Racial Slur Scrawled on Black Military Cadets’ Doors–Academy Response Weak

By Jason Johnson, The Root

This week five African-American students at Air Force Academy Prep School in Colorado found the words “Niggers Go Home” scrawled on the dry erase boards outside their dorm rooms.

Once the school became aware of the racial graffiti the school superintendent Lt. General Jay Silveria rattled off a statement to the press.

“I’ve said it before, the area of dignity and respect is my red line,”

“Let me be clear: it won’t be crossed without significant repercussions. Diversity is a strength of our Academy and our Air Force. We are stronger when we take into account the views of those with different backgrounds and life experiences.”

The students are all part of a 10 month program to help them acclimate to life at the Air Force Academy, so in a twisted sort of way this is part of their training. While their parents have expressed concern and an investigation has been launched none of that will change one basic fact: The United States military has a long, sordid, racist and violent history when it comes to the treatment of black soldiers. While this may be the first, it certainly won’t be the last or the worst racial treatment these young people will receive should they choose to serve in the United States military.

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Conservatives of all colors like to point to the military as one of the most integrated and racially harmonious parts of American society, which is fine if you’re talking about Salvation Army or GI-Joe. The actual military? Not so much. Black soldiers, whether in training or veterans have been routinely targeted through American history for a special kind of violence as white supremacy quivers at the notion of black people being armed, trained and capable of arming themselves.

That’s why black veterans were consistently denied the GI-Bill that built the American middle class. That’s why lynching of black soldiers has been so common throughout U.S. history. That’s why Richard Collins III, a recently commissioned officer two weeks from graduating college this spring was murdered by a white nationalist while the president barely said a peep.

That’s why despite African American women making up over 40% of all women in the armed forces it wasn’t until 2014 that President Obama was able to change racially biased hair standards for active duty women of color.

That’s why a group of West Point cadets showing racial and American pride caused a firestorm last year.

These are just examples of how the American military to this day treats people of color, it continues to do a number on white Americans as well.

The issue isn’t simply that a bunch of bigots wrote threatening words on the dorms of five cadets, that’s almost to be expected. The issue is that the military despite the rhetoric has not adequately rooted out racist sentiments in the ranks yet still expects (and in fact depends) on large numbers of African Americans to join up and serve, even if that means facing an enemy on the field or in your barracks.

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Blacks Key in 1812 War

From Afro.com

Valiant, Brave Seamen, Soldiers of Color Rarely Noted

Valiant, Brave Seamen, Soldiers of Color Rarely Noted

For the United States the War of 1812 was a second War of Independence against the British that birthed emblems of American nationalism such as the national flag, the “Star-Spangled Banner” and Uncle Sam, the national icon.

But for many enslaved Blacks it was the first major pathway to self-determination and freedom. Thousands of Blacks, both free and enslaved, together played a significant role in the outcome of the war, something officials and historians said should be remembered even as the world recognizes the conflict’s bicentennial, which began June 18.

“Black volunteers in large numbers stepped forward to defend homelands which paradoxically deprived them of basic freedoms for which they fought,” wrote historian Gerard T. Altoff in his book {Amongst My Best Men: African Americans and the War of 1812.} “In spite of overt prejudice, discrimination, and hatred, African-Americans stepped forward to serve, either in a civilian or a military capacity.”

For enslaved Blacks with an eye toward freedom the war offered several options: they could fight for the U.S., run away and seek freedom among the Native Americans or join His Majesty’s service. Many chose the latter, convinced that a British victory would hasten the end of slavery. The British nurtured that belief to some extent, and promised the slaves free emigration to British colonies in Canada and the West Indies in exchange for their service.

Read more of the story here.

Some Exhibits to Come – Three Centuries Of Enslavement