ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


Home    ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)   


 Shoshana Johnson must be seen for what she IS -- an American soldier in a mercenary

imperialist army.  Her personal motives are irrelevant.  Soldiers are professional killers



Racial Identity Politics

& the Anglo-American Mission

By Joseph "Lil Joe" Johnson


The ideological partisanship of American racial identity politics manifest in the hand-wringing over the saga of Shoshana Johnson versus Jessica Lynch demonstrates how it is that "Black ethnicity identity support" is, in the United States at any rate, part and parcel of U.S. culture and advances the politics of U.S. imperialism.  In dispersing an appeal to come to the aid of Johnson, an obviously innocent, though politically naïve, writer inadvertently makes the case that Iraqis are wild (and, according to the prevailing wisdom, evil) sand-niggers that must be brought to heel by American troops on the ground. (See article below.)

I respect the writer as a very sincere friend of Nathan and Julia Hare, as he said in a previous exchange, and as a Black revolutionary nationalist in the same tradition as the Hares.  This response is not personal.  Nor, is this a personal attack on Shoshana Johnson who, like so many other poor workers, joined the U.S. military in an effort to "be all that you can be" -- that is to say, she enlisted, ostensibly to learn a trade or/and further her education.  But reality is a very harsh critic.  We must be honest with one another, and respond to public statements objectively.

African Americans are Americans who think in ethnic terms the same as any other ethnic group in this "nation of immigrants" – WASP [white Anglo Saxon Protestant] Americans, Irish Americans, German Americans, Mexican-Americans, and so on. 

Shoshana Johnson must be seen for what she IS -- an American soldier in a mercenary imperialist army.  Her personal motives are irrelevant.  Soldiers are professional killers.  Those individuals who are enlisted in imperialist armies are imperialist troops not some romantic abstraction, such as “strong Black Woman.” 

By doing this racial analysis of who suffers most from the Iraqi Resistance, and is most rewarded by the state for killing Iraqis, or suffering as a consequence of the actions of the Iraqi resistance, we muddle the analysis. Defining the realities in terms of who suffers most at the hands of the Iraqi resistance, one implicitly justifies the American military aggression and joins the invaders in representing the Iraqis as wild savages that need to be suppressed and civilized by American imperialism.

I know that this is not the message that the writer wants to convey in his portrayal of the suffering of, and rewards to, Shoshana Johnson in contrast to Jessica Lynch. Nevertheless, this is the objective result. The comparison of the experiences and rewards of Johnson and Lynch, for killing Iraqis, and the highlighting of disparity in compensation for being wounded and captured, is inadvertently endorsing the bombing campaign, military invasion and occupation. Criticism simply on the grounds of mercenary payments gives legitimacy to Anglo-American aggression.

I am not suggesting outright complicity. Nor am I (at this point at any rate) attacking the writer for what he wrote or/and posted.  He has hitherto represented himself convincingly as a conscious Black activist critiquing racism in the United States.  But this instance points out the pitfalls of American racialism ( the politics of Blackness), that even when it is critical of the sociological/economic discrepancies in American democracy, it operates from the standpoint that capitalist (bourgeois) democracy is legitimate and, therefore, that were racism to be eliminated, capitalism and its political formation (bourgeois democracy) would be okay.  This, for instance, is the epistemological premise of the doctrine advocating "affirmative action."

Historically, contextualized, the abolitionist movement against slavery was ontologically and epistemologically based in the recognition that there can be no "equality" of chattel slaves to the slave owners. Equality of Black (slaves) and White [owners] could become the equality of human beings only in consequence of the abolition of chattel slavery.  The equality of Blacks and Whites was possible even in bourgeois-democratic capitalism but only through the social emancipation of Negroes effectuated by the destruction of slave-based relations of production in the economy. 

Thus the black bourgeois became equal to the white bourgeois and the workers, both black and white, became equal in their condition of enslavement to capital. The post-slavery relations of production are based on the economic equality of commodity production and producers.  The ideology of, and struggle for, "affirmative action" has been nothing but the continuation of the bourgeois democratic emancipation of Slaves, marked by the entry of Negroes into the proletarian labor aristocracy, and the bourgeoisie, and into what Baraka critiques as the formal political capitalist "superstructure."

