Ordinary Heroes

Ordinary Heroes

Heard about this through the Carl Brandon mailing list:

While the facts surrounding the kidnapping and rescue of the Maersk Alabama Captain Richard Phillips have been widely reported, less well-known is that ship which saved him was commanded by a black woman, Rear Admiral Michelle Howard.

Howard received the assignment of leading the U.S. Navy’s counter-piracy task force just three days before the Maersk Alabama was attacked by Somalia pirates.

“It’s probably one of the most exciting missions the Navy has been on in for a long while,” Howard told the Navy Times.

Did you know the Maersk captain was rescued by a black woman? I didn’t either.

On the one hand, I’m almost glad this wasn’t publicized; I could almost believe this means Howard wasn’t regarded as special or unusual by the media covering the Maersk incident. That’s what we want, after all — not to be depicted as a race of thugs and hoochiemamas that occasionally spawns a Morgan Freeman-like Messiah figure that will save all us from tsunamis terrorists the recession. We are ordinary people, with the same range of characters and behaviors as anybody else — good and bad. But I highly doubt Howard was overlooked by the mainstream media because she was “too ordinary”. I think Captain Phillips fit the image in the producers’/reporters’/editors’ heads of what heroism should look like: white, male, one brave man surrounded by black savages. And I think Admiral Howard defied that image, being black and female and in charge of a diverse team of competent people, so they discarded her. I think we still exist as nothing more than a collection of stereotypes and inaccurate assumptions in the eyes of most Americans — unfortunately including ourselves. We’re not ordinary enough to have ordinary heroes, not yet. Not according to them.

But fortunately, there is the blogosphere.

So. Admiral Howard’s a hero. Pass it on.

7 comments to Ordinary Heroes

  • msday

    Girl, normally we see eye to eye. However, I have to pass on this one. After living in Italy for the past couple of years, being surrounded by African men who are still selling their sisters into sexual slavery, I have lost respect for them. In fact, although, I was reared to have a sense of solidarity with Africa, the scams, slavery, infighting, has painted a new picture in which, they are indeed black savages.
    If the Black British, and Black Americans can fight constantly for proper portrayal, equal rights, representation and opportunity in a foreign land. There is NO reason why Africans cannot do the same in their OWN land. I can’t side with you on this one, but hooray to the Black American Female commander!

  • Opici Kostra

    So… if media had mentioned her race, it would be kinda low and racist, just like all the “Obama-1st-not-white-president-ever” silly talk. But they did not mention it, so that’s also bad, cause they did it for their all-white-power hidden agenda… Sorry, but that’s just a bit far fetched.

  • nojojojo


    Um, no. You seem to be arguing with yourself here, because that’s certainly not what I said.

  • Opici Kostra

    Well, i pushed it ad absurdum, but that’s basicly the impression this post had on me :)

  • Here’s a bit more about Rear Admiral Howard and an upcoming reality TV show focusing on the Navy’s anti-piracy efforts:

  • [...] is the first I’ve heard of this (via) and if this is the first you’ve heard of it, please pass it on. We should know who our real [...]

  • [...] contribution. If you lost some disillusioned white male teachers and gained Michelle Obama and Admiral Howard, then you got the best part of that deal. Judge Sotomayor, whose parents moved to New York from [...]