behavior is expected by Baker, in effect, he is to be viewed as a discredit or a humiliation not only to the human race but also to the African American group. Unlike some Asian and non-western cultures, the individual members of a family do not carry the reputation of the family with them. In America, we look to the individual to represent him or herself, that is why we respect the rights of each individual. The reputation of the family does not take preference over the individual.
When the Judge uses the phrase “African American race” he is showing a lack of information. Science has shown since the results of the Human Genome Project that all human beings belong to the same race. Individuals can pick and choose their culture, but not their ancestry. So, an individual of Asian ancestry can be identified as an Asian, American or Asian American, but not a member of the Asian race. Likewise, a person of European ancestry can use his or her culture as a form of identity, but not white race or Caucasian race; biologically, it does not exist. So, when the Judge uses the phrase “African American race,” he is misinformed. Chances are he meant African American ethnic group, not race.
We know that changes come slowly, especially social changes. However, we expect our judges to be better informed than the average citizen regarding changes in our society. After all, they are the guardians of our system of justice; we are reminded that justice is blind. If that is the case regarding Baker’s trial, then Judge Watson owes an apology to Baker, his family and the court for his biased comments.

Paul R. Lehman, Understanding the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment

December 24, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Posted in African American, blacks, Civil War, Emancipation Proclamation, equality, European American, fairness, President, the Republican Party, whites | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

When some people hear the words Emancipation Proclamation (EP) they generally think about it as the document President Lincoln issued to freed the slaves. Unfortunately, they would be incorrect; the EP did not free a single slave. So, why is it that people believe it did free the slaves? The reason for that belief probably has something to do with their schooling. Our society, in certain parts of the country, treats the EP as a special document relative to the freeing of the slaves. The document that should be celebrated more is the Thirteenth Amendment.

When the Ep was issued by President Lincoln in 1863, its primary purpose was not directed at freeing the slaves. Initially, Lincoln used the EP as a war measure in hopes of bringing the war to a close. He did not get the reactions from the EP that he expected, so he had to push for something more dramatic, the Thirteenth Amendment. Some of the problems associated with the EP were that it freed the slaves in only the states in rebellion. Since the states in rebelling had no reason to acknowledge or accept any proclamation from a President they did not recognize, it fell on deft ears. The only two entities that had cause to react to the proclamation were the government and the armed forces.

For the slaves in the rebellious states, the proclamation was cause for more concern than the problems visited by the war. Just what did this freedom mean? The slaves when freed had no home, no money, no security, the job, and no place to go. If they decided to leave their present residence and go to a state not in rebellion, the chances are the state they chose was a slave state. Hence, they would be subjected to slavery again. The proclamation did not provide any safeguards for the slaves that any state would accept or respect as valid. No procedures for making the transition from slave to free was created or provided for the slaves. So, what good was the EP to the slave?

Fortunately, President Lincoln realized that his proclamation had some problems that had to be addressed. For example, since the EP was a war measure, that meant it was temporary; it would expire when the war ended. The Confederate States would resume their form of slavery. That being the case, what would happen to the slaves that fled the South and joined the Union Army? What would happen to the slaves in the non-rebelling slave states? The answer he finally decided on was the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery in the United States and provided that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

Had President Lincoln and other like-minded Congressmen not pushed through the passing on January 31, 1865 and subsequent ratifying of the Thirteenth Amendment on December 6, 1865, we can only wonder at the chaos that would have ensued at the war’s end. What, in effect, started out as a war measure actually triggered a human measure and helped to save the country. This amendment underscored the rights of African Americans to pursue the liberties that European Americans had been enjoying for years. In addition, because the Thirteenth Amendment is federal legislation, any effort  by states to deny citizens their rights could and would be challenged.

The Thirteenth Amendment, more than the EP, established the case for the African American’s humanity. Under the First  Article of the U.S. Constitution, the slave was defined as three/fifths a man or human, the rights granted via the Thirteenth Amendment elevated him to a full-fledged human being. Without the federal authority of the Thirteenth Amendment, the South could have continued its ways of life without further interruption.  Since we are a society of laws, we should not neglect the EP, but give more attention to the Thirteenth Amendment since it is a very important law.

