As we continue our series on Racism in the Military Community, this week we are discussing racial integration in the military community. Last week you had the opportunity to meet some of our Planting Roots volunteer staff as they shared their experiences and backstories

Question #1: The U.S. military is viewed as being rather integrated racially today. What has been your experience pertaining to racial integration in the U.S. military? 

Voice #1 – Lisa Redford

When we began to look at trans-racial adoption, we knew we could reach out to our community for great advice on how to raise our black children. I do think living on post for fifteen years has given our children better opportunities of experiencing diversity, along with some security. We continue to reach out for guidance and godly wisdom about that which we have personally never experienced as whites. I am thankful for our military community who stands with our trans-racial family. 

Voice #2 – April Dingle

Upon joining the military community as an African-American military wife, I was thrilled to be in a multi-ethnic, mulit-cultural, and inter-generational community. Growing up in the inner city (the 8th Ward of Washington, D.C.), diversity was not the norm. I was blessed to experience diversity at the public schools I attended. I have no complaints about the military community regarding my personal ethnicity 

Sadly, I must say that I’ve felt slighted, in regards to my race, inside the installation chapel. Seeing the separation of services labeled by Contemporary/Gospel services, l feel like I must choose between attending the “white” or the “black” service. In his powerful Oneness Embraced: Reconciliation, the Kingdom, and How We are Stronger Together study, Dr. Tony Evans mentions the validity of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s still-true point that, even on bases across the U.S. military, “The most segregated hour in America is at 11:00am on a Sunday morning.” 

Voice #3 – Nicole Williams

Watching men and women in uniform protesting is a big deal, knowing the risk that they are taking for participating in uniform. Battling racism is the fight of a lifetime, a fight of generations, a fight we can’t fight on our own. As a black woman who was raised in the military community, I need allies who love the Lord and love one another. 

Voice #4 – Claudia Duff

Racism exists in the military, and if you are black it’s not hard to find. In military housing communities, integration is a result of housing being assigned by rank and number of family members. We’ve watched people stay silent about racism because other housing options are limited, making waves is fearsome, and eventually a PCS move will mean new neighbors. 

I found the chapel community to be the least integrated. As African-Americans, my husband and I really wanted to bridge the gap so we attended the Protestant and the gospel service every Sunday for many years. It didn’t really change much because no one in charge was willing to take a stand. We did finally consolidate both services into one Sunday school program. The fear of the black people was that we would not be allowed to worship and teach according to our faith communities, that somehow, we would be made to change. I think the crux of integration is in bringing people together to form something new, useful, and enjoyable for all. Until everyone is willing to give a little, we will remain on this journey of integration within the chapel community.

The Way Ahead

Planting Roots would like to thank each staff member for sharing about, praying for, and engaging in messy, difficult conversations about race and more. You will read these women’s answers to the following tough questions about racism in the military community. Our prayer is that you would be encouraged to engage in difficult conversations with the women in your circle of influence and prepared to share the hope we have in Jesus.

Many of us have applied the idea of “not seeing color” while living this military life. What recommendations do you have in response?

How do we encourage diversity within our community of Christian military women?

Share a story that breaks your heart.

Share a story that gives you hope and/or points to Jesus.