This is a new category for this blog. In it over the coming months/years, men and women willl be liste here who have changed the world for the better.
Carl Brashear is dead.
Let us remember Carl Brashear.
“There’s no room for racism in the Navy. That’s because there’s only one color in the Navy: Blue.”
You heard that a lot growing up as a “Navy Brat” or a “Squid Kid.” You heard of racism here and there, mostly because it would show up on the news as some weird civilian mental disorder that made even less sense than Scientology.
My father was a Naval officer, and he raised us up to be absolutely 100% colorblind. So colorblind, in fact, that it wasn’t until I was well out from under his wing that I began to have a clue about just how bad black Americans had it (and, in some lingering cases, still do).
Well, the Navy isn’t made of saints. Racial integration was neither immediate nor easy, as this bibliography will attest. But progress has been made, serious progress, and it is to a great extent because of the simple heroism of men like Brashear, to simply and adamantly refused to accept this evil for what it was, that we can look back on incidents like the Port Chicago Mutiny – and the circumstances that gave rise to it – and wonder “what were they smoking? How on earth could people think like that?”
And, sickeningly enough, there are still some who do. But the first step towards a just society is acknowledging the stake that all have within it, and the recognition that individuals are just that, each to be judged on his or her own flaws and merits, rather than simply lumped into a category-of-convenience. Brashear took it head-on. Not merely because of race, but after his maiming, he took it straight to the top and forced the issue to be settled on the simple merits of the question “can this man do the job?”
And for the changes resulting from that, he is owed our deep and abiding gratitude.