Races in the United States; All Americans?

Everyone needs to understand, where we come from and what it means; when we talk about races in the United States. We are a diverse species of human beings, and we migrated from all over the world to form the United States of America. So if you don’t know this, then you should take 5 minutes and read this brief summary of where we come from and what Race means to the literate persons walking the streets of the USA!

Old Faithful!

American culture is a Western culture, having been originally influenced by European cultures. It has been developing since long before the United States became a country with its own unique social and cultural characteristics such as dialect, music, arts, social habits, cuisine, and folklore. Today, the United States of America is an ethnically and racially diverse country as result of large-scale immigration from many different countries throughout its history Its chief early influences came from English and Irish settlers of colonial America. British culture, due to colonial ties with Britain that spread the English language, legal system and other cultural inheritances, had a formative influence. Other important influences came from other parts of western Europe, especially Germany, France, and Italy.

Race in the United States is based on physical characteristics and skin color and has played an essential part in shaping American society even before the nation’s conception. Until the civil rights movement of the 1960s, racial minorities in the United States faced discrimination and social as well as economic marginalization. Today the U.S. Department of Commerce‘s Bureau of the Census recognizes four races, Native American or American Indian, African American, Asian and White (European American). According to the U.S. government, Hispanic Americans do not constitute a race, but rather an ethnic group. During the 2000 U.S. Census Whites made up 75.1% of the population with those being Hispanic or Latino constituting the nation’s prevalent minority with 12.5% of the population. African Americans made up 12.3% of the total population, 3.6% were Asian American and 0.7% were Native American.

Until the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified on December 6th 1865 the United States was a slave society. While the northern states had outlawed slavery in their territory in the late 18th and early 19th century their industrial economies relied on the raw materials produced by slave labor. Following the Reconstruction period in the 1870s, Southern states initialized an apartheid regulated by Jim Crow laws that provided for legal segregation. Lynching occurred throughout the U.S. until the 1930s, continuing well into the civil rights movement in the South. Asian Americans were also marginalized during much of U.S. history. Between 1882 and 1943 the United States government instituted the Chinese Exclusion Act which prohibited Chinese immigrants from entering the nation. During the Second World War roughly 120,000 Japanese Americans, 62% of whom were U.S. citizens, were imprisoned in Japanese internment camps. Hispanic Americans also faced segregation and other types of discrimination; they were regularly subject to second class citizen status, in practice if not by law.

Largely as a result of being de jure or de facto excluded and marginalized from so-called mainstream society, racial minorities in the United States developed their own unique sub-cultures. During the 1920s for example, Harlem, New York became home to the Harlem Renaissance. Music styles such as Jazz, Blues and Rap, Rock and roll as well as numerous folk-songs such as Blue Tail Fly (Jimmy Crack Corn) originated within the realms of African American culture. Chinatowns can be found in many cities across the nation and Asian cuisine has become a common staple in America. The Hispanic community has also had a dramatic impact on American culture. Today, Catholics are the largest religious denomination in the United States and out-number Protestants in the South-west and California. Mariachi music and Mexican cuisine are commonly found throughout the Southwest, with some Latin dishes such as burritos and tacos found anywhere in the nation.

Economic discrepancies and de-facto segregation, however, continue and is a prominent feature of mundane life in the United States. While Asian Americans have prospered and have a median household income and educational attainment far exceeding that of Whites, the same cannot be said for the other racial minorities. African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans have considerably lower income and education than do White Americans. In 2005 the median household income of Whites was 62.5% higher than that of African American, nearly one-quarter of whom live below the poverty line. Furthermore 46.9% of homicide victims in the United States are African American indicating the many severe socio-economic problems African Americans and minorities in general continue to face in the twenty-first century.

The prevailing idea in American culture, perpetuated by the media, has been that black features are less attractive or desirable than white features. The idea that blackness was ugly was highly damaging to the psyche of African Americans, manifesting itself as internalized racism. In the 1960s, the Black is Beautiful cultural movement sought to dispel this notion.

In the years after September 11, discrimination against Arabs and Muslims in the U.S. has increased significantly. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) reported an increase in hate speech, cases of airline discrimination, hate crimes, police misconduct and racial profiling. The USA PATRIOT Act, signed into effect by President Bush on October 26, 2001, has also raised concerns for violating civil liberties. Section 412 of the act provides the government with “sweeping new powers to detain immigrants and other foreign nationals indefinitely with little or no due process at the discretion of the Attorney General.” Other sections also allow the government to conduct secret searches, seizures, and surveillance, and to freely interpret the definition of “terrorist activities”

American attitudes towards drugs and alcoholic beverages have evolved considerably throughout the country’s history. In the 19th century, alcohol was readily available and consumed, and no laws restricted the use of other drugs. Attitudes on drug addiction started to change, resulting in the Harrison Act which eventually became proscriptive.

