Tags: African Americans, ancestral identity, Australian, bigotry, Bill Nye, black, Brazilian, China, cultural identity, current-events, DNA, ethnic, ethnic identity, ethnicity, European Americans, Iran, Iranian, NBA, race, Race in America, Russia, skin complexion, U.S.Census, white
When the founding fathers invented the system of European American (white) supremacy and African American (black) inferiority their basic mistake was to base their system on race by color. As long as they controlled society, they controlled the system, but they could not control the color of each group or the fact that we humans belong to one species of Homo sapiens. Time would eventually debunk the myth of race and begin to deconstruct the social conditioning forced on society. Many Americans are still today confused relative to the difference between race and ethnicity. Much of the confusion was caused by the scientist who wanted to push their own theories about race since it has never been defined socially. Even the term “white” experienced a number of transitions in its application to various immigrant groups to America—examples of Anglo-Saxon whites, free whites, lesser whites, and Caucasians were common. All these groups, including people of color, were considered ethnic groups, except the Anglo-Saxons.
With all the demographic changes taking place in America and the world today, a clear understanding of the terms race and ethnicity is in order. We began by stating that all human belongs belong to one race. What we commonly refer to as races today simply does not exist. We are all of one blood. The differences we experience in others come from our cultures and places of habitation. Those differences represent our ethnic differences and have nothing to do with race. The problem has been that we use race to mean ethnicity or confuse something purely cultural with something we think is biological. According to Bill Nye, author of Undeniable, (2014) “In evolutionary terms or fact, we are all almost identical. We each share 99.9 percent of the same DNA.”
All of our social identities are based on either our cultural and/or geographical attachments; one or the other or a combination of both geography and culture represent the ethnic identity. People from countries like China or India will have their culture included in the country’s name. The name of the country usually serves as the person’s ethnic identity if that country is the one of his or her birth. If, however, the parents of the person are known for their cultural identity, for example, American Indian, then the cultural identity serves as the ethnic identity. Because of these two influences, all people have two separate and often distinct identities—one ancestral or ethnic, and one cultural.
An example is in order here: If a Russian male and an Iranian female marries and have a child, that child will have an ancestral (ethnic) identity that includes both Russian and Iranian parents. However, depending on the country in which the parents are living, their child’s cultural identity might be totally different from the parents. That is, if the family is living in Iran, then the child’ cultural identity will, unless certain circumstances prevent it, reflect that country and culture. If for example, the couple lived in America, the child’s cultural identity would be American. At some point in the child’s life, a choice of a parent’s ethnic identity might be embraced. The child’s cultural identity of American will remain unless and until it is relinquished.
Another way of viewing ethnicity is by looking at the identities of the diverse people who come to America. No one comes to America legally with an identity where color is stipulated, only the geographical identity which more often than not includes the cultural identity. For example, many professional athletes from foreign countries come to work in America and regardless of their ethnic and/or ancestral identity, are identified by their geographical identity. For example, the following professional basketball players of brown complexions, are simply called Brazilians: Nene, Anderson Varejao, Tiago Splitter, Lucas Nogueira, Bruno Caboclo, and Leandro Barbosa. Two players from Australia, Kyrie Irving and Patty Mills, players with brown complexions, are known as Australians, not by their ethnic identities, but by geographical (cultural) ones. That is not to suggest that their ancestral identities are not important to them, they are not necessary to underscore their cultural identities.
Because our founding fathers instituted the system of supremacy and forced the social conditioning on all Americans, race has been at the core of all social challenges. All the social biases Americans of color experience today are based on race. Now that society is starting to understand the confusion caused by race by color and is working to replace the system of bigotry, not knowing what to do about race is a problem. We know that race is an illusion, but one that we have been living with since the beginning of our society. As race continues to lose its social value, it has to be replaced with something and that something is ethnic and cultural identities. Ethnic identities were and are important in collecting data so society and the government can monitor what is taking place relative to the general population and each ethnic group. The U.S. Census began in 1790 was a way to maintain and control the population, especially the ethnic groups of color. The changing demographics in our world and society continue to blur the lines of race as an acceptable term suitable for social identities.
Today, if each group is identified by ethnicity rather than race, discrimination by race would no longer possible. As society pushes through this process of change from racial identities to ethnic ones, we must recognize that arriving at ethnic identities is just a temporary pause, because the end result, in an idealistic sense, is having a need for no other identity than American.
The primary reason for some Americans to identify themselves as European American, African American, and Asian Americans etc…comes from a lack of information about their countries of origin. The results are seen in the terms European, African, Hispanic, etc… that rely on either geography or culture to fill in that space before “American” for ethnicity identification. The over-all objective of identity in our democratic society is for everyone regardless of their ancestral, ethnic or cultural identities to be seen and known as Americans. Embracing, promoting, and being proud one’s ethnic identity does not take away from the fact that America should value all ethnicities. Two facts remain—no one chooses his or her ancestral (ethnic) identity, and everyone can choose his or her cultural identity.
Tags: African American History, African Americans, American History, black, E. W. Jackson. theGrio, European Americans, lieutenant governor, Macbeth, newport news va, politics, Republicans, Shakespeare, slavery, U.S.Census, Virginia
The Republican candidate for Virginia’s lieutenant governor’s position, E. W. Jackson, has made quite a spectacle of himself with his eye-raising comments relative to African Americans as well as gay Americans. He spouts history as if he was conversant with it and his extreme views on other topics helps to create a picture of a man whose life is seemingly reflected in Shakespeare’s Macbeth’s statement that “it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” In fairness to Jackson, let us look at some of his statements to underscore our assessment of him.
In a speech delivered by Jackson recently in Newport News, VA., he said that “In 1960, most black children were raised in two-parent, monogamous families.”Taken at face value, the statement has little meaning because we do not know what “most” represents as a percentage. He did not refer to the 1960 U.S. Census as a source for his information nor did he reference any other source. In addition, he made reference to “black children,” not “African American children.”Was he using “black children” as a synonym for “African American children,” or did he not realize the difference between the two? Black children live all over the world, but African American children live predominantly in America.
Jackson continued by stating that “By now, by this time, we have only 20 percent of black children being raised in two-parent, monogamous families with a married man and woman raising those children.”So we have moved from the 1960 to now, the present, and the percentage of black children being raised in a family of monogamous, married husband and wife is at “20 percent.” We do not know if this percentage is accurate or even if it is higher or lower than the 1960s because no figure was given. What we do not know is where Jackson gets his figures, the source. He stipulates that the children live with married men and women in monogamous relationships. One wonders where he acquired that information. Jackson by-passes all the changes that occurred in America that influences the traditional family from the 1960s to the present then arrive at his 20 percent. We have no idea of his point or objective. Also, his bias towards same-sex couples stand out in his statement because he emphasizes the point of men and women in the family.
So far, Jackson’s statement shows a lack of consistency in time and purpose. In his next sentence he exclaimed, “It wasn’t slavery that did that. It was government that did that, trying to solve problems that only God can solve and that only we as human beings can solve.” We readers and listeners would really like to know what it is that slavery didn’t do. If he is attempting to attribute strong African American family traditions and ties to slavery, then he missed that boat. Evidently, he missed that part of American history that told of families being torn apart by slave masters selling various members at his pleasure. These slave families were families in blood and behavior only because slaves did not have rights.
Again, if Jackson is making a reference to African American families being adversely affected by government, he again missed the boat. We still do not know what slavery did not do, but the government did do relative to the 20 percent figure today relative to African American families. We might assume that Jackson places the blame on the government for the deteriorating traditional African American family today; however, to suggest that the government programs of the 1960s have caused more harm to the African American family than slavery is preposterous. His sentence makes little sense by suggesting that government was trying to solve problems the only God can solve. What problems is he talking about. We are still totally in the dark as to what is his objective.
At this point Jackson has lost most of us in his ranting about something that is not clearly stated or referenced. His addition of (problems) “only we as human beings can solve” misses the point of what problems and who is government. His statement seems to suggest that he believes that government and we, the people, are two totally different entities. We must question why anyone would vote for someone who talks loud, fast, and continuously, but says little of value. Some of his comments that are understandable are also polarizing. For example, in making known his anti-gay position, Jackson has referred to homosexuality as poison and that “it poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies.” When Jackson was asked about some of his extreme comments he replied that he was speaking as a pastor, not as a candidate.
The reference to Shakespeare’s Macbeth at the beginning of this blog was meant to focus on the content of Jackson’s comments, the logic, if any, that they displayed. As we examined some of his comments, we recognized that logic, for all intent and purpose, was missing. If we were to follow Jackson’s logical intent with his reference to the African American family, we might assume as a preacher, he would have questioned God’s reason for freeing the Children of Israel from Egyptian slavery since the families were intact and they could secretly practice their religion. For some unknown reason he seems to take extreme views of things that challenges logic, but thinks that people who disagree with him are at fault. We can only hope that the voters of Virginia take the time to listen carefully to what their candidates are saying before making their selection, especially for lieutenant governor.
