On June 4, a video of a soldier chanting "I'm Black and I'm proud" under his breath during a protest went viral. The video, which has now been viewed over 15.7 million times, is a reminder that regardless of your resume, you are still a Black man in America and you still feel the pain.
Khaled Abdelgany is a member of the District of Columbia National Guard. He was one of the soldiers standing guard in front of the White House during a protest in response to the killing of George Floyd. In an interview, Khaled shares how he felt at that very moment, going viral and more.
To be quite honest, it was one of my first experiences to go through that type of mission as they would call civil unrest mission, kind of response. Everything happened so fast. We were unsure of what was going on or what was going to happen. A lot of my peers who are African American were also feeling a lot of emotion. I was feeling a lot of emotion.
Khaled wants people to remember that when people of color take off their uniform, they receive the same treatment just like everyone else.
I want people to know that the people of color that wear uniforms once we take that uniform off we're getting that same treatment that everyone else gets in the states. We're still walking by white women or white people who move further away from us when we're walking cross by them on the sidewalk or hold their purse closer to them or stereotype us one way or the other. Stop us in the police car. Shoot us and kill us. We're still jeopardized that way. It's always been weird to me when we get in uniform and we get all the respect in the world. People go out of their way to say thank you for your service. All different shades, colors of people have come to me and said thank you for your service. It shows the amount of respect that Black people get in this country.
Khaled also shares why he felt the need to chant "I'm Black and I'm proud".
That was true emotion. That's just how I truly feel to this day, obviously. I've always felt and how i felt then. It didn't matter who was watching me. I didn't care if I was going to get in trouble for it because that's something that is part of me. The army preaches integrity so I figured this is something of integrity. And if I get in trouble for that that's a conversation for later. But I wasn't thinking that. It was true emotion that you saw.