Watch the Throne: Closing the Black Male Generational Gaps

At a time when Black boys suffer from the conspiracy of their destruction, the guidance from the older generations of strong Black men is much needed. The disconnect between our young brothers (myself included) and the older brothers is most prevalent among African American males.

The generational disunion between Blacks was engrained in our psyches about 300 years ago by an ingenious slave trainer named Willie Lynch. Na’im Akbar writes about the systematical strategy to divide the slave community as a form of control in his highly important book Breaking the Chains of Psychological Slavery, and he mentions age as a primary detachment.

This isn’t the time to go in detail about our mental enslavement, but I do urge you to read Dr. Akbar’s book. Instead, this is a space to remind my brothers that we must challenge the “divide–and-conquer” strategy by closing the generational gaps. Accordingly, I commend the Rev. Tyrone P. Jones, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Guilford in Columbia, MD.

He attempted to bring this goal into fruition by organizing and uniting the male members and visitors of the church. The “100 Men in Black” Sunday brought Black men together in solidarity, and it was a call for the older brothers to close the generational gaps by teaching the younger brothers and preparing them for the future.

In his sermon Jones said, “Every man has the responsibility to pass on something worthwhile to that of a younger generation.” As men, we should heed this message to prepare the throne for our counterparts coming after us and to fulfill our purpose.

Every man has the responsibility to pass on something worthwhile to that of a younger generation.

No matter how effectively a man leads or performs his duties, he can’t and shouldn’t hold on to power forever. Eventually, he will have to give up the crown and the throne to someone else. In order for the next “king” to lead effectively, the incumbent man in power must prepare him effectively.

Additionally, knowledge and wisdom should be passed on to younger generations, because God commands it. As Jones proclaimed, “God is looking for your willingness to give to others.”

God is looking for your willingness to give to others.

With negative images in entertainment and news, Black boys need positive Black men doing positive things to be their role models and to be the images to emulate.  Although the younger generations should be watching the throne, these exemplar men have to reach out to boys and young men and show their genuine compassion and care. All young Black males, whether privileged or underserved, need positive, strong Black men to express their love and concern for their futures and wellbeing.

Just as men should reach out to the younger generations, boys should “watch the throne” by being willing to learn and to grow from the older men’s lessons. One day, they will be the men in charge. Without Black men at the heads of their communities with strong Black women beside them, (I didn’t forget about the sisters) we can’t advance, break the chains of psychological slavery deeply imbedded in our minds and fulfill the Creator’s will.

We have our age differences, but we can’t forget about the divisions among our peers. We must put aside our differences in how much money we make, where we live and what organizations we are members of. United, we make each other better men. I think of that classic collaboration of Ginuwine, R.L., Tyrese and Case where they sing: “What can a brother do for me? He can help me be the best man I can be.”

We Are One: Unity in the Body of Christ

But speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the head, that is Christ. From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself in love, as each part does its work. –Ephesians 4: 15-16

Today I visited Florida Avenue Baptist Church in northwest D.C. for the first time. The guest preacher, the Rev. Janelle Thompson delivered her sermon from the scripture above. The title of the message was “We Are One.”

As the apostle Paul wrote at the start of the fifteenth verse, we should speak the truth in love rather than deceiving and scheming one another. Focusing on that part of the text, Thompson stressed the importance of doing everything out of love. “Without love, what good is what we say or do?” We are able to do everything with love when we feel and identify with love.

The core of the message was the notion that all of God’s people are united as one body in Christ. Here in verse fifteen going into verse sixteen, the writer Paul compares our connection with each other to the anatomy of the human body. Christ is the “Head”, and his people are the “ligaments” joined together through Him. Whether you’ve studied anatomy or not, you know that the body doesn’t function if all of its parts aren’t working together. The same holds true in terms of our progression and relationships with one another.

