I am a Southern born Army Brat. My father was born in the South and raised some of the time in Arizona. I have some interesting teachings regarding race.
We went from Georgia to Pennsylvania to Georgia to Germany 3 different towns and back to Georgia. When they were first integrating the Army my father and the commander were the only white men on an all black Army post and that is how it was integrated. My father was an officer in the Military Police. When I was 5 years old I went to kindergarten with all black kids, then came home to play with blond and red haired German boys. We were transferred to Bremerhaven, Germany and there were more white kids with me at 1st grade. Again, I came home to play with the German boys. It wasn’t until I got to 2nd grade that there seemed to be a group of Americans that lived next to each other in the Occupied German houses and I played with other Americans when I got home.
My father would have drivers over, Sergeants who were his drivers and they were like friends only because they were both from down South and seemed to miss being back home and they both were the only link that each had. It was not just enough to be an American, but to be a Southern American, you know you were back home.
When I got back home everybody thought that I was a little German boy because of my red hair and my accent and I spoke a little German. I also was shy. When we first got back to the US we were at one house and one school and then moved to a different school.
The schools were segregated. It was different after going to Army Dependent schools that had been integrated. I saw and heard the antagonism which was learned from other kids.
There were things like rumors about a new school, Lucy Laney, being built for the blacks and it being better than the one that we were attending and we would like to attend it.
Then my father was transferred to New Orleans.
There I was asked whether I was Cat or Frat and the segregation was more toward education, economics, employment rather than race. There were kids that appeared to have black skin, yet had the birth certificate to show them as white and Latino. They were accepted by my classmates, yet somehow I was rejected.
I remember when I first arrived in New Orleans and was in the Boy Scouts and marching in a Mardi Gras parade as a flag carrier. I was marching behind the flambeau carriers who were black. I never once saw any white flambeau carriers.
There seemed to be certain jobs in New Orleans that were assigned to blacks and others to whites. I left New Orleans before everybody started moving out of the city and the blacks into the inner city. There still were certain neighborhoods that were segregated.
I remember when my wife and I entertained someone from church from off of the ships. The first person was a radio officer from India. He had some education. The second person was from Pakistan and dark skinned. We were waiting at the pick up ferry point and the German Captain arrived and I began to speak to him. The Pakistani man shrank around the German Captain. As an American, I felt that I was equal, but Pakistani really displayed a sense of humility around the Captain.
The last place I remember regarding race was when I was on (the Rez) Reservation at Porcupine, SD with the Lakota. I remember having a meeting at the radio station, KILI, and having them mention that they needed to hire a someone and if they could not find a Native American, they would have to hire a White Man.
The next time I confronted race was when I went to get gas and the gas station told me that they were out of gas, when I had a Native American in my van with me. I noticed that someone who pulled up after I had left was given gas.
There was antagonism toward the Native Americans from the Whites around the Reservations especially in the Nebraska town that had been taken over by the American Indian Movement a while back. In order to find any place that was for rent, one would have to go to the cable office, water, power or such and ask about disconnects and then ask if there was any rentals.
When I finally got back to Champaign, Il, I wound up reconnecting with a black man that I had worked with when I first got there. He and I had gone through divorces, job hunting, working in the same department, similar last names, were from the same state, and had established a friendship over the years.
For a while we both went to the same church.
I wound up down in Florida following my 3rd soon to be ex-wife down to the east coast. Depression set in and I checked into the VA in Miami. I noticed that there were two people who did the work there: Haitians and Cubans.
As I was discharged and moved into Faith Farm I had my first encounter with living up close with black men on a group level. What I noticed was that individuals would come in appearing to be beaten down and as soon as they had connected up with another group, that the con began.
I also found out that there is a difference between Caribbean blacks and American blacks. American Blacks seem to be more angry and have a more entitled expectation attitude than the Caribbean blacks. There is a lot of Alcohol and drug problems.
As Veterans, the black man accepts the white man as his brother and has learned that both of us bleed red. We have fought right along side of, held our brothers in our arms as he bled to death, and pulled him into the choppers, and he pulled us into the choppers as we got out of some really hairy situations.
We discovered that a different race, the Viet Namese were attacking both of us. Now years later, we ride buses, with the same people as they go to and from work, while we choke down our feelings. We watch our younger brothers coming home in pieces from the Middle East as they have been attacked by those of a different belief.
Who are these Muslims? I had heard of Black Muslims at one point. Are they the same? What would Matty Lou, the Black woman who pressed my Daddy’s clothes and sang me songs and helped my Mama out tell me?
All I know is I try not to get uptight about race and some how it keeps getting stirred up over and over again. Down South sometimes we always got along better with Blacks when they were from down South rather than a Liberal who is trying to change things into something that they themselves have not yet figured out.
I only hope that the Blacks will wake up and stop voting Democrat automatically and soldier will stop voting Republican automatically. My point is that I think people should stop voting automatically…and look carefully at things regardless of race, color, creed.