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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences - Volume II 8 Labor Force Trends: The Military as Data John Sibley Butler and Charles C.Moskos One major American institution…contradicts the prevailing [failure] race paradigm. It is an organization unmatched in its level of racial integration. It is an institution unmatched in its broad record of Black achievement. It is a world in which the Afro-American heritage is part and parcel of the institutional culture. It is the only place in American life where Whites are routinely bossed around by Blacks. The institution is the U.S. Army. (Moskos and Butler, 1996:1–3) This paper explores the participation of Blacks in the military, with an emphasis on the Army. Although most analyses of labor-force participation of excluded groups emphasize increasing the number of previously excluded persons (Hill and Jones, 1993; Feagin, 1989; Blauner, 1972), the military has a history of utilizing groups excluded by the larger society. This has been especially true for Blacks. Blacks’ participation in the military on these shores predates the inception of the America Republic. Indeed, Blacks have participated in all of this country’s wars and conflicts. A further distinction is that Blacks have never, as a group, participated in conflicts against the United States. The history of Black service to country, and the by-product of labor-market participation, is certainly a unique story. Black service in the armed forces, moreover, involves participation with the institution charged with defense of the country, the highest form of citizenship. Focusing on Blacks in the Army also means giving a strong consideration to Black females, especially because there is a strong interaction between race and gender in the Army. The military stands at the forefront of organizations representative of Black achievement. It is worthy of note that the disproportionately Black armed forces stand out as the most respected institution in American society.
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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences - Volume II LABOR-FORCE PARTICIPATION: A UNIQUE HISTORY The participation of Blacks in the military is not unique to the contemporary period. Rather, Blacks have a history of participation in the armed forces that is unmatched in the annals of racial and ethnic participation in the armed forces of America. In 1760, 16 years before the Revolutionary War, people of African descent participated in the defeat of the Yamassee Indians, as the New England colonies were struggling to mature. In the French colony of Louisiana, free and enslaved Black people participated in the defeat of the Chickasaw and Natchez Indians. In all four wars pitting the British colonists against the French, Blacks were used as scouts and soldiers (Foner, 1974). This early participation of Blacks, which predated the development of the United States and mass ethnic immigration from Europe by more than 100 years, was developed as a strategy of necessity. Colonists granted Blacks the privilege of participation, but feared they might turn their weapons on colonists and try to put an end to slavery. After a slave revolt in 1739, Carolina colonists noted that “there must be great caution used, least our slaves when armed might become our masters” (Foner, 1974:4– 5). The reality of manpower needs, however, ensured Blacks a role in all colonial conflicts. By the time the Revolutionary War ended, the free Black population had settled into the process of developing small enterprises, to create a degree of economic stability (Walker, 1998). One of the more famous Philadelphia entrepreneurs was James Forten, whose experience in the Revolutionary War was the prototypical experience of Blacks who served. In 1780, Forten embarked on the Royal Louis, a man-of-war ship, as a powder boy. After a victory over an English ship, he received part of the honors bestowed on the crew for their valiant and successful fighting. Later, his vessel was captured by three English ships, and he was held as a prisoner of war. The captain of the English ship offered to free him if he would go to England and become a part of the English military. Forten replied, “No, no. I am here a prisoner for the liberties of my country. I never