“I’m thinking about my Air Force career where I was often the only African American in my squadron or, as a senior officer, the only African American in the room,” he said in a raw tone. “I’m thinking about wearing the same flight suit with the same wings on my chest as my peers and being questioned by another military member: ‘Are you a pilot?’ ”
Brown was commissioned in 1984 as a distinguished graduate of the ROTC program at Texas Tech University.
He has served in a variety of positions at the squadron and wing levels, and commanded a fighter squadron and two fighter wings. He also was an F-16 instructor at the U.S. Air Force Weapons School.
The military, with African Americans making up a little over 17% of its active-duty ranks, is more racially diverse than the country, which is 13% African American, according to 2019 Census estimates. The Army is the most diverse with more than 21% African Americans, while the Marine Corp is the least, with 10%. Blacks make up about 17% of the Navy and less than 15% of the Air Force.
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But there is a much greater racial divide within the active-duty military based on rank.
Nineteen percent of active-duty enlisted troops are black, but they make up only 9% of the officer corps. Of those, there are just 71 who are general or flag officers, wearing one to four stars, including only two who have attained the top four-star rank.