Major Payne: The Digital Divide and the Lack of Black Officers in the Military

The hopeful face of a military officer?

It’s time to get serious about closing that racial gap in learning. After all, if the military is going to eliminate that pesky problem of being led white officers it is, then, vital that the test scores of Black recruits improve so that academic standards at The Coast Guard Academy and Naval Academy don’t have to be lowered anymore to ensure that an acceptable number of Black people can be admitted: 

The U.S. Naval Academy has agreed to a legal settlement with a dissident faculty member after a federal investigation found evidence that it had illegally denied him a merit-pay increase to punish him for his public criticism of its affirmative-action policies.

The findings and settlement, announced on Wednesday by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, represent a significant victory for Bruce E. Fleming, a tenured professor of English. He is the civilian employee who filed a complaint with the federal agency in September 2009 after being denied a merit-pay raise that year.

The office’s finding also represents the latest embarrassment related to affirmative action for the Naval Academy, where the superintendent resigned last year in the wake of a scandal over excessive administrative spending related to its diversification efforts and to athletics.

Don’t get us started on who is actually enlisting in the armed forced and who is failing the entrance exam at a rate of 40 percent. Just how diverse are senior officers?:
The U.S. military is too white and too male at the top and needs to change recruiting and promotion policies and lift its ban on women in combat, an independent report for Congress said Monday.
Seventy-seven percent of senior officers in the active-duty military are white, while only 8 percent are black, 5 percent are Hispanic and 16 percent are women, the report by an independent panel said, quoting data from September 2008.
One barrier that keeps women from the highest ranks is their inability to serve in combat units. Promotion and job opportunities have favored those with battlefield leadership credentials.
The report ordered by Congress in 2009 calls for greater diversity in the military’s leadership so it will better reflect the racial, ethnic and gender mix in the armed forces and in American society.
Efforts over the years to develop a more equal opportunity military have increased the number of women and racial and ethnic minorities in the ranks of leadership. But, the report said, “despite undeniable successes … the armed forces have not yet succeeded in developing a continuing stream of leaders who are as diverse as the nation they serve.”
 “This problem will only become more acute as the racial, ethnic and cultural makeup of the United States continues to change,” said the report from the Military Leadership Diversity Commission, whose more than two dozen members included current and former military personnel as well as businessmen and other civilians.
There’s not much we can do about the lack of Black people in special forces units that exist across the branches of the military unless we are willing to compromise what makes them special in the first place.

Demographic changes do point to the future of the Navy, Air Force, and Army being significantly darker; but, like the future of the state of Texas, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be better.

Just who is going to fly those F-16, F-22, and F-35’s in this future Air Force? We already know which group does the majority of the dying in wars in the Middle Eastern wars, but diversity is the future so this must change.  It is for this reason imperative that the so-called digital divide must be immediately sutured closed::

Researchers have noticed signs of segregation online that perpetuate divisions in the physical world. And blacks and Hispanics may be using their increased Web access more for entertainment than empowerment.

Fifty-one percent of Hispanics and 46 percent of blacks use their phones to access the Internet, compared with 33 percent of whites, according to a July 2010 Pew poll. Forty-seven percent of Hispanics and 41 percent of blacks use their phones for e-mail, compared with 30 percent of whites. The figures for using social media like Facebook via phone were 36 percent for Hispanics, 33 percent for blacks and 19 percent for whites.

A greater percentage of whites than blacks and Latinos still have broadband access at home, but laptop ownership is now about even for all these groups, after black laptop ownership jumped from 34 percent in 2009 to 51 percent in 2010, according to Pew.

But wait. Black people have greater access to the internet via cell-phones and equal access to laptops? Then where’s the digital divide? The federal government has worked overtime to equip those less fortunate (yes, many will be white, but a disproportionate percentage will be Black) with tax-payer funded cell phone service:

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission took the first step Thursday toward reworking two related programs that provide telephone subsidies for low-income residents, with commissioners calling for part of the funding to support broadband service.

The FCC’s Lifeline Assistance and Link-Up America programs, in place since 1985, now subsidize monthly telephone service and installation for poor U.S. residents. The FCC voted to launch a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that asks for public comments on whether to include broadband and bundled telecom services in the programs.

The NPRM also looks for ways to eliminate waste and abuse in the programs, and questions if the programs’ budgets should be capped. The budget for the Lifeline and Link-Up programs, part of the larger Universal Service Fund (USF), has grown from US$162 million in 1997 to $1.3 billion in 2010.

“This trend is unsustainable,” said Robert McDowell, a Republican member of the commission.

Some critics have noted that prepaid mobile phone plans seem to be driving up the programs’ budgets, which are supported by fees on traditional long-distance telephone service. But Democratic commissioners questioned a cap on the fund, saying it would be difficult for the FCC to support both phone service for low-income residents and expand the program to cover broadband with a cap in place.

The federal government pays for cell phone service for those less privileged. Like food stamps, welfare, free lunch programs, section 8 housing and virtually every government program, it can easily be surmised that those less fortunate are disproportionately Black people. Is this how the digital divide was ultimately fixed, and would this explain why Black people overwhelmingly use cell phone internet connections for entertainment purposes?

Detroit Public Schools recently unveiled a plan to give out 40,000 laptops to students as part of a stimulus plan. Half of Detroit schools are closing. And half of the students attending those schools fail or lack the ability to read. And yet somewhere someone thought it would be a great idea to pass out free laptops (paid for, of course, courtesy of the taxpayer).

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. believes the United States Constitution should be changed to give an iPad, laptop and free broadband access to every “ghetto” child. He also mentioned something about free housing for everyone to stimulate the economy.He didn’t mention Alvin Greene action figures as a plausible way to jumpstart the economy, though we here at SBPDL heartily endorse such an idea not so much because it would stimulate the economy so much as it would stimulate our funny bones.

The United States military, already overburdened with white recruits enlisting to be Real American Heroes, is taxed to the breaking point with white males representing the core of the nation’s officers in every branch of military. United States special forces units are even worse.

Only the digital divide can explain this horrific situation. Requiring lower scores for Black applicants to gain entry to The Coast Guard Academy and Naval Academy portend absolutely nothing; but they do help make our military a more diverse fighting machine. Blame that on the digital divide, along with the low scores of Black recruits and the low proficiency of Black students.

It’s time that Congress not only pass The Michael Oher Act, but it is also high time Congress enacted the Digital Act Granting and Guaranteeing Equal Representation (DAGGER) in Technology Act: Free iPads and iPhones, plus broadband access for all Black people.It will be costly, but DAGGER could cut to the root of the racial gap in learning once and for all.

Though Black people might never use this technology for educational purposes and only for entertainment, we Americans will be able to claim that we at least mightily and altruistically strove to close the racial gap in learning and thus create potential Black recruits for the military that can finally pass the entrance exams.

In Black Run America (BRA) it is an inconvenient truth that white males still have too much power.And this is why we constantly see reports such as the one recently ordered by Congress that found the US military is too white and too male at the top, in desperate need for diversity.

I call on all good Americans to support and the Congress to pass DAGGER to save America.



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