Paul R. Lehman, Trump’s use of the s—hole word more than a slip of the tongue

January 27, 2018 at 1:46 pm | Posted in Africa, democracy, ethnic stereotypes, European Americans, political tactic, President Trump, racism, respect, The Oklahoman | 1 Comment
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A recent statement published in the “Your Views” section of The Oklahoman (1/24/2018) by Georgia Newton showed how brief statements can reveal more about us than we might think. The title of the statement is “Grow up,” which can suggest a number of interpretations. Although the statement is brief, it provides a considerable amount of food for thought.

The first sentence stated: “President Trump’s alleged question about  ‘s—hole countries’ reminds me of something that happened when I was 12.” We know that Newton is an adult and has an opinion concerning the question allegedly made by Trump concerning countries inhabited primarily by people of color. We also know that she will compare Trump’s use of that “s” word to something remembered from her past. We know, in addition, from the title, that she has an emotional connection to the word.

In her second sentence, we are told about her experience when she was 12: “My cousin and I were playing a game of Monopoly and something didn’t go my way, and I said the same bad word.”  We now know that her experience involved playing a board game with her cousin during which she encountered a bad experience. As a result of that experience, she uttered the same ‘s’ word which she labeled as bad. We learned that sometimes when things did not go her way she reacted by using bad words.

Her third sentence indicated that “My cousin said she was going to tell on me—and she did.” From the actions of her cousin, we learned that the ‘s’ word was not socially acceptable in her family. Had the word been acceptable, telling an adult would serve no purpose. We were not informed of the repercussion she encountered from her cousin telling on her.

Her fourth sentence told us more about Newton: “Our lawmakers are making such a big deal over this!” This sentence indicated a lack of understanding relative to the significance of the ‘s’ word used in a negative context and with direct reference to countries of people of color. The political implications relating to the diplomatic relations that America has with those countries were underscored by the “Lawmakers making a big deal over “ it because they understood the possible repercussions from such a negative characterization.

Newton’s next utterance of “Really?” showed that her attention was simply on the use of a “bad word” as opposed to who used the word, namely, Trump, when and where he used it. Had she been fully aware of the history of Trump and his history with people of color, she might have given it a second thought. The fact that she asked the question indicated that she did not place any diplomatic significance on the lawmakers’ reactions to Trump’s use of the word in conjunction with the negative associations of his biases.

Newton’s final words were:”Grow up!” We can only assume that her command was directed towards the lawmakers who were making a big deal of the use of the bad word. However, her choice of phrase reflected more on her arrogance and lack of understanding relative to the situation than to the lack of maturity on the part of the lawmakers. The phrase “Grow up” means to progress toward or arrive at the full stature of physical and/or mental maturity, or to develop from childhood towards adulthood. Evidently, that definition is not what Newton had in mind when addressing the lawmakers since the qualifications for officer holders are well-established for adults. Her use of that phrase was probably meant to challenge their intellectual growth.

The fact that Newton would criticize the lawmakers for taking offense at Trump’s use of the ‘s’ words in the context in which it was used indicated that she was not conversant with the diplomatic history of the situation. The command also indicated that she had no problem with the use of “bad words” in general since they represent no big deal. The fact that ethnic bigotry and the social value of people of color was not readily apparent to Newton indicated that she simply viewed the ‘s’ word in isolation. Evidently, she believes that using socially unacceptable language is fine if one is upset or things are not going his or her way. That attitude suggests behavior more akin to a child than an adult.

An indication of the level of maturity questioned in Newton’s statement occurred when she used and compared a childhood incident in which she used the ‘s’ word to the one used by the President of the United States. She, unlike the lawmakers, saw no difference in the use of the word. The fact that she equated the use of the word in both cases as similar speaks volumes about her intellectual maturity. No one questions Newton’s right to speak freely about whatever she wants to address; however, once she has spoken, and publically, the readers have the freedom to comment on what was said, and view it critically.

Newton’s command to “grow up” at the end of her statement suggested that she was a grown up and that she judged the lawmakers, and subsequently, those who believed as did the lawmakers, not to be grown-ups.  Unfortunately, the fact that she did not understand the seriousness of Trump’s use of the ‘s’ word and the political impact it would have on our diplomatic relations with the countries included in his statement showed a lack of knowledge regarding the situation. Her lack of knowledge, nevertheless, did not prevent her from assuming a lack of intellectual maturity on the part of the lawmakers. What we readers discovered from Newton’s statement was the lack of information, knowledge, perception, and maturity from her as an adult.

As she continues to mature our hope is that Newton realizes that words do not exist in a vacuum and depending on how they are used, they have consequences that can range from soft and sweet to dangerous. Words also have histories, and knowledge of that history can be very important when used in a certain context. Really? Really.