shall prove a traitor to her interests” (Minton, 1913). James Forten was one of more than 5,000 Blacks who participated in the Revolutionary War for freedom from British rule. In spite of the fact that Blacks made up an estimated 20 percent of the 2.5 million colonial population at the start of the “rebellion,” the Continental Congress issued four orders forbidding free Blacks and slaves from joining the Army. Recognizing that slavery was a divisive issue for the colonists, the British solicited Black recruits, offering freedom to slaves who would fight for the British crown. In 1777, John Murray, Earl of Dunmore and Royal Governor of Virginia, proclaimed:
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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences - Volume II All indentured servants, Negroes, or other (appertaining to Rebels), free, that are able and willing to bear arms, they joining His Majesty’s Troops, as soon as may be, for the more speedily reducing the colony to a proper sense of their duty, to His Majesty’s crown and dignity (U.S. Department of Defense, 1981:28). More than 200 Blacks answered the British call, inscribed their uniforms with the words “Liberty Slaves,” and served in a unit called Lord Dunmore’s “Ethiopian Regiment” (U.S. Department of Defense, 1981:4). In response to the British action, General George Washington authorized the recruitment of Blacks. Washington’s army averaged 54 Blacks in each well-integrated battalion. Some colonies, such as Massachusetts and Rhode Island, raised all-Black battalions. After the defeat of the British, however, free Blacks were not allowed to remain in the military; and those who had been in slavery prior to the conflict were sent back into bondage (Butler and Holmes, 1982). This policy toward Blacks, after the Revolutionary War, started a pattern that has come to be called recruit-retain-and-reject, which lasted until the Korean conflict. Blacks would be recruited (sometimes after protesting for the right to fight) only when manpower shortages were apparent, retained during the conflict, and dismissed thereafter. The Civil War produced an enthusiastic response from Blacks; however, the Secretary of War, Edward M.Stanton, declared, “This department has no intention to call into service any colored soldiers.” Only after the Emancipation Proclamation, in 1863, were Blacks allowed, officially, to fight against the Confederacy. Nearly 180,000 were formed into separate units called “United States Colored Troops.” They engaged in crucial battles, won 14 congressional medals of honor, and helped liberate Petersburg and Richmond. At least half a million of the Confederacy’s 3,500,000 slaves came within the Union lines during the war, and many of them worked for the North (McPherson et al., 1971:113–114). A fact not frequently discussed is the participation of Blacks in the Confederate military. Blacks constituted more than one-third of the Confederate population, and without Black labor—free and bondage—the South would not have been able to wage war. In the war’s early stages, the Confederate congress passed an act that guaranteed equal pay for those Blacks who served. The following applied to musicians: The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact, that whenever colored persons are employed as musicians in any regiment or company, they shall be entitled to the same pay now allowed by law to musicians regularly enlisted; Provided that no such persons shall be so employed except by the consent of the commanding officer of the brigade to which said regiments or companies may belong (Nalty and MacGregor, 1981).
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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences - Volume II The above quotation testifies, ironically, to the relationship between military service and equal pay—even in a situation of racial hostility, the officiating Congress voted for equality in the pay scale. After the Civil War, official Army policy was that Black soldiers who fought would not be retained, and no effort would be made to enlist Blacks in peace-time service. In response to tension and battles with Indians in the West, however, and after much debate, Congress, in 1866, approved legislation creating six all-Black regiments: two cavalry and four infantry (there had been 120 units