Abraham Adams's Perception Of The War

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Once Adams joined the army, he was sent to Fort Dix outside of Trenton, New Jersey. He expected racial attitudes to be much more relaxed than those in Memphis. There were no “Whites Only” signs in Trenton so Adams decided to walk into a diner for lunch. He sat down at a table and no one came to serve him. People in the diner gave him odd looks and eventually he realized that he was not supposed to be there. This made Adams “realize there was no difference between North and South, except that Northerners were shrewder and more hypocritical, whereas Southerners let you know precisely how they felt.” To Adams, the entire United States represented a backwards and racist society and even the Army itself was not free from prejudice. Adams fought …show more content…
Adams unit was hit especially hard while trying to give support to forward American units. Adam’s recalls that white units began to retreat while his had been instructed to stand firm. In Adams’ view, his mostly black, heavy artillery regiment was being sacrificed to save the white units. After exhausting their shells, the unit was separated from each other and many were ultimately captured by the Chinese while attempting to evade. After being abandoned by his own country in the middle of combat, it is not difficult to understand Adams’ anger toward America and his perception of the war in Korea. Later he still could not understand why he was there. “…what were we fighting for? To be oppressed? To be segregated? So the whites could continue their discrimination against us after we returned …show more content…
Initially the camps were integrated as the Chinese did not differentiate between white and black Americans. This resulted in a great deal of animosity for many of the white soldiers who were not used to living next to black men. This issue was exacerbated since the small eight by ten foot rooms housed as many as twenty-five men each. “There were still those whites who openly called us niggers and told us what they would do to us back in the states.” In addition, Adams’ confrontational nature did not endear him to many of his fellow white prisoners. The Chinese eventually recognized the racial tensions between white and black prisoners and separated them. Racial prejudice both in the United States and in the military served to undermine Adams’ belief in the American way of life. It was this open racism that seems to have ultimately led him to turn his back on the United States and go to China during the repatriation process. Along with Adams, two more of the non-repatriates were black and while their reasons for choosing China are not known, similar levels of discrimination could just as easily have swayed their decision to choose China as well. Racial attitudes help to explain why the black POW’s chose China, but progressive attitudes during captivity also shed light on why all of these men refused to return

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