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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 thoughts on “Ordinary Heroes”

  1. msday says:

    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!

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  6. Opici Kostra says:

    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.

  7. nojojojo says:


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

  8. Opici Kostra says:

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

  9. deesha says:

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

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