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Conspiracy: disposable Black men drawn into war?

Juliana D. Norwood | 4/27/2011, 5 p.m.

I have never been one to bandwagon on the latest government conspiracy, or to be sucked in to the idea that "The Man" is out to get us...not that I don't believe there is some truth in these charges. I just choose not to indulge myself in a way of thinking that has the potential to take over my everyday thought processes like so many of my super-pro-Black brothers and sisters.

You know the ones that believe that everything disheartening in the Black community is a direct result of slavery and the master plan of the White man.

But lately one theory has really piqued my interest.

Within the last two weeks I have had four different African American male friends fall upon hard times with regard to employment, whether they were cut back, laid off, or simply not able to find gainful employment in the first place. The interesting part is that all of them (who have no connection to one another whatsoever) somehow came to the conclusion that joining the military was a logical plan B to remedy their difficult situations.

Personally, it rang like insanity to me. Angry with all of them as they let out that large exhale followed by, "I guess I'm going to just have to join the military."

I just couldn't figure out why that was such as easy choice for these men to make.

In reality what they seemed to be saying was, "well since I lost my job and can't find another one, let me risk my life and sign my freedom over to a government that has never given a crap about me, or anyone who looks like me, since the beginning of my people's existence in this country, and hope for the best."

That's when the conspiracy theorist in me started to bubble to the surface. Is it possible that this is strategy on the government's part--make it so difficult for African American men to get a job and/or keep a job, make the trip to prison so easy, and make getting a good education so difficult that the military starts to look like this shining beacon of light in their otherwise dark tunnel of a life?

This way the government gets thousands of "willing" recruits to sign up to fight wars that they don't understand. No need for a draft when you leave these men without options.

"When the economy slackens and unemployment rises, and jobs become more scarce in civilian society, recruiting is less challenging," said Curtis Gilroy, the director of accession policy for the Department of Defense.

Records show that since we have been in recession, all sectors of the military have seen an increase in recruits and in most cases have exceeded their recruitment goals. This is the first time this has happened since the war in Iraq in 2004.

Even the Army, which typically has the most difficulty with recruitment, has met its quota every year since 2006, even resorting to accepting a greater number of people who have medical and criminal histories, who scored low on entrance exams, and who failed to graduate from high school. That sure opened up the doors for a lot of struggling Black boys.