I’ve read numerous posts or comments over the last few days that say. Not all quite as strongly but something similar to this one … “Nike spit in the face of every active duty military personnel, retired or disabled vet. Also on every grave marker in every Military Cemetery all over the world.”
You may have missed this in history class, but did you know that Black Americans have served in every American War?
History records the first American to die in the Revolutionary War was Crispus Attucks. He was part Black part Native which means he had absolutely nothing to gain in this war. Yet he is regarded by historians to be the first American ever to die for this country.
Black Americans who fought in the Civil War saw the end of slavery, only for white supremacy to live on and adapt consequently rendering the 14th and 15th Amendments ineffective.
Black Americans who fought in WWI returned home to a separate but not equal society based on skin color, and the threat of lynching if they forgot their place.
Many of the Black Americans who fought in WWII stayed in Europe and took up residence because of the overt racism and often violent resistance to the growing Civil Rights Movement that was happening back home. They had it better in places like France than they did in the US.
Many of the Black Americans who fought in the Civil War and both World Wars were became targets of racial violence, because of their service to the nations military and how their service was a threat to white supremacist ideology.
Black Americans who fought in the Korean War returned home to be discriminated against in their access to the GI Bill. They watched their white brothers be given a chance to start a life via the GI Bill, while they were denied because of the color of their skin. And even if they were approved for access to the GI Bill their options of where they could buy a home, go to school, start a business were severely limited due to continued resistance to social integration and equality.
Black Americans who fought in the Vietnam War returned home to a virutal war on black neighborhoods via the War on Crime and War on Drugs.
Today many Black Americans whose military duties took them to Iraq and Afghanistan return home to fear for the lives of their children in encounters with police, and to listen to people like you talk as if their service doesn’t even exist and never happened. They continue to serve this country in the midst of a resurgence of White Nationalism. They serve this country and make sacrifices for the freedoms of US citizens including those who look at them, not as a veteran deserving of gratitude and honor, but just another N****r. They protected the freedoms of the white men who marched through Charlottesville last year with tiki torches proclaiming, “You will not replace us”.
You don’t have to think much of Colin Kaepernick or any of the NFL players who kneel in protest of the persistence of racism in US policing and the criminal justice system.
You can be so upset with Nike for making him the face of their new ad campaign and never buy another pair of their shoes again.
But please… stop talking as though no one who ever fought, served and sacrificed in our nation’s military was black. Their contributions to our nation is not Black History. It’s American history. A history that is often forgotten, ignored, or over looked.
Black Americans defended and continue to defend the very institutions and people that treat them not as veterans deserving respect and honor, but rather as a menace to society deserving of suspicion for doing average everyday things while black.