DOD Openly Promoting Troops Engaging in ‘Black Pride’ Activism while in Uniform
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American law bans troops from engaging in political activism while in uniform. But that hasn’t stopped the Department of Defense from openly promoting troops who are advocating for “black pride” while in uniform. A June 9 press release from the 113th Wing of the Washington, D.C. Air National Guard praised Spc. Khaled Abdelghany for doing so.
“D.C. National Guardsman goes viral, uses his platform to enact change” is the headline on the press release. Here are some excerpts from the PR, starting with the opening paragraph.
A video of a D.C. National Guardsman went viral online when he was seen on video chanting “I’m black and I’m proud,” while supporting the civil unrest mission in Washington, D.C.
A few paragraphs later:
Armed with only a shield and protective gear, and with orders to hold the line, he stood face to face with his community members during a painful moment in our nation’s history. He stood there with his shield low and ready, so that protesters could speak to him and express their pain.
Abdelghany interacted with the protesters and let them know about the role of the D.C. National Guard, and that the Guard was there to keep the protesters safe, so they could peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights.
“As a black African American member of the community, and also as a black African American member of the military, D.C. Guard, it has been like hard, heavy, especially with what’s been going on with George Floyd’s death on camera,” said Abdelghany. “It’s been hard for all of us. It’s not just me, there’s a lot of other of my peers that feel heavy, feel hurt, feel aching pain and they also want change. It’s just really hard to find a way to kind of deal with both given the fact that you’ve signed a contract with the military.”
In times of conflict, he reminds himself to “follow what you believe in, follow your heart, and just try to do the right thing as much as possible.”
During one of his shifts, he was captured on video chanting along with protesters, “I’m black and I’m proud,” which was soon shared online and, at the time of publishing, had received more than 15 million views on Twitter.
“I felt that my heart was speaking out emotionally and it really just happened that way,” said Abdelghany about his reaction to seeing the video online. “It was in the moment, and I saw truth in everybody that was standing out there. And I understood exactly what they were going through.”
Not only is the DOD openly promoting servicemen advocating for “black pride” while in uniform, but it is celebrating them connecting with people in foreign nations and building race-based alliances in the process of this political activism:
During the civil unrest mission, Abdelghany had many interactions with protesters, all of them positive. After the video went viral, he has connected online with people from D.C., as well as Germany, Dubai, Australia and Egypt.
One protester who locked eyes with him on the protest line and gave Abdelghany a bottle of water. The protester later found him on Facebook, where they had a back-and-forth discussion on ways they can come together to help the black community in D.C.
They connected over their love of basketball and are in the beginning stages to plan a community event, once COVID-19 regulations allow them to safely do so, that features a basketball game, black vendors and getting black youth groups involved.
With his newfound platform, he wants to use his voice for positive change. “It’s overwhelming but we have to find strength. We have to find unity together to bring change. Immediate change,” said Abdelghany.
“I’m in this uniform, on this side, to make a real change for my black community. I hold myself responsible to do the right thing by protecting the people of D.C., along with securing my part for real progress within the city,” he said. “For my black and brown people, know that I love you and that I am very humbled and honored for the love and support that you have given me and continue to give me. I’m black and I’m proud. Peace and love. Black lives matter.”
Read the entire press release at DVIDS.
Top Photo: Spc. Khaled Abdelghany, 273rd Military Police Company, District of Columbia National Guard, stands in front of the D.C. Armory in Washington, D.C June 9, 2020. Photo by Staff Sgt. Anthony Small, 113th Wing D.C. Air National Guard.
Note: The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.