For many Americans the idea of the Civil War being fought over slavery is incorrect; they see it as a war over different  lifestyles and cultures, economics and politics. Be that as it may, however, regardless of any or all of these reasons for the war, none can be divorced from the influence of slavery. As suggested earlier, President Lincoln had no thoughts of abolishing slavery. As a matter of fact, early in his presidency, he actually protected it with legislation. Fortunately, for African Americans, Lincoln’s concern for the casualties of the war brought about a change in his method for achieving his objective; and we were blessed to receive the EP and the Thirteenth Amendment.

Paul R. Lehman, Moral Relativism, a misguided perception of American History and society

June 26, 2012 at 12:41 am | Posted in Bigotry in America, equality, Ethnicity in America, fairness, justice, Prejudice, public education | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 

Frank Lipsinic (The Oklahoman, Your Views 6/22/12) offered some comments on the earlier comments of Jack Werner (The Oklahoma Point of View, June 9)   entitled “Moral Relativism.” Werner’s comments centered on the hypocrisy he saw in the Republican Party and as a Republican felt he should point out those negative elements in hopes the party would see them and try to correct them. Lipsinic said:”I object to the notion that somehow only the Republican Party needs cleansing.  After reading Werner’s comments, I came away feeling he requires politicians and voters to separate their beliefs and morals from public policy.” That is actually what Werner thought politicians should do in order for all citizens to be treated fairly.

Lipsinic continued: “We’ve slid down that slippery slope of moral relativism for decades, eliminating God and moral judgment from things we do in public.” To be on solid ground concerning what Lipsinic thinks moral relativism is and the reality of it, let us look at the comments from a creditable source:

Within the U.S. justice system, constant values or rules (represented by constitutional, statutory, or case law) are intended to be structurally tempered to accommodate moral relativity. For example, Oliver Wendell Holmes, who served on the U.S. Supreme Court from 1902 to 1932, is credited with being the first Supreme Court justice to state that the U.S. Constitution was an organic document—a living constitution subject to changing interpretation. Many times since, Supreme justices, in their opinions, have referred to the notion of “evolving” law when modifying, refining, or in rare circumstances, overruling earlier precedent. Likewise, statutory laws are enacted or repealed by Congress or state legislators in an effort to best reflect the principles and mores of their constituency (http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Moral+Relativism)

In essence, moral relativism has been a vital part of our society for many years. What Lipsinic probably objects to is the decisions made that do not coincide with his personal beliefs. For example, God has not been eliminated from the public—just the references to a particular sectarian god, as in Christian God. If the god of one sect is permitted in public than in fairness the god (s) of other sects should be permitted as well. Lipsinic wants only his God used. The same can be said about his morals and those in the public—those that he does not accept, he feels should not be permitted.

Lipsinic continued: “The Democratic Party’s mantra of ‘choice’ on abortion and women’s rights has done great damage to women.” One must question the logic of that statement if he means that women benefit from having their “choice” taken away from them as well as other legal and constitutional rights. Most women would want to enjoy and appreciate the “choice” and “rights” afforded them the same as those afforded men.

Next, Lipsinic noted that “The Founders were only concerned about the state sanctioning a national religion. This great nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. Shall we throw out the founding principles?”What is missing from this statement is a total understanding and grasp of American history.

The Founding Fathers had no desire to create a national religion, nor did they want to force one on the state (s). If Lipsinic checks the Constitution he might be surprised to discover that this country was not founded on Judeo-Christian principles, but on greed and bigotry. All the Founding Fathers were European Americans of wealth and property who actually looked out for their interests. No other American man could vote or hold elected office if were not European American with wealth and property. Slavery was written into the Constitution—Judeo-Christian principles? We certainly did throw out many of the principles that restricted the rights and privileges of those Americans who were affected negatively in the Constitution by the Founding Fathers.