A movement to ban alcoholic beverages, called the Temperance movement, emerged in the late 19th century. Several American Protestant religious groups, as well as women’s groups such as the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, supported the movement. In 1919, Prohibitionists succeeded in amending the Constitution to prohibit the sale of alcohol. Although the Prohibition period did result in lowering alcohol consumption overall, banning alcohol outright proved to be unworkable, as the previously legitimate distillery industry was replaced by criminal gangs which trafficked in alcohol. Prohibition was repealed in 1931. States and localities retained the right to remain “dry”, and to this day, a handful still do.

During the Vietnam War era, attitudes swung well away from prohibition. Commentators noted that an 18 year old could be drafted to war but could not buy a beer. Most states lowered the legal drinking age to 18.

Since 1980, the trend has been toward greater restrictions on alcohol and drug use. The focus this time, however, has been to criminalize behaviors associated with alcohol, rather than attempt to prohibit consumption outright. New York was the first state to enact tough drunk-driving laws in 1980; since then all other states have followed suit. A “Just Say No to Drugs” movement replaced the more libertine ethos of the 1960s. As a result, since the late half of the 1980’s to about the year 2000, all states made the legal drinking age (to purchase alcoholic beverages) at 21.

DA-Mary Kellett- on the Prowl in Ellsworth, Maine

Official seal of Ellsworth, Maine
Image via Wikipedia

Ellsworth, Maine is a small town that helps make up a county of only 50,000 people, but a big scandal is erupting as citizens are rallying against the District Attorney.

DA Mary  Kellett is accused of bringing false accusations against men who suffered prison time for crimes they didn’t commit.

After 16 years of marriage, Vladek Filler filed for divorce from his wife a few years ago, alleging that he didn’t want his children to be raised in a household ripe with abusive behavior from his mentally unstable spouse. While Mr. Filler attempted to tackle the legal proceedings in as civil of a manner as possible, Ellsworth residents say that divorce started off what they call the a modern day witch hunt, dubbed the Rape Hysteria of Ellsworth.

Filler’s wife responded to the divorce filing with allegations of her own. She said her husband would murder their children. She also said that she wanted Vladek dead and would cut him into pieces herself. The allegations against Mr. Filler were proved false by a DHHS investigation, but once the woman brought charges of rape against her husband, Vladek was put behind bars.

Without any physical evidence of a sexual assault, Assistant District Attorney Mary Kellettt crusaded against Vladek Filler and had him arrested and charged with rape and assault. There was no proof aside from testimonies from his wife, who had previously been labeled as having “mental issues” by the police and “certifiable” by the Sheriff’s Department. DA Kellett pushed on with the case, however, humiliating Mr. Filler in the courtroom and saying that the state could not afford a more thorough forensic investigation but that statistics suggest that Mr. Filler most likely raped his wife. She urged the jury to find him guilty on all counts despite presenting no evidence and hurdling prejudiced accusations. Evidence regarding Mr. Filler’s innocence was disregarded on trial and the jury was never even made aware that he had sought a restraining order from his wife in order to protect him and his children.

Mr. Filler was convicted by a jury on a slew of charges, but eventually won an appeal. Had he not, he faced up to 30 years in jail. The Maine Supreme Court ruled that Mary Kellett had “improperly encouraged the jury to use the absence of evidence” to convict Fuller, but years after the case first came to light, Ellsworth residents are now turning on the District Attorney for other prosecutions she unjustly aided in.

Earlier this month, the state Board of Overseers of the Bar Counsel is saying that DA Kellett applied prosecutorial misconduct while serving as District Attorney. While the Filler case might have garnered some attention on false rape charges, Kellett led trials against several other Maine men for crimes that might not have been committed. According to the Bar Counsel, witnesses and evidence were both tampered with by Kellett at numerous court hearings and she has at time presented false information and evidence before both judge and jury.

In one such incident, Kellett incorrectly informed a jury that one of the defendants she lobbed rape charges against had killed his first wife. He did not. During other trials she tried to deny defense attorneys access to alleged evidence and has been accused of knowingly making false statements in the courtroom.

Upwards of four men in the small Maine community are indicted on counts of rape each month, and Kellett has been aiding in these prosecutions often delivering only allegations and accusations against defendants that are produced by often mentally unstable spouses and girlfriends. While Mr. Filler was able to appeal his convictions, not all are so lucky. Now advocates are calling for the disbarment of the prosecutor.

As of this month, 1,133 people have already signed their names to a petition to disbar Mary Kellett. The Stop Abusive and Violent Environments advocacy group say that she has “had the effect of undermining public respect for law,” and calls her dangerous.

Despite her misconduct, DA Kellett continues to lead prosecutions against men in Ellsworth with often nothing more than allegations from estranged spouses. In most of the cases, defendants are found guilty with no evidence to show. Presidential candidate Bob Barr has called for an investigation into civil rights crimes committed by Kellet and renowned private investigator TJ Ward has been tackling the case for Filler free of charge. According to Ward, this prosecutorial corruption scandal is affecting numerous innocent lives. As Kellett’s wrath wages on, more men in the town of Ellsworth aren’t safe from persecution as the DA continues her witch hunt.