Minority high school seniors face challenges even more difficult than other graduating students. The Bureau Of Labor Statistics reports that while white unemployment hovers at a crushing 8.3%, Hispanic unemployment is 11.9%, and African-American unemployment remains at 15.9% The unemployment trend in the white community seems to be on the decline since September of 2008 when it reached 8.6%. In contrast, Hispanic unemployment has risen from 7.9% in that year, and African-American unemployment has risen to its current level from 7.6%. What seems a crushing rate of unemployment for white America is practically the norm for the Hispanic and African-American communities.
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 favor 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. Basing judgement on the content of their recruits’ characters 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 disproportionately large 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.