Why Are Air Force Officers’ Spouses So White?

A couple of days ago Ron Klain sent out this tweet:

It turns out that Klain blew it: this picture has nothing to do with the White House. It’s a picture of Air Force spouses from the Joint Armed Forces of Washington Luncheon a few weeks ago. Jared Keller is pissed off about this mistake:

Here’s the thing: Klain’s not totally wrong. A 2016 Pentagon report on DoD demographics found that minorities make up a third of enlisted and nearly a quarter (23%) of officers, an increase in recent years. And when it comes to elevating the voices and stories of underrepresented veterans, this photo is a fine illustration of exactly what not to do.

Given that the wives in this photo chose to marry Air Force officers — 20 percent of whom identify as a racial minority, below the rate for officers across the entire U.S. armed forces — it would make sense that there might be a distinct under-representation of black and Asian military spouses, and it’s certainly a problem. But the issue isn’t that the White House only invited white women — it’s that organizations like JAFOWL, though they serve the military and veterans communities admirably, are stuck in the f*cking 1950s.

Many others believe that groups like JAFOWL reinforce a hierarchy where officers’ spouses have a louder and more prominent voice than enlisted spouses, and Military Spouse Appreciation Day is a fantastic chance to get the Pentagon’s attention on like this. Sadly, Ron Klain ruined it with an inaccurate cheap shot at the White House — and in an age where all quarters of the government shout down their critics as “fake news,” this sort of inaccuracy can muddle the waters on a subject indefinitely.

Au contraire! Klain ruined nothing. I would never even have heard of this if not for Keller responding to Klain’s mistake. And now that he’s set the record straight, perhaps we can use the accidental publicity it generated to get the Pentagon’s attention on this after all. Would someone at CNN would like to give them a call and ask for comment?

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