In the church’s role of spreading the Gospel, all of its members are individuals and have individual gifts. The ideas and perspectives of the individuals usually aren’t homogenous. Despite our differences, we all must be willing to be joined together through Christ’s love with the common goal of delivering the good news and developing our faith.

As Thompson said in her sermon, “The Lord made us different so we can come together in our differences.” Since we are all God’s people—not judged by our social or economic status—we all have value and a purpose regardless of who we are in the secular world. This means listening to and respecting others opinions.

This message of unity can be applied to other instances in the secular world. Many people are employed at jobs where they don’t like their bosses or co-workers, but united under that company, they work together to provide a service and to earn a paycheck for doing so. Too often we see single parents who dislike their baby’s mother of father, but they must be united with the common goal of rearing their child to be the best that he or she can be. Additionally, we can apply this to our human rights movements for freedom and equality. History has proven that mass movements for civil rights and political revolutions were only successful through the unity of its participants.

The soul artist Maze was most likely singing about a romantic relationship in his classic “We Are One.” “We are one, no matter what we do / we are one, love will see us through / we are one, and that’s the way it is.” This too applies to us in a broader sense. I also think of Earth, Wind and Fire’s song “Fantasy.” “And we will live together / until the twelfth of never / our voices will ring forever as one.”  The combination of our gifts, talents and perspectives are valuable individually, but they are the most effective when they’re combined as one. Maurice White and Philip Bailey could have had successful solo careers, but not to the magnitude of EWF’s.

Remember, no matter what the goal or objective is, we each have a specific purpose and gift to contribute. We must unite as one body despite our differences or else we won’t achieve our common goal. If we don’t move together, we won’t move at all.

If we don’t move together, we won’t move at all.

Memorial Day: Remembering Our Service People at Home

Every year at this time, Memorial Day is observed. It’s a time when Americans remember the service people who fought and died in the country’s various wars from the birth of this nation through the present day.  The United States habitually involves itself in wars and conflicts abroad, declared or undeclared. In history classes, students learn about these battles and acknowledge the entirely too many lives lost in combat overseas.

Unfortunately, the history books and Memorial Day observers fail to acknowledge and memorialize the soldiers who lost their lives fighting in wars at home and quite inexplicably, against home. I don’t mean the government and mainstream media-spawned “War on Drugs” and “War on Terror,” although this message is also dedicated to the victims of these illusory wars.

In essence, I’m referring to the wars declared against individuals who merely wanted to enjoy their so-called irrevocable human rights but were denied such by the powers that be. During World War II, Black people across the country championed the Double V campaign in which African Americans committed to victory over totalitarianism abroad and victory over racism and discrimination on the home front.

Since the 1940s, the reasons for America’s involvement in conflicts abroad have changed on the surface from combating communism to suppressing terrorism. Nevertheless, Americans pay homage to those service people who gave their lives fighting in America’s wars, whether justifiable or unjustifiable.

Although the Double V campaign was probably the only official campaign waged, Blacks and other marginalized minority groups have always fought against ostracism at home and against home. Just like the conflicts abroad, an exorbitant number of lives were lost on America’s soil. The sources of death have transformed from lynchings to trigger-happy law enforcement, capital punishment and vigilante oppression.

On Memorial Day, we remember the deceased soldiers killed in other countries at the expense of “politics as usual” and America’s greed. Why can’t we salute our deceased freedom fighters who shed blood in the struggle for our God-given rights?

This is not to discount the contributions of the men and women of the U.S. armed services, and it’s not a critical analysis of foreign policy and defense. I appreciate our service people for sacrificing it all, but this is a call to recognize—on Memorial Day—soldiers of another sort who paid that same ultimate price.

Remembering Professor Mark E. Mack

If it were not for a medical hold on my account preventing me from registering early for classes, I probably would have never been exposed to professor Mark E. Mack’s biological anthropology class. Nearly all of the classes I needed for my first semester at Howard were filled. With hardly any options, I chose biological anthropology as my general elective. Let me emphasize that journalism majors only get ONE elective. My academic adviser told me it would be a difficult, but interesting class. That course would not only be challenging and mentally stimulating, but it would be life changing.

