Serving in Afghanistan is a dangerous duty for troops, but the recently released details of one soldier’s experience suggest the battle is even harder for service men and women of color.

Yesterday, Reuters broke the story of Specialist Adam Jarrell. The only African-American in his unit of New Mexico Army National Guard, Jarrell says that he was systematically targeted and discriminated against while serving in Afghanistan in 2009.

Jarrell says the harassment began after her reported the physical abuse of two soldiers by an officer. Despite military rules meant to keep complaints anonymous, the accused officer was notified about Jarrell’s complaints.

According to Reuters:

After that, Jarrell said he was subjected to increasing torment, including threats of physical violence and racial slurs. The abuse culminated in a noose hanging outside his barracks door, he said.

“That was the last straw,” he said.

When he reported the incidents to his commanding officers, they ignored the issue and wrote him up for jumping the chain of command, even though harassment claims are not subject to those rules, Jarrell said.

The military response to Jarrell’s harassment has been slow at best, with New Mexico National Guard Lieutenant Colonel Jamison Herrera saying that it was looking into it and could not say when they would be able to respond.

Speaking on Jarrell’s complaint, Peter Simonson, Executive Director of the American Ciivl Liberties Union’s New Mexico branch said:

“No one should suffer the kind of racial hatred Specialist Jarrell experienced, least of all someone who is on the front lines of battle. Our military is supposed to maintain a professional, disciplined fighting force. People’s lives depend on it. Racism and racially motivated threats have no place in our state’s National Guard units.”

While racism in the military is not new news, it is disheartening to know that Jarrell’s unjust treatment was ignored. In this case, it seems the chain of command did more to stifle liberties than help to enforce them. There is a sad irony in the fact that troops of color are facing discrimination from soldiers wearing the same uniform and fighting to protect the same freedoms.

What’s your take on Jarrell’s experience? Will having his story in press generate enough public pressure to force the military to respond? Tell us what you think- weigh in Clutchettes and gents!

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  • guestonclutch

    further confirmation that black people need to stop joining the army.

    and the government you are fighting for is oppressing your brothers and sisters around the world. why help them?

    • QueenofNewcastle

      I think if you were to ask most black men in the military they have mainly good experiences.

    • guestonclutch

      @queenofnewcastle – this is my main point

      “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.”
      – Muhammad Ali

  • Intellblackman

    Stories like this don’t surprise me. Even back in WWII black soldiers had the misconception that if they proudly served their country, this would elicit respect and equality. Sadly, they were mistaken. Many troops were treated better in foreign countries than they were on American soil. Coming home meant being welcomed with a healthy dose of “Jim Crow”.

    Remember “The Tuskegee Airmen”? It took decades before their contributions were finally recognized by Amerikkka. Their bravery and dedication did little to change racial conditions in this country. Ever wonder why their very existence was almost kept a secret for so long? It’s because the whole project was designed to prove the inferiority of the black soldier. The program was never intended to succeed. When they ended up being the most successful bomber escorts in the history of the war, the Army realized that the plan had backfired.

    I never understood the concept of “serving your country”. Why serve a country that doesn’t serve you?

  • shalonndramarie

    My oldest son is in the Air Force, he has been to Turkey and now he is in Spain, we have been blessed not to go through this type of abuse as for now. I have always taught my kids to always have a clear mind when dealing with other Races, always represent yourself as a Proud God fearing man of God. Not to think you have to take no BS from nobody because they are Ignorant and Hateful, why can’t people see that this is were Bullying was born from, being hateful and thinking just because it’s alot of them that all agree with doing this to a Human Being because of his color or gender is really a mess up situation to be in. I apologize to this Man for trying to do the right thing and be completely opposite of stereotypes they put on us as a race you hold your head up and continue to strive, God’s got your back.

  • Intellblackman

    Uhhh…..this is way more serious than bullying. This is a crime. It’s called “Ethnic Intimidation”. The U.S. Armed Forces are nothing more than a microcosm of this country as a whole. The same types of people who make up the rest of the country, make up the military. People don’t change their ways just because they put on a particular uniform. They just do a better job of concealing it. The same goes for law enforcement. However, their screening process is more stringent because generally they’re not pressured to make the same numbers. Some military recruiters will conceal background deficiencies and outright lie just to make their quota. I have personal knowledge of this. I’ve personally seen cases where youthful offenders are convicted or certain crimes, then given a choice of prison of joining the military. So you’re starting out with criminals and then wondering why they engage in criminal behavior. Add this to the large number of poorly educated, lower class recruits from the deep South, and nobody should be surprised at this incident.

  • Susan

    racism is ignorance and weakness,and harassing a stranger outnumbered just shows how weak they are.I came out of uni once going to the lrt by myself and this group of chineses boys saw I was a girl and alone so the coward didnt even look at me and said gorilla and i found it odd that a chinese thats discriminated against all the time would discriminate against another minority.I kept calm didnt show emotions and kept walking.They were jealus and insecure to see me this far,making it big and I wasnt gonna throw it away I was shocked didnt know what to do,seriously if that happens to me again I will swear back.