Evidently Lipsinic overlooked the part of history that tells how the American Indians were systematically eliminated from their native lands by people who practiced the Judeo-Christian religion. He must have skipped the section of history that dealt with slavery and the civil war. Actually, what moral principles does he have in mind? He stated that “Can we not live out our moral principle in public life? I refuse to leave my moral principles at the door!” If by moral principles he means denying other American citizens their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as they see them, and not as he would prefer, then his views and understanding of American democracy are totally misguided and confused.

Finally, Lipsinic believes that a lack of morals, his morals, has been the cause of America’s downfall. He noted that “That’s exactly what’s gotten this nation to the edge of the cliff where we now stand.” Sad to say, but too many American citizens share the perception of American society and its status. Unfortunately, their minds are shackled to a make-believe American society that has never existed except in degrees or small sections. For example, if Lipsinic was born, raised, and continue to live in an all European American town, his perception of America is conditioned by his experiences in that environment. He more than likely grew up believing that America belongs to European Americans and because of their generosity, allowed other foreign people to come here to share in their bounty. But these other people need to know their place—behind the real Americans. These people need to know also that the morals of the real Americans are the only ones that are acceptable and suitable for society.

For his information, America is not about to fall off a cliff, so he can stop worrying; neither is the world coming to an end in the near future. We live in a society with a democratic form of government. What that means is for every one problem that is solved, two more are created; so, if one wants to participate then he /she must be informed in order to make appropriate decisions. And as for moral relativism, we know that it is “The philosophized notion that right and wrong are not absolute values, but are personalized according to the individual and his or her circumstances or cultural orientation.” We also know that “It can be used positively to effect change in law (e.g., promoting tolerance for other customs or lifestyles) or negatively as a means to attempt justification for wrongdoing or lawbreaking “(legal-dictionary). So whose exercising moral relativism?

Paul R. Lehman, Use of the ‘N’ word never acceptable in society even by entertainers

June 17, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Posted in American Racism, blacks, Disrespect, fairness, Media and Race, minority, Prejudice, whites | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

All words generally have connotations and denotations regardless of their context. If a word’s existence is based on its historical denotation, then that history becomes part of that word regardless of the context. For example, the word ‘history’ retains its basic denotation regardless of the context or connotations. However, if we look at the word ‘bitch’ and examine its denotation, we discover that it means a female dog. When the term is used in other contexts it could mean the act of whining excessively; a person who rides specifically in the middle of a front-seating only car meant for 2 passengers; a woman considered to be spiteful or overbearing; a lewd woman; a man considered to be weak or compatible and a host of other meanings (www.thefreedictionary.com). In the other uses or connotations of the word ‘bitch’ the denotation does not usually influence its use because the connotations generally attack or describe the character of a person. The denotation simply defines the word without making a social judgment.

The ‘N’ word like the word ‘history’ retains it basic denotation regardless of the context in which it is found. Recently, a discussion regarding the use of the ‘N’ word has again come to the fore, so we thought we would provide some comments regarding its usage. If we look at the history of the ‘N’ word we discover that its creation was usage was meant to denigrate people of African and African American heritage. The intended use of the ‘N’ word was to create a derogatory and socially unacceptable association to the people forced to accept it as an identity. The social value of anyone described as an ‘N’ was below that of excrement; hence, the common statement: “a ‘N’ ain’t worth shit.” Any use of the ‘N’ word carries with it that history regardless of the so-called context.

Any number of entertainers have used the ‘N’ word in their work and tried to rationalize its use as part of their 1st Amendment right to free speech. If one considers the right to free speech as permission to say whatever one wishes to say regardless of the implications, then the entertainers are correct. However, if the use of the word carries with it the denigration or insults to people forced to accept that term as an identity, then the use is certainly unacceptable as well as reprehensive. For someone to use the ‘N’ word as part of entertainment suggests a lack of historical knowledge or a disregard for the negative implications it carries. The word cannot be recreated simple because it is used in a different context—the elements of character associated with the ‘N’ word persist regardless of the context. For one to try and argue to the contrary underscores a lack of sound judgment in the face of plain logic. Spelling the ‘N’ word differently does not change its history—the negative implications remain.

