All Articles Tagged "blacks in the military"
There was a time when African Americans were thought to lack the intelligence, skill, courage and patriotism necessary in order to serve in the United States military. But no one expected that an elite group of military airmen would go down in history for their heroism during World War II. Known as the Tuskegee Airmen, these men were the first enlisted to become America’s first black military airmen.
By Brittany Hutson
In a single lifetime, Donald W. Tucker has seen and experienced things that are straight out of a social studies textbook. The Chicago native entered the world of law enforcement when the United States was in the midst of some of its most tensed and violent years–the civil right era. As an undercover agent for the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (now known as the DEA), and a U.S. Secret Service Agent, Tucker has experienced everything including the death of Emmett Till, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy and the Vietnam War. He’s even protected every U.S. president from Lyndon Johnson to George H.W. Bush, as well as Jesse Jackson and Shirley Chisholm.
In his new book, “The Two-Edged Sword,” Tucker recounts his rise through the ranks to become one of this country’s prime federal law enforcement administrators and reformers. We spoke to Tucker about his career, fighting discrimination and what went through his mind when he saw Barack Obama become president.
How did you come up with the title of your book, “The Two-Edged Sword?”
In the book I describe a time when I had to defend a black female agent that the secret service was trying to fire over two incidents. At the time, she had only been on the job for a few months and had been recruited from Jackson, MS. She was assigned to the Houston field office. She didn’t have anyone to help her find a place to live, so she ended up renting an apartment in a pretty tough neighborhood. One night, she heard a gunshot. The Houston police came to her apartment and explained that there was a murder in the building. They asked if she heard anything and the agent said she had. The police asked why she hadn’t called the police. She identified herself and told the police she wasn’t sure the noise was a gunshot. The police reported her, saying that she was unprofessional and didn’t really look like a secret service agent.
There was another incident when the Houston police thought the agent was unprofessional during a meeting with a female clerk. In this case, the agent was going to the police department with two white agents. The white clerk asked the two white agents to show their credentials and they were allowed to pass. When the black agent showed her credentials, the clerk asked for two additional pieces of identification. The agent was obviously upset at being treated differently. She threw down the additional identification and the clerk reported her for being unprofessional.
By J. Smith
While many American institutions integrated long ago, the top positions in the military remain overwhelmingly white and male. An independent panel furnished a report for Congress outlining jarring statistics of senior officers in the U.S. active-duty military. Seventy-seven percent of senior officers are white, while only 8 percent are black, 5 percent are Hispanic and 16 percent are women, the panels reports.
According to the AP, “one barrier that keeps women from the highest ranks is their inability to serve in combat units. Promotion and job opportunities have favored those battlefield leadership credentials.” The more important question here is why are women unable to serve in combat units?
It is no surprise that the armed services have been slow to fully embrace the changing face of America — gays still cannot officially serve openly in the military. And there is a quiet, yet troubled history of African American soldiers not being respected in their own country — there are many accounts of blacks coming home from war only to be lynched in uniform. However, where other industries have felt more social pressure to diversify, military culture is often untouchable by the civilian world.
The report, based on data from September 2008, demands greater diversity among the military’s leaders so the service will better reflect the racial, ethnic and gender mix in the armed forces and in American society, the AP reports.
Although there have been efforts to create a more equal opportunity military, the report said, “despite undeniable successes…the armed forces have not yet succeeded in developing a continuing stream of leaders who are as diverse as the nation they serve. This problem will only become more acute as the racial, ethnic and cultural makeup of the United States continues to change.”