during the Civil War). These units played major roles in the Indian Wars from 1870 to 1890; the soldiers who participated in these units became known as Buffalo Soldiers (Hoover, 1968). The Spanish-American war began when the battleship Maine was sunk in Havana Harbor; 22 Black sailors were in its hull. Though Blacks were barred from state militia, North Carolina, Virginia, Illinois, and Kansas permitted Blacks to organize volunteer units. The war lasted only 10 weeks, and few of these units saw action; but the units of the Buffalo Soldiers were in the heat of the conflict. The Twenty-Fifth Infantry and Tenth Cavalry fought at El Caney, and the Tenth received honors; the Twenty-Fourth Infantry helped in the assault on San Juan Hill (U.S. Department of Defense, 1981). More than 200,000 Blacks served in World War I, heeding President Woodrow Wilson’s call to make the world “safe for democracy.” Georgia Congressman Frank Parks’s bill to make it unlawful to appoint Blacks as noncommissioned officers (NCOs) was defeated, and Blacks served in all ranks (Butler, 1992). After World War I the Army instituted a quota system to restrict the number of Blacks to their proportion in the population. By 1940, only 500 remained, mostly serving in all-Black units. There were only 5 Black officers; White officers commanded most Black troops, as they had done in the segregated army of the Civil War and World War I. During World War II, the relationship between Blacks and the military was renegotiated. Civilian social issues were now explicitly tied to Blacks’ role in the defense industry and the military. A.Philip Randolph called for a march on Washington on July 1, 1941, to end racial segregation in the military and to open defense jobs to Blacks. Racial discrimination by defense contractors was ended—in principle, if not practice—by President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 8802 in June 1941. Truman followed this action with Executive Order 9981 in 1948, which ended official segregation in the military. More than 900,000 Blacks served in segregated units during World War II (Dietz et al., 1991). The end of the Korean War saw the end of the segregated military. By the mid-1950s, the services were totally integrated officially. In 1962, on
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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences - Volume II the eve of the war in Vietnam, Blacks comprised 12.2 percent of all Army enlisted personnel, 9.1 percent of the Air Force, 7.6 percent of the Marine Corps, and 5.2 percent of the Navy. In that same year, however, Blacks accounted for only 1.6 percent of all commissioned officers (3.2 percent in the Army). During the Vietnam War, the proportion of Blacks increased slightly. In 1971, Blacks accounted for 15.6 percent of Army enlisted personnel, 12.5 percent of the Air Force, 12.3 percent of the Marine Corps, and 5.7 percent of the Navy. In 1971, Blacks made up 2.3 percent of commissioned officers (4.2 percent in the Army). Some 70,000 Black soldiers saw action in the Vietnam conflict. Over the course of the Vietnam War, Blacks made up 12.1 percent of all combat deaths, a number proportionate to the general population. After the Vietnam War, conscription ended, in 1973. The change to an all-volunteer force was accompanied by a significant rise in the Black composition of the armed forces, especially the Army, as shown in Table 8–1. The Army has, proportionately, approximately twice as many Black personnel as any of the other three military services. This applies at both officer and enlisted levels. Since conscription ended, Blacks have comprised close to 30 percent of the Army’s enlisted force; twice as many as when the draft was enforced. It should be pointed out, however, that the actual number of Blacks entering the armed forces has decreased since the end of conscription. In 1964, some 50,000 Black men entered the armed forces, compared to 28,000 in 1997. Considering that the national cohort of Black men was considerably smaller in 1964, the proportionate decrease of Black male enlistees is even more precipitous than actual numbers indicate. There has been, however, a sharp growth in the number of Black officers—again, especially in the Army. Blacks comprised 7 percent of officers (both commissioned and warrant) in 1980 compared with 15 