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US military's first black service chief confirmed by Senate after historic nomination

After a landslide 98 to zero vote, the US Senate confirmed Gen. Charles Q Brown Jr. as the chief of staff of the Air Force.

US military's first black service chief confirmed by Senate after historic nomination
Image Source: Senate Armed Services Committee Holds Nominating Hearing. WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 07. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)

The United States Senate confirmed its first African American service chief to serve in the country's military on Tuesday. This is a landmark move for the US armed forces, an institution that rarely sees people of color amongst its leaders. In a historic 98 to zero vote, Vice President Mike Pence confirmed Gen. Charles Q Brown Jr. - who prefers to go by his initials CQ - as the chief of staff of the Air Force, CNN reports. As the entire nation erupts in protests over the death of George Floyd, CQ's confirmation is a ray of hope that signifies the United States is moving in the right direction.



Prior to his confirmation, the now-chief of staff released a powerful video in which he discusses the dark realities of police brutality and systemic racism in the US. He says he was "full with emotion" for "the many African Americans that have suffered the same fate as George Floyd." CQ goes on to outline his own experiences as a black man in America, sharing stories about being one of the very few African Americans in his school, then later on in his platoon, and finally, in leadership. He states, "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?'" He continues. "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." For several decades now, the US military has been infamous for its lack of diversity in leadership.




As per the latest figures from the Pentagon, 18.7 percent of all enlisted members of the US military are black. However, in stark contrast, only 8.8 percent of officers are black. When compared to the 76.1 percent of officers who are white, there is no doubt that the problem is institutional. Nonetheless, the newly-appointed chief of staff hopes that his confirmation provides black folks in America some hope. He states, "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."



While the whole country is battling its difficult history with race, the military too has been reconsidering its racial past. In recent days, all of the military's service chiefs have issued statements calling for the need to address the issue of race among the higher ranks. Additionally, the United States Army has been contemplating renaming almost a dozen major bases and installations that bear the names of Confederate military commanders. Slowly but surely, the country's military is moving forward to correct past injustices and build a more equal future.



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