On Tuesday, the Senate confirmed an African American man to serve as service chief in the US military for the first time, making history for the armed forces as people of color among the top brass rarely happens.
Vice President Mike Pence lead the historic 98-0 vote to confirm General Charles Q. Brown Jr. to be the chief of staff of the Air Force, a vote that came against racial injustice after the death of George Floyd and other black Americans at the hands of police.
Days before his confirmation vote, General Brown, who goes by C.Q., released a moving, deeply personal video, in which Brown said he was “full with emotion” for “the many African Americans that have suffered the same fate as George Floyd.”
In the video that was posted on Twitter, he said: ”I’m thinking about a history of racial issues and my own experiences that didn’t always sing of liberty.”
“I’m thinking about wearing the same flight suit with the same wings on my chest as my peers and then being questioned by another military member: ‘Are you a pilot?'” Brown said.
He outlined being one of the only African Americans at his school and often being the only African American in his platoon, and later, in leadership.
“I’m thinking about the pressure I felt to perform error-free, especially for supervisors I perceived had expected less of me as an African American. I’m thinking about having to represent by working twice as hard to prove their expectations and perceptions of African Americans were invalid.”
According to the Pentagon’s latest figures, 18.7% of enlisted members of the military are black. But only 8.8% of officers are black, compared to 76.1% who are white which proves the lack of diversity in US military leadership.
“I’m thinking about the African Americans that went before me to make this opportunity possible. I’m thinking about the immense expectations that come with this historic nomination, particularly through the lens of current events plaguing our nation,” Brown said amid his nomination to be the first African American chief of staff.
“I’m thinking about how my nomination provides some hope, but also comes with a heavy burden.
I can’t fix centuries of racism in our country, nor can I fix decades of discrimination that may have impacted members of our Air Force.I’m thinking about how I can make improvements personally, professionally, and institutionally, so that all Airmen, both today and tomorrow, appreciate the value of diversity and can serve in an environment where they can reach their full potential.