Sunday, March 16, 2008

Recognized Atrocities & Unrecognized Consumer Benefits

"Recognized Atrocities & Unrecognized Consumer Benefits"....this is a title that I came up with in the wake of the controversy around Reverend Jeremiah Wright and his comments that are critical of American history.

Let me start out in saying that - as a Black man, duly related to a line of people who where once enslaved in America as well as a student of history - I don't refute at least some of what Rev Wright is saying about the actions of America in its history. The purpose of this post, however, is not to review the gory details of American history as it relates to African Americans.

Instead the purpose of this threat is to talk about the other side of the history that Black people who are in line with Reverend Jeremiah Wright and his selective take on the Black American experience. Rev Wright is said to be a former Marine. For some people this is used as a reference to his legitimacy and his right to be critical of America. He was willing to put his life on the line in defense of this country that he is critical off. I would like to look at the other side of this equation. A bullet fired by the young Marine named Jeremiah Wright would prove to be just as deadly in advancing to an "enemy" of America as if a White soldier had fired it.

Our transition from slavery as a people is well known. We transitioned from a people who had our self-determination stripped from us, where we had no independent economic means to do anything other than what the slave master or land owner during share cropper times told us to do. The African in America desperately desired to fight for his people's freedom during the Civil War. In taking up arms to defeat the Confederacy he was actually taking up arms to advance his own interests. The notion of the Buffalo Soldier, a Black military cavalry who fought in the plain states during post Civil War times. We don't hear specifics about their fights against Native Americans. Future president Teddy Roosevelt recruited the Buffalo Soldiers to assist in the invasion of Cuba to push out the Spanish from those lands. In a recent historical reenactment of the invasion a professor of African-American history and an expert on the Buffalo Soldiers made note of their use of Indian chants as they ran through the foliage in the jungles of Cuba. This noise had a disorienting effect upon the enemy. Since the Buffalo Soldiers wore American uniforms it is clear that they were fighting against the Native Americans and not WITH THEM.

As we move to the times of World War I and World War II there was a major aspiration for Black people to achieve more respect in society by fighting in wars on behalf of America. Despite the fact that we were mainly relegated to the supply lines rather than the front lines - the fact remains that without the Black enlisted man and many of the Black females who served in the medical corps - America could not have won the war. I can detail each war up into the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but the same holds true each time - the Black military man has been firing bullets at the enemy because of his status as an AMERICAN, wearing an American uniform.

The problem with individuals who think as Reverend Jeremiah Wright is that he fails to register the consumer benefits that he has willfully taken as an American citizen. There is a key difference between a people brought here under the threat of violence and then made to work to advance the wealth of others who are holding them in bondage and those of us who live here today as citizens at will.

I challenge all of those individuals who promote the usurpations as the core of her founding to also make note of their own ingestion of the fruits from these exploits, long after the threat of force has been removed, directing their behavior against their will. You simply can't have it both ways.

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