percent in 1998. What is particularly noteworthy is the number of Black generals—approximately 9 percent—a figure for senior leadership that would be hard to match in any other mainstream organization. Data from other services also show increases in the number of Black officers between 1980 and 1998: from 2.4 to 6.3 percent in the Navy, and from 4.9 to 8.1 percent in the Marine Corps. The Air Force, with approximately 6 percent Black officers, has not shown a major increase for the past 30 years. Attention here is focused on enlisted participation, as these ranks comprise about 85 percent of all military personnel. Since the 1950s, the Army has had a significant Black NCO core. In 1998, more than 33 percent of senior NCOs in the Army were Black; the proportion in the Marine
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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences - Volume II Corps was about 25 percent; in the Air Force, about 20 percent; and in the Navy, about 11 percent. The large percentage of Blacks discussed above seemingly poses a “peacetime benefit” versus “wartime burden” dilemma. For decades critics have earnestly claimed that the United States uses Blacks as cannon fodder—a charge that is untrue. For example, during the Vietnam War, Black fatalities amounted to 12.1 percent of all Americans killed in Southeast Asia—a figure proportionate to the percentage of Blacks in the general population and lower than the percentage of Blacks in the military during that time period (Moskos and Butler, 1998). Further, the racial data on combat deaths of U.S. soldiers during the conflicts in Mayaguez, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, the Persian Gulf and Somalia—all post-Vietnam deployments—show that Blacks accounted for 14 percent of all combat deaths. No case can be made that Blacks suffer disproportionate casualties in America’s wars and military interventions (Moskos and Butler, 1998). In light of the controversies surrounding the issue of Black casualties in time of war, it should be noted that the contemporary era has seen a sharp decrease in the number of Blacks in the combat arms. This corresponds with a higher concentration of Blacks in support and logistics service branches and a lower concentration among the infantry (see Table 8–2). Percentages of Blacks in the infantry decreased from approximately 30 percent in 1980, to 20 percent in 1990, to 15 percent in 1997. Some assert the cause for this trend is that more civilian-transferable skills are acquired in logistics specialties; but this has been true for the past 10 to 20 years, and so does not explain the recent phenomenon. In any event, this finding is worth noting in assessing participation of Blacks in the military. Black women have an even more significant participation rate in the armed forces than Black men. Attention here is focused on the Army, where the trend has been most marked. As shown in Table 8–3, at the commissioned-officer level, the proportion of Black women just about doubled from 1980 to 1990, from approximately 11 to 20 percent. The trend among enlisted women is even more striking; in 1980 the composition of female enlistees was 56 percent White, 37 percent Black. By 1998, the composition was 47 percent Black, 39 percent White. A contributing factor may be that Black women have a much lower rate of attrition than do White women (attrition referring to the inability, for whatever reason, to complete the term of enlistment). Table 8–4 shows attrition rates by race and gender for the various services. In all four services, Black women have significantly lower attrition rates than White women. Again, the Army is most notable; whereas 35 percent of Black females fail to complete their enlistments (a figure correspondent to males of any race), the figure for White females is 54 percent.
