The US military has made progress in ending racial discrimination. The rest of our country must as well.

Editor's note:

This is part of a video series in which Brookings experts highlight race-based disparities or discrimination in public policy. Visit Race in American Public Policy for more videos in this series and related research from Brookings experts.

The United States has a longstanding legacy of systematic racism that dates back centuries. This pervasive system has impacted our public policy, laws, and interactions with the communities around us. My time in the military has allowed me to see firsthand how the barrier of racial discrimination can be brought down within institutions. I hope to see the same change across the United States.

Brookings has taken powerful stances on race, equality, and civil rights, and will continue to do so in the present and the future. We are in the position to produce impactful scholarship that creates a difference in the issues of race and discrimination.

Brookings is a nonpartisan institution, but it is not values-neutral.


  • For the last 250 years, the operating system of racism has defined much of our policies, laws, and approach to each other as citizens.
  • When I enlisted in 1971, race dominated every dimension of the world in which we lived. We were unsure as to what the future of the military was after Vietnam.
  • Upon retiring in 2013, I saw the process of race and inclusiveness turn around. I was never more proud than when I watched troops under fire move forward to support each other, where they were different races, ethnicities, or religions.
  • As a nation, our military has made significant progress in addressing racial equalities. The question today is whether we can now imbue our society with the same kind of change that can deal with the issues of racism and discrimination.
  • It is imperative that institutions like Brookings stand for the rights for all that were envisaged by the framers and carefully enunciated in the Constitution.
  • Brookings is a trusted institution that has taken powerful positions on issues of race, equality, and civil rights.
  • The quality of our scholarship characterized by fact-based, data-supported analytics, gives us the capacity to write about and make a difference on race and discrimination in ways that very few research institutions can.
  • Brookings is a nonpartisan institution, but it is not values-neutral. The values that we stand for and consider important align with Brookings’s mission to work towards public policy solutions on issues of racism and discrimination.


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