“I’m continuously fighting: mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and now more physically, for a country that will never fight for me. I am continuously crying, not only externally but internally because I am losing friends to the demon of suicide due to the harsh realities of life. I cry and bleed while fighting on foreign soil against people who give a fuck about us more than our own country ever will. You will never understand how the fuck it feels to be more afraid to die on your own land than to be overseas as a prisoner of war. When I step out of this uniform I am nothing but a nigger to these people, and sometimes when I’m still in the uniform —
I am nothing but a field nigger to these people. It doesn’t matter to these people whether in or out of uniform the thoughts of slitting a vein or blowing my brain, out. They say get ready to head out…to war. Even knowingly admitting that they understand that me, excuse me, WE…are fighting different wars.
The Dichotomous Soldier, a Prisoner of War on US Soil and Foreign Soil, 2016
The turmoil, pressure and fear of existing in two wars simultaneously is known all to well to many black soldiers of the US military. Since the Civil War, black people have been sacrificing their lives for the sake of white supremacist liberation. WWII and the Vietnam War is another example of how black soldiers were used as mere scapegoats to defeat US enemies. A black soldier undergoes the constant struggle of being black in America and being a soldier in an army that does not value black lives. These soldiers fight for a country that does not fight for them and pledge allegiance to an institution that has systematically failed black people as a whole.
Sure, the military has proven to be a way out for many black teens who do not have college as a desired option or who need financial assistance to pay for school. Yet, it’s become its own prison, locking in many uninformed, uneducated and unprepared teens into contracts that seem to good to be true in the beginning but prove to present confinements that they were unaware of. Many young adults, and especially young black adults, go into these agreements blind without a historical knowledge of the treatment of black soldiers.
Since the beginnings of American war, black men have been in the trenches, taking bullets and fighting for this country. I just wonder how it would feel to fight a war against a foreign enemy, yet never feel like you’re fully a US citizen. That has got to hurt. Whether they are jumping in front of a bullet, operating heavy machinery, driving an armored truck or functioning military computer software, I don’t believe the US armed forces is an organization that has reciprocated genuine commitment. Black soldiers have had a seat at the table of war for decades yet have never truly sat at the table of freedom.
Crispus Attucks and the Boston Massacre
Crispus Attucks and the black men who stood with him was a prime example of the depth of commitment black soldiers had to American initiative. It was Attucks who was the first killed at the celebrated “Boston Massacre” on March 5, 1770. Used a scapegoat to incite colonists to rebel against their mother country, Attucks was at the forefront of what would be known as the beginning of the American Revolution. I am utterly amazed at the sacrifice a fugitive slave would go through to protect a country with no allegiance to him. I wonder what led Attucks to be at the front of that line. Did Samuel Adams promise him and the other 40 or 50 seamen and dock workers something in return? Was it all about the hype? Or was there a true dedication to protecting the freedoms of Americans against the tyrannical British soldiers? I’ll never know. But I do know that black men and women have been reliving Crispus Attucks legacy and serving a country who watches innocent black people die cruelly in the streets.
364th Infantry, Mississippi Army Base, WWII
“From the American Revolution, to military unit integration, to the GI Bill, which left out Black Americans, these second-class soldiers color a picture of perversion inside the borderlines of this empire,” stated William C. Anderson, a truthout.com freelance writer. A distorted reality rooted in racism and suffering has plagued the black soldier. Many people don’t discuss the treatment of black soldiers in units or even want to face the truth. For instance, in World War II over 1,000 black soldiers of the 364th army infantry in Jim Crow Mississippi went missing. According to African-American Registry, the 364th infantry was an all-black infantry which was under-trained, under-supplied, and sent to stations where they were isolated and subject to insult and attack from hostile White civilians. Mississippi was known for being an infamous location where hate crimes and lynchings thrived! On May 29, 1943, black Pvt. William Walker was detained by a military policeman and questioned about his improper uniform and lack of a pass and as a result, a fight broke out. Walker tried to flee but was shot and killed by the sheriff.
That exchange led to a riot. A company-by-company daily attendance sheet noted dozens of soldiers as AWOL following the Walker shooting and its aftermath. From that point the camp was relocated to the Aleutian Islands which resulted in one soldiers name disappearing off the roster by day. There was a significant loss in soldiers; however, a report was issued on Dec. 23, 1999. It stated: “There is no documentary evidence whatsoever that any unusual or inexplicable loss of personnel occurred.” Many questions are left unanswered and I wonder if today’s black soldiers take the time to research the history of black soldiers in America. Maybe this haunting story would have led them down an alternate path; one that doesn’t require them to give up their life for a country that never made sacrifices for us.
A Present Day Soldier’s Plight
On January 3, 2017, the US Army finally updated the grooming and appearance regulations to allow female soldiers to wear their hair in dreadlocks. Any black person knows that locs are not a female-oriented hair style they are unisex. What about the millions of black men who have cultivated their locs? Locs are often used as a means to express pride in the way your hair grows naturally. For some, locs hold an even deeper spiritual meaning. So to tell someone it is inappropriate or unclean to wear their hair in its most natural state is equivalent to telling them that being black is inappropriate. It’s 2017 and white people still have a problem with who we are!
On top of that there are a number of disturbing practices of racism in the U.S. Military. Some of these include, encouraging hate groups to join the army, openly promoting Racial days out of the week where racial slurs and nuances are deemed okay for that day, ineffectively banning white supremacist groups and allowing tattooed hate symbols. Troops who came back from Iraq and Afghanistan are not getting the psychiatric help that they deserve. There’s just so much irony in being a black soldier fighting for American freedom but being treated as a second class citizen. When Laurence Fishburne’s character Furious in John Singleton’s “Boyz in the Hood” said, “There ain’t no place in the army for a black man, Tre.” —-I listened. My sons and daughters will never have to see the army as their only hope toward financial stability. They’ll have options.
Be easy and know your history.