The Black American soldier is a special soldier. While he or she isn’t better than any other soldier, the truth of the matter still sides on the reality that the Black American soldier is a special soldier. Why is the Black American soldier special? The Black American soldier is faced with the reality that there’s two Americas, one white and one Black. The Black soldiers know they serve in a military where the history of Black soldiers is one of nobility as well one of bias and racism. The soldiers of yesteryear held on to the promises of a better life. They believed that their service in the military would yield to them opportunities for their family as well as their people. Unfortunately, history has shown us that was not the truth. The promises made often left many bitter and disillusioned. Some were able to create lives for themselves in the military and later on in civilian life but for many others, not so. Historically, our people fought in every war in America. The first soldier to die in the revolutionary war was Crispus Attucks. Black people fought on both sides of the civil war. We have seen war in all of its bloody forms.In comics, the history of Black soldiers is depicted and told. You can find comics and graphic novels that show the presence of Black Americans fighting for freedom. Our people made an investment in blood in securing its roots in the history of America. While our citizenship came courtesy of the slave ship and cotton and tobacco fields, it was cemented in our willingness to pay the ultimate sacrifice in battlefields all over the world.
The Harlem Hellfighters graphic novel grants us a view of history long forgotten. They were decorated soldiers who faced the enemy outside and within.
The reality facing many Black soldiers is the truth that you face criticism regardless of your heroics. You have those people among you who will not accept you regardless of your skin color. You have those people in your own people who think you are foolish because you choose to align yourself with those who despise you. You even have those who serve with you who have become bitter because of their experiences. These viewpoints are certainly valid but at the end of the day you have to decide where you are going to stand. One may choose to try and be the change you want to see or just grab the “goodies” for yourself. Those “goodies” include access to good healthcare, free travel, education finance, etc, etc. One has to be able to look themselves in the mirror. The limited Disney series “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” looked at the life of Isaiah Bradley. He was the first super-soldier and he was scarred by the whole experience. He went as far as to say that “… no self respecting Black man would ever want to be”. Captain America, that is who is the symbol of the American soldier.
No matter what side of the aisle you may stand on, one must admire the resolve of the Black American soldier. It can be argued that Black soldiers are the most patriotic in that they defend and fight for a country that does not see them as equals. They serve in the face of criticism and the hypocritical; trusting to believe in the hope that is America.
There are dozens of comic books detailing stories of Black soldiers fighting and dealing with racism. It is the original American sin. These soldiers are constant reminders that America has to keep her promise. Though she renigs, dances around, bait and switches one must remember who and what a soldier is. A soldier serves, a soldier is loyal, a soldier is solid. Black American soldiers served to prove their loyalty and their worthiness to full citizenship. These stories contained in these comic books and others have shown that the Black American soldier is a special soldier.
On September 14th 1984, a movie was released to the viewing public about a military lawyer sent to a military base to investigate the murder of an Black officer. He is greeted with all sorts of resistance and has to confront some painful truths about white and Black military servicemen. It is heartbreaking movie dedicated to the history of Black G.I.s serving in World War II. It serves a symbol of the hope and hell a Black soldier historically has had to face. So pick up a few old military comics and learn some deep lessons. It is worth it because it is apart of our history. – Richard J Wright