I am probably going to get beat up for posting this but here goes anyway.
There was an interesting story (attached to the post here) in last Tuesday’s edition of European Stars and Stripes. It concerned the lack of black heroes in the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Two of the experts they interview for the article are John Sibley Butler, a Vietnam vet and business professor and Tyrone Williams the COO of the non-profit Black Veterans for Social Justice, Inc.. First off, I question the premise of the article in the first place, it makes out that somehow black soldiers are being discriminated against in the warding of medals for valor. It is only after you get into the actual article that you find out that the best possible reason for the disparity is the fact that combat arms units are disproportionately white and Hispanic. It does not really discuss that except noting statistics and ends on a very negative note. This is the ending,
“So the medals problem could be due to hidden prejudice against black servicemembers. And it could be due to shifting demographics.
And it could be as Williams noted, “that you just need some better sources to find the ones that are out there.â€
Provocative or balanced?
Dr. Sibley has some interesting and cogent comments to make concerning the lack of black soldiers in combat arms units in today’s military. I especially thought Dr. Sibley’s comment that many black soldiers join the military to learn a skill with civilian applications that can help them after the army to be particularly good and think that if that is the case, then more power to them. I thought Mr Williams comments were blatantly racist though and did not contribute to the debate, except perhaps to stir the pot. He blatantly states that black soldiers are not receiving awards because of lingering racism in the army. I take particular umbrage to that. If anything the American military is a model for how people can work together without focusing on race. It is definitely true that the military is color-blind and the civilian sector could learn a lot from the way soldiers work together and ignore race. In the modern American military it really is the “content of your character and not the color of your skin” that determines individual success.