Paul R. Lehman, Bigotry in our language is a not so hidden secret we can afford to ignore

September 3, 2018 at 6:44 pm | Posted in Africa, African American, African American hair, American history, American Racism, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Civil Right's Act 1964, Constitutional rights, criminal justice, Declaration of Independence, discrimination, DNA, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, fairness, Hair, Human Genome, identity, justice, justice system, language, law, Media and Race, minorities, Negro, Prejudice, race, Race in America, racism, skin color, skin complexion, Slavery, social conditioning, social justice system, socioeconomics, white supremacy, whites | 2 Comments
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The objective from the very beginning was division and on a permanent basis as the reason the founding fathers invented two races, a black and a white. Unlike the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution that said we are one people, the concept of race has kept us separate and unequal. Subsequently, if we continue believing in the concept of races we will continue to be separate and never fulfill the objective of our democracy. If we are to ever have one nation, we will have to change the way to look, speak, and act towards one another. We also need to understand that the language we use helps to keep us separate. For example, as long as some people view themselves as black and white, they will not come together because of the historical significance of those words. They were meant to keep us apart.

Many well-meaning civic groups actually work against themselves by choosing a name that creates a negative and defensive feeling in others towards them. Take, for example, Black Lives Matter, a group that has an objective that is in keeping with the concept of democracy, but because of the word black in the name, it creates a defensive reaction in the minds of many European Americans.

We also have groups that use words like white, Aryan and caucasian that they believe makes them different from people who do not look like them. Their pronounced goal is to save or preserve the so-call white race. They need to visit history to learn what happens to people who are separated or separate themselves from other people; they become extinct, like for example, the Australian Tasmanian Aboriginals, and in America, the Eire people and the colony of Roanoke.

When civic activists call for unity among people of color, they miss the opportunity to enhance their programs by not inviting all concerned people. We as a society have been conditioned to identify ourselves based on our so-called differences when our objective should be for all to use the same identity. We are all Americans, so why is it necessary to use color or ethnicity as part of identity? When visitors come to America, they come using their cultural identity. When Americans get a passport they provide a picture, but no racial or ethnic identity, because our cultural identity is American, not black or white, Hispanic or Asian etc.

We do ourselves a constant disservice by identifying ourselves as separate groups which have been our legacy since slavery. We have to grasp the reality of our situation understanding that the concept of biological races is a myth, invention, social construction, and lie. Prior to the Human Genome Project, everything about races with the numerous divisions, classifications, and characteristics was conjecture and opinion. We now have scientific proof, validation, and evidence that all human beings are more alike than penguins, and the skin complexion, eye shape and color, and hair texture are not unique to a select group of human beings. We are of one race of beings whether we like it or not.

We might think that language does not play so great a part in our lives and our behavior, but studies old and recent underscore the fact that when the words black and white are used in a sentence referring to an identity, a measured reaction occurs. The reaction for the European American, usually an increased heartbeat, is observed when the word black is used because of the social conditioning associated with the word. African Americans do not experience a similar reaction when the word white appeared in a sentence because they are conditioned to seeing it and without feeling threatened.

The media in American society contributes greatly to the separation of ethnic groups by the way they use inappropriate identity language. For example, if a bank is robbed and the robber was apprehended, nothing pertaining to the robbery is gained when the ethnicity of the robber is identified. Except, in American society today the identity of the robber is omitted if he or she happens to be European American, but the identity is almost always given when the robber ‘s identity is a person of color. The effect of the naming the identity of the ethnic person serves to strengthen the negative stereotype society already has of the person of color.

Another way in which the media contributes to the negative stereotypes and biased attitudes held by some Americans relative to people of color has to do with the mentioning of the geographic location of an incident that is readily identified as being in a location where predominately people of color reside. Again, the mere mention of the location adds to the negative stereotype held by many people familiar with the location.

Today, with all the problems America is facing relative to our government and the various policies being addressed both positively and negatively, we need to take the opportunity to add our concept of race and identity into the mix and deal with it once and for all. We continue to talk about racism as if it was legitimate rather than bigotry which is what has been and continues to be practiced in society. Yes, our language uses the word racism to talk about social biases, but simultaneously serves to keep the concept of races alive and our society separate. We need to decide what kind of society we want to live in as well as our children and grandchildren. Once we make that choice, we need to get to work and make it happen. We have been talking about racism for three hundred years to no avail because we are still talking about it without a change in the daily behaviors of people. Racism is not the problem, we are because we refuse to accept the fact that we have been living in a false reality. What we cannot continue pretending to not see is the rapidly changing demographics that will force changes in society relative to cultural and ancestral identities.

