Mia: Shaken Not Stirred

The true life stories of a NYC female.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Let's NOT play the race card today...

I think that the reason our country doesn’t have the drama that France has been going through is because minorities in this country don’t take crap from anyone. We’re united; we make the most of our rights. We protest, we petition and we elect officials that voice our concerns and fight for our causes. How ever I find that in these hypersensitive times people try to play the race card when there is no need to go there.

A column in our local paper claimed that a racial divide is evident in the military. They supported their claim with the Pentagon’s own personnel records. The records track military recruitment by state, county, zip code and racial and ethnic group, even by high school. The Marines weren't included because they did not provide sufficient data to track recruits' place of residence.

The national figures show that kids from low-income areas are far more likely to end up in the military. However I think that before blanket statements about the military’s racial composition are made it should be noted that 60 percent of enlisted personnel are white. Blacks make up about 22 percent and the number of Hispanic personnel as has increased 30 percent to 118,000 from 90,600. The military has become the most successfully integrated institution in American society. Whites, Hispanics and Blacks tend to seek out communications, intelligence, and the medical corps and other specialties in equal numbers. Blacks are 2 ½ times more likely to fill support or administrative roles while Hispanics and whites are 50% more likely to serve in the infantry, gun crews or their naval equivalent. These were the figures they gave for New York City for 2005, in my opinion these figures are flawed because they do not include all of the neighborhoods and boroughs of New York.

Neighborhood Main racial & economic composition # Enlisted
Manhattan: Upper East Side White
richest 'hood in city
Manhattan: Upper WestSide Diverse
Middle class - upper class
(9 Blk/Hisp/Asian
& 3 White)
Manhattan: East Harlem Hispanic & Black
poor/middle/working class
South BronxHispanic & Black
poor/working class
Queens: Elmhurst & CoronaImmigrants
poor/middle/working class
Brooklyn: CanarsieWhite, Hispanic & lack
working class
6 Hsp & Blk
0 white
Queens: Howard Beach, & Little NeckWhite
middle class
Queens: St. Albans & South Ozone ParkLargely Black
working class/middle class
According to area politicians these numbers are the most convincing proof yet that the war without a compulsory draft has become a ghastly dividing line between rich and poor and black, Latino and white. WTF?! There is no need to play the race card today c’mon man! No one is kidnapping my brothers and sisters off the streets of NY and making them enlist! I am not in favor of the draft, not in favor of the war for that matter but as a New York Latina I understand the appeal of the military to my brothers and sisters. It’s a way out and a way to pay for college, a way to study careers they wouldn’t be able to afford out in the civilian world. There are some that would disagree with me. “Economics is not enough to explain those huge disparities”, Rep. Jose Serrano (D-South Bronx) and state Sen. David Paterson (D-Harlem) both said. I beg to differ; I almost joined up myself when I graduated HS before 9/11. The recruiters paint you this lovely picture…money for college… travel … perks up the ying yang. You sign up because you think you are going to have a better life than the one you’re leaving behind. Kids don’t think that they are going to die in a war. That crap happens to other people not to you. The recruiters sell you a dream to get you to sign up. For a lot of kid this is a way out. Some make it their career.

Rangel, Paterson and Serrano charge that military recruiters have turned uncommonly aggressive at targeting black and Hispanic high school youth. "They're coming into the high schools of the South Bronx nearly every week," Serrano said, and "they're demanding contact information for students." WTF?! This has been going on forever and NOW is when Serrano wants to address it? I smell an election coming up.

I don’t know what’s going on in the South Bronx I don’t live there. I’m over in the North-East Bronx and yeah I have noticed recruiters parked in the HS across the street like men on discount lap dance night at a strip club,but then again I go into white ‘hoods and see the same thing. Recruiters salivating, lined up looking at high school kids like pedophiles walking by school playgrounds during recess. If these representatives want to convince me that it’s a racial thing then show me the number of recruiters being sent out into neighborhood high schools. I want to see how many are being sent into predominantly minority schools and compare that to how many are being sent to predominantly white high schools.

“If only our government worked as hard getting blacks and Hispanics into college as it does sending them to Iraq”, Serrano said. WTF?! This dude is tripping! If only this dude fought as hard and held press conferences when the state was raising our college tuition!! The reality is that here in New York; I find that the high schools especially in minority neighborhoods bend over backwards helping kids to get into colleges. I went to a HS with a 50 percent drop out rate, it’s considered one of the worst high schools in New York, Adlai E. Stevenson in the Bronx… go ahead look it up I’ll wait. Hello Latina college student from the ‘hood about to get her Bachelors ova’ here! We have programs up the wazoo! It’s on the kids to take the opportunity and run with it. If a kid doesn’t go to college and prefers to join the service that’s on his ass, he has his reasons. Between financial aid and grants there is no excuse to at least get a 2 yr degree, beyond that you’re going to have to go in debt if not covered by financial aid.

Almost all of the peeps who graduated with me are in college today. The rest joined the military. The kids that I have known that have signed up for the army have done it for different reasons. Some weren’t too keen on going to college and their parents gave them an ultimatum either college,a full time job or the service. When they saw the job market for someone with no college they decided to go into the service. Some didn’t know what they wanted to do with their lives, others just wanted to get the fluck out and figure it along the way. Others came from dysfunctional families or foster homes and used the military as an escape. I wanted to go because I didn’t want my parents to go into debt to finance my education. It would have been different if I had wanted to be a secretary, but no I wanted to be a shrink and let me tell you it’s not cheap! The way it was presented to me it was a win- win situation. I could build a future for myself, travel and serve my country at the same time. Whoot ! Whoot!

"The heaviest burden of war is being carried by less fortunate Americans," Rep. Charles Rangel (D-Harlem), a Korean War veteran, said at a news conference. I think that this has always been the case when it comes to war. This is nothing new. Rangel and other local Democratic leaders blasted a "racially insulting" campaign by the Pentagon to deliberately target poor and minority youth to counter falling enlistment numbers. "It's just not fair that the people that we ask to fight our wars are people who join the military because of economic conditions, because they have fewer options," said Rangel, who in the past has called for reinstating the draft. Racially insulting? If the draft was going on and we found that more minorities were being drafted than whites then we can throw the race card in, but these kids are signing up of their own accord for whatever reasons they might be. Are local “minority rich” high schools being targeted? I don’t think so … I think high schools period are being targeted. They are after the kids, it might be that they are more successful in getting minority kids to sign up but the end result is the same …the military needs fresh blood and it’s not like we’re seeing a rash of adults running to enlist into the services so what left? The kids, and it doesn’t matter what ‘hood they are coming from. The fact is today’s military has become a powerful magnet for Hispanics and Blacks, women in particular who now out number white women in the Army.

Did they join up because they were brain washed by recruiters who chose to aggressively court them over their white counter parts? Na, I don’t think so. I think that when it comes to recruiting the military is an equal opportunity recruiter they don’t care what color the body is just as long as it’s willing to sign up. Instead of holding press conferences and throwing in a deck of race cards these officials should actually take the time to go into the schools and ask the kids why are they signing up and if it’s solely about economics do something to help them. Oh wait if they do that they can’t play the race card whenever an election is about to come up.

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