In America, we’ve become painfully used to the idea that to the police, the Jeff Sessions-led justice Department and, in many cases, the military, black lives don’t matter. President Donald Trumpler’s handling of the death of Army Sgt. LaDavid Johnson; the White House’s silence on the killing of Army 2nd Lt. Richard Collins III by a white supremacist; and the deafening silence about racism at the U.S. Air Force Academy are just a few examples in the last year.
It is often worse for black women in the armed forces who are victims of racial and sexual violence. Consider the case of LaVena Johnson, who, at 19 years old, was found dead of a gunshot wound in a tent in Balad, Iraq. Yet despite her body being found with a broken nose, a black eye, loose teeth and corrosive chemicals found on her genitals, the Army determined that her death was a suicide.
Where else in the world are black women’s bodies, even when dedicated to the protection of a nation, so degraded or devalued? Apparently, the Israeli government isn’t far behind America.
Feb. 21 will mark the three-year anniversary of 19-year-old Cpl. Toveet Radcliffe’s death, the first African-American woman to die in the Israeli Defense Forces. Radcliffe was found dead at Palmachim Airbase just south of Tel Aviv, Israel, from a gunshot wound to the head. In early February, the IDF ruled that Radcliffe’s case will not be reopened. Investigators ruled that the gunshot that went through her forehead and came out the back was a result of an accidental or intentional suicide. However, Radcliffe’s family and members of the African Hebrew Israelite community aren’t so sure.