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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences - Volume II TABLE 8–1 Blacks as a Percentage of Total Personnel by Grade and Service 1980, 1990, 1998 1980 Gradea Army Navy Air Force Marine Corps DoD Total Total Commissioned Officers 7.2 2.4 4.5 3.7 4.8 0–7 and above (Generals) 5.3 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.3 0–6 (Colonel) 4.5 0.7 1.8 N/A 2.3 0–5 (Lt. Colonel) 4.9 0.5 2.0 0.5 2.6 0–4 (Major) 4.4 1.2 2.4 1.6 2.7 0–3 (Captain) 7.5 3.0 4.3 4.4 5.1 0–2 (1st Lieutenant) 10.2 3.8 8.0 5.4 7.1 0–1 (2nd Lieutenant) 10.4 3.3 8.3 4.4 7.6 Warrant Officers 5.9 4.6 N/A 6.8 5.7 All Officers 7.1 2.5 5.7 3.9 4.9 Enlisted E-9 (Sergeant Major) 20.5 5.7 9.0 13.3 11.9 E-8 (Master Sergeant) 25.3 5.7 17.7 15.2 15.8 E-7 (Sergeant 1st Class) 24.7 5.5 13.6 14.8 15.9 E-6 (Staff Sergeant) 23.9 6.0 14.8 18.6 15.5 E-5 (Sergeant) 31.2 8.2 18.3 18.4 20.5 E-4 (Specialist) 37.2 11.4 16.1 17.8 24.2 E-3 (Private 1st Class) 39.0 14.9 15.9 25.1 24.1 E-2 (Private) 37.0 16.6 17.7 27.5 26.5 E-1 (Private Recruit) 27.0 15.7 13.5 23.6 21.0 Subtotal 32.5 11.2 16.0 22.0 21.6 Total 29.2 10.1 14.0 20.5 19.3 Note: DoD=U.S. Department of Defense. aArmy titles given in parentheses have equivalent pay grades in other services. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Defense. OVERCOMING RACE: ARMY LESSONS FOR CIVILIAN SOCIETY Although Blacks participate in all services, the above analysis clarifies the Army’s role as the prototype for Black opportunity. In All That We Can Be: Black Leadership and Integration the Army Way (Moskos and Butler, 1996), the Army is emphasized because it is the largest of the armed services and the one with the highest proportion of Blacks. The Army’s numbers and trends have entered the country’s everyday dialogue on
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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences - Volume II 1990 Army Navy Air Force Marine Corps DoD Total 11.2 3.9 5.6 4.6 6.8 6.4 1.1 1.2 N/A 3.0 4.6 0.8 2.1 1.4 2.5 5.3 2.1 2.6 2.3 3.3 9.5 3.3 6.0 4.3 6.2 14.0 4.2 6.6 4.9 8.1 12.9 4.6 6.0 5.2 7.7 11.8 5.8 5.5 5.6 7.8 11.0 7.5 N/A 9.9 8.9 11.0 4.0 5.6 5.1 6.9 30.5 5.7 17.5 13.3 16.0 24.8 5.7 20.1 15.2 16.5 30.7 7.5 20.9 18.7 20.0 37.6 12.3 25.9 18.2 23.2 36.7 16.1 24.3 19.0 24.1 32.5 17.8 19.5 19.2 23.7 28.3 23.6 19.2 14.5 21.9 25.6 21.6 19.9 12.5 21.3 25.2 24.9 20.4 14.2 24.0 29.1 17.3 20.8 17.6 22.7 26.8 15.6 19.2 15.4 20.4 race. President Clinton has also built the success of the military into his dialogue on race and, during his 1998 State of the Union Address, referred to the military as a model of racial progress. The questions now are, What are the lessons for American society as a whole? How can the country build into its fabric the illusive idea of opportunity? In this section, the analysis first presented by Moskos and Butler (1996), of military lessons for American society, is expanded. This is done with the understanding that the military has never been perfect, but is an institu-
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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences - Volume II 1998 Gradea Army Navy Air Force Marine Corps DoD Total Total Commissioned Officers 11.0 6.0 6.0 6.1 7.6 0–7 and above (Generals) 8.8 3.2 3.3 4.8 5.3 0–6 (Colonel) 6.7 2.9 3.5 4.0 4.4 0–5 (Lt. Colonel) 10.0 3.4 6.7 4.3 6.8 0–4 (Major) 12.4 5.0 5.9 4.5 7.6 0–3 (Captain) 11.9 6.7 5.9 5.3 7.9 0–2 (1st Lieutenant) 10.5 8.3 6.4 7.7 8.4 0–1 (2nd Lieutenant) 10.7 7.9 6.9 9.9 8.8 Warrant Officers 15.3 14.8 N/A 14.1 15.1 All Officers 12.7 6.3 6.0 6.9 8.1 Enlisted E-9 (Sergeant Major) 33.5 7.6 19.3 26.6 21.0 E-8 (Master Sergeant) 36.6 9.8 19.3 29.7 24.7 E-7 (Sergeant 1st Class) 37.5 12.9 17.9 26.7 25.5 E-6 (Staff Sergeant) 38.4 17.3 19.9 26.1 25.7 E-5 (Sergeant) 32.4 21.7 18.4 18.8 23.3 E-4 (Specialist) 25.5 20.7 15.3 13.2 20.3 E-3 (Private 1st Class) 25.2 23.5 16.4 13.7 20.2 E-2 (Private) 24.2 20.6 18.0 14.1 20.1 E-1 (Private Recruit) 21.9 21.4 19.0 14.1 19.9 Subtotal 29.6 19.8 17.7 16.7 22.2 Total 26.6 17.8 15.4 15.7 19.9 NOTE: DoD=U.S. Department of Defense. aArmy titles given in parentheses have equivalent pay grades in other services. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Defense. tion that has dealt with, and continues to deal with, the issue of racial equality. One of the major questions about the transfer of lessons revolves around differences between the Army and the civilian world. Critics point out that the Army commands methods of surveillance and coercion unavailable to civilian institutions and is, thus, less democratic. They also point to the fact that Army personnel have a degree of economic stability as well as access to both decent housing and medical benefits, unavailable to many in civilian society, where race and poverty (among all groups) confound procurement of basic life necessities. It has also been pointed out that criteria for becoming a soldier exclude members of society considered to be at the very bottom rungs; thus, the most severe social prob-
