Hi folks, it’s been a really long time. You know how it goes, life gets busy and you lose your muse. That was me, until recently. Between the current events with protests in the USA, #BlackLivesMatter, and reconnecting with my university friends and having some deep discussion about our experiences in the military, I find that I’m looking inward more than I have of late. I need to chew on it, and I need to figure out if I actually have anything new to say, but it has caused me to circle back to an article I wrote in October of 2018, “Why Meritocracy is a False Ideal.” I was prompted to share it after viewing what General Charles Brown of the United States Air Force had to say.
Over the course of the past several weeks, many of my military friends have posted on Facebook a short paragraph about how they don’t see colour, they only see the uniform. I didn’t comment on any of those, but there was something about their particular post that nagged at the back of my mind. Listening to General Brown helped me get a grip on what it was exactly, and it sort of ties back (not entirely) to the what I allude to in my 2018 article that I have just added to this blog. But it’s deeper than that.
When my colleagues and friends were posting about not seeing colour, I do believe that their sentiment was well intended, but …. it somewhat misses the point.
I’m guilty of it myself. When asked about being one of the only or few women, especially in the early days, I often reply by saying that for the most part, folks in the military don’t care as long as you can do you job. There is a great deal of truth in that statement, but the statement in isolation does not give the full picture. It doesn’t acknowledge the pressure, feeling like you are living in two worlds at times. The lived experiences of the minority are very different than the lived experiences of the majority. I think you have to make an effort to see colour in order to begin to understand how deep and pervasive unconscious racism can be, let alone overt racism, especially when it isn’t your lived experience. There isn’t a quick and easy fix to racism or any other issue that is tightly woven into society over the course of history, but I do believe that it has to begin with a willingness to listen, to have tough conversations, to learn and overcome ignorance on the depth of the problem. So take a listen to this General Brown please. You can opt to read my article if you like, but his words are far more impactful, and relevant.