Air Force investigation shows Black and white members treated differently

Black members of the Air Force are offered fewer opportunities for growth and development, according to a new report.

An investigation into racial disparities in the United States Air Force revealed that Blacks are treated differently than their white counterparts.

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The Washington Post reports the investigation was called for in June as many industries across the country attempted to account for racial bias and insensitivity following global protests sparked by the death of George Floyd. Before the inquiry began, the nonprofit Protect Our Defenders had just released data that detailed how the service had mostly failed to follow through on its promise to address racial disparities made in 2016.

Now-retired Gen. David L. Goldfein released a statement that called for the same racial reckoning among civilians to reach the Air Force, according to the report.

“What happens on America’s streets is also resident in our Air Force,” he stated. “Sometimes it’s explicit, sometimes it’s subtle, but we are not immune to the spectrum of racial prejudice, systemic discrimination, and unconscious bias.”

After the investigation concluded, the data revealed Black members are treated differently in job placement, leadership opportunities, educational options, criminal investigations, and administrative discipline. The Air Force Inspector General’s Office recommended that leaders create concrete plans to address the disparities.

Paratroopers in the U.S. Air Force
(Adobe Stock)

“We’re analyzing root causes and taking appropriate actions to address these challenges,” Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., said in a statement regarding the new findings, according to the Post. “Now we must all move forward with meaningful, lasting, and sustainable change.”

As theGrio reported, General Brown recently made history as the first Black Chief of Staff of the Air Force in August. Vice President Mike Pence presided over the appointment, calling Brown’s 98-0 vote “historic.”

Brown himself expressed gratitude at the promotion.

“This is a very historic day for our nation, and I do not take this moment lightly,” he said. “Today is possible due to the perseverance of those who went before me, serving as an inspiration to me and so many others.”

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According to the data, “Two out of five Black members of the service do not trust their leaders to address racism, bias and unequal opportunities, and three out of five believe they will not receive the same benefit of the doubt as their White colleagues if they get in trouble.”

Lt. Gen. Sami Said told the Washington Post that more than 123,000 airmen provided feedback for the report.

“The things that surprised me: The pent-up angst on the topic,” he said to the outlet. “The volume was surprising. When we asked for feedback, I expected to get feedback. But we were just drowned with feedback. The airmen were very eager to tell the story — their story. They wanted their voices heard.”

The Post said the Pentagon released a report on Friday from a new Department of Defense Board on Diversity and Inclusion which found disparities in the advancement of Black officers and the existence of service members who participate in hate groups.

According to the Air Force Personnel Center, there are currently 329,839 active-duty members. 71% of the military branch are white, 15% Black, 4,3% Asian, 0,7% American Indian, 1.2% Native Hawaiian, and 4.5% identified as more than one race. Just 3.5% decided not to respond.

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