Regardless of who the professor was, the class would have been interesting, but having Mack as an instructor was an experience in itself. Mack was unquestionably passionate about the subject. He not only taught us the material, but he allowed space for self-learning, urging us to read the text prior to class.

In addition to teaching us diligence in preparing for class, Mack taught us discipline. Certainly adamant on punctuality, he started class on time and had a low tolerance for tardiness and poor attendance. I recall a specific lab day towards the end of the semester in which I had arrived to the lab about five minutes before the official class time, and Mack had already locked the door.

You did not want to earn low grades on exams. Yes, students are concerned about what grade they will receive in the class and how it will affect their GPAs, but if you had Mack for class, you would be afraid of his reaction. Upon grading a particular exam, Mack verbalized an expletive-filled rant and dismissed the class for its unsatisfactory performance. I feel sorry for that afternoon class, but luckily it was not my class.

His reaction was a bit extreme, but as I mentioned previously, Mack was passionate about anthropology and wanted his students to grasp the material and succeed. Mack was tough and strict, but it was in good reason. In essence, biological anthropology is about US! When we are learning anthropology, we are learning about ourselves, and I believe professor Mack taught his classes with this in mind.

We learned through archaeological evidence that humans originated from Africa. This was an important lesson in debunking the myth of White superiority and Black inferiority. Mack exposed us to historical racism within the field of biology, how Eurocentric scientists have attempted to promote Black inferiority through science. Some of these examples can be found in one of my previous posts, “Race, Racism and Science.”

We learned the differences between race, ethnicity and nationality as well as the dilemma of choosing your race/ethnicity on the census form. Mack used our class’s inability to fill out maps of Africa with the continent’s countries as a point that we should not classify ourselves as “African American” if we do not know anything about Africa. And unlike other biology professors, teachers, etc., Mack taught us about evolution, but he stopped short in suggesting that we believe evolution. A supporter of the creationism theory, he would say, “I ain’t going to hell y’all.” And, I’m not going either.

Mack was definitely a contender in his field. Along with teaching, he was the curator of the W. Montague Cobb Biological Anthropology Laboratory at Howard University. He served as the Osteological Supervisor for the Foley Square New York African Burial Ground project, and he worked on the Archeological Survey of the Walter C. Pierce Community Park in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

Most importantly, Mark Mack was a loving husband and father who took pride in his family. His daughter was born during the semester that I had his class. I remember the smile on his face and the joy he had when he told us the good news. Last October, I had the chance to see her on campus with her father.  Around this time, President Obama apologized for the Guatemala syphilis experiment. Standing next to the football field, Mack and I briefly discussed the craziness of this revelation.

Outside of class, Mack was a cool brother. He would “dap me up” in Douglass Hall or express love while posting up outside of the building. Mack wanted his students to succeed and to make change in the global community. Anthropology has nothing to do with my major, but the class taught me about myself. It was one of the most difficult classes I have taken at Howard, and it is the ONLY class I got a C in. But, I do not regret taking the course. It was one of the best choices I made, but I do regret earning that C. Mack left his legacy and mark at Howard University and will be greatly missed.

Rest in Peace Professor Mack

Faith of Our Mothers Part 2: From Pain to Power

At the beginning of our Mother’s Day service at Calvary Baptist, we had a special alter prayer for the mothers and their children. Sons, daughters and grandchildren stood next to each other, touching and agreeing while the pastor prayed for their faithfulness, unity and encouragement. After the alter prayer, everyone returned to their seats and had a moment of silence for the mothers who were not among us anymore.

The assistant pastor also suggested that we pray for those mothers who may be going through painful times. I prayed for the mothers who passed and for the mothers enduring pain. In particular, I lifted up the mothers who lost children, and that time of meditation reminded me of a recent story in The Final Call.

