Friday, December 8, 2023

America and Her Black Panthers: A Rebuttal.

November 2, 2021 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns

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( Recently, I had to edit the column of someone who is vastly different from me. The column in question came from a white, CIS-gender male Baby Boomer and it was filled with images of America that do not resonate with me. It also highlighted some of the inequities that exist in America when it comes to those who serve in her defense.

Being the child of a former service man, it always rubs me the wrong when civilians make assertions that in no way reflect the military or those who have served. The writer touted America as having experienced extraordinary growth from a “backwater agricultural experiment” to what he describes as the “most economically advanced, technologically enhanced, and benevolent countries” in the history of the world. Though this may be the sentiment of those who have represented the majority for years, it is not the reflection of people of color. While we can appreciate many of the benefits that our ancestors fought for, many times the door is slammed in our face, and we are told to get back in line for redress. Many civil rights laws had their foundations laid upon the bones of Black bodies. America tends to forget our ancestor’s contributions during the early founding of this country especially in the case of military service.

2021 Pvt. LaVena Johnson

The American “patriots” that the columnist wrote about have been hailed as the grand architect for this country. However, to Black and Brown Americans these heroes were just the slaveholders who held the keys to their freedom and delayed their wildest dreams. The same can be said for those who serve in the military. Black service member experience various levels of racial micro-aggressions that are skipped over in favor of building comradery in the ranks. I mean how would it look if an army company became racially divided while in the middle of combat. It would be complete chaos and many lives would be lost. In speaking with a few of the Black soldiers that I know, they tend to keep quiet and endure whatever comes their way. Their silence is shown as compliance with the powers that be to go along to get along.

The level of disrespect that Black service members experience has been felt throughout time and across generations. There are articles and testimonials from World War I and II service members that describe being harassed and abuse even in uniform by their White counterparts when coming home. I have watched documentaries that highlight how when Black troops would arrive at the bus depot, they would have to change out of their uniforms into plain clothes to avoid being lynched. These are the stories that come to mind when I think of America and her treatment of her Black soldiers. I also think about how Black and Brown service members tend to come up missing or killed with no explanation. Stories like Pvt. LaVena Johnson who was a black female service member whose body was found in her barracks in Iraq. The U.S. Army not found out who killed her, but has been working to bury the story for 16 years. Did her life not matter?

These instances leave me with a bad taste in my mouth. It makes me think about how a country that used their bodies to fight fascism and dictators in the name of democracy then mutilated those same bodies for asserting themselves as human beings. America likes to scream that they care about the troops but I have found that it is only when convenient or suits them. standing up to its tyranny. Do I mean to demonize America as a whole? No. It is the only country that I have known since birth but I can aspire for it to treat those who defend her with more respect and more dignity. I can swallow my pride and hope that Black service members are one day valued and appreciated for being freedom defenders just as their counterparts.

Staff Writer; Monika Rambeaux

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