In "This Made Me Cry", Renegade Evolution wrote about a video that I mentioned on my blog back in October (Our Disposable, Invisible Lives). I mentioned my take on the video in her comments section and it sparked a bit of discussion. I thought about writing my response over there but I figured it might be best for me to take this to my own blog so that it didn't drag things out over there against her will.
Like Renegade Evolution, I come from a family where many have served in the military. My family's military service history goes back to George Washington's time as a general. Many, but certainly not all, of those relatives who served were people of color. Several of them rose to rather prominent positions within the military. So, I have no desire to denigrate those who serve. I think I've probably bragged about my family's military history a bajillion times on this blog and I have a few posts sitting as drafts right now that also discuss them.
Part of the reason why the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq bothers me so much is because I have such strong feelings about the military. Personally, I'm a pacifist. At least, I try to be. The German is a true pacifist but my views are more theoretical, pertaining to what an ideal world would look like. I'm far too cynical and jaded to believe that we should cease to have a strong military, so we need to support those who do join unless we are willing to do so ourselves.
One of the things that's tragic about the current wars is that they are affecting people of color in a manner that is definitely disproportionate to the makeup of this country. Outside of the top brass, a huge portion of our military consists of people of color. Blacks make up 30% of the military, which is about twice the total percentage of blacks in the U.S.A. The percentage of Latino, Asian, and Native American soldiers is also increasing. Even though this is, in many ways, a white man's war, it's being fought by and against people of color and I think that's something that needs to be discussed.
However, my problem isn't with the girl who made this video. I'm quite sure she didn't exclude people of color purposely nor did she try to minimize the contributions of POC soldiers. If she belongs to a military family, I think that if someone had pointed out the dearth of people of color in her video to her, she probably would have made an effort to be more inclusive. One of the things that I loved about working for the military was how egalitarian it prided itself on being. I think this is one of the reasons why you see such a high number of inter-racial marriages in the military. Still, that doesn't mean that we should overlook the racial/racist aspects of these wars. If we ignore, overlook or downplay the contributions of soldiers who are people of color, then are we really showing as much respect for military as we'd like to think we are?