Paul R. Lehman, Reasons why European American (white) police shoot and kill African Americans

March 31, 2018 at 7:30 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American Racism, amygdala, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Breaking Ranks, criminal justice, discrimination, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, justice, justice system, law enforcement agencies, Norm Stamper, Race in America, social conditioning, the Black Codes, white supremacy, whites | 3 Comments
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The police officers shooting and killing an unarmed African American man in Sacramento, California recently should come as no surprise to anyone who has been following the news the last four to five years. The excuses for the shootings are always the same: the officers reveal that they feared for their lives or they felt their lives were threatened, or the victim made a threatening gesture or movement towards them or they thought he or she had a gun in their hands. All of these reasons are viewed as justifiable for the shooting of a suspect. On the other hand, the family of the victim always asks the questions: why did you not wait to assess the situation before you fired shots? Why did you not use another of the tools available to you like the tazer, rubber bullets, nightstick, and bean bags? Why could you not have shot him or her in the arm or leg or some non-deadly place? Why did you not give the victim time to respond to your commands?

The fact that this scenario keeps happening over and over again is not an accident or the action of a few bad officers but part of a culture that permeates the entire criminal justice system. Most officers know that regardless of their actions, their department and union will always take their word as valid over any citizen, so the fear of serious repercussions for a wrong deed does not represent an impediment to their actions. The American public has witnessed many times the results of a police shooting via video that contradicts the report of the officers. Yet, the officers walk away without being held responsible for the misdeeds committed. To blame be officers for not being held responsible for their deeds is not their fault but the system that supports them including the Attorney General, District attorney, prosecutor, judge, jury, and society.

What many African Americans understand about the criminal justice system in American is that it has always been biased against them as clearly recorded by history from before Reconstruction, the Black Codes, and Jim Crow. Many European Americans generally support law enforcement actions without question and by doing so allow injustices to continue against people of color. Some present and former police officers have readily admitted that a culture of hate, fear, anger, and bigotry against African Americans exist in law enforcement.  From where do these feelings derive? The most obvious answer identifies social conditioning as the primary contributor to ethnic bias in American society that is retained by people who become part of the criminal justice system directly and indirectly.

Norm Stamper, a former police officer and author of the book Breaking Rank (2005) underscored the European American law officers’ perception of the African Americans: “Simply put, white cops are afraid of black men. We don’t talk about it, we pretend it doesn’t exist, we claim ‘colorblindness,’ we say white officers treat black men the same way they treat white men. But that’s a lie.”These feelings are not reserved for European American law enforcers only. Paul Butler, in his book Choke Hold (2017), noted that recent scientific research shed some light on how many African Americans are generally perceived: “When people see black men they don’t know, they have a physical response that is different from their response to other people. Their blood pressure goes up and they sweat more. When a white person sees an unfamiliar black male face, the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes fear, activates.” Earlier studies also indicated that the negative reactions of European American law officers towards African American males may because by unconscious social bias rather than deliberate actions.

Michelle Alexander in her book The New Jim Crow (2013) noted that a number of studies showed how some European Americans reacted to images of European Americans and African Americans in an exercise that considered observation, interpretation, and reaction. She noted, “that racial schemas operated not only as part of conscious, rational deliberations, but also automatically—without awareness or intent.” This study might possibly explain why some European American police officers act irrationally when having to deal with African Americans and people of color in general:

One study, for example, involved a video game that placed photographs of white and black individuals holding either a gun or other object (such as a wallet, soda can or cell phone into various photographic backgrounds. Participants were told to decide as quickly as possible whether to shoot the target. Consistent with earlier studies, participants were more likely to mistake a black target as armed when he was not, and mistake a white target as unarmed, when in fact he was armed. This pattern of discrimination reflected automatic, unconscious thought processes, not careful deliberations (p. 107)

The fact that ethnic bias is central to the social conditioning in America accounts for the unconscious bias of many European Americans; that bias can be manifested either implicitly, explicitly or both. Consequently, many European Americans can honestly believe that they are not biased against African Americans because many of their friends, relatives, and associates are African American, however, that fact does not mean they are free of biases.  Alexander noted that “Implicit bias test may still show that you [European Americans] hold negative attitudes and stereotypes about blacks, even though you do not believe you do and do not want to. In the study described above, for example, black participants showed an amount of ‘shooter bias’ similar to that shown by whites” (107). Of course, fewer European Americans are shot and killed by African American police officers than by European American officers.

Armed with the scientific information from the various studies mentioned, we can assert that much more than police training is necessary to replace the biased ethnic culture in our criminal justice system. The problem of ethnic bias must be the first item on the agenda to be addressed, not through training, but education. Society must fully understand and reject the bias before it can begin to replace it.

