ARMY RESEARCH INST FOR THE BEHAVIORAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCES ALEXANDRIA VA
This paper reports participant-observation research designed to explore and understand a reported pattern of voluntary separation by black soldiers from whites. The research was undertaken because of the Armys concern with violent blackwhite confrontations and other indications of extreme racial separation on some Army installations in the company areas, the mess halls, the Enlisted Mens EM and Non-Commissioned Officers NCO clubs, and elsewhere on the post as well as in the host communities. The term polarization is frequently heard in connection with these happenings but it is neither well- defined nor consistently or objectively used in either the social sciences or in the military. While the very concept implies a pulling apart or separation by both blacks and whites, the label is ordinarily applied only to the black minority, disparagingly racial polarization is assumed to be initiated by blacks for the purpose of attacking whites. The separating minority is faulted and feared action is undertaken to reduce this polarization in order to promote military unity and effectiveness.