Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Yet Another View on the Trayvon Martin Case

Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman

For the past couple of months, you could not help but to hear about the murder of Trayvon Martin. You may not know the name of the parties involved, but you may know about the “kid that got shot in Florida by the neighborhood watch guy.” I am 100% certain that I do not have to go into detail about what happened. Information about the case is literally everywhere (check out the case’s timeline on Central Florida 13 News). Once the mainstream media caught wind of the Martin case, they latched on and went in full throttle.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, it did not take long before they began digging into the teen’s background in an attempt to smear his image. At first we all became accustomed to the sweet-faced picture of Martin that was used alongside Zimmerman’s. But the media did not want that. A black teen simply cannot be innocent. It was not long before we began seeing pictures of Martin with his pants sagged super low, hearing about him getting suspended for drug possession, and people breaking into his e-mail account would have also hacked into his Twitter account had it not been deleted (the Wagist blog has a post contributing to the smearing of Martin’s image).

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Poem Inspired by Trayvon Martin

Given the recent events pertaining to Trayvon Martin, I as I always tend to do when extreme emotion arises, took frustration out on paper. With over a month a half of time having gone by before Zimmerman was even brought up on charges, it is quite evident that racism is still alive and well within the Americas and abroad. This was even more so evident with distasteful jabs on Trayvon's character as the world waited for something, anything to be done pertaining to Zimmerman. I, living in the middle of nowhere at the moment, waited with the rest of the world while signing numerous petitions and of course calling law makers in Florida to act (I have Florida residency). For those of you who may have been living under a rock this past month and a half, Trayvon was a young, African-American male who went to the store to go and get a family member some skittles and tea. He was seen as a "suspicious person" by Zimmerman and was shot because of it. Suspicious meaning Black in America. The public outrage came as Zimmerman was not charged in the death of Trayvon Martin prior to now, nor was he was he detained at the police station (Florida's Stand Your Ground Law being his defense). The following poem is my public outcry. Trayvon Martin after all is my generations Emmett Till.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Invisible Women: Black Women in the Military

The movie, Red Tails (2012), is a fictional story about the Tuskegee Airmen, who were a group of black United States Army Air Force servicemen who fought during the time of World War II (WWII) (1939-1945). Red Tails was directed by Anthony Hemingway, produced by George Lucas, and the screenplay was by John Ridley. The cast includes Terence Howard, Cuba Gooding, Jr., and the adorable Elijah Kelley. The film follows these black men as they face racial discrimination in the military even as they were fighting for a country that devalued their worth. I have yet to see the film for myself, but I have been reading that black women are pretty much non-existent in it, which is not surprising. The film sounds as if it glosses over the crucial role that black women played during the war. The contributions of black women in history have always been ignored in order to focus on white masculinity and valor, white femininity, and black masculinity, valor, and hardships.

Willa B. Brown
The most ironic part about black women’s exclusion from Red Tails is that the Tuskegee Airmen existed because of Willa Brown...a black woman. Brown was the first black woman to earn a pilot’s license in 1937 (Ann, 2011). As one of the founding members of the National Airmen Association of America, her efforts led to Congress integrating the U.S. Army Air Corps leading to the creation of the Tuskegee Airmen (Ann, 2011). If it was not for Brown, the Tuskegee Airmen would not have existed or it would not have existed at that time to become such an integral part of American history. And yet, Red Tails does not even bother to mention her (even though her husband, Cornelius Coffey, was one of the real Tuskegee Airmen) along with the black women who risked their lives.

The Struggle of Minority Women in the Military

The first colored troops did not receive any pay for eighteen months, and the men had to depend wholly on what they received from the commissary...their wives were obliged to support themselves and children by washing for the officers, and making cakes and pies which they sold to the boys in camp. Finally, in 1863, the government decided to give them half pay, but the men would accept none of this... They preferred rather to give their services to the state, which they did until 1864, when the government granted them full pay, with all back due pay.  
- Mrs. Susie King Taylor, African American Civil War Nurse

The desegregation of the Armed Forces by Executive Order 9981 officially occurred on July 26, 1948, though minorities served in numerous branches of the military prior to that time period. Executive Order 9981 given by President Harry Truman forbade discriminating against military personnel because of race, color, religion, or national origin. According to data in the Defense Department minorities are over represented in enlisting ranks and underrepresented in the officer ranks. Minority women encounter a double whammy being that they face issues in reference to race and gender.

While there is no documentation of minority women serving in the American Revolution there were as many as 181 black nurses who served in convalescent and US government hospitals in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina during the war. Having this knowledge about the military I decided to probe a little deeper to see if the treatment of minority women in the military today compared to the mistreatment of minority women of today in the military. I interviewed three women in two different branches of the military to see whether or not the ill-treatment of minority women had dissipated, remained the same, or gotten worse now compared to the past.

Here are their words: