Let’s take a moment and consider minority job prospects in private-sector America. In Detroit, the unemployment rate for African-Americans is 20.9%. Non-minority unemployment runs 13.8% there. In Minneapolis, African-American unemployment is 20.4% while non-minority unemployment is 6.6%. In St. Louis, African-American unemployment runs 17.3% compared to 8.4% for non-minorities. Figures for Hispanics are only very slightly better. Minorities often face impossible odds in an ever shrinking job market that is not geared to them, except at the lowest level. An exception is the US Navy.
Minorities Find Acceptance In The Navy
Navy jobs for minorities are as open to them, and in the same proportion, as any other group. The distinctions so readily drawn in the civilian sector simply don’t exist in the Navy. Navy careers for African-Americans, and Hispanics, are filled for the same reason, individual ability, as those filled by non-minorities. In the Navy, jobs are open to everyone with discipline, and desire to perform. The obvious discrimination in employment that infects private-sector America simply doesn’t exist in the Navy. Need some proof?
43,000 people of Hispanic origin serve in the Navy. They are the largest contingent of minorities serving in that service. The PEW Research Group finds that Hispanics are the least likely group of any ethnicity, whites included, to receive a GED in the civilian sector. Their rate of dropping out of high school is greater than African-Americans, and whites, combined. Yet, Hispanics account for the largest minority group attending the United States Naval Academy. Out of 271 minority graduates of The Academy, 115 were of Hispanic origin. Similarly, the percentage of African-American graduates of The Academy has doubled since 2000. That trend is expected to continue. The dramatic reversal of educational opportunity, and success, for Hispanics and African-Americans in the Navy compared to their civilian opportunities reflects the Navy’s determination to promote candidates where ever they can be found. These educational gains serve a single purpose: to get the job done.
Not Just Good Jobs; The Best Jobs
After receiving education and training that is often unavailable to them outside the military, Navy careers for Hispanics, and African-Americans, encompass a variety of trades, and professions, unmatched in or out of service. Whether serving on board ship, on land, or aboard a submarine, job opportunities in the Navy are nearly limitless. Aviators, Engineers, Information and Communication Systems Specialists, Steel Workers, and Divers are in high demand. Electricians, Musicians, Construction Mechanics, and Air Traffic Controllers are actively sought, given the training they need, and assigned to duty that requires the best they have to offer. Gunner’s Mates, Electrician’s Mates, Survival Specialists, and Structural Mechanics take their first steps to success in the Navy’s jobs programs. From Special Warfare Operators (SEAL) to Religious Program Specialists and Hospital Corpsmen, the Navy needs good men who are dedicated to their country, their work, and their own futures.
But no amount of education or training can completely prepare a person to perform a difficult job. That requires on-the-job experience, meeting challenges that face an individual on a daily basis when he must think for himself under pressure. The Navy provides that experience as a matter of course, and the skills derived from that experience are a stepping stone to greater achievement, in and out of service. Navy jobs for minorities aren’t considered “minority jobs”, or “affirmative action.” They’re just action. Anyone with the ability, and desire, to succeed finds a path to success in the Navy. Joining the Navy offers job opportunities undreamed of by, and unavailable to, many members of minorities outside the Navy.
Racial discrimination is seldom easy to talk about. Dismissing it is harder. Despite what many see as gains in the last few years, the fact is that American civilian society tends to favour non-minorities in the areas of education, employment, and advancement. “Facts are stubborn things”, as John Adams said, and facts abound concerning the opportunities that are available to minorities. As Americans we’ve come a long way. To a large extent, the path was paved, and continues to be extended, by our military services.
Minority Leadership Positions
The “Armed Forces & Society” journal’s recent report on racial bias reports that respondents uniformly report a reduction in perceived discrimination within their military unit as compared to their experience in civilian life. While only 30% of the Army is comprised of minority personnel, less than half of senior enlisted ranks are filled by non-minority personnel. Compare that to a recent poll that found only 8% of executive positions in corporate America are filled by members of minority groups. It’s easy to see that on this count alone there is substantial incentive for Hispanics and African-Americans to enter military service. Being judged by the content of their recruits’ character is a dream the US military shares, pursues, and actively promotes.
Hispanics and African-Americans in particular have had difficulty finding educational opportunities commiserate with their innate abilities. A much larger proportion of minorities come from economically depressed areas than non-minorities. Because of this economic difference, the resources available to the schools in which they are meant to be educated are deficient. By the time they reach college age, these students’ cumulative disadvantage often makes them ineligible, often unable, to pursue a higher education.
Fresh out of school, minority high school seniors’ military jobs require a continuing education, as do all recruits. Their education, and training, is a vital part of the job they do. And the military takes their education very seriously. 44% of all active duty officers have a Bachelor Degree. In the civilian sector, the percentage of African-Americans with a similar degree is 20%. For Hispanics, the figure is 14.1%. Considering the disproportionate representation of minorities represented in the officer class, these figures profoundly attest to the interest the military takes in educating its minority recruits.
Go Where You’re Needed
Military careers represent the need our country has for its citizens to be involved in its protection, and stability. No one in the military takes up space, or just fills a slot. Everyone serving fills a position of responsibility that is vital to the well-being of our country. And our country rewards that service with military careers that ennoble an individual with a sense of accomplishment in the present, opportunities for the future, and the realization he is part of making America, not only safer, but a more just and equitable society. Being needed, and being rewarded, go hand-in-hand in the military. For everyone.