- Posted August 26, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Everyday racism: Your stories
Racism runs both ways!!
I am a combat veteran and served more than 20 years in the United States Army and I am here to tell you that Racism runs rampantly on both sides of the tracks. I know, because I have experienced it both ways.
So everyone knows, I am a second generation, mixed race child. My Mother's Dad was Native American and her Mother Caucasian. I was raised in a house that didn't know or practice racial slurs, boundaries or discrimination of any kind. I owe a tremendous amount of who I am to my Mother and Father and Grandparents!!
I joined the Army as soon as I was able to get away from small town America and I had never experienced racism until I was a part of Uncle Sam's melting pot.
My first experience was at the ripe old age of 18. I was selected as a squad leader of a multi cultural squad of soldiers in Advanced Individual Training. Because I look Caucasian more than anything, 3 Black soldiers were offended with my selection and decided to complain that I was a racist and so was the Platoon Sergeant who selected me. It should be known that I had only served with these soldiers for 2 months and had never even had harsh words with these individuals, let alone ever even made any attempts to discriminate against these guys. I was verbally accosted by these three GIs and called everything from cracker to snowflake and that doesn’t even account for the obscenities they used against me.
My second encounter with racism came at another duty station in the early 80's. I was at work, in a Telephone repair office and was alone with an older white, civilian employee who blurted out "I know how we get rid of our NIgger problem". I must have looked like I saw a ghost at that point because the look on this guys face, when I asked him "What has a person of color ever done to you to make you so hateful"? This guys response was, "Oh, you one of them kind" I took this incident all the way to the Post Inspector General's office and the man was made apologize and was moved to another place of work. This incident was also the genesis for my third encounter of racism.
I was accused by a fellow, Black, soldier of not doing enough and that I didn't do more because I'm a "whitey". This soldier never even knew what I was told by the IG office. (The IG told me that because the Civilian worker didn't direct his comments at any specific individual, they couldn't take any real actions) He also didn’t know that “OUR” commander demanded that I explain to him why I was so offended by the civilian workers comments!!
I think my most disturbing example is of when my son was in grade school. His best friend was Black. They were video game buddies and tech junkies together. We were stationed in the same location for approximately 4 years, unusual for the time; My son and his friend were inseparable at school and his buddy was over to our home several times. My boy’s heart was broken when his buddy's parents wouldn't allow them to hang out together after they saw my son has blonde hair and blue eyes.
I am here to tell you that Racism runs rampantly on both sides of the tracks. I know, because I have experienced it both ways.