The article told the stories of mothers who lost children to violence and how they are turning that pain into power; using their faith to remain hopeful while leading the movement to prevent other mothers from feeling that pain.

Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, lost her son in February when he was shot and killed by a neighborhood watchman. She has dealt with the pain by reminding herself that “God is still in control.” She said she would tell mothers who lost children to “read their Bible, remain prayerful and keep pushing forward.”

Dealing with the pain of losing a child is unimaginable and has to be increasingly overwhelming on Mother’s Day, a day that is suppose to be a joyous time where children show their appreciation towards their mothers. But the faith of Ms. Fulton and the many other mothers is the catalyst that transforms their pain into power.

Wanda Johnson’s son, Oscar Grant, was shot and killed in 2008 on a train station platform by a former Bay Area Rapid Transit District officer. Johnson attributes her strength to endure and remain hopeful to her faith.

“Had I not had a relationship with the Lord, I probably would have fallen into depression.”

She also said that prayer not only gave her power through God but it gave her the strength to encourage others. The article entitled “Mother Love Conquers Adversity” also told the stories of Theresa Williamson, Valerie Bell, Enola Causey and Wanda Hawkins, all mothers who lost their children to violence but found power in their faith.

As I reflect on this subject, I think of Nardyne Jefferies, the mother of 16-year-old Brishell Jones who was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in southeast Washington, D.C. in 2010. I met Ms. Jefferies a couple of months ago when she spoke to the male students in the chapel at Howard University on the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting. We prayed with her, and it was evident that her faith was keeping her grounded during those trying times.

I also think of the mothers of Tylik Pugh, Saahron Jones, Shakur Prince, Sha’Ron Jackson, Jonathan Paraison and the several other names from around my way who are gone but never forgotten. My prayer is that those mothers find the faith and peace to turn their pain into power on this Mother’s Day.

My heart goes out to all mothers who may be experiencing the pain of lost. Lord willing they keep pushing forward, remain faithful and keep the memory of their children alive so another mother will not have to experience the same pain.

Happy Mother’s Day

Peace

Faith of Our Mothers: Part One

Last year, I stayed on campus for Mother’s Day, but this year I made sure I was home to sit next to my mother and grandmother in church on Sunday. Along with sitting next to two of my favorite girls, I was highly anticipating the Mother’s Day word from my dear pastor, the Rev. Dr. Dwight C. Northington.

Referencing 2 Timothy, the preacher focused on the first chapter and the fifth verse in which Jesus remembers the “unfeigned faith” of Timothy’s mother, Eunice and grandmother, Lois. The “unfeigned faith” of the two biblical mothers is the faith that our mothers should strive to achieve. This is the same faith that is sung about in that classic congregational hymn that churches sing every year at this time, “Faith of Our Mothers.”

We were encouraged to pray for our mothers, for they “go through many things men wouldn’t go through.” The biggest task of them all, the pastor said, is carrying a child for nearly a year and giving birth: “Lord have mercy, I know brothers couldn’t deal with that nine months of kicking and moving.” I know I could not deal with it. Women are especially blessed with the God-given ability to bring forth life.

There was a word of encouragement for our mothers who face unfortunate circumstances with their children. Whether the child is not doing right or the child’s father is not doing right, the preacher man urged those mothers to not let the negative hand they have been dealt to interfere with the love of their children.

In order to survive those troubling times, mothers “must have unwavering faith in Jesus Christ, a faith that is deeply grounded in the word of God.” Also in the words of the reverend,

“Don’t hit the panic button, hit the prayer button.”

Having that steadfast faith, that faith of Eunice and Lois, means mothers should bring their children to the house of the Lord so they may learn about Jesus and learn that “God is good.” Not only should mothers bring their children to church and Sunday school, but they should come and learn WITH their children. In this manner, mothers adhere to Proverbs 22:6 which instructs parents to “train up a child in the way that he should go…”

Every day should be Mother’s Day. On this day, we should pray for their continued strength and be thankful for their faithfulness and nurturing love. Most importantly, we should honor our mothers just as the Word says. I pray that all mothers be encouraged and continue to have genuine faith.