We currently have an opportunity to make great strides in addressing our oneness as a society by debunking the myth of race and working to make America what it was meant to be a democracy. We will not and cannot get to where we want, and need, to be if we do not change from using our misleading ethnically biased language of bigotry.

Paul R. Lehman, President Obama’s critics on “You didn’t do that,” get it wrong

August 12, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Posted in Bigotry in America, blacks, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, fairness, justice, Prejudice, President, President Obama, Respect for President, whites | 2 Comments
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The “Opinion” writer for The Oklahoman wrote an article recently in which the focus was on a number of individuals—Erie Halliburton, Steve Jobs, Sam Walton, Steve Wozniak and  several others—as examples of businessmen who supposedly were successful through their efforts alone. The article was an attempt to cast aspersions on President Barack Obama’s comment that underscored the fact that no one living in a society becomes successful totally on their own. Many of the President’s critics have “jumped on the band wagon” with regards to his comment. They tried to use his statement to denigrate him by showing individuals who have been successful in business through their efforts only.

Anyone with an iota of common sense fully understood the President’s comment, because in addition to making the statement “You didn’t do that,” he also gave some very clear-cut examples of what he meant. Nonetheless, the article entitled “Walmart, Sara Lee, iPod…Who built those, exactly?” shows just how foolish and simple-minded some people can be in their misguided ignorance.

The article focused on each man and told how each became successful. For example, the article began with the quote: “You didn’t bake that,” and continued by relating how Charles Lubin worked and built his business—Sara Lee. Next, the article stated “You didn’t frac that,” followed by the story of how Erle P. Halliburton began his business and turned in into a gigantic success: what Halliburton started in Duncan, Oklahoma in 1919, with a borrowed wagon and a team of mules, “now employs more than 70,000 people in 80 countries.”

The article continued to identify a number of successful people in business with the intent of proving the President wrong. The writer mockingly noted “Yes, Mr. President, you did say that –in the Roanoke speech—declaring, ‘If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.’” The writer then actually admits to taking words out of context: “And, yes, these words can be taken out of context to score political points.” The writer proceeded to take them out of context: “Yet they precisely reflect the Obama worldview that nothing significant (global enterprises, fracking, the Internet, etc.) can happen unless the government makes it happen.”

The writer of the opinion did not realize that the examples offered in this article proved President Obama’s point. None of these people could have been successful if they lived on an island with few people, no roads or lines of communication, no manufacturers to provide equipment needed to create a business, no people to purchase the goods and/or services produced. In essence, what the President said was correct—the gifts made possible and available to individuals living in a society are vital and necessary for the making of a successful business.

The arguments put forth in criticism of the President’s statement totally ignored his point–as members of a social community all members contribute to its well-being. The focus of the President’s statement was not on the governments—local, state, and national—impact on an individual’s business success, but on the contributions of those communities in being part of that success. Unless an individual can lay claim to producing the materials that went into the manufacturing of his/her goods or services, creating the advertisement, clientele, marketing, distribution, and  delivery of the business, then the concept of doing it all by one’s self is a myth. Lubin did not grow or produce the ingredients that went into making his cheesecake, somebody else did that.

What the writer forgot to include in the examples of the successful business people was the process involved in becoming successful. That process would have shown all the necessary goods and services that contribute to the businesses’ success. The President was correct in paying tribute to all the men and women who used their mind and talents to create the ideas and plans for their businesses, but we know that building a successful business is not a one person process.

The point President Obama made in stating “You didn’t do that,” is simply what he meant in the context of people living in a society. For all the President’s  critics who try to make his comments appear to discredit successful business people and attempt to insert the influence and impact of the government as the main source of success, they are just plain wrong. If anyone believes that one person can build a successful business alone, they need to first understand that the primary objective of any business is to make a profit. How does one make a business and a profit alone?

President Obama in making the statement “You didn’t do that,” was simply trying to underscore the power and opportunities available to the individual living and working in a society together with others. His critics try to find fault in the statement by claiming he is not giving praise and credit to the individuals whose ideas, hard work, and dedication helped to bring them success. Their image of a successful person resembles that on the rough and tough individual who all alone met challenges and overcame them, like the earlier pioneers. They forgot that even the Lone Ranger had a companion in Tonto. The President presented a picture of the individual with an idea working in a society that is supportive of the individual and his or her ideas. In essence, in a society is where people can experience more success by working together rather than each individual trying to go his or her way alone.

What was it about the President’s statement that his critics didn’t get?

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