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65 Years of Underrepresentation: The Struggle Continues for Black Officers in the United States Army


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Black Americans have always been treated unfairly and not been afforded the same opportunities as whites in American society. From slavery to segregation and Jim Crow Laws, American society has repeatedly implemented institutional barriers to put black people at a disadvantage. The military, though it has gone through great lengths to be a beacon for the society that it represents, is not much different. Black American service members have had to prove themselves as equals since before the independence of our nation. Currently, black officers remain underrepresented in the Army, but it is especially overt at the senior levels. Black officers represent 12 percent of the Army's officer corps, and minorities only represent 5.2 percent of flag officers within all the services combined. Black officers and other minorities continue to struggle to advance in today's military, not due to the lack of ability, but because of the institutional and social barriers deeply ingrained within its organization. These institutional barriers start as early as the pre-commissioning stage of an officer's career. Once a black officer receives his or her commission, these institutional barriers coupled with social barriers continue to impede their success, leading to the overall lack of diversity within the force. These institutional barriers include, but are not limited to, the accessions process, mentoring, discrimination, and promotion/command selection process.



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