Look out for part two.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Fear is Preparation

Earlier this week, I briefly conversed with an OG (original gentleman). He asked me about school and when I’m supposed to graduate. I told him I would be graduating in December, which is not a long time from now. He then asked that dreaded question that many prospective graduates hate to hear: “What are your plans after graduation?” I have some idea of what I want to do, but my goals are not specific, so I simply responded, “I don’t know.”

His response to me was “I bet that’s scary.” With less than eight months until graduation, I undoubtedly agreed with him. At this point, he shared with me a jewel about dealing with fear. He started out by asking, “When an animal becomes afraid, what does it do? It tenses up.” The OG explained that when an animal tenses up, it means that it is either preparing itself to either attack or run away. Furthermore, he said that when you are experiencing fear, it only means that you are in preparation. Therefore, fear is something to embrace, not to be afraid of.

I believe my fear lies in the uncertainty of the future and the unknown. I have somewhat overcome the fear of failure, but I have struggled with not knowing what I specifically want to do with my life, or rather what God’s will is for my life. While time was passing me by, I have not been making the moves I need to in order to establish a career where I am earning a living while changing the world.

The words from the OG reminded me of a sermon that I heard sometime last year. The preacher stressed the importance of distinguishing between concern and worry. I have to learn how to eliminate the worry from my mind and only allow he spirit of concern to dwell in me. I cannot allow myself to be become worried about the future. With concern and no worry, I maintain the faith that God will supply my needs and provide guidance while using the power He has given me to take steps towards doing His will.

I agree with the famous quote from President FDR’s inaugural speech: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” My attitude towards fear may hinder me from reaching my fullest potential. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” In accordance with this scripture, I am not embracing fear as an acceptable emotion, but I am embracing it as a feeling that can be transformed from something negative into something positive.

As I attempt to transform the spirit of fear into a spirit of power and rely on the success of my faith, I recognize that fear should be received rather than rejected, and I remind myself that I am preparing to make major moves, and God is preparing me for those moves. All I have to do is stay prayed up, educate my mind, leave everything in the God’s hands and simply be cool like I know how to do.

Having the Upper Hand: WABJ’s Urban Journalism Workshop

Last weekend was the orientation for the Washington Association of Black Journalists’ Urban Journalism Workshop. A fresh group of eager, young and bright high school students from the Washington, D.C. metro area came to National Public Radio to meet their section leaders and mentors and to embark on a journey exploring the ins and outs of the journalism field.

The section leaders and mentors are mostly professionals who have been in the journalism industry for years. I’m one of the few college students that volunteer for the workshop. In fact, I was the only college student mentor present at orientation. It is my third year volunteering, and I look forward to another year of mentoring the youth and working alongside the professionals.

If this program were available to me and if I knew wanted to pursue journalism while I was in high school, I would have applied to this workshop. It is an incredible opportunity for high schoolers to get hands-on experience fairly early. Over the course of eight weeks, the professionals teach them the fundamentals of journalism while the students form story ideas and produce news. Depending on the section they are assigned to, they either write articles for print, produce packages for radio or produce packages and a newscast for television.

Participating in the UJW provides a clear advantage for the students over their future college classmates. While attending high school, they experience aspects of journalism that college students do not experience until their sophomore or junior years unless they join extracurricular groups such as the campus newspaper, radio or TV station.

Prior to entering college, UJW students already know how to deal with ethical issues, and they know how to stay informed on what is happening in the world — an integral part of being a journalist. They have had news quizzes every Saturday over the eight weeks of the workshop. They will not be the students with their feet in their mouths when they receive their first news quiz in their introductory journalism course.

These students will also know the technical aspects of journalism before they enter their first year of college. They will know how to shoot and edit video, record and edit audio and take pictures using equipment comparable to that of college facilities.

