Paul R. Lehman, The jury’s not guilty verdict of the Philando Castile case sent a message to America

June 20, 2017 at 4:39 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, blacks, Christianity, Civil Rights Ats, Declaration of Independence, Disrespect, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, fairness, justice, law, law enforcement agencies, Minnesota, political pressure, Prejudice, protest, Race in America, whites | Leave a comment
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With the jury’s finding of not guilty for the officer who killed Philando Castile comes the implied, but a blatant statement from law enforcement that the justice system overwhelmingly favors their agents—the police. The ruling says that in spite of you forcing us to use dash cams, body cams, and surveillance cams, you, the people, cannot prevail over us because justice is what we say it is. Most people of sound mind can usually tell right from wrong, but somehow lawyers, prosecutors, judges, district attorneys and others in the justice system cannot when a member of law enforcement is involved. We the people cannot continue to allow this miscarriage of justice to take place and assume that all is right with the world because it is not. So, what can the people do to replace his misguided system?

Although a disproportionate number of police victims have been people of color, the corruption is not exclusive to people of color, so, all people who want justice to serve everyone should be concerned and involved in bringing about a system that serves everyone. We know that many people are angry and concerned about the lack of justice simply by looking at the makeup of the protesters. While the protests serve a purpose in bringing the problems to public awareness, it should also serve as an opportunity to organize groups to study and develop plans of actions directed at replacing the system. Nothing will happen to replace the system if the people do not get involved and execute specific plans of actions.  Also, change will not happen overnight.

The first order of business is to organize and develop a plan of approach to addressing the problem. The need for this process is important because it saves time and energy. For example, developing a plan to replace the chief of police, if effective, might bring about some relief, but would not solve the problem because the chief is simply one part of the total organization. Any plan to be effective must understand the system and its organizational structure in order to replace it completely. Some of the tools available to the people include political power—finding suitable candidates for the various offices and supporting them to victory; political pressure—the people putting pressure on current politicians to introduce legislation written to address many of the current problems in the justice system; the law—suing the city, police, Fraternal Order of the Police for as much money as possible so they get the message that injustice also comes with a price. Whatever approach taken must involve all concerned citizens, not just the vocal ones, and it must start at the local level.

We have heard all the excuses offered by law enforcement to justify their actions; excuses like “I felt threatened,” or “I felt my life was in danger,” or “I thought he was going for his gun,” or “I was afraid for my life.” All of these excuses and others have been offered as reasons for using deadly force, and yet, in spite of their fears and feelings of trepidations, many of these officers remain on the force. If they are in a state of constant fear or insecure feelings, they should not be in law enforcement. How can they “serve and protect” when they are under constant stress?

In addition to the individual excuses we hear the all too often references to the “bad apples” in the department or the “need for more training,” or “the need for more officers,” or “our lives are on the line every day.” While all those reasons might be valid in some cases, none of the excuses explains why departments do not do a better job of vetting future officers or explain why some officers think it is fine to knowingly use excessive force, or officers using common sense and a degree of patience before resorting to deadly force, or spend more time educating departments and officers on the meaning of all people living in a diverse society rather than training in military combat tactics. Enough with all the excuses; ways and actions speak louder than words ever will.

We, the people, are tired of the unjust actions of the criminal justice system and its agents as well as the over-used excuses to try to justify and maintain the system. We are not trying to appeal to a sense of Christian fellowship or valuing our common humanity or democratic principles when we protest and ask for fairness for ourselves and fellow citizens, but to human decency and to a simple attempt to know the difference between right and wrong, and to seek to do what is right.

We should not take lightly the necessity for change in the system of justice as it continues to wreak havoc on the lives of people of color in general and show disregard for the rights of many of its citizens. To seek a replacement of the unjust system is not a suggestion, but a responsibility as noted in the Declaration of Independence: “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.” The founding fathers believed that replacing a corrupt and abusive system was not simply a choice but a “duty” of the people. The focus is not replacing the government, but the abusive system. We should not look to violence as part of a remedy for injustices, but the legal tools that are available and most of all, the people.

Change and replacement of the criminal justice system will not come easy or quickly because of the long years of its entrenchment, but it must come. Any plan for replacement must begin at the local level and involve as many people possible—strength in numbers. People wanting to join in the effort should look for groups and/or organizations already active in the process. Joining efforts with other individuals and organizations does not mean one has to agree with everything the group or organization represents but agreeing on replacing the justice system should be the primary focus.

