XENIA — To say Eboni Lacy has experienced it all in her life would be a tremendous understatement.
The Xenia native had an improvised explosive device (IED) blow up under her vehicle while serving in Iraq. She has thought about suicide while battling PTSD. Lacy was a victim of child abuse, incest, sexism, racism and homophobia. And at 12-years-old she was visiting her father in jail.
It’s all graphically chronicled in her book “Black Woman, White Combat … From the Streets to the Sand.”
The book is a tell-all, no-holds-barred exposé of Lacy as she morphed from being a not-so-typical kid in a not-so-typical single-parent home, to becoming a beautician and finally a soldier in the middle of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“It’s my proud moment,” Lacy said. “This was so therapeutic for me.”
It was much-needed therapy for the 38-year-old. Searching for her meaning of life, Lacy knew it didn’t include cutting other people’s hair. In an effort to “pay something back” for all her freedoms, she joined the United States Army Reserve in 1999. Four years later she was smack dab in the thick of it all, moving fuel in Iraq. That’s when her vehicle rolled over the roadside bomb. She lost some hearing, has physical scars on her chest and scars in her head as she suffered some serious post traumatic stress disorder symptoms.
But that doesn’t begin to tell half the story.
As a lesbian, African-American female in the military during “don’t ask, don’t tell,” Lacy faced just about every negative “ism.”
A packet she received regarding a promotion to E5 was ripped up in her face. She heard comments like “She’s either a tease or a (derogatory term for lesbian).”
“They would never tell a guy ‘Oh you’re a (expletive) tease,” Lacy said.
Two women weren’t allowed to ride in trucks together because “it’s too emotional,” Lacy said she was told. Superior officers were entering female sleeping areas without knocking. She was written up for wearing a “do rag” to keep her hair in place and away from flying sand.
But men could wear flip-flops, according to Lacy.
“We were still segregated over there,” she said. “Blacks separate from whites. Men separate from women. We all do the same things and yet when the chips are down you find out what really happens when you’re not being promoted.”
She could not figure out why her sexual orientation mattered with shrapnel falling everywhere.
“I’m next to you, and I’m going to shoot with you, no matter who I’m going to sleep with when I go back home,” Lacy thought.
She was honorably discharged in 2005, but even upon returning home, she was still in Iraq.
“I still taste the sand,” Lacy said. “I still smell Iraq. You don’t shake it. “
And those memories were exacerbated when trying to deal with the VA Hospital and its forms and bureaucracy. Particularly infuriating was the constant investigating to make sure her injuries were legitimate.
“I’m like ‘dude, I got blown up in a fuel truck … and you’re worried about me faking a battle with PTSB,” she said. “I battled suicide. Nightmares.”
This is not easy reading.
“There’s no fluff in this book,” she said. “This book is for adults only. It has adult language, sexual content, drug use and violence. It is also filled with hope, tears, forgiveness and healing. I’m baring it all. If it makes you laugh, if it makes you cry, it’s done its job.”
The book also thoroughly covers her adolescent and teen years and some of the major obstacles and issues she faced growing up in Xenia.
Lacy started her memoir in 2006 and stopped after about 24,000 words. After hiring Xenia resident Rosi Mackey to be her editor, Lacy resumed work and nearly doubled the book’s size. She is hoping the book will be used for recreational and educational reading. She is surveying local colleges in the hopes of it becoming required reading for gender studies classes.
“Why would I keep my book hidden behind the Internet,” she said.
The book appears to be the only of its kind in circulation as there are no comparisons on Amazon.com, according to Lacy.
“I’m proud of that,” she said.
Lacy will have a book event 2-4 p.m. July 26 at Saxbys on Feedwire Road.