Black and in the Military
A minute by minute, hour by hour struggle for me. I enlisted in the US Army for the sole purpose of what I thought was survival in 2014. After already taking 2.5 years of loans out at a school that cost $47,000+ at the time (steadily has increased since) putting a heavy financial load on my family. I was nervous and made a hasty decision not really knowing the things I do now. I was afraid and shaking when I did make the decision to join.
The recruiter knew what he was doing during the time of my timidness, and the moment he sensed it, pounced on my emotional vulnerability. I remember vividly getting up and deciding to not go through with joining but when I was walking out the recruiter said in a sarcastic type tone “Are you sure, you want to walk away from all of this college money?” Knowing I needed the money because of the major debt I was already in.
My desire to erase the financial mistakes of the past has put me in a crossroad with my integrity.
Can I really scream for a “Revolution” knowing I serve the same “Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy”?
I basically live a double life like a superhero that wears a costume to protect his loved ones from danger. In “movement” circles that I am apart of in Atlanta, my military life was never brought up unless forced out of me. The amount of side-eyes and questions of “Why are you in the Military if you believe this?” I am often asked. Knowing I just joined for the “benefits” but realizing it isn’t worth my time, happiness, and mental health, but it may be too late in the game now.
Similar to J. Cole in his rise to fame or in general the hunger and desperation one puts forth to make it out of their situation (Due mainly to capitalism), assuming this destination they’re striving for will result in happiness.
The disgusting looks folks give me is definitely understandable due to the U.S.’s history of imperialism and recent televised (historical) treatment of oppressed communities inside the U.S.’s borders and abroad. The National Guard is always called in to maintain “crowd control” and flex its new highly weaponized equipment on innocent bystanders. (#NoDAPL, Ferguson etc.) We’ve seen it through history how military tactics have been used to silence, kill and abuse us.
My idea of survival has been wrapped up in maintaining a “comfortable” Western lifestyle. It’s like the disdain I have for pigs (police) I see occupying black communities. I wear the same system every time I put on a U.S. Army Uniform that occupies lands across the ocean. I know I just can’t go to another country and kill my black and brown Brothers/Sisters for the sake of imperialism disguised as “Patriotism” but it’s something I signed myself up for at the end of the day.
“Shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn’t put no dogs on me, they didn’t rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father. … Shoot them for what? How can I shoot them poor people? Just take me to jail.” -Muhammad Ali
Was this really worth it?
Am I a hypocrite?
What should I do?
Should I take the a stand like those before me who stood against the draft during the Vietnam war in the 60's?
Serve the time I signed up for and be done with it?
What if I’m called into a war (more than likely will happen) before that time is up?
However, we shouldn’t demonize Black and Brown folk in the service for survival because capitalism pushes many of us to a place of desperation; where we’ll sacrifice our integrity to fulfill our basic human needs. Neither should we try to remotely sympathize with US imperialism. Those who do it for the “patriotism” that may have genuine hearts but may not be aware. Which is why Political Education is crucial, but also providing for folks physical needs so they don’t need to join the service. How can folks trust a process like a “Revolution” if they’ll just die from a lack of resources during it?
We can’t ask oppressed communities to sacrifice the very few things they have without providing for them, and providing resources so they can take care of themselves.
Fred Hampton on the importance of Education:
Fred Hampton on socialism:
Believe me, I don’t sympathize with Capitalism or imperialism. Fuck them both! Nor am I pulling a “All Lives Matter!” in this situation.
On an episode of Black Mirror titled “Men Against Fire” that depicts the reality of the Military. All of the “benefits” you get for joining but also accounting for what you have to sacrifice in the process. A “mask” is provided for folks that join shielding them from the truth. Taking away the guilt and emotion from each individual, essentially turning them into brainless zombies. Then once that mask was removed, reality was shown as in Stripe’s (Main Character) case. He had to relive every single thing that he did, and the pain was unbearable. An “emotionless” trained killer as we see from the occupying forces of US Imperialism today. Hearing and listening to folks in the military and the “shoot first” mentality that is instilled from the moment you join. We are trained not to think, but to kill, follow orders and protect this state’s capital over the people. It’s like the matrix when Morpheus gives Neo a choice to see reality or wake up the next day as if nothing happened.
I am in a place of depression, doubt, frustration and anxiety of what the future holds. Especially with all of my other Brothers and Sisters who may struggle with this also. I need Community, and friends more than ever because I’ve never felt more alone than I currently do. I truly understand now how bad this decision was for me, but I don’t need folks who call themselves my friend to continuously demonize and make me feel like shit because of it.