The issue of Johnson and Lynch shows that the objective of socioeconomic bourgeois equality is the assimilation of Negroes into the bourgeois civil society.  The capitalistic mode of exploitation, the state and the military is not attacked and destroyed but becomes “integrated.” This is an arrangement in which Blacks become, along with Whites, capitalists and politicians -- oppressors.

The issue of getting busted for "Driving while Black," for instance, is nothing but the Black professionals and/or capitalists protest against being treated like the lower class Black  proletariat (employed or unemployed).  When unemployed homeless Black proletarians are stopped, beaten, and arrested it is not on the 6 0'clock news, or, taken up as cause celebre by the NAACP or even the BRC, and certainly not by the Congressional Black Caucus!

The contrast in the treatment of Shoshana Johnson and Jessica Lynch, and the hoopla raised regarding this by the Black media is a Black bourgeois issue. The issue, as always, is money!  They do not raise the question of what Shoshana Johnson and Jessica Lynch were being paid to do when they were captured, nor indeed why they were being held.  They don't give a damn about the Iraqi people that both Shoshana Johnson and Jessica Lynch were hired to kill, and the country they participated in destroying.

This is not the case of the writer, of course.  But, whether inadvertently, or, consciously, when he writes uncritically that:

Johnson's father, Claude Johnson, himself an Army veteran, says that while neither he nor his family begrudge Lynch her celebrity or disability payments, he believes that his daughter should get her due, and it is more than a 30 percent disability benefit." (see below)

What can we make of it?

The objective factual premise is that Johnson, qua mercenary, killing Iraqis and destroying their country is okay. The protest is not opposition to the killing and destruction but the demand for equal pay for doing this killing and destruction.  Again, while I am not clairvoyant, from what I have read from the writer’s previous writings (including his polemics with me) I will go on the limb and say that this ideological pro-imperialist message is not what is intended.  But this is objectively what he is arguing by arguing for parity of Black and White killer-soldiers.

What I argue on the contrary is for cosmopolitan proletarian class unity transcending ethnic, gender, religious, and national barriers.  The workers and farmers in the American armed forces, rather than selfishly seeking economic advantage in striving to "be all you can be" by killing Iraqis, should follow the example of the Israeli worker-soldiers that refuse to kill Palestinians and destroy theirs homes and farms.  Become refuseniks!

Declaration of Israeli Reservists—A Refusal to Serve in the West Bank and Gaza  

See articles following original message post. Spectacle

*   *   *   *   *

As the troops pull out of Iraq, Shoshana Johnson, the former prisoner of war taken captive along with Jessica Lynch, describes the battles she still faces. Shoshana Johnson joined the Army with dreams of becoming a chef. Her plan: to cook for soldiers and earn some money for culinary school. Five years later, she found herself lying on the ground in Iraq, struggling to protect her head as a group of Iraqi men kicked her repeatedly in the stomach, face, and bullet-torn legs. She remembers their triumphant shouts.

It was the start of the war, in March 2003, and her unit was under attack after making a wrong turn into the city of Nasiriyah. A 30-year-old mother of a toddler at the time, Johnson became a prisoner of war, along with four men from her unit. Two women—Jessica Lynch and Lori Piestewa—were captured separately. A badly injured Lynch was rescued by U.S. forces nine days later. Piestewa didn’t survive. Johnson and the men were rescued along with two helicopter pilots after 22 days.

It was an ordeal that Johnson, now living in her hometown of El Paso, Texas, still struggles to put behind her, while she moves forward with her life. As the U.S. troops pull out of Iraq, we checked in. Interview by Abigail Pesta: Source: TheDailyBeast

*   *   *   *   *

I'm Still Standing

From Captive U.S. Soldier to Free Citizen—My Journey Home

By Shoshana Johnson with M. L. Doyle

 In March of 2003, Operation Iraqi Freedom was only days old when world headlines were rocked by the attack on a U.S. army convoy in Iraq. On March 23rd, during the early march to Baghdad, Shoshana Johnson was wounded in an ambush of her convoy in the city of an-Nasiriyah and taken as a prisoner of war. Several soldiers were killed and five others were taken prisoner. While Lynch became the face associated with the capture, Shoshana was held for several more weeks. After the headline-making ambush, capture, and rescue, Shoshana returned to the U.S., receiving numerous awards for her valor, including the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, and Prisoner of War Medal. In I’m Still Standing Shoshana writes for the first time about her experience as a prisoner of war, revealing emotions and frustrations that are personal as well as political. As a speaker, Shoshana’s warmth and poise have earned her admirers all over the world. I’m Still Standing reveals the true source of courage behind the story, the full story she couldn’t share when she last appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and Larry King Live