Writing is a necessary skill to master regardless of the career field one pursues, but the UJW students will know how to to write correctly for their respective platforms. Beyond the workshop, they will most likely master how to write for all platforms and be skillful enough to flawlessly change from broadcast to print style and vice versa.

Most importantly, these high school students already have the right attitude towards learning journalism. Right from the first day, they came in motivated, driven and even prepared. Some of the students that I have met have already anchored newscasts and shows at their high schools, edited their school newspapers and are knowledgeable of current events.

I cannot speak on behalf of all college journalism students, but some at the institution I attend are not on top of their game. I admit, I’m not doing enough in regards to pumping out content and doing enough internships, but when it’s time to graduate and compete for jobs, the individuals who participated in the UJW and made the most out of their experience will be the ones beating everyone out for those competitive positions.

I feel grateful and honored to be able to share some of my expertise and invest my time in the futures of these young journalists. I’m hoping I will be able to learn from them as they learn from me.

Interdisciplinary Studies in African American Research (Written in November 2009)

Howard University

Interdisciplinary Studies in African American Research

Submitted to

Dr. Mark E. Mack

For

Intro to Biological Anthropology

By

Nick Westbrooks

11/23/09

Often times, we notice that different academic disciplines are closely related to each other. In the concept of interdisciplinary studies, educators and students combine different disciplines. The results lead to new discoveries and answers to problems and questions. Anthropology professor Dr. Fatima Jackson, engages in interdisciplinary studies in African American and anthropological research. Last Thursday at the freshman seminar colloquia, Dr. Jackson explained what she does with interdisciplinary studies and why.

In her presentation, Dr. Jackson discussed several topics so I will highlight the key topics I found interest in. The professor started off the presentation by discussing why interdisciplinary studies are important. The main reason was that the human race is facing problems. Along with people suffering from sickness and other health conditions, our genetic variability doesn’t fit the 19th century racial categories. Although humans may look quite different in relation to race, the biological differences are relatively small, and researchers have to look very carefully to find any differences. Dr. Jackson practices interdisciplinary studies to solve such problems as these.

The next topic of interest was the relationship between the human genotype and the normal filters humans deal with on the daily basis. In order for our genotype to be expressed, it has to pass through the three environmental filters: abiotic, biotic, and sociocultural. Abiotic and biotic environmental filters include diet, subsistence, occupation, body form, toxicants, humidity, altitude, radiation, precipitation, and pharmaceuticals. The sociocultural filters are language, religion, ethnic identity, socialization, and class structure. All of these environmental filters in turn influence the human phenotype.

After that, Dr. Jackson described the Ethnogenetic Layering approach. This approach addresses human variation and health disparity issues. Like Dr. Jackson stated at the beginning of the presentation, using race as the model alone is too general. It is inaccurate to generalize the entire human race from observing only one individual race. Furthermore, the Ethnogenetic Layering approach “helps to better understand the role of population sub structuring.” Identifying and assessing the biological, cultural, and bicultural risks, the origins of and the reasons for certain may expose health disparitie

Two of the specific health disparities that were addressed during the presentation were hypertension and stroke. The areas of West and West Central Africa were sodium deficient; so the inhabitants of that region were unaccustomed to having salt in their diets. Then, these same Africans were forcefully brought to the Carolinas where salt was plentiful. The elevated sodium intake in the black diet led to more cases of hypertension and strokes. The curse of high blood pressure, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases in the black population still exists presently. Through the use of the Ethnogenetic Layering approach, this discovery was made.