 

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Paul R. Lehman, President Trump is not a racist, but he seemingly does not mind being called one

January 13, 2018 at 1:10 am | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, President Trump, Race in America, racism, skin color, skin complexion, whites | 1 Comment
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What strikes some Americans as interesting and humorous is the reaction to President Trump’s bigoted remarks in general, but the recent remarks about countries of brown people. Trump has been a bigot all his life, so why would he change at this late date in his life. He would not and possibly could not because this bigotry was part of the normal flavor of his entire social environment.

Many people are asking the question: Is President Trump a racist? The answer is no; he is not a racist. Being called a racist for people with an ethnic bias towards people of color is not a criticism of them, but a compliment. The reason is simple. The term racist represents the view of a large group of people holding the same beliefs of a race by color or white (European American) supremacy and African American (black) inferiority. The term racist actually underscores the belief the group holds, so the label reasserts that bias belief. Since the term racist is a derivative of the word race, and the word race relative to the invention of a so-called black race and a white race is bogus, then the concept of individuals being racist, believing that the European Americans are superior is false regardless of the fact that it is used as a part of the American parlance. So, what is President Trump if he is not a racist?

President Trump is a bigot and has been since his formative years in America. His bigotry was not something that was taught him specifically but was a part of his social environment. What too many Americans fail to realize is that America is a bigoted society and has been since the founding fathers invented the system of European American supremacy. We do not have to guess about the truthfulness of this bigotry, all we need to do is look at the history of the African American experience is American and the challenges of the civil rights activists to verify the existence of bigotry. The problem that exists and notably with Trump is that the bigotry was obtained as a natural characteristic or feature of his social, private and public environment. That being the case, he as well as other Americans do not recognize the abuse, unjust, inhumane, and un-American treatment of African Americans and people of color as abnormal.

The social system under which Trump and many other European Americans grew-up under did not recognize African Americans and people of color as well as poor European American people as having any social value worthy of attention. So, for the most part, people of color, in particular, became invisible to European Americans unless they were in daily contact with them. The contact, however, was more often than not experienced as occurring between superior European Americans and inferior people of color.

The many negative stereotypes of not only African Americans but also people of color in other parts of the world prevailed in the bigoted American psyche. For example, the visual and mental descriptions of Africans as ignorant, barbaric, cannibals with bones in their hair, running around in circles half naked were deliberate and vile examples of ethnic bigotry. Nonetheless, those images and descriptions were taken as facts and incorporated into the mind of many European Americans like Trump. The results of these negative stereotypes of African Americans and people of color served to support the lack of social value afforded them by European Americans. The negative stereotypes were presented to American society in such a way that the European Americans, as well as some of the people of color, did not recognize the pictures that were being painted. One of the major influences of American bigotry was in the motion picture industry in that African Americans were not seen on the big screen except in rolls of servitude or villains.

The point here is that many of the European Americans today who say they are surprised and or offended by Trumps bigoted comments need to take a look at the society in which they live and when and where they have objected to the injustice, abuse, discrimination, and bigotry of African Americans and turned a blind eye, a deaf ear, and a closed mouth at what they observed. Many European Americans are hypocrites if anything about bigotry in society because they know it exists and chose to ignore it.

What is so disheartening about the situation in America today is that many reasonable, intelligent, patriotic Americans recognized the bigotry in Trump years ago but still do nothing but stand by and let the values, positive leadership and integrity of America slip by the wayside. No, Trump is not a racist but many people will try and argue the point when nothing is to be gained from their efforts. Hardly anyone, it seems, is offended by being called a racist because that term identifies a member of a group, not simply an individual. However, when a person is called a bigot, they then must accept direct responsibility and defend themselves or admit to the charge. Either way, the biased mindset is not placed in a group, but the individual in question. That is why Trump is not a racist, but a bigot.

The recent derogatory remarks made by Trump regarding Haiti and Africa immigrants underscore the hypocrisy that exists not only in Congress but in society as well. Why was it only two of the six-plus senators had the courage to speak up and call the remarks offensive and biased? A probable answer is because the other senators saw nothing unusual or out of the ordinary about the comments. Even after word of the remarks had been made public the general reaction of some senators was like this was simply business, as usual, no need to get upset about what the President said.

Ethnic bigotry is a common fact in American life and little has affected many European Americans’ view of African Americans and people of color. Fortunately, change continues to force glimmers of light and reality through the darkness of biased ignorance that tries to hold back progress. Time and change are on the side of light.