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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences - Volume II TABLE 8–2 Percentage in Army Infantry Enlisted, by Race, 1980, 1990, 1997 Race 1980 1990 1997 White 57.0 69.2 71.0 Black 29.7 20.6 15.1 Hispanic 5.3 5.3 7.8 Othera 8.0 4.9 6.1 Total 100 100 100 aIncludes unknown. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Defense. TABLE 8–3 Percentage of Women by Race, Army and U.S. Department of Defense Total, 1980, 1990, 1998 Commissioned Officers Enlisted Army DoD Total Army DoD Total 1980 White 82.4 85.1 56.4 69.9 Black 11.4 9.3 37.5 25.2 Other 6.2 5.6 6.1 5.9 Total 100 100 100 100 1990 White 72.2 80.6 44.2 58.1 Black 21.2 13.2 48.2 33.3 Other 6.6 6.2 7.6 8.6 Total 100 100 100 100 1998 White 69.2 76.6 39.5 52.8 Black 19.9 13.6 47.1 34.9 Other 10.9 9.8 13.4 12.3 Total 100 100 100 100 SOURCE: U.S. Department of Defense.
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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences - Volume II lems are not brought into the Army (Moskos and Butler, 1996). Certainly it is undeniable that there are differences between military and civilian life. The point is, the Army’s willingness to change as needed for the good of the institution has broadly applicable implications for overcoming racial inequality in America. Certainly the Army is not a democracy, but neither are most other organizations in American life. The Army relies more on around-the-clock, weekly, and daily accountability than most civilian organizations; but accountability and control in and of themselves cannot force good race relations. The racial situation is far worse in prisons, where coercive authority regulates accountability and control much more heavily than the military. Moreover, racist norms and behaviors can prevail in any large organization, including those with quasi-military structures. Indeed, the Army of the 1970s was torn with racial turbulence, even though there were significant numbers of Black personnel, a situation which most American institutions at that time could not match. Something other than submersion of individual rights must have been involved in the Army’s progress from a racially tense arena to the relative harmony of the present. It should also be noted that once in the Army, not even the lowest soldier is “underclass.” A private receives base pay of $10,000 a year, in addition to room and board, medical care, and other benefits; and, of course, rewards increase as one moves up the rank structure. But the solid economic status of most soldiers does not explain the dynamics of race relations in the Army. After all, racial tensions have sharpened in the larger society at all income levels. Even Blacks who have achieved high education and income must deal with, and have issues with, the “racist” society (Cose, 1993). Certainly the most salient objection to treating the Army as a model for racial equality relates to the troops recruited; as stated, they do not come from the very bottom rungs of American society and tend to be less
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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences - Volume II jaded and psychologically scarred by the vicissitudes of abject poverty. And the fact that Army personnel are made up of more physically and socially stable people may account for the fact that race relations are better in the armed forces than in other institutions; including those that presumably recruit the highest-quality youths in America—our institutions of higher learning, where campuses are divided by racial isolation and sometimes by racial hostility (Moskos and Butler, 1996). Perhaps the question to ask is, “How do Whites and Blacks perceive the racial climate in the military?” This question goes beyond numbers to the heart of everyday life. When one examines Army opinion surveys, Black soldiers are nearly twice as likely (64 percent) to discern racial discrimination in the military as are Whites (34 percent). Even so, Blacks are more likely (83 percent) than White career soldiers (73 percent) to express satisfaction with their Army