Other key topics Dr. Jackson discussed were Ethnogenteic Layering in relation to breast cancer in African American women, the major historical African cultural influences on African Americans, and converging lineages. Converging lineages was interesting that it identified the relationship between the cadence in blues music and Muslim prayer. This was my first time ever being exposed to this type of information, and it was enlightening. Speaking as a person who has not focused on interdisciplinary studies, I can see the importance of it. I feel that no matter what a person’s academic concentration is, he or she should practice some type of interdisciplinary study. It is practical because everyone should and should want to know where he or she came from and why humans have gone through certain biological and cultural variations. I have no interest in science, but learning about myself intrigues me. I can use what I have learned as a weapon against the dominant culture. Eurocentric “thinkers” have tried to give us false information about our past. They tried to tell us that blacks were not the first people. They tried to credit the Greeks for achievements the Egyptians made. Now they’re trying to make us question the relevance of HBCU’s. Unfortunately, many people who are ignorant to the truth accept false information. On another note, Dr. Jackson being both a Muslim and an anthropologist is fascinating. In her own unique way, she has broken the barrier between religion and science. Her explanation is that God is responsible for all of the evolutionary phenomena that have occurred. The bottom line is that interdisciplinary studies, especially in African American research, are absolutely necessary, relevant, and should be included more in academic curriculum.

Race, Racism and Science (Written in 2009)

Howard University

Race, Racism, and Science

Submitted to

Dr. Mark E. Mack

For

Introduction to Biological Anthropology

By

Nick Westbrooks

12/2/09

Race has always been an issue that affects everyone in some form. Whether it is social, political, or economical race is something that is a concern to all. Throughout history up to the present day, race has also been an issue in relation to the field of science. Because race has some biological foundation, scientists have used it to explain certain phenomena and open up new doors for scientific research. In the articles “Bred in the Bone” by Alan H. Goodman and “The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment ‘A Moral Astigmatism”’ by James Jones, the close correlation between the topic of race and the field of science is discussed at length.

In “Bred in the Bone,” Goodman discusses the effectiveness and accuracy of physicians and forensic anthropologists using race to identify human remains. The article opens up with the story of rescue workers discovering a human left leg in the remains of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building after the Oklahoma City bombings. Clyde Snow was a forensic anthropologist whose job usually involved identifying victims in such crimes as this. After reviewing the individuals that survived the bombing, going through autopsy records, pathology reports, and photographs, Snow and the other forensic anthropologists couldn’t figure out who the leg belonged to. After measuring the leg and categorizing the leg bone through the use of technology, Snow eventually concluded that the leg belonged to “a darkly complected Caucasoid.”

The problem of using race to identify human remains came up after the discovery that the leg actually belonged to 21 year- old black female by the name of Lakesha R. Levy. Misidentifying people based on race has been a common mistake committed by forensic anthropologists. Without a skull to observe, identifying people accurately becomes even more difficult since the skulls provide more clues about a person’s race.

Over time, scientists have formulated different concepts of race. One concept that comes from the Greek idea of the great chain of being and the ideal types has been deemed anti- evolutionary, and it should not be used to explain race. In fact, anthropologists believe that race should have been eliminated several decades ago. After Darwin published Origin of Species, physical anthropologists used the theory of evolution to help explain human variation rather than the Greek scientific concept of race. Many believe that race itself is a myth, but the idea of race still exists.

Other scientists believe there are three main races: Mongoloid, Negroid, and Caucasoid. These races in turn are ranked according to intelligence and procreative ability. The Mongoloids were ranked the most intelligent, Negroids had the strongest sexual drive, and the Caucasoids were placed in the middle. For people who disagree with this idea and believe race is a myth defends that races do not exist, and sociopolitical policies should not be based on race. Others believe that social policy does not need a biological base, and racism does exist even though true races may not exist. The remainder of the people includes public health/medical professionals and anthropologists who are confused about the existence of race. They believe that racial biology is political, but at the same time they do not see race biology as bad.

Several anthropologists defend the argument that forensic anthropologists are good at identifying humans by race. They argue that racial variations correspond with regional differences. Along with the existence of race and using race to identify people, pre- World War Two physicians use to associate certain health disparities with specific races. All of these tactics have been proven to be inaccurate, and Goodman provides reasons why using race explain human variation is inaccurate.

