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Titulo

Smile. Salute. Silence.


by Zhyronn Carter

I am an American warrior. I am a Senior Noncommissioned Officer (SNCO). I have taken the oath to defend my country and obey the orders of those appointed over me. I am charged to take care of my troops, both on and off duty.

Smile. Salute. Silence.

As I try to uphold the standards set forth by my leadership, I believe that they have my best interests at heart.

Smile. Salute. Silence.

I hear my leadership preach about diversity, but as I take my annual training, I see nothing that represents anything remotely close or me… as a woman or an African American.

Smile. Salute. Silence.

I fight a war within. I am loyal to my country. I am loyal to my service. Yet, my country systematically wants to hold me down by passing laws that let me know what they think about my worth.

Smile. Salute. Silence.

Every day, I hear and see what my country is doing to me. I am supposed to believe the system works. I am supposed to believe that this is the sweet land of liberty.

Smile. Salute. Silence.

I have sacrificed a lot for this country. I have been deployed five times; missed special events in my children's lives; risked my physical and mental health; and yet, I am forced to...

Smile. Salute. Silence.



Land of the free? Freedom of speech? I want to scream out that Black lives matter! All lives matter! Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion! I do not agree with you when it comes to the Confederate flag, but I serve our country 24/7 so you can have the right to wave it. I want so desperately to join the struggle, but my uniform prevents me to be who I truly am… a black woman that is proud of her heritage.

Smile. Salute. Silence.

I am bound to uphold the standards. I am required to enforce the standards. I am "empowered" to speak up when something is wrong. However, it is a double edged sword. If I speak up, I am an angry Black woman. If I am silent, I am an Uncle Tom. I want to discuss these events with my peers because this is real life. We cannot continue to live in a bubble; however, my leadership and my peers tell me not to rock the boat. Our troops do not have these problems; they are not thinking about these things. So I...

Smile. Salute. Silence. 


What do I tell the next generation? What do I say when I am asked for my opinion on current affairs? Not just minorities, but also gender? As a SNCO, I must remember to...

Smile. Salute. Silence.

My soul is heavy. I want to say how I feel. I want to march with my brothers and sisters. I am tired of standing by, watching leaders of my country, leaders of my service, make rules that target women and minorities and make us a permanent underclass in this society. Unfortunately in the end, I must...

Smile. Salute. Silence.

Photo: Shutterstock

Zhyronn Carter is from Edenton, North Carolina and is currently serving in the Armed Forces. She is married to another military member and they have three very active boys and a dog. She enjoys unscripted drama shows, traveling, and football (just watching, not playing).

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