Paul R. Lehman,D. L. Hughley and Megyn Kelly’s exchange on race an example of nation’s problem

July 21, 2016 at 3:48 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, American Racism, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Constitutional rights, democracy, discrimination, Disrespect, Dr. Robin DiAngelo, entitlements, Equal Opportunity, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, Ferguson, freedom of speech, happiness, justice, justice system, law enforcement agencies, liberty, Media and Race, Minnesota, police force, political tactic, Prejudice, race, Race in America, racism, skin color, social justice system, white supremacy, whites | Leave a comment
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One of the primary challenges associated with European Americans and African Americans attempting to have a rational and reasonable discussion concerning ethnic bigotry (racism) falls directly on the fact that the social conditioning received by European Americans does not allow them to see themselves as the bigots they are conditioned to be. The invention and instituting of the system of European American (white) supremacy and African American (black) inferiority achieved that objective. Since they are conditioned to see themselves and their social perception as normal and natural, only the people who do not look like them belong to a race, not them, because they believe they represent the model for the human race. Therefore, when a conversation relative to ethnic bigotry begins, the European Americans generally, are ignorant as to their opinions and perceptions being biased.

In an article, “White Fragility: Why it’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism,” by Robin DiAngelo, (http://goodmenproject.com 7/23/2015) in commenting about this restricted social conditioning of European Americans noted that “Yes, we will develop strong emotionally laden opinions, but they will not be informed opinions. Our socialization renders us racially illiterate. When you add a lack of humility to that illiteracy (because we don’t know what we don’t know), you get the break-down we so often see when trying to engage white people in meaningful conversations about race.” An example of what DiAngelo wrote about can be observed in a recent (7/14/2016) exchange between Megyn Kelly and D. L. Hughley on Fox News.

The system of supremacy through its institutional control allows the European American to “move through a wholly racialized world with a unracialized identity (e.g. white people can represent all humanity, people of color can only represent their racial selves).” The assumption of supremacy in opinions and perceptions is consistently manifested by Kelly throughout the exchange. For example, when Hughley makes the comment that he believes police are given the benefit of innocence from any wrongful act they may or may not have committed, Kelly is quick to come to the defense of the police. That defense in carried in the statements that referred to allowing the information before and after the event to come to the final decision that’s given. Hughley counters Kelly by suggesting that when the evidence of what happened is right before one’s eyes, waiting to acquire all the information that occurred before and after the event does not change the event. Kelly continued to disagree with Hughley and maintains her support for the police.

Kelly’s behavior showed signs of stress because Hughley did not accept her viewpoint which comes, if we remember, from a restricted and biased point of view. In essence, Hughley’s opinions cannot be accepted on their merits because they do not coincide with Kelly’s which she considers superior to his.

Stress became apparent on Kelly when the subject of racism is introduced when Hughley made the comment that “The only place racism doesn’t exist is Fox News and the police department,’ which he said sarcastically, but Kelly took seriously. Her comment to Hughley was “Come on, come on. That’s insulting.”For European Americans and Kelly in particular, speaking about racism is very uncomfortable because it is a challenge to their and her perception of it.

When Kelly tries to change the focus of the discussion from the Minnesota shooting of Philando Castile to the Brown shooting of Ferguson, Missouri, Hughley tried to direct her back to the original subject. However, she resisted and fell back to the point of law enforcement acquiring all the information before a decision concerning a shooting is made. Hughley made reference to personal experiences where the judgment of police was in question and would not relinquish control of the exchange to Kelly. The main point that Hughley was trying to make consistently throughout the exchange was that racism was a systemic and institutional fact, but Kelly seemingly could not and would not accept that point.

The exchanged between Kelly and Hughley began its conclusion when Kelly made the comment that “It is very dangerous when you get to the point where you paint an entire group with the same brush based on the bad actions of a few.”She apparently did not realize that statement could be applied in a variety of ways, not just the way she had intended it. Hughley replied to that comment saying “That is amazing to hear on this network. That really is.” She seemingly did not realize that her network has the reputation of following that practice with certain social groups.

Consequently, stress came to a head for Kelly and so using her power of control she ended the exchange, interrupting Hughley, and thanking him for being there. By abruptly ending the exchange we see the degree of stress she experiences when things do not go the way she had wanted them. We also see how unprepared she was to address the subject of ethnic bias (racism) with an opinionated and informed person of color like Hughley.

DiAngelo describes a situation that could explain the exchange between Kelly and Hughley we she wrote that: “Socialized into a deeply internalized sense of superiority and entitlement that we [European Americans (whites)] are either not consciously aware of or can never admit to ourselves, we become highly fragile in conversations about race.” She continued by noting that “We [European Americans (whites] experience a challenge to our racial worldview as a challenge to our very identities as good, moral people. It also challenges our sense of rightful place in the hierarchy. Thus we perceive any attempt to connect us to the system of racism as a very unsettling and unfair moral offense.” So, any effort to associate the institutional system of European American (white) supremacy and African American (black) inferiority and fear with European Americans is unacceptable and unwarranted.

Today, in America we need to be mindful of the different perspectives involved when attempting a discussion on ethnic bigotry;  and with the changing social and political atmosphere deconstructing the notion and value of race, we must come to the understanding that the new atmosphere must replace the old one, not accommodate it.

