My neighborhood was mostly black, but there were Creoles, Indians and Cajuns,
too. You didn’t know who was who and what was what. If a
kid got pissed at somebody, he might call him cracker or nigger or something
else, but he was never sure what name hurt most.
My first real experience with
segregation and racism came in the military. In
Vietnam, black soldiers rarely served in rear echelon positions. Supply
clerks and officers’ drivers were always white. Blacks were sent
to the field. When time for R&R, the white soldiers went first and
got the best choices. When a white soldier got wounded with sixty days
left in country, they found him a job in the rear. Wounded black soldiers
were treated and sent back into the bush. Everybody knew this went on. It
was just something we lived with.