|Three Centuries of African-American Soldiers|
Information reaches the general public sporadically through the media. Commercially, Hollywood produced Glory, and Red Tails. and TNT Buffalo Soldiers. PBS' "The African Americans" and "Slavery and the Making of America" touch upon portions of it. PBS also made a 5 minute clip,"Black Soldiers and Sailors in the War of 1812".
Why is this so? In my opinion, a large part of it is due to the collective historical fear that has been a part of this nation's psyche since its' founding - that this military record gives the lie to the persistent stereotypes, myths about and oppression of African Americans. The history contradicts the view of blacks as dangerous, criminal, and immoral - needing to be kept in their place. It juxtaposes the mistreatment of Africans Americans with the democratic values of the enlightenment which informed this country's founding - prejudices which form the basis for the justification of white privilege, even to this day. This contradiction has risen to the surface through our history. With every war, the prowess of the African warrior was repeatedly demonstrated. Always, under the surface, lurked the fear that if African Americans were to wrest themselves from under the thumb of white supremacy, they indeed would be capable of repaying their mistreatment received in kind, and undermine white privilege and status. Progress for blacks was viewed as a threat, and after a war, the status quo needed be reasserted.
We are in denial that this attitude is ingrained in our national psyche. Until we confront it, and do the hard work of institutional change, black lives will always matter less.