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Paul R. Lehman, The criminal justice system must be replaced for justice to become a reality for all

September 25, 2016 at 1:34 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Constitutional rights, criminal activity, democracy, Department of Justice, Disrespect, education, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, justice, justice system, Killings in Tulsa, law enforcement agencies, Media and Race, Norm Stamper, Oklahoma, police force, Prejudice, protest, Race in America, skin color, skin complexion, social justice system, white supremacy, whites | 3 Comments
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By now most of America should realize that the continued shooting of African Americans and people of color by police officers is not just a random act of an inexperienced, untrained, misguided rookie cop. The plethora of excuses for the killings does little to avoid the conclusion that the problem is systemic—part of the culture of law enforcement nationwide. The idea of a few rogue cops committing these killings does not stand the test of validity for dismissing their actions as random while protecting the force. The fact of the matter that law enforcement culture views African Americans and people of color as the enemy or less valuable than European Americans is more than evident by the mere number of incidents that have occurred recently as well as historically.

Holding town hall meetings, public panel discussions, firing a few officers, hiring a few officers of color, making speeches and the like will do nothing in addressing the problem. The problem is the culture that views the African Americans and people of color as having less human and social value as the European American citizen. According to some former police officers, European Americans are conditioned to view African Americans with fear and trepidation. Norm Stamper has said that as an officer he experienced the fear that European American officers had for African American men. This cultural view is held by European Americans as part of their view of reality and normalcy in America, i.e. European Americans have been conditioned to not see their bigotry as a problem, but as the normal way to see society. Until they are able to see and understand that their view of reality is bigoted, the problem will persist.

The recent deaths of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, N.C. should serve as proof sufficient to underscore the charges African Americans and other people of color have made against the various police forces for many years. European Americans have been conditioned to view police and other law enforcers as public servants whose characters project honesty, truth, justice, loyalty, dedication and integrity, and certainly, many officers do project those qualities. What the African American community has been saying for years is that they are not viewed or treated by law enforcement the same as European Americans and therefore their relationships are not the same. Now that America and the world can witness via video just what happens in many of these cases, the call to replace the system and culture of criminal justice in America should be readily acceptable to all.

What we witness in Crutcher and Scott cases goes totally against the picture of law enforcement presented to the general public. The fact that the police not only lie about their actions but also create false reasons for their actions; these faults constitute deceit. The tacit of trying to find something considered socially unacceptable in the African American victim’s background to make him or her appear in a negative light is below contempt. The result is that the element of trust in law enforcement is no longer possible. We are not indicting all individuals who have taken the oath to serve and defend, but when time and again the result of any actions involving the killing of an African American with little or no repercussions for the officers, we have to ask, where is the justice?

The protests that we witness around the country are not against police officers, but the system and culture in which they work that discriminates against African Americans. These protests must continue and include more citizens of all ethnic identities, especially, European Americans. The media present most protest involving African Americans as an African American protest when in fact it is a protest by American citizens because the problems being underscored by the protestors are American made. All Americans should be affected by the videos of unarmed citizens being shot by police officers and the subsequent lack of appropriate justice for their acts.

The American criminal justice system must be replaced, not adjusted, expanded or tweaked because the core of the system would not be affected. The core in place presently views African Americans in a negative and uncomplimentary perspective, and because of that view, they are treated with a lack of respect. That view must be replaced with one that views all people as valuable human beings worthy of respect and deserving the protection and service given by law enforcement. To fully address the problem of injustice, European Americans must be educated to observe, speak, and behave in a way that includes them and all human beings in the family of mankind. In order to begin the process of replacement, all citizens must be educated to the fact that the concept and belief in a system of biological races is a myth, false, made-up. No one’s skin complexion gives him or her preferences of any nature over another human being, except by man-made laws. The protests today are focused on getting rid of those unjust laws.

The social conditioning received by European Americans relative to skin complexion has been so overwhelming that separating the fact from fiction is a monumental challenge. However, society is rapidly changing its demographic profile to the point that the social value of white versus black skins will have little to no value. Some Americans turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the protests now happening in society thinking that since only African Americans are involved that they are not affected by whatever the problems might be. They will learn that they are directly implicated in the problems and must become a part of the change or remain a part of the problem.

If Americans who view the videos showing the treatment of African American citizens by law enforcement  want to become involved in making positive change, they should not only voice their concerns to local authorizes but also seek out organizations and/or civic group where they can become active participants. If no such groups are readily available, they can start one to focus on the problems that need changing. Words without actions is just hot air

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.

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