First of all, race is skin deep. A person’s height, weight, eye and skin color cannot be accurately determined by using race as the identifier. Next, variations in genetic traits occur within the individual races rather than among different races. After that, Goodman states that racial analysis should not be based on the mix of genetics with culture and class with lived experiences. Lastly, race cannot be defined in a stable, repeatable way because race biology varies with time and place. In other words, the color line is always changing so there are a lot more than merely three main races in existence. Goodman also offers alternatives to classifying humans by race, and these include focusing on specific traits and describing human remains as well as possible. It may be true that race is a myth, but the issue of racism still exists.

Personally, I have been exposed to a concept of race that is similar to Philippe Rushton’s idea that there are three main races. Another source expresses that the races of the world originated with the Mongoloid, Negroid, and Caucasoid races. In Blacks In The Bible, James H. Warden Jr. explains that Noah’s sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth became the fathers of the Mongoloid, Negroid, and Caucasoid races after the Great Flood. All of the other races came about “from mixing and mingling of the progeny of Noah’s sons.” As a believer of the Bible, I generally agree with this story about the origin of races. In a way, this biblical explanation supports Alan Goodman’s argument that there are various races and the color line never stays the same. Anthropologists usually do not address religion, and religious believers usually do not address science, but a connection can be seen in this discussion.

As far as using race to identify remains, I agree that using race is inaccurate. For example, the leg that was found after the Oklahoma City bombing had to have belonged to woman but it could have belonged to anyone in regards to race. In examining race, the differences I notice are more visual than physical. Underneath the skin, humans are the same for the most part.

In the article “The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment,” James Jones discusses exactly what the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment was and the morality of the group that conducted the study. 399 men who had syphilis were denied treatment so doctors could observe the effects of untreated syphilis during the late stage of the disease on black men. An additional 201 men who were free of the disease were used as the controls. The Public Health Service conducted the study and the results were high rates of mortality and morbidity among the syphilis victims than the controls. No treatment was involved, and the study was done solely for data.

Next, Jones explained what syphilis is. It is a contagious disease that can be transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy or sexual and other bodily contact. The three stages of syphilis are the primary, secondary, and tertiary stages. Syphilis at its worst results is death. With this in mind, the question of ethics arose.

The public could not understand why these men agreed to participate in this study assuming they knew the risks of leaving syphilis untreated. One explanation was that the subjects did not know they had syphilis nor did they know what syphilis was. Also, the men were offered incentives for participating in the study. They were given such benefits as free meals and physical examinations. These factors questioned the morality of the experiment.

After being questioned, Public Health Service officers denied that the experiment was unethical. PHS officials also defended themselves against not giving the subjects treatment by claiming that penicillin would affect them negatively. The subjects may suffer from allergic drug reactions. Others argued that the immorality of the study was evident well before the men were denied treatments with penicillin. The disease could have been controlled at an earlier stage rather than reaching the life- threatening stage. The Public Health Service did not appear to be remorseful about using human beings as laboratory animals.

In the eyes of the public, the value of human lives outweighed the scientific merits. Some even found the study severe enough to be labeled as genocide. Some classified the experiment as racism, but the PHS denied both claims. Others associated the subjects with their social class instead of their race. Americans felt that anyone who was poor and helpless could have been a victim. The claim was that the men were tricked into participating in the study, and they were incapable of giving an informed consent to be a part of the experiment. After seeing this horrible display, Americans came to the realization that they need to protect society against scientific pursuits that ignore human values.

I find it no coincidence that all of the subjects were black males. If the PHS wanted to do an honest study, they would have mixed different ethnicities into the study to use as a comparison. This experiment is obviously racism because the article fails to mention any record of the effects of syphilis amongst any other ethnic group. If any black person questions why it is important to be aware and educated about what is going on around them, the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment is the answer. This is a prime example of how the dominant culture takes advantage of the ignorant. People don’t need to be scientists but they need the knowledge of what’s going on.