Tags: African Americans, black, Confronting Myths, current-events, ethnicity, European Americans, eye shapes, politics, race, racism, research, science, society, U.S.Census, white
A number of articles recently focused on the topic of racism and how it negatively affects the mind and body of its victims. Studies ranging from stress and depression to heart problems have been conducted showing the detrimental effects of racism. As interesting and informative as these studies and articles are in bringing this awareness to the public eye, nothing has been said about avenues of approach to try and eliminate the problem of racism. Most articles and studies treat racism as if it is an indestructible social phenomenon that is with society to stay. If that is the considered sentiment, then what use are the studies and articles complaining about it? We have some alternatives that can be considered if we are sincere about wanting to address the issue.
Yes, we know that race is a social construct, but that does mean we must accept it as a permanent feature of American society. Polio was a problem in society until penicillin was discovered. What we as a society must do in addressing racism are to understand its cause; we know its affects. One of the causes of racism is our acceptance, support, and promotion of it. Since we know that the concept of biological races is made-up, we also know that it’s divertive, racism is also made-up. So, why do we continue to accept them as though they are legitimate features of our society? Maybe we think that if we continue talking about them, they will go away. So far that approach has not and will not work. We need to start with our conception or view of race first, before we can address the problems associated with racism.
Because we readily accept the idea of multiple biological races as a certainty, we can easily convince ourselves that superficial physical differences such as skin color, eye shapes, hair texture and numerous other physical elements constitute a so-called racial difference. They do not. The fact that we know that race is a social construct does not come from someone’s idea or suggestion. Science has offered empirical data to support that fact through DNA. For a number of years now, especially since the O.J. Simpson trial, we know that the science of DNA has provided us with conclusive data that can be duplicated time and again to underscore its reliability. So, when the scientists tell us that all human beings belong to one race, why do we not accept, believe, and communicate that concept- changing information? The fact that race by color has never been accurate or trustworthy does not seem to be enough to cause us to change our so-called racial stereotypes. We need to communicate to our society and the world that we recognize and agree with our scientists that the concept of multiple biological races is formally debunked. Knowing the truth and accepting it, however, are two different and challenging things.
Once we accept the concept of a one race world, we will then be in a position to understand that the concept of racism is equally false. We certainly cannot and should not ignore cultural and other man-made differences, but we cannot identify those differences as racial or biological. Along with the acceptance of a one race world comes the change of our own self-concept and of others as being a part of a world family. DNA scientists tell us that if we selected two people from opposite geographical locations on the planet, we could go back only six generations before we discover a common ancestry between those two people. That fact alone should tell us how much alike we are to one another. Still, we prefer to hold on to our old, false concepts of race. If we no longer identified people according to their color, how would we identify them?
The answer to that question came in 1945 from a group of world-renowned scientists assembled by the United Nations under the rubric of UNESCO. They decided that the word race was not suitable for use as a social identity because it was not accurate and reliable. They offered instead, the words ethnic group and ethnicity to be used instead of race, not a replace for it. However, during that time, American society was very much involved with the concept of race because of the privileges and opportunities it provided for those who eugenics identified as being of the white race. Many American immigrants from Italy, Poland, Russia, and Greece, along with Jewish people, were not favorably or readily welcomed here. Most were not yet considered white or America n because at that time America recognized only two races—white and black (Negro). The fact that UNESCO suggested the use of ethnic group and ethnicity instead of the word race was bad new, however, had it been accepted, the change would have negatively affect those immigrants who desperately wanted the white identity in order to enjoy all the rights and privileges of that segment of society. So, today in spite of all the data to the contrary, the U.S. Census still include on its form two races black and white.
Today in America some people hold on to their so-called racial identity and beliefs more than their religion. They do so because it might be the only positive thing of social value they have even if it is only make-believe. To many of those people, they believe it is their right to be biased and discriminate against people who do not look like they look. Because of the many negative stereotypes created about non-European ethnic Americans over the years, many people grow up in America embracing that negative stereotypes. A recent statistic concerning the practice of “Stop and Frisk” showed that out of the total number of people stopped, 88% were innocent. In addition, out of that 88%, African Americans represented 87% (check the MHP Show 3-16-13). If we as a society refuse to communicate the facts and truth about the falsity and inaccuracy of race and racism, nothing will change.
The fact that articles appear on a fairly regular basis dealing with the injustices of race and racism is evidence enough that it still exists. Because of the fact that we do not seek aggressively to debunk these concepts, we cause measurable harm to the mind and body of innocent people who do not yet know that they do not belong to a white, black, brown, yellow or any other color race. They do not need to agonize over what race is theirs—it is human. They can pick and choose their ethnic identity based on their culture and ancestry, American Indian, African American, Asian American, and Hispanic (Specify) American, or some other, but under no circumstances should it be black or white because that is where the concept of race and racism in America began. More on this topic later.