Yet Another (Dec 2020) IG Report on the Disparity of Justice for the Air Force (that will probably have no more results than the last 3 reports that said the same thing)
(scroll down for full report)
I received a few texts when this was released - how excited people were for progress.
I can't get so excited. Not because I'm cynical, jaded, or bitter (though I may be).
But because I've seen it before.
I've seen it in the 90s. There was a report. And nothing changed.
I've seen it in the 2000s. There was a report. And nothing changed.
Nothing changed in the 2010s. And I doubt anything is going to change this time.
Don't get me wrong, there will be lots of action! There will be tiger teams (or focus groups, or whatever we're calling them now). There will be public outcries amongst leadership. There will be initiatives stood up. There will be action taken.
But the recommendations of the tiger teams will probably come to nothing just like the previous recommendations.
The public outcries will probably be followed by private griping about "why we have to do this," or, "why did this have to happen on M Y watch," much like the last time I sat in a room of wing commanders addressing the unusually high suicide rate... none of those commanders caring about the lives of Airmen, so much as they were caring about their careers and why they had to waste their time addressing the misdeeds of the weak and worthless. And yes, I disagree,* but that's what they said.
The initiatives probably won't be funded. Oh, they'll be touted, broadcast, and people will get promoted for their forward thinking... but when Airmen try to actually USE the programs, they'll probably hear what I heard in my career: Yes, that program is listed but he commander hasn't funded it. The same way their initiatives for child care or single parents weren't funded. The same way their initiatives for parents of special needs children weren't funded. The same way their initiatives for mental health of our front line Airmen weren't funded.
So I'm glad to see what I've known and experienced, and what many who look like me have known and experienced, be captured in black and white for the world to see.
But forgive me if I don't think that means anything will really change.
* regarding the suicide comments, I've never heard such nasty, disrespectful things said about people who were experiencing the very real side effects of high-ops-tempo, decreased funding and toxic leadership. Please rest assured I don't feel that way, as my work with Airmen struggling with depression is that most in that group were stronger and cared more about the mission than the leaders who marginalized them
Here's the report:
The first indicator that this report will have no real effect of substance for Airmen of color comes from page 2, "Finally, please note that the identification of racial disparity does not automatically mean racial bias or racism is present. This Review focused on the existence of racial disparity, but it did not specifically assess racial bias or individual acts of racism within the DAF, which may cumulatively contribute to racial disparity overall. Thousands of black service members and civilians reported experiencing issues ranging from bias to outright racial discrimination. These experiences indicate bias and isolated individual acts of racism may contribute to the racial disparities identified in this report."
In other words, the Air Force is taking no responsibility for inculcating a culture that allows bias and acts of racism to flourish. Because it's an "individual" problem. Throw the flag on that one, and require leadership to take action. I remember, my first Christmas back home from College, and my mom (as usual) had invited all the "strays," Airmen who had nowhere to go. So we had an eclectic mix of people who probably didn't hang out with each other around the table. One particular young man used a racial slur for those of Chinese descent. I remember thinking, "that was a dumb thing to say when my mom has an interracial family. " Everyone stopped. Forks dropped. People looked at him. And he got the hint. I'd see that guy over the next 3 years and never heard another such comment. Doesn't mean he didn't still feel that way, but his behavior changed.
So don't tell me the Air Force can't address bias and "isolated individual acts of racism." Yes it can.
All it requires is a culture of accountability (as in my Christmas story).
Common sense would challenge how "isolated" can these results actually be when they are told from the voices of (p2) "over 123,000 members of the DAF" in a survey, "1300 plus Airmen and Space Professionals" in small-group discussions" and "more than 27,000 single-spaced pages of free text comments."
How sad that the report dismisses what it documents... for example, p96 discusses how 64% of black General Officers members, and 18% of their white general officer counterparts, believe there is racial bias
Yet the report repeatedly states that these stats provide no evidence of bias or racism impeding Airmen of color. When 20% of your WHITE Generals say there's a problem, you should acknowledge there's a problem.
So, as I said in the original blog post above, I am happy for the report documenting experiences that need to be told, but very doubtful that anything is going to really change.