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African-American Soldiers Serving Under Adverse Conditions
article written by Tyrone T. Dancy


(Note of Caution: If you are easily sickened or shocked by gruesome details I suggest that you not read this; it is a reality most people rather not face.)

Those of African decent have fought, bled, and lost limbs while serving with honor and distinction in the United States military while at the same time, being subjected to inhumane circumstances and conditions.

Soldiers of African decent who fought in the Civil War, World War I, World War II and even Korea, came home and were subjected to lynching by blood-thirsty white mobs. Many of these cold blooded mobs simply killed black soldiers for being in military uniform. Black soldiers were maimed, some castrated and burned while alive.

As soldiers of African decent made their way back into the community after serving faithfully and honorably in the military, many were denied employment, housing, training, and veteran’s benefits. These former soldiers were not accepted into the well-established veteran’s service organizations throughout the country. The black veterans were denied all the aforementioned solely because they were black.

Even before these soldiers came home they were subjected to horrendous episodes of racism and prejudice. They were exploited and experimented on, and at times, some were even deliberately sent off to their death. Virtually suicide missions during military combat operations.

Let us briefly examine the beginnings of the onslaught of savagery and brutality against those of African descent. Paul Kivel, author Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice, wrote "from 1619 until slavery ended officially in 1865, 10-15 million Africans were brought here, and another 30-35 million died in the transport – a journey called “The Middle Passage". In all, Kivel says, 40–50 million Africans were abducted or killed by white Americans and Europeans.

The founding fathers of this nation committed heinous and horrific crimes against those of African descent. Almost daily throughout 1619–1900s, somewhere in America an African-American was being lynched, mutilated, castrated, and burned alive or beaten to death. On many an occasion the victims were veterans. The few whites who do not practice racism and stand by in silence are practically as guilty as the performers of these detestable acts. Usually silence is interpreted as acceptance. The silent majority reigns today.

I have heard whites admit they were glad not to be African-American. Why? Because they know the tremendous burden those of African descent must endure. The dominating (or ruling oppressors) society has done a superb job of instilling in blacks inferiority and low self-esteem. By perpetual acts of degradation and insults, by restrictive Laws applicable to blacks only. By a constant stream of negative messages being feed to us from the time we are born till we die.

The most wretched white person can get more respect than the most dignified, educated and accomplished black person. The reasoning and perceptions of those of African descent have been so damaged by the dominant society, that most blacks will not accept information presented by a black until the white community accepts it first. Some enlightened folks refer to this as a hang over from the slave plantation period.

Alarmingly, most African-Americans are wrapped in self-hatred, living without self-esteem and unable in most instances to respect and value other African-Americans. Regrettably, many uniformed and misinformed African-Americans are Influence by, what I have dubbed “the Willie Lynch Directive of 1712”. In 1972, Lynch gave instructions as to what the slave masters must do with their slaves to keep them fearful and divided. The hateful principle has worked so well, its influence is evident today in the black community. Read The Willie Lynch Letter and the Making of a Slave, by Kashif Malik Hassan-el.

The black soldiers returning to their community were not held in esteem and celebrated as heroes; individually probably yes, collectively no. The black veteran carries a lot of psychological, sociological and political burdens more so than any other group of veterans. No other group of veterans had a painful past and an ominous future as veterans of African descent. A past made up of enslavement, degradation and brutal mistreatment. Their future not much more promising the remnants of Racism are ever present. Refer to the latest disaster 8/29/05 Katrina-New Orleans 80% population Black mostly poor left to drown. Mostly the past of African-Americans is one of legalized oppression and exploitation to the fullest degree.

Another disturbing and offensive fact is most immigrants have more civil rights and government privileges than African-American veterans who were born and raised here and have fought in America’s wars.

Again returning to recorded facts of history, subsequent to 1865 it was a crime to teach blacks to read and write. After the abolishment of slavery multiple barriers were set up preventing blacks from attending school. America’s educational system has supported and perpetuated racism and discriminatory practices since its formation. Read Kill Them before They Grow: The Misdiagnosis of African American Boys in American Classrooms, by Michael Porter. For anyone to say let’s forget about the past is aiding the deniers of our worth, history and our cultural dignity. I consider it a true miracle that blacks have been able to accomplish or achieve anything when considering the horrendous circumstances they have been forced to live under.

After having been treated worst than dogs or beast of the field, men and women of African descent were willing to serve in America’s racist and hostile military. Oh what gallant folks are these who have pledged allegiance to serve with fidelity and patriotic fervor while members of their race were being hanged, burned alive, and mutilated? Whom are these brave and tenacious black folks who have gone off to fight in America’s wars while being considered not fully human but 3/5 of a person; going off to serve a country that despised and depreciated their presence? Tell me, what other group people have served in all of America’s wars while continuously being disrespected, maligned, and discriminated against? I know of no other race of people on the face of this earth that have been faced with such a feat.

Black soldiers after fighting valiantly overseas returned to America and were told they could not ride in certain sections of a bus or train. Most of these black war veterans could not find work or decent housing due to discriminatory laws and practices. The African-American fought hard for the opportunity to serve in America’s armed forces. They trained and fought outstandingly under the severest of circumstances always attempting to prove their worth.

During the revolutionary war, more than 5,000 African-Americans fought alongside whites in every battle. In the war of 1812, African-Americans those who were slaves and free served in the army and navy. During the Civil War out of absolute necessity, Lincoln turned to African-Americans (mostly slaves) to help win the civil war. During that period African-Americans fought in countless battles and skirmishes.

The African-American served with notability in the reconstruction and the Indian wars. Preeminently they served in the Spanish-American war, Cuba, and the Philippines. They serve outstandingly during World War I and commendable during World War II. They served exceptionally well during WWII in the Army Air force. They were remarkable in the Navy and the Marine Corps during WWII.

The African-American continued to serve impressively in the Korean War while integration was being opposed. During the Vietnam War many young African-American men were drafted and some volunteered to serve. Many did serve superbly.

Again and again men and women of African descent served devotedly while living in a racist and segregated America. Ironically, because of their service to America many of the social advances and equalities and civil liberties that have come about were due to the African-American soldier. Bigotry and injustice has been at the heels of every African-American soldier who ever wore combat boots and a uniform. In spite of this reality, outstandingly and honorably they served while being continuously and steadily subjected to humiliating and degrading circumstances.

These men and women of African descent deserve the nations highest civilian honors the medal awarded by an act of Congress: "The Congressional Medal". They deserve to be recognized for their outstanding service under adverse conditions - racism, discrimination, segregation, prejudice and hatred. In addition to the Congressional Medal, the Congressional Achievement Award should also be given to these notable citizen soldiers.

These men and women of African descent who served in America’s military have exhibited extraordinary courage and perseverance that no other group can claim. For additional details read Serving Under Adverse Conditions, by Tyrone T. Dancy, and Hidden Heroism: Black Soldiers in America’s Wars, by Robert B. Edgerton.

Copyright © 2000 Tyrone T. Dancy, All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without permission from the author.