experience. In addition, a survey of Army veterans revealed that almost twice as many Blacks (69 percent) wished they had stayed in the Army (Moskos and Butler, 1998). During times of war, the disproportionate number of Blacks in the Army is seen as inflicting casualties on America’s most victimized group. In times of peace, these same numbers are viewed as employment opportunities for Blacks (Moskos and Butler, 1998). Something of a paradox is the fact that both “liberals” and “conservatives” have noted that the Army is a model of racial integration and Black achievement. Below are lessons that we hope will become standard in other American institutions as they struggle with the task of providing opportunities for Blacks. Lesson One Blacks and Whites do not have to hold identical views of the racial situation in order to succeed. Research has shown that, during the last four decades, Blacks in the military see the racial situation differently, and, indeed, stress different things as being important in the racial organizational climate (Moskos, 1966; Brink and Harris, 1967; Butler and Wilson, 1978; Moskos and Butler, 1996). Holding different views of the racial situation should not block the participation of Blacks in organizations. Lesson Two Organizations should focus on Black opportunity channels rather than on eradicating racism. The core issue is not White racism but Black opportunity. If there must be a trade-off between Black advancement coexisting with White racism on the one hand and fewer Blacks in a presumed nonracial setting on the other, the former situation is preferable. The Army model, which stresses opportunity, is preferable to the state of
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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences - Volume II affairs at most universities where antiracism is promulgated, but Black presence is limited. In no way should the absence of racism be considered a precondition of Black achievement. Racism did not deter Blacks from creating and maintaining institutions of higher learning. An emphasis on education has always been a strong characteristic among Blacks. It is interesting that the South, where structured racism was most prevalent, is the region that encompasses the most Black colleges and graduates. The combination of historically Black schools and the value structure of Blacks in regard to education has made the South a producer of Black talent (Butler, 1992). Spelman College, Dillard University, and Morehouse College, all Black institutions of higher learning located in the South, have concentrated on Black opportunity rather than attitudes of White racism. And these schools have produced some of this country’s most celebrated and talented citizens: Martin Luther King, Oprah Winfrey, Spike Lee are among the many Black achievers who graduated from historically Black colleges and universities. The new century demands a strategy that has worked; that strategy is to concentrate on opportunity for Blacks. Lesson Three Organizations should be ruthless about eradicating discriminatory behavior. Although racist attitudes are not central, racist behavior cannot be tolerated. Individuals who display such tendencies must not be promoted to positions of responsibility. In the Army, racist behavior (not racist attitudes) can terminate a soldier’s career (Moskos and Butler, 1996). Lesson Four Affirmative action must be linked to standards and the qualified pool. Although Blacks have been members of the military since its inception, and Truman’s desegregation order predated Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954, the military’s efforts to ensure fair treatment are linked to the present debate on affirmative action (Butler, 1992). It is understood that promotion goals must be based on the relevant pool of qualified candidates, both Blacks and Whites, not on percentage of Blacks and Whites in the organization or the general population. Efforts to improve opportunities must acknowledge that compensatory action may be needed to help members of disadvantaged groups meet the standards of competition. It is counterproductive to suspend those standards—for either race—in the selection process. Any organization that promotes the less qualified in the name of “diversity” invites long-term disaffection (Moskos and Butler, 1996).
