I don’t really have much to say about this other than what Pam has already said.

Back to the subject at hand though, I think it’s obvious why fewer blacks are joining the military. If you’ve tuned in on the TV or gone to the movies, you’ve seen the tack that the ads have taken (showing “patriotic” black parents talking to their sons about signing up) I’m sure these have left a bitter taste in many black families’ mouths.

The aggressive, misleading recruiting in poor black areas has not gone unnoticed, either. You’ll recall how in Fahrenheit 9/11, Michael Moore showed recruits trolling the low-income areas and strip malls where young minority men frequent (as opposed to the suburban white well-to-do malls where no kids showed interest).


The simple math is that if these black kids can find better job opportunities (not even great ones at this point) that don’t involve signing up for a suicide mission like Iraq, common sense dictates that they aren’t going to find the military appealing right now.

Another factor to consider is that the military, for many young minority men living in socioeconomically depressed areas, represented an opportunity to get out, receive valuable skills they wouldn’t have acquired in the dire situations of the ghetto, while receiving funds for education in an environment that offers discipline and order.

What Pam doesn’t say though, is that the drop in military recruitment of blacks is a pretty big shift from the historical precedent of black folks defending this country in disproportionate numbers since its birth, despite Jim Crow and even slavery. Black Americans have fought for the United States in every military engagement this country has ever faced, and often in disproportionately greater numbers than the percentage of the American population that we represent.

The fact that black Americans are declining military service despite a history of sacrificing under terribly dangerous and even humilating circumstances illustrates just how profoundly the Bush Administration has botched not just the handling of the war, but the entire rationale behind its foreign policy.

The trend of declining black recruitment is not new.This USA Today article from 2005 makes the same observation as last week’s AP article, with an important addendum:

A major reason for the trend is a sharp drop in blacks joining the military, according to a Pentagon analysis conducted in response to questions from USA TODAY. During the four-year period, African-American recruits in all four services fell nearly a third, from 38,034 in 2000 to 26,170 in 2004.

Other factors include a rise in black college attendance and the fact that the war in Iraq is more unpopular among blacks than among whites, according to public opinion polls.

An important observation is made here; a rise in black college attendance reduces the number of blacks who join the military. Keep this in mind whenever someone tells you that the government has no interest in maintaining racial inequality. Despite the American military’s dependence on the black community for soldiers over hundreds of years, those in government have had little problem using black people as a scapegoat for all of society’s problems, everything from promiscuity, homophobia and misogyny to poverty and drugs.

And they wonder why we don’t want to give our lives for them now?

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