Black airmen and space professionals are considerably more likely to be subject to acts of discrimination than their colleagues, according to a review by the Air Force inspector general.
The IG’s findings were based on research into service data as far back as 2012, which focused on career development and opportunities within the service as compared to those offered in the private sector. The IG also incorporated input from a survey that generated more than 123,000 responses, as well as the findings of 23 past studies and reports related to race relations.
“The review confirmed that racial disparity exists for Black/African-American airmen and space professionals,” the service stated in a press release.
Black service members were disproportionately involved in apprehensions, criminal investigations, military justice matters, administrative separations, occupational placement in career fields, promotion rates, military educational development for officers and civilian professionals, and “some leadership opportunities,” the IG found.
The IG received numerous firsthand reports of discrimination, which the service intends to use as it formulates a policy that would rectify the discrepancy. Many Black respondents stated that they had little faith in their chain of command’s willingness to confront and address racism, bias and equal opportunity among the ranks. Many also believe that leadership has largely been unwilling to give Black airmen the benefit of the doubt in disciplinary situations.
“Racial disparity isn’t an easy topic, and something we don’t traditional talk about much throughout our levels of command. This report and the many engagements with airmen and space professionals have increased chain of command awareness and an opportunity to build trust,” said Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., the Air Force’s first African American chief of staff. “Now we must all move forward with meaningful, lasting and sustainable change to do so.”
“Leaders at all levels must commit to having tough conversations, learning about racial disparities and identifying their part in creating an environment where all people have the same opportunities for success,” said Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, Chief of Space Operations.