Johnson gained national attention as America's first black female prisoner of war. She was in the 507th Maintenance Company convoy ambushed on March 23, 2003, in Nasiriyah, and captured with five other soldiers including Jessica Lynch. One might call Johnson's presence in a firefight a compound accident. She was a cook who had enlisted in 1998 hoping to earn money for her education and perhaps meet a nice guy, and was a cook with the 507th, which existed to maintain Patriot missiles. But she was sent with the convoy, and the bullets Johnson took in both ankles did not ask for her military occupational specialty. Though objectively treated well enough by her Iraqi captors, she was wounded, female, and black: three reasons for being afraid. Rescued three weeks later in a daring raid, Johnson emerged with a Bronze Star, a case of post-traumatic stress disorder, and an unwanted celebrity status sufficiently resented by the system that she left the army. Johnson endured her captivity with courage and emerged with honor. With the help of former army reservist Doyle, she vividly, simply, and unpretentiously tells her tale.—Publishers Weekly

*   *   *   *   *

From: []
Sent: Tuesday, November 11, 2003 3:10 PM
Subject: [Africa-Politics] JOHNSON ~vs~ LYNCH


Pass It On to your Congressman, Reverend, State Assemblyman. etc.....

Army Specialist Shoshana Johnson, the African-American woman who was held prisoner of war in the U.S. invasion of Iraq, was looking forward to a quiet discharge from the Army in a few days. Battle scarred and weary, she has said not a word as her fellow POW comrade in arms
Jessica Lynch cashes in with book and movie deals and a celebrity status in the media. But it is the Army that is forcing Johnson to break her peace.  A few days ago, military brass informed her that she would receive a 30 percent disability benefit for her injuries. Lynch, who is White, was discharged in August and will receive an 80 percent disability benefit.

The difference amounts to $600 or $700 a month in payments, and that is causing Johnson and her family to speak out. They are so troubled by what they see as a "double standard," that they have enlisted Rev. Jesse Jackson to help make their case to the news media.  Jackson, who plans to plead Johnson's cause with the White House, the Pentagon and members of Congress, says the payment smacks a double standard and racism. "Here's a case of two women, same [unit], same war; everything about their service commitment and their risk is equal. . . . Yet there's an enormous contrast between how the military has handled these two cases," Jackson told The Washington Post.
Johnson's father, Claude Johnson, himself an Army veteran, says that while neither he nor his family begrudge
Lynch her celebrity or disability payments, he believes that his daughter should get her due, and it is more than a 30 percent disability benefit. For its part, the Army, in denying charges of double standard, said Friday, that claims are awarded to soldiers according to their injuries. Johnson, 30, the mother of a 3-year-old daughter, was held captive for 22 days, when her unit stumbled into an ambush in southern Iraq last March. Eleven soldiers were killed, and six, including Lynch and Johnson, were taken prisoners.  Johnson was shot in both legs and is still traumatized by her war experience. In addition to walking with a limp, she suffers from bouts of depression.
So I ask that you forward this email on to all and inform others of this latest racial attack. Forget about the destroying of stamps, forget about Kobe, forget about Michael Jordan getting fired and fight for the rights of this strong Black Woman!!!

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

*   *   *   *   *


Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London

*   *   *   *   *


The Warmth of Other Suns

The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

By Isabel Wilkerson

Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper's wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man's turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners' plans to give him a "necktie party" (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by "the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn't operate in his own home town." Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Wilkerson's magnificent, extensively researched study of the "great migration," the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an "uncertain existence" in the North and Midwest. Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind. The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done.

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *

*   *   *   *   *

ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)





update 11 March 2012




Home   Lil Joe Table

Related files: Shoshana Johnson