Smoked Yankees and the Struggle for Empire: Letters from Negro Soldiers, 1898-1902

Smoked Yankees and the Struggle for Empire: Letters from Negro Soldiers, 1898-1902

Smoked Yankees and the Struggle for Empire: Letters from Negro Soldiers, 1898-1902

Smoked Yankees and the Struggle for Empire: Letters from Negro Soldiers, 1898-1902

Excerpt

The Afro-American, according to James Baldwin, "is a unique creation; he has no counterpart anywhere, and no predecessors." His uniqueness springs in part from his experience as a slave, for the "peculiar institution" stripped him of his African heritage and bequeathed a legacy that consigned him to an anomalous position in American society. His plight in the United States has been that of an "exile in his own land," of an "unloved stranger" excluded from the American Dream. The "cruel and totally inescapable ambivalence of his status in his country" has forced him to wage a persistent battle for self-identity and self-esteem.

The obstacles encountered by black Americans in their efforts to win acceptance have not only produced what has been termed "the rage of the dis-esteemed," but have also pointed up the irony and incongruities of American life. The frustrations and perplexities experienced by Negroes in striving to "achieve the full height of manhood" reached new dimensions during the Spanish- American War and the Filipino Insurrection. For the first time since acquiring citizenship, black men were called upon to render military service outside the United States. As soldiers, they became spokesmen abroad among "colored people" for a country which made color a badge of inferiority.

If the black Americans' concern over the imperialistic ventures . . .

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