By: Jasmine Cochran
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, an executive order that essentially started the process of ending slavery in America. The 13th Amendment passed in 1865, sealing the deal and making it illegal to own slaves in America.
Black people were beginning to make this country their new home, even though, up to that point, it had only brought them terror. However, there was still much work to be done.
America prides itself on its military power and success, and Black people wanted to contribute to its success in the most prestigious ranks. Although we could fight in wars before World War II, it wasn’t until then that Black people were allowed to become pilots.
Tuskegee airmen vs. Muhammad Ali
The Tuskegee airmen were the first black pilots in the United States military. Earning over 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses for their achievements, they are celebrated in Black History Month tributes and conscious high school classrooms nationwide. Their efforts helped progress the military towards integration, which took place in 1948. The Tuskegee airmen are a clear source of pride within the Black community.
However, as the world teeters on the brink of World War III, many Black people are beginning to ask the question, “Should we be so eager and proud to fight for a country that continues to prove it doesn’t view us as one of its own?”
There are those who echo the sentiments of Muhammad Ali and refuse to fight for a country that’s terrorized them since the boats landed and against a people who haven’t offended them personally, at all. On the other hand, there is the camp who looks at the accomplishments of the Tuskegee airmen and feels as though, through their efforts, our nation began to see our potential in military spaces. So let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
Pros of joining the armed forces:
- By serving, college becomes a viable possibility instead of a financial impossibility. Money for college in exchange for a few years of service is a much more attractive option than paying back student loans for half your life, and if you can’t get a scholarship for academics or athletics, the military option begins to look very attractive.
- You can build a career, and an honorable one at that. And even if you choose to do a short stint in the military, there are more and more programs becoming available that push for companies to hire men and women who have served in the armed forces. Either way, serving can set you on a path to professional stability success.
- When the military recruited me, they drove home the fact that I could travel the world, and that I’d have the opportunity to be stationed in a land of my choice. For a spirit of wanderlust, that sounded appealing.
Cons of joining the armed forces:
- You fight for rights that your own country would vehemently object to your exercising. Case in point: Colin Kaepernick.
- You fight for freedom and justice that is promised to you in your homeland, but you may never see that freedom and justice. Consider all the law enforcement officers who have killed black people and will never be held accountable for it. Consider the constitutional right Americans hold for a speedy trial of our peers, but the fact that over 90% of Black inmates never see that trial.
- You fight against the enemy, but at home, you are the enemy. The government and media have done a fantastic job of creating personas for us, and they’re not positive. The collective American psyche, and dare I say, the world, fears us. It’s the excuse cops give for pulling the trigger so quickly. It’s the reason people grab their children and purses when we walk by. In the U.S.A., we are the enemy, no matter how loudly we scream that we are not.
So what do you say? Do you think Black Americans should fight for this nation, or do you fail to see a logical justification for such a decision?
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Jasmine believes in love, presence, and justice. She also believes in communication, so leave a comment!