By: Northern Regional Coordinator Nana Yaw, APSP
I joined the military for the same reason many African and other colonized people join- I was desperate for money. I had a son at 17 years of age, was a high school dropout and was forced to take full custody of my child, then two weeks old, as the child’s mother who suffered from post pardon syndrome and drank liquor, was unable to care for our baby. I had a job downtown working for this Greek restaurant owner as a dishwasher, food prep, clean up, and delivery boy from 5:00am to 7:00pm, seven days a week. One day I requested a raise from Gorge the Greek for doing all that work but Gorge ignored my plea. He would flash wads of money in my face he’d use to pay prostitutes who would come by after Gorges wife left. I decided then that I might be a slave but I’d be damned if I was Gorges slave. I waited until the next day around noon time (when the restaurant was crowded) and invited my mother to witness what I was about to do. I walked to the middle of the diner, removed my white apron, threw it on the floor in front of everyone and said, “Gorge clean your own dishes dammit”. I stormed out with Gorge screaming “Jimmy! Jimmy!” behind me.
With no work and no school, I was on the streets and the cats I was hanging out with were doing crazy shit that would sooner or later get me behind bars. Life was becoming more and more complicated for me. I was getting high from time to time, drinking thunderbird wine, and hustling. I remember walking by a recruitment office and asking some questions. I had no idea what the military was all about but I knew I had to make some resources for myself and my child. My plan was to get some military technical training and, if I survived the combat part overseas, complete the four years and get my black ass outta there.
Black Man Working for Uncle Sam
I once witnessed a drill sergeant slap an African across his face so hard that it could be felt and heard by every recruit in the squad bay. The reason was simply
“I don’t like you eye balling me”! Private Knight was so disciplined that his eyes remained straight forward but I could see tears in his eyes as he stood at attention. On one occasion, this cracker from Alabama, for no apparent reason, came at me trying to fight. I guess he needed to take some anger out on someone and I fit the description. He was a big white boy about 200 plus pounds and I was 145lbs but I wore his ass out until a passing sergeant broke it up. On one very hot day, a Private got sick and fell down during physical training. He died. Soldiers just stepped over him, thinking that he was weak or faking it. We were all treated badly. The purpose was to break us. One African I knew from Philly couldn’t stomach it and one day he was found in the bathroom with blood everywhere. He had taken a razor blade and cut off his index finger just so he’d get kicked out of the military. This was just one example of how the military broke us psychologically. After graduation from boot camp I was stationed at camp Lejeune in North California. I later found out that the water surrounding the base had been poisoned and a lot of marines stationed there died as a result. Many more got all kinds of diseases, cancers and lost the ability to reproduce due to prolonged exposure to the contaminated water. I was later moved to Okinawa Japan to what was called The Rock. A mere18 years old at the time, I remember the place smelled like death. This was the sight of the Battle of Okinawa where 12,000 Ryukyuans were killed by the u.s. I felt like cattle being taken to the slaughterhouse. In Japan, I saw villagers protesting the recent murder of a shoeshine person. A marine killed him just because he didn’t shine his shoes properly- white Imperialist arrogance! While they protested, I unloaded napalm and other explosives that were used to destroy Vietnamese villages- their food, their homes. America had successfully occupied Okinawa with about five marine bases. I saw brothels where white solders could be seen in lines stretching outside of the doors and around the corner. The soldiers would be in line pot smoking, popping pills, speed, red rock, heroin, acid, whatever. These are the so-called “the few, the proud’. The first thing they tell African Soldiers is that we are forbidden to congregate. We couldn’t meet or talk on base. I noticed seasoned black Marines being passed over for promotions in favor of new white marines promoted. Tensions between African and white Marines were always running high. On one occasion, I saved the life of another African marine. He was drowning in a reservoir while white marines all walked by, blatantly ignoring him. Had I not been there, he would have surely drowned. When this was reported to a local colonel in charge, I wasn’t thanked or commended at all. The colonel only joked “you saved me some paperwork”. He also neglected to report this to my own supervisor and the entire incident was kept secret.
THE u.s. MILITARY IS NO PLACE FOR US
I was sent to the brig once for assaulting a sergeant after he called me a nigger. In addition to the brig, they removed me from my engineer job and reassigned me- I guess they needed to get me as far away from the rest of the Africans as possible.
Through these experiences, I began to see the military for what it really was. I was thrown into the brig again on trumped up charges of unauthorized weapons possession and stripped of my military rank. They told me that they had to make an example out of me. I was tired of my continuous and intensifying ill treatment by the military and started attending Nation of Islam meetings. I sold the Muhammad Speaks Newspaper on base to the Africans until the Military Police interfered. This was very fulfilling work and represented my early political development.
In the end, I felt very much like a prostitute of the state- pimped out then dismissed by Uncle Sam to make room for the new, young prostitutes being recruited. I understood that I, just like every African, was being used as a tool of the Imperialist military to commit the same atrocities to colonized people abroad that were being committed on African people in the united states.
JOIN THE PEOPLE’S ARMY.
The imperialist military lures young Africans in by promising to remedy the material conditions associated with our oppression (conditions the imperialist military itself has played an integral role in putting in place). They promise food, clothing, shelter and resources. However, we have to understand that no pay-off is worth allowing ourselves to be used and manipulated by the oppressor to do his bidding. Point 10 of the African People’s Socialist Party 14-point platform demands the right of African people to build an African People’s Liberation Army. The only legitimate army for an African to serve in is an anti-colonial, anti-imperial one. It is an army dedicated to the overthrow of this social system, not one dedicated to strengthening it. They can’t pay us enough to fly overseas and stick a gun in the face of another colonized individual. They can’t pay us enough to fly to Africa and stick a gun in the face of another African in the name of the u.s.a. The only army an African needs to join is the People’s Army- The International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, the only army which has, for nearly 30 years, fought in defense of the rights, dignity and liberty of African and other colonized people worldwide.
Join the only legitimate army for African people today!!