Some people maintain the belief that because the ‘N’ word was/is used to identify them that they have the right to pass judgment on the use of the word. How stupid is that? What they fail to realize is that the word was forced on them in the first place, so whatever they try to do to the word is meaningless historically because they did not create or apply it initially. The fact that the ‘N’ word has been applied to African Americans and used by many African Americans within the African American community does not mean that the word has been accepted and approved by African Americans.  As a matter of fact, the African American community disapproves of the ‘N’ word’s use, and rejected it s association to their identity. So, why would anyone want to use the word today and even make excuses for its use? The answer lies in the payoff. Who profits from the use of the ‘N’ word?

Since the African American community has rejected the use of the ‘N’ word for all the negative concerns it creates, why would some African Americans continue to use the word if not for profit? One might consider the use for shock value or just plain ignorance of history and no sense of self worth. When did the African American community give their power to entertainers to decide who can use the ‘N’ word or not? If the word is reprehensive and pejorative to the African American community, why would it not be so, in general, to everyone? Also, why would anyone want to promote bigotry by using the ‘N’ word even as entertainment? The fact of the matter is that the word is unacceptable for use in society under any circumstances. Those who use the ‘N’ word know that it is unacceptable in its usual form, so they change its appearance through spelling or some other construction. Regardless of its appearance, its history is still present.

Many of the arguments offered by proponents of African Americans using the ‘N’ word, lack solid evidence of it losing its sting. Some have said that the word is part of the culture and that it is okay to use it among those in the community. How can that be true when the community has rejected it? Certainly the use of the ‘N’ word was common within the African American community from slavery up to and including some segments today. The early use came primarily from being forced to accept the word as a form of identity—it was a part of the slave culture. African and African Americans knew the word was derogatory, but were powerless to change it. Another use of the word came from ignorance experienced through slavery. However, even the African Americans who used the word before it was rejected by the national community realized the pejorative nature of the word, so they reserved it for people they wanted to insult.

So, the ‘N’ word is not acceptable under any circumstances with the exception of how it was used in literature of the past. The use of the ‘N’ word in literature marked a clear indication of the mindset of the individual and his or her society in the work. The use of it today marks a clear indication of bigotry, stupidity or arrogance. Those who persist in saying that the ‘N’ word is part of free speech and they have to right to say it, must remember one cannot have it both ways…either the word is unacceptable or it is not. Society has said that it is not.

If someone calls you a dawg, what does that say about your mother, brother, sister or you?

Paul R. Lehman, Articles on race in the new Oklahoma Humanities Council magazine miss the boat

May 6, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Posted in American Racism, blacks, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, fairness, justice, Killings in Tulsa, Media and Race, OHC, Prejudice, public education, Race in America, Tulsa Riot 1921, whites | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Oklahoma Humanities Council has just published a Summer 2012 edition of its magazine, “Oklahoma Humanities.” The focus of this edition is Reconciliation: Looking Back, Pushing Forward Conversations on Race.” The publication is very handsome with excellent graphics and a number of articles with a focus on race. The only problem with this focus on race is that it does not move the discussion one iota towards a so-called reconciliation for a number of reasons: no mention of what is being reconciled, why it is being reconciled, and what it will look like.

One of the problems generally associated with any discussion of race in America is that it lacks a clear definition. What people usually discuss are the results or repercussions of social injustices committed against African Americans with race as the primary object. To make matters more confusing, the history of slavery in America is also factored into the discussion. So, when a discussion of race takes place no one knows for certain what is being discussed. For example, one of the articles in the OHC magazine is entitled “A ‘healing journey’ to confront the issues of race and prejudice.” The article includes some excellent pictures of remnants of buildings in Africa associated with early 1500’s to the middle 1800’s African slave trade. This article could have been written in 1960 for the information it provides relative to the title. The ‘journey” belongs to the writers of the article and provides little information for the readers to build on as for as a reconciliation is concerned. The article talks about slavery and racism as a legacy in America.