Paul R. Lehman, Dialogues on race will not unite America, but keep it divided.

July 15, 2016 at 6:15 pm | Posted in African American, American history, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, democracy, desegregation, discrimination, Dorothy Roberts, Dr. Robin DiAngelo, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, integregation, justice, law enforcement agencies, Louisiana, Minnesota, minority, police force, poor, Prejudice, race, Race in America, skin color, social justice system, socioeconomics, Texas, University of Penn., upper class, white supremacy, whites | 2 Comments
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Since the recent incidents in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Texas, where the lives of African Americans and European Americans have been lost, many protest marches  across the country, many town hall meetings, and many talk shows have been conducted that focused on America being a divided country because of color—black and white. The objectives of all these activities are to somehow bring the country together harmoniously. Many recommendations and plans will be suggested and some will be implemented in an effort to correct the recent and decades-old injustices committed against African Americans by European Americans. Unfortunately, all the plans, programs, and recommendations will be short-lived because we cannot be united until we learn and fix what keeps us divided. No problem based on race will ever be resolved talking about race—black and white. Every discussion that involves race can only go in a circle; we know circles have no ends.

In order to resolve a problem involving race we must get beyond race, i.e.…we must establish an approach to discussing the nature of the problem without invoking the concept of race because if we do not, then we accomplish nothing but a waste of time. Let us be specific in identifying the problem that keeps America divided. If we say the answer is race, we are partially correct because race is the key word. However, our acceptance of the concept of race is the problem. Ever since the founding fathers invented the concept of a black race and a white race, separate and unequal, we Americans have been living our lives based on a myth, a falsehood, and an invention. The problems we experience as a divided society today are all based on our acceptance of the false concept of race. The reason for the invention of races was control of the people, all the people. For European Americans, the concept of superiority was important and necessary in order to serve as a buffer between the slaves, the poor, and the élite. The invention was/is known as the system of white supremacy and black inferiority.

The system of white supremacy does not exist in isolation, but must have the component of black inferiority to complete its existence. Both terms are different sides of the same coin. The system of supremacy became the focus of social conditioning of the psyches of all Americans. For European Americans, according to Dr. Robin DiAngelo, a European American scholar, “We [European Americans/whites] have set the world up to preserve that internal sense of superiority and also resist challenges to it. All while denying that anything is going on and insisting that race is meaningless to us.” In other words, the system of white supremacy was created to protect and perpetuate itself. She adds:”We have organized society to reproduce and reinforce our racial interest and perspectives. Further, we are centered in all matters deemed normal, universal, benign, neutral and good.”

The founding fathers based their invention of races on the color of skin which was illogical as well as irrational because skin color is not a constant determinant of race. At the time the invention was instituted the founding fathers had control of society and the power to enforce their laws. The legacy of their invention relative to people of color, and African Americans, in general, was the elements of danger, anger, fear, and hatred. These negative elements relative to people of color were/are processed as natural and normal to the perception and understanding of European Americans. African Americans were forced to view themselves in public to conform to the perception of the biased European American views. The actions of some members of law enforcement today underscore the retention of the beliefs that the system of Supremacy promoted. Our understanding of the system of white supremacy and how it influences our perceptions should tell us that any discussion involving race in society is tainted if the bias concept of white supremacy is not replaced. In essence, too many European Americans view African Americans and people of color as inferior normally. Since that is the case, any idea of fairness and justice by these European Americans will be influenced by their ethnic bias, much of which they never realize or recognize because it has always been natural and normal to them. Unfortunately, when the European American’s biased viewpoint is challenged, they can become offended because they think their sense of objectivity is being challenged.

The most challenging part of bringing together our divided country is replacing the concept of race and its lack of authenticity and reliability. A recent comment by Dorothy Roberts, a University of Pennsylvania professor, underscores the point. Race has never been defined with any consistency and Professor Roberts adds: “That’s because race is based on cultural, legal, social and political determinations, and those groupings have changed over time. As a social scientist, looking at biologists treating these groupings as if they were determined by innate genetic distinctions, I’m dumbfounded. There’s so much evidence that they’re invented social categories. How you can say this is a biological race is just absurd. It’s absurd. It violates the scientific evidence about human beings.”Unfortunately, many European Americans choose to hold on tightly to the myth.

If we can accept the factual information we know about race and supremacy, then any discussion that speaks to resolving problems concerning the concept of race must begin with a forthright rejection of a black and a white race, and the normal perception of the inferiority of people of color by European Americans . If those changes do not occur, then no reasonable and fair discussion can take place. In essence, race cannot be a part of that discussion if race is assumed to be an acceptable and legal term. We must come to understand that what divides America is the illusion of race and racial differences. If we do not debunk those illusions, we have no basis from which to build a construction together. If we are going to solve the social problems that are the results of ethnic biases, we must do so as social equals.

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