I will always remember our response when asked by our commanding officer, “what is the problem?” We had finished basic training and advance Infantry training and for most of us, orders to Germany was our second tour of duty as a draftee in the US Army. “You are the problem,” was generally our response if you had been born black and now was wearing army green. Young, immature and uneducated to the ways of the world I did not understand that the military, regardless of the branch of service, was a reflection of the USA, with all the social ills and maladies manifested by the melting pot idea of the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Some of our white brother in army green never saw a black man, up close and personal, until we first met in boot camp. Although the goal was to make “us” into “one” there were times Bubba and Bro did not see eye to eye and brute strength was used to settle the difference. Bubba generally had the advantage over Bro since most of the non commissioner officers and commanding officers shared their common white skin color. We (black men) do not all look-alike, as many times you could get picked out of general formation when someone accused you of acts that could lead to a dishonest discharge or a lesser offense. When blacks got into trouble the first thing taken away from then was their weapon card, an unwritten policy that did not apply to our white brothers. And like America, there were two justice system one for Bubba and one for Brother Man or Bro.
I did not know about the Buffalo Soldiers, the Red Ball Express and the many brave black soldiers of World War I, World War II and the Korean War. I did not know about the many unnamed heroes that were not covered in my history book at the predominately white high school I attended. I did not know how black men were hung with their military uniforms on after fighting for this country to help make the world free when in fact we were not free. But more important than the above, I did not know how segregation and discrimination would have never been addressed if it had not been for the military where black men with weapons (not a gun) gave fatal blow after fatal blow to segregation and discrimination.
New year, old Problems. New Congress same problems. The economic recovery is moving full steam ahead, but poor folks and black folks are catching hell. No one is hiring, benefits no longer offered if you manage to find a job. Banks making all the money they can, then sits on the can, refusing to loan out money regardless of your credit score. Crime at an all time high as the USA get prepared to legalize selling marijuana. I remember the many brothers whose lives were ruined selling marijuana, jail and prison time, the killing over drug turf and now, this 40 Billion Dollar a year enterprise is going legal, at least in the States with the federal government realizing that the genie is out of the bottle
New Year, Old Problems. But problems are the stepping stones to progress. Problem solvers gave us electricity, the automobile, the computer and the list goes on and on. People over the centuries have harness obstacles and made opportunities out of them and there is one thing that poor folks especially black folks have and that problems. Who knows, maybe getting knocked off our bed of comfort and complacency will produce a year of problems solvers? God knows we need them. Humm…