Protestors are turning out in record numbers across the nation calling for an end to racial injustice after the death of George Floyd. It's a message the U.S. military can’t ignore.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday in a video message told sailors they must listen to one another.
“We can’t be under any illusions about the fact that racism is alive well in our county, and I can’t be under any illusions that we don’t have it in our Navy," Gilday said.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said they are open to bi-partisan discussion about renaming military installations named after Confederate military commanders.
The Army has 10 such military installations including; Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Lee in Virginia, and Fort Hood in Texas. Some have suggested the bases be renamed after Medal of Honor Recipients.
Tracy Brown, President of Intentional Inclusion Incorporated, works with organizations on diversity and inclusion strategy.
“We as a nation have to look at who are our heroes and who do we want to be now going forward,” Brown said.
Last week the Marine Corps ordered all public displays of the confederate flag to be taken down. Brown said the order sent a message the Corps recognizes the confederate flag is divisive.
“That was a really amazing and unexpected and powerful move," she said.
In February of 2019, the Corps came under fire after two Marines in San Diego posted a video on social media in what appeared to be blackface. That kind of behavior erodes the ability of military members to work together, Brown said, and creates anger and fear, “And it continues a system of supremacy that the military has been trying to move away from internally."
The Marine Corps launched an investigation into the incident and told NBC 7 they take allegations of discriminatory behavior very seriously, and said they stand in stark contrast to their core values.
While critics say the influence of President Trump, the Commander in Chief, also plays a role in the attitudes of some service members, Brown believes the culture of the military and it’s leaders has been changing for decades and says the military is composed of people of every race.
“And we cannot afford to have symbols that offend people, or symbols that have come to mean; racism, violence and exclusion," she said.
As evidence, the Senate confirmed on Tuesday Gen. Charles Q. Brown as the Air Force’s 22nd chief of staff and the first black Chief of any military branch.