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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences - Volume II Lesson Five A level playing field is not always enough. The Army has demonstrated that youths with disadvantaged backgrounds can be trained to meet demanding academic as well as physical standards. The Army has successfully introduced programs to bring young people up to enlistment standards, to raise enlisted soldiers to NCO standards, to bring undergraduates up to officer commissioning standards, and to raise high school graduates to U.S. Military Academy admission standards. These programs, though not targeted exclusively to minority soldiers, are disproportionately Black (Moskos and Butler, 1996). Lesson Six Enhancing Black participation is good for the effectiveness of the organization. Participation of Blacks in the military, from the Truman desegregation order to the present, has not been smooth, and there will be difficult times ahead. The important thing is that the army experience has proved that race relations can best be transformed by an absolute commitment to nondiscrimination coupled with uncompromising standards of performance. As noted by Moskos and Butler (1996), the military is perhaps the only organization in America where prestige of the organization increased as the number of Blacks increased. Lesson Seven Participation of the Blacks in the Army is a by-product of the need to defend the country and not an end unto itself. One of the major realities evolving from the military experience is that Black participation has always been connected to the defense of the country (Moskos and Butler, 1996). Neither the military nor the Army set out to produce great opportunities for Blacks, but rather to defend the country. Thus, excellent opportunities are a by-product of a major goal—the defense of America. CONCLUSION Blacks are and have always been an intrinsic part of America, its society and culture; a notable indication of this is their participation in the armed forces. The realities of legal segregation as well as the realities of racial discrimination have interfered with, rather than halted, this participation. Like all Americans who have participated in the armed forces, Blacks have put their lives on the line and also partaken of the joy of victory. It is not surprising that the armed forces is the institution that
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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences - Volume II stands out when looking at both participation and achievement of Blacks. Other organizations can learn from this model. The emphasis must be placed on organizational goals and Black opportunity channels rather than racist attitudes. It is in the interests of American business and the country to ensure that all Americans—regardless of race or ethnicity— have the foundation and the opportunity to become highly skilled, productive contributors to their communities and the country. The organizational goal of America should be that every citizen must be able to and allowed to perform to high degrees of professionalism and citizenship at every opportunity. This is what Black labor-force participation should ultimately come down to. REFERENCES Blauner, R. 1972 Racial Oppression in America. New York: Harper and Row. Brink, W., and L.Harris 1967 Black and White: A Study of U.S. Racial Attitudes Today. New York: Simon and Schuster. Butler, J. 1991a Entrepreneurship and Self-Help Among Black Americans: A Reconsideration of Race and Economics. New York: State University of New York Press. 1991b The military as a vehicle for social integration. P. 38 in Ethnicity, Integration, and the Military, H.Dietz, J.Elkin, and M.Roumani, eds. Boulder, Col.: Westview Press. 1992 Affirmative action in the military. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 526(September):196–206. Butler, J., and M.Holmes 1982 Changing organizational structure and the future of race relations in the military. Pp. 167–177 in Conscripts and Volunteers, R.Fullinwider, ed. New York: Rowan & Littlefield. Butler, J., and K.Wilson 1978 The American soldier revisited: Race and the military. Social Science Quarterly (Autumn):628–638. Cose, E. 1993 The Rage of a Privileged Class. New York: Harper Collins. Dietz, H., Elkin, J., and Roumani, M., eds. 1991 Ethnicity, Integration, and the Military. San Francisco: Westview Press. Feagin, J. 1989 Racial and Ethnic Relations. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. Foner, J. 1974 Blacks in the Military in American History. New York: Praeger. Hill, H., and J.Jones, Jr. 1993 Race in America: The Struggle for Equality. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. Hoover, D. 1968 Understanding Negro History. Chicago: Quadrangle Books, p. 270.
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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences - Volume II McPherson, J., L.Holland, J.Banner Jr., N.Weiss, and M.Bell 1971 Blacks in America: Bibliographical Essays. New York: Doubleday. Minton, H. 1913 Early History of Negroes in Business in Philadelphia. A paper read before the American Historical Society, March . Moskos, C. 1966 Racial integration in the Armed Forces. American Journal of Sociology 72(September):132–148. Moskos, C., and J.Butler 1996 All That We Can Be: Black Leadership and Racial Integration the Army Way. New York: Basic Books. 1998 Racial integration the Army way. Army Magazine (July):29–31. Nalty, B., and M.J.MacGregor 1981 Blacks in the Military: Essential Documents. Wilmington: Scholarly Resources, Inc. U.S. Department of Defense 1981 Black Americans in Defense of Our Nation. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Defense. Walker, J. 1998 The History of Black Business in America: Capitalism, Race, Entrepreneurship. New York: Prentice Hall International.
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