Teaching that an entire group succeeds only because of past conditions created by previous generations is unfair and disparaging of countless honorable professionals. Our equal opportunity programs are designed to ensure all members of the DOD are treated fairly. Unfortunately, the curriculum used to train the managers of these programs is littered with statements prejudicial to an entire population.
EOAC-3000 also directs future equal opportunity advisers to “assume racism is everywhere, every day.” In spite of significant racial progress in America—progress often led by changes in military programs—racism surely persists, but assuming it is “everywhere, every day” only guarantees we will perceive every act as racially based. This is a dangerous sentiment in any group; it’s potentially devastating in the military.
According to DEOMI, we must assume racism is a daily occurrence in every facet of the military: our pay, promotion, and award systems; our selection of leaders; assignment of professionals; and virtually every other DOD program.
DEOMI would better serve its students and the DOD by using less provocative language. A subtle wording change would make a big difference in the message. Acknowledging that racism may be found anywhere, at any time, is more accurate. It would also create conditions we need in equal opportunity programs: Awareness without an assumption of guilt.
Likely anticipating controversy, DEOMI labeled the chapter on Power and Privilege with the phrases “FOR TRAINING PURPOSES ONLY” and “DO NOT USE ON THE JOB” [emphasis not added]. These phrases, which appear only once, will not prevent the concepts and conclusions from influencing equal opportunity advisers in the force. In fact, parts of the chapter are quite directive. One such area is a section detailing how advisers should seek to become a “strong white ally” so they can “increase their social, political, and economic power” as means for overcoming racism and discrimination. This is also where students are instructed to “assume racism is everywhere” while also being told to “attack the source of power” as a strategy for combating racism. These are not lessons intended for training purposes only; they are meant to shape adviser behaviors.
Instead of denigrating an entire population and teaching future equal-opportunity officers to assume the worst, we should honestly fulfill the dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Military professionals should “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
That sentiment is as true for white males as it is all others. We must not judge anyone by the real and perceived wrongdoing of previous generations simply because of shared traits. To do so is to say huge numbers of today’s leaders are illegitimate and our programs are undeniably biased. That borders on sedition. No wonder DEOMI caveated the chapter with such notices.
The best advice in EOAC-3000 is on the cover: “DO NOT USE ON THE JOB.”