By Anika Chase All aboard a train to the destination of no return. The steerage car, usually reserved for cattle were filled with men, woman and even children. Their tickets were stamped with “Jew” and others they also deemed racially inferior, like the Roma (Gypsies), the disabled, and some of the Slavic peoples. The atrocities that the passengers would endure once they disembarked still mar the Germans' reputation.
World War II also exposed a great paradox in America. America began telling an interesting story, a narrative of contradictions that omitted a segment of the population. President Franklin Roosevelt announced to the American people, “We must be the great arsenal of democracy."
African-American troops were enlisted to fight for freedom in countries abroad while American was limiting the rights of its own black citizens. Ironically, here in the land of the free, there were still lynchings of black folk and even black soldiers. African-Americans could not vote and daily injustices were inflicted on people of color. African-Americans, particularly southern blacks, were stifled by a culture of segregation, racial violence and disenfranchisement.
As America accepted the mantle of imperialism, her own were being neglected. In the name of freedom, democracy and economic prosperity, the U.S. pillaged the war devastated nations of Europe, and the emerging Africa and Asia nations. In the U.S., cities, towns and states in which African-Americans resided there was a local crisis being ignored.
In equality in education, housing and employment opportunities prevailed as America fought against fascism in Europe. They had to beg for the crumbs of justice from the imperialist ruler who was unwilling to integrate them into this nation that forced previous generations to America in the shackles of free labor.
The hypocrisy of the United States depicting itself as the new leader of the free world as its citizens were subjected to severe racial discrimination and violence.
After the war segregation and inequality within the country became the focus on the world stage, but other nations did not intervene or assist African-Americans as violence and segregation were used as atypical genocide. Several scholars proposed the intention of the U.S. was to exterminate and produce living conditions that reduced African-American's chances for survival.
Since World War II, the U.S. has been involved militarily, politically and economically in the creation of vibrant economies in several countries. Beginning with Germany and Japan, then onto Bosnia, Kosovo, and now Afghanistan. It's a scene of nation-building, pressing toward democracy, and creating a vibrant economy abroad, while ignoring the citizens still recovering from several decades of exclusion. African Americans suffer a distinctive historical scar. The legacy of slavery and legal segregation has resulted in an uneven playing field, which calls for change.
Part One of a Two Part Series