Imagine being thousands of miles from home. Your friends and family are more or less memories for months while you're "defending the freedom of the American people." While that all sounds like every soldiers encounters with deployments, imagine the realization that neither you nor most of the people you know are simply just "Americans." We'd like to think that "African American" would fall under that same category but if it did then it wouldn't have been documents stating "all men are created equal" while slavery was still in full effect. It's clearly no secret that America was not founded with success of "colored people" in mind so why is it that so many of them are a part of the same countries military? Simply put, the answer is that there's nowhere else to go. Yes you could go to school but then you second guess what chance you actually have of working within your degree field. You could find a normal job but which ones can you get without a degree that'll actually support an adult lifestyle? So your options are basically to go to school and pray you get a good job, stay home with mom and dad while you work a job you don't want to for however long or you can call your favorite uncle, Sam. Now imagine that same deployment from before but this time you find out a black child was murdered and his killer walked free with the help of the justice system. That's right, the same country you're currently risking your life for just allowed a man to walk free for killing what could've been your nephew, cousin, child or even yourself. This was me during my deployment. I found out that Zimmerman was cleared of his charges for the murder of Trayvon Martin. Do you know how many times I've walked to a gas station and bought candy with a drink? I'm almost sure I've done it while talking on the phone. "I am Trayvon Martin." This was the mantra that played over and over in my head as I wept into my pillow while on the top bunk in a small room I shared with two sergeants. I was so infuriated yet weakened by the fact that there was absolutely nothing I felt I could do. I found myself in my most vulnerable state with no solace. I thought about how much I had been through for serving the very same country that didn't serve justice for my little brother, Trayvon. No, I didn't know him personally but I guarantee you can ask a hundred black men from different places about their lives and they'll all have very similar stories. Trayvon was me. He was my nephew. He was my cousin. Trayvon was my brother and his murderer walked free leaving me with nothing more than my own tears and thoughts to comfort myself. This was the night I realized that I know longer wanted to be obligated to do anything for the sole purpose of defending America all because America doesn't defend me or my people. I realized that no matter how many ribbons were on the left side of my dress blues all that mattered was the skin of the person wearing them. No matter what I did for this country, it was just never made for me. I find that some situations make that very apparent like when I get pulled over by the police. It's funny how when I lived in Mississippi I was "boy" to police right up until they saw my military ID and I became "Sir" all of a sudden. I sometimes think about how much trouble my military ID has saved me from when it comes to law enforcement, especially when you can be sentenced to death in unspecified ways simply for not using your turn signal. I wonder often why I’m not good enough. Why is it that my regular identification causes me to be "boy?" However, there's something about a picture of me in a camouflage suit that turns me into "Sir." I still have no answers to my questions but one thing I'll never question is how much it takes to be a black soldier serving a country that doesn't serve you. That I know all too well and because of that, those troops who are still obligated to serve America are always in my prayers. Sadly, whether we are stateside or in foreign countries, we're always behind enemy lines.

Published by T. Todd