In order to understand what is not happening in these articles as well as any article that pretends to deal with race in America, we must understand that these articles will all focus on the past and present with no constructive view of the future. No constructive view of the future is possible because the discussions presented in the articles are enclosed in a small circle that can only focus on what is inside the circle. In essence, when the writers of any work on race begin by accepting the premise of race as being factual, the discussion is over because it cannot move beyond that concept.

My point is not meant to criticize the OHC or the writers of any of the articles, but to question their premise of adding something new or different to the discussion on race when in effect they  only offer information about the American past and present that includes slavery’s legacy.  Attempting to reconcile something that is not defined is like trying to answer the question “what makes water wet?” If one does not stop and think about the question first, chances are he or she will make the mistake of trying to answer the question. The fact is about wetness is that it is a condition that can be created by water; it is not a part of water. Water is not the only liquid that can cause wetness. Race and all its derivatives are all based on something that was socially created and based on false premises.

One common mistake involving discussions on race has to do with how it is perceived. Most social historians examine the narrative, history or story on a chronological line with a starting point and indicating times of significant occurrences along that line. By using this method, periods of time can be identified as past and present with emphasis on significant influences along the way. One result of this method is that the various time periods can be seen as separate entities when in fact they are parts on the same narrative. The problem with this approach is primarily because the narrative is interrupted and viewed in segments and each one can be seen as representing  the basic problem. With respect to race, the problems of  Identity, discrimination, prejudice, segregation, injustice, and fairness exists.. These elements , however, are not the problem—it is the acceptance of the concept of race.

For example, let us look at the problem of segregation that was addressed in the Brown v Topeka Broad of Education in 1954. The Supreme Court’s decision was to order desegregation of the schools. What the Court did not examine was the cause of the segregation—the concept of race. So, while the schools began to desegregate, the elements of bigotry and all the associated forms of injustice continued to grow. When each of the forms or derivatives’ of race are taken as the primary problem, then trying to remedy that particular concern does nothing to remedy the cause of the problem. As long as the cause of the problems created by the acceptance of the concept of races is not addressed and challenged, no progress or reconciliation is possible.

What is generally missing from any discussion of race today is an understanding of how the history really exists. Rather than being in a straight line, the history exists in a circle, connected to the past, present and future. John Paul Lederach, author of The Moral Imagination, says it this way, “As the indigenous world view suggests, social meaning, identity, and story are linked through narrative, which connects the remote past of who we are with the remote future of how we will survive in the context of an expansive present where we share space and relationship.”In other words, we must rethink the way we look at history to better understand the social problems caused by our concept of race so we can better understand how to create the remedy for those problems. For example, some people might assume that since slavery happened a long time ago that it has no relevance to them today. The reason for that kind of thinking is the idea of time being associated only with the people living during that time; they fail to understand that time did not stop nor did the influences and legacies created during that time stop, and that their lives represent an accumulation of those influences and legacies. We cannot place time in a capsule—only things with symbolic meanings relative to a time.

The problem for our society today is to try and acquire a better understanding of who we are, where we are, and how do we want to get to the next level. Our having a better understanding of race would be a good starting point, but the discussion must begin with first defining race and then moving beyond it. The articles in the OHC magazine provide some interesting experiences and information relative to race, but then miss the boat completely on the idea of reconciliation.

Paul R. Lehman, U.S. district Judge in Montana, Richard Cebull’s decision proves faulty

March 4, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Posted in American Racism, Bigotry in America, blacks, Disrespect, equality, fairness, justice, Prejudice, President Obama, Respect for President, whites | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A sad fact of life is that some people in responsible public positions are hypocrites. Take, for example, Richard Cebull, the chief U.S. district judge in Montana. He sent out an email to six of his close friends that denigrated President Obama and his mother in the most uncomplimentary fashion. He says, however, he isn’t racist, just anti-Obama. What he knows but refuses to admit is that he is reprehensible, dishonest, and bigoted, to say the least.

