2018 National Black History Month Theme “African Americans In Times Of War”
African American. /ˈafrəkən əˈmerəkən/ noun: 1-an individual of African ancestry and descendants who is geographically located in the United States of America. 2-people of black racial hues. 3-people who immigrated to the United States from Akebulan as forced laborers and slaves. African Americans (plural)
In. /in/ preposition: 1-expressing the situation of something that is or appears to be enclosed or surrounded by something else. 2-expressing a period of time during which an event takes place, or a situation remains the case.
Time. /tīm/ noun: 1-the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole. 2-a point of time as measured in hours and minutes past midnight or noon. Times (plural)
Of. /əv/ preposition: 1-expressing the relationship between a part and a whole. 2-used to indicate possession, connection, or association
War. /wôr/ noun: a state of armed conflict between different nations or states or different groups within a nation or state. verb: engage in a war.
According to the Preamble of the United States Constitution, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” For each of these tenets to become a reality, this country had to face war.
“In order to form a more perfect Union,” Crispus Attucks lost his life to spark the American Revolution against its parent country Great Britain. “In order to form a more perfect Union,” the Civil War was fought on the basis on slavery. A war that was fought to transform the United States from a sparsely populated land to a modern, robust, economic empire that has yet to be matched. And, people the world over are enjoying a life that was paid for on the backs of the enslaved laborers, the laden, and the liberated. “In order to form a more perfect Union,” America was in a state of disunion. The nation fought culture wars, social wars, and wars with its neighbors. It was in disunion with the world with its unilateral action in Afghanistan.
Currently, it is in disunion on the global stage on the issues of: torture, policing, its two-tier criminal justice system, racial disparities, and violence against indigenous women. This nation has been at war since its inception, and it is striving to “form a more perfect Union.”
For the nation to “establish Justice,” it must recognize its eras of injustice from within and abroad. From 350 years of oppression and Jim Crow segregation to women’s suffrage and their hunger strikes to child laborers working in extreme conditions and forgoing an education. That is just to name a few. It took benchmark Supreme Court cases to “establish Justice.” It took a war that divided a people to “establish Justice.” It took constitutional amendments and several civil rights acts to “establish Justice.” And, it will take many more laws, rebellions, revolutions, and rights to “establish Justice.”
America has the capacity to “insure domestic Tranquility.” It must be a nation that loves peace and not war! It must set a posture of peace. It must seek peace that is reasonable and responsible. It must seek peace that is truthful and tolerant. It must seek peace that resolves and not radicalizes. It must seek peace that is mindful and magnanimous.
To “insure domestic Tranquility,” this country must promote freedom, expression, activism, engagement, and empowerment across all religions, faiths, socioeconomic and political statuses, and orientations within Its Borders. To “insure domestic Tranquility,” America must admit that is has caused turmoil. It must take account of its history, list the people and places that it has brought harm, and work fervently to make amends. Until then, “domestic Tranquility” will be uninsured.
The United States is known to “provide for the common defense.” This country outspends more on the armed forces that any other on the planet. This country provides for the common defense when it enhances its capabilities and supports operations of its partners and allies. This country provides for the common defense when it deploys its military to all seven continents (i.e., U.S. airmen deliver cargo and supplies to research scientist in Antarctica). This country provides for the common defense when it unites against domestic and foreign threats. This country provides for the common defense when it strikes significant blows to its adversaries and prevent them from launching attacks.
This country has “promote the general Welfare” either by convenience or mandate. It was convenient for the government to establish hoovervilles and shantytowns from coast to coast for the poor and homeless during the Great Depression. The United States promotes general Welfare when, it strategically and methodically conserves, protects, and enhances its water, soil, and air for current and future generations. This country will “promote the general Welfare” when the health and happiness of its citizenry is attained. This country will “promote the general Welfare” when additional measures are taken to protect individual interest over political expediency.
America has and will continue to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” Freedom fighter Fannie Lou Hamer said it best, “When I liberate others, I liberate myself.” In my book, “A Talk With The Community: Politics, Education, and Other Social Issues,” the section, “The Constitution Speaks” states, “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is what I seek to attain and want for every individual that comes to American shores; that swims across the treacherous waters; that passes our airspace, or that is a pedestrian to our borders. Although my life span is short, a mere 225 years; from 1789 when I was originally ratified, to the present day, I am perfecting in my original principles. As the years roll by and I am interpreted accurately, I am improving my lot. I am trying to shine brighter, sing a sweeter song, and get stronger in the eyes of the world. I want to illuminate so bright I can blot out the ugliness of my beginnings, because the nation is changing. Her complexion is not the same. She is maturing. She is broadening her lenses. She is physically changing; upward and outward. She is shrinking because of technology. She is original and is revered by many. She must change in order to not falter.”
“I want to be counted as the founding document of a great empire that has a lasting imprint in the minds of the world. I want it to be said, “On American soil; I ensured there would be freedom, opportunity, and humanity.”
This country and its founding principles are ordained and established in its Constitution. The supremacy of that document is being tested. The strength of its institutions is being challenged. The balance of power has become unbalanced. It is unwieldy. Americans are consenting to be governed. Americans have bought into the social contract. It is the governments obligation to ensure that human decency it upheld at the highest levels.
From one of my previous blog posts, “A Challenge and a Controversy” I stated, “The United States of America is amid some challenging and controversial times. It is ringing loud from the seat of the Oval Office. It is being displayed in the streets by fiery protesters. It is being felt in the hearts of the underpaid and overworked.” And, it will ultimately be heard by the justices of the Supreme Court. The voices of the unheard cannot be silenced forever.
As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. exclaimed in 1967, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” War is a peculiar action with peculiar results. It requires young men and women to defend a nation and an ideology that he or she may not support. It calls into question the value of one’s life, liberty, and a pursuit of happiness. It calls into question whether a nation is driving out darkness and illuminating another, or if it is eradicating hate and instituting love. It calls into question one’s morality and sense of humanity. It calls into question nation’s collective conscious and its desire for conquest. It calls into question a nation’s capital, currency, and cadaver count.
The spoils of war are grievous. It can leave men, women, and children in positions of food insecurity and starvation in places that such never existed. It can cause poverty and class divisions. War can produce violence among the civilian population years after a treaty is signed. War can contaminate a country and deem land unsafe and uninhabitable. War can jeopardize the health of all people involved.
Alternatively, war can lead to peacekeeping and the restoration of humanity. War can open talks between nations that were once cold and callus to one another. War can promote regional stability to an area that was unstable. War can maintain a safe and secure environment and to ensure freedom of movement throughout a nation or region.
African Americans have been a critical factor in every military engagement of the United States. Each time the nation needed men and women of color, they rose to the occasion. African Americans have risen to the highest ranks in the military with resilience and resolve. It was done amid segregation, bigotry, and discrimination. African Americans have risen to levels of greatness and grandeur in the armed forces without grandstanding. African Americans have risen and become full citizens because of the Union Army’s 54th Massachusetts Regiment Infantry. African Americans have risen because they put country before capitalism. African Americans have risen because they never accepted defeat. African Americans have risen because they are guardians of freedom and the American way of life. African Americans have risen because they have used the uniform to open doors of opportunity for their families and themselves. African Americans have risen because fallen warriors were fuel for a movement. African Americans have risen and served one’s country and one’s people because it is honorable. That is why the United States has and will always call upon African Americans in Times of War.