Paul R. Lehman, African American celebrities meeting with President elect Trump–a perspective

January 22, 2017 at 4:02 am | Posted in African American, American history, birther, Constitutional rights, Criticism, Disrespect, European American, freedom of speech, Media and Race, meetings with the President-elect, Oklahoma, politicians, President, protest | 1 Comment
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Once President Trump won the nomination and set up his office in Trump Tower, he had numerous individuals coming to pay him a visit. Among some of these visitors were a number of popular African Americans. Because of the baggage that President Trump brought with him from his campaign that was seen as ethnically biased against African Americans, many people questioned the reasons for African Americans going to Trump Tower. Regardless of their reasons for visiting with then President-elect Trump, the photo opportunity after the meetings of these African Americans with Trump sent a message that he was using them to show the country and the world that he was not biased. The problem with that interpretation is that these African American individuals represented only themselves, not the national community of people of color.

Some years ago, a European American politician in Oklahoma was asked why he did not come into the African American community to campaign for votes. He answered that he had met with all the important African Americans in the community and paid them off for the community’s vote. So, there was no need to try to win the votes of individuals when he already had the community vote in his pocket. In other words, all this politician had to do was to meet with a few popular African American and pay them to publicly support his campaign. So, although we are not questioning the rights and integrity of the individual African Americans who visited with Trump nor their reasons for the visit, we do not want the lasting impression from their visits to be that they were making a deal with him on behalf of the African American people. The African American citizens have not given their voting power or influence to any popular African American individual nor can they because African Americans and people of color do not represent a monolith.

When America saw various African Americans of note having their pictures taken with President-elect Trump and saying words in praise of him, that occasion gave many of them an opportunity to pause and think about what they saw. Why, after a campaign that was filled with disparaging and negative things about people of color, not to mention the “birther” campaign that was conducted for several years, would a prominent African American want to be photographed with Trump? Regardless of their reasons, meeting with and being photographed with the President-elect was their right and privilege. However, the implications associated with such meetings bring to awareness some conundrums—did the President-elect cut any deals or make any promises with these individuals? If so, what were they, who did they impact, how will they be implemented, and when? One certainty we know from experience—deals and promises made with individuals acting as individuals are not binding to the people these individuals seemingly represent.

In addition, the photo opportunities of the African Americans with the President-elect Trump gave the viewers the suggestion that some type of negotiations might have taken place. Whether deals or promises were part of the conversations, only the parties involved know what transpired because the people were not privy to them. Again, the problem that needs to be resolved is whether the individual African Americans were representing themselves, or were they speaking on behalf of a group of people. If they were at their meetings as individuals only, then no problem exists. However, if they gave the impression that they were speaking on the behalf a group of people, then they should have said so. No single individual can know and communicate the needs and wants of every community in America specifically; that is why organizations of concerned and active people exist. The meetings with individuals create a problem of perception, not one of individual rights and privileges.

One problem with individuals meeting with Trump and having the meeting seen as an individual representing the African American community is when organized national and community organizations request meeting with Trump to discuss some concerns, his response could be that he had already discussed those concerns with one or two individuals earlier. Evidently, the organizations did not get the memo about the meetings. The fact that the photo opportunities with the African Americans and the President-elect Trump serve as evidence that he met with them could be used as proof of his concern for some of the challenges in the various communities, and then suggest that anyone with a concern seek out these African Americans for answers to their questions.

Some people might suggest in defense of these individual Africans Americans if they are not representing an organization, that Martin Luther King, Jr. met individually with leaders, so that proves the acceptance of this type of activity. No so! King always spoke as a representative of a group of concerned citizens, and he was seldom alone at such meetings. Throughout history the media has taken the opportunity, on occasion, to create spoke persons for the African American community by simply showing them again, and again responding to questions asked by the media. Booker T. Washington became a national leading figure for the African American community when the media took a quote from a speech he delivered at the 1895 Atlanta Cotton Exposition focusing on “separate but equal” status for African Americans and broadcast it nationwide. Because of that nationwide coverage, Washington became the most influential African American of his day. So, we know what exposure to the media can do for individuals.

The American public has been conditioned to think incorrectly that one person can speak for all people of color. So, when an individual of color is shown by the media making a statement or responding to a question, the public could easily view that individual as representing an entire group. Unfortunately, that perception is what comes to mind when an African American celebrity is shown in a photo opportunity with President Trump. If such meetings between Trump and African American celebrities involve problems and concerns facing African Americans and other people of color and deals are made, the strength of the groups and organizations whose purpose is to address these problems with the President or his representatives is greatly weakened.

All individual have a right to meet and speak with anyone they choose, especially if that person is the President of the United States. However, all individual do not have the right to speak for a group of people they do not officially represent or to give that impression to the public. These individuals certainly have the right to speak on any topic they choose as long as they represent only themselves.

 

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