When Cebull says that he is not a racist, he is absolutely correct; he is a bigot. Calling himself a racist lets him share his bigotry with others rather than allowing him to take direct ownership of his hatred. According to the msnbc.com report, he “apologize to anybody who is offended by it, and I can obviously understand why people would be offended.” He should have been the first one offended by the email, but because of his bigotry, his dislike of Obama, he decided to share it with six friends. Why, if he realized the email was offensive would he want to share it with others? He states “Normally I don’t send or forwards a lot of these [evidently he has sent some before now], but even by my standards, it was a bit touching [make one wonder and question his standards]. I want all of my friends to feel what I felt when I read this. Hope it touches your heart like it did mind.” So, we know that his sending this email was a “heart-felt” gesture. So, his apology was in fact dishonest; he meant to send it because of the message.

Let us examine the message that he sent: “A little boy said to his mother; ‘Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white?’ His mother replied, ‘Don’t even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you’re lucky you don’t bark!’” This statement is so reprehensive and disrespectful to the President and his mother that the judge should not have given it a moment’s consideration before deleting it and advising the sender of his concerns regarding the lack of respect for himself and the President.

Cebull, however, finds the message “touching” and decides to forward it to friends—those who we assume are like-minded regarding the President. We must question the judgment of any individual who occupies a position of leadership in the judicial community to associate himself with this type of message. How could a self-respecting member of the U.S. judiciary not realize his bad judgment? What does his decision say about his ability to judge? One wonders if Cebull knows the definition of the term reprehensible and how it might apply to his thoughts and actions. Apparently, he does not know.

Cebull admits that the email he forwarded was racist [bigoted], but maintains that he isn’t a racist [bigot], and that the email was sent “because it’s anti-Obama.” As a sitting judge, his public position should be apolitical, impartial, and his knowledge of the internet must be very limited if he thought his forwarding the email would remain private. Maybe the judge is not current on the definition of extreme dislike or hatred of another person. Maybe that is the reason he does not see himself as a bigot.

What is clear about the good judge is the fact that he is a bigot and does not realize it; that he is dishonest and does not realize it; that his judgment is faulty, defective, and destructive, but he does not realize it. He states: “I have never considered myself that way….All I can emphasize is I’ve treated people in my courtroom all these years fairly. I don’t think I’ve ever demonstrated racism. Nobody has ever even implied it.” Cebull contradicts himself when he says he has never demonstrated racism [bigotry]. What would one call forwarding the email he sends to his friends? He admitted himself that it was “racist” [biased].

If Cebull cannot discern the difference between ethnic prejudice and a friendly email then we must question his ability to sit on the judicial bench. Again, Cebull is quoted as saying about the email that “I didn’t send it as racist, although that’s what it is. I sent it out because it’s anti-Obama.” Why would a judge want to send an anti-Obama email to anyone when such an action serves to underscore his character and integrity?

What is interesting in American today is that a person in a position of public trust has not the slightest idea of his ignorance and stupidity regarding professional protocol, public manners or decorum. Once Cebull makes public his anti-Obama sentiment, he loses the creditability of his office to be fair regarding anything that is associated with President Obama. He is not prohibited from having anti-Obama feelings, but he must keep those feelings private if he wants to maintain the appearance of judicial integrity. Now, since his public admission of having sent an ethnically biased email, he has the additional problem of separating himself from the charge of being a bigot. In view of his actions and subsequent comments, the trust of at least some segments of society is lost.

Public officials like judges must have the trust of the public in order to be effective in their office. Once that trust is gone, fairness also disappears regarding anything involving that judge’s decisions. For whatever reason, call it disrespect for President Obama, certain segments in society feel it is okay to show disrespect to the President without any repercussions for doing so. When these critics are called into account for their misdeeds, they usually offer an apology that is about as genuine as a unicorn’s horn. When Cebull makes the statement that “I apologize to anybody who is offended by it, “meaning the email, he seems to suggest that he is not offended by it. He added that “and I can obviously understand why people would be offended.” Evidently, he did not “obviously understand why people would be offended by it” or he would not have sent it. Except, maybe he thought he could send it and no one would notice or expose him.

A wise saying underscores the point of Cebull’s problem: “It is better to be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” Truth to the word.

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.