What diversity means to one Marine

Eye on Veterans
February 08, 2019 - 1:54 pm

Photo courtesy Harrison Floyd

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Diversity means different things to different people. In essence, it can be boiled down to variety and when you're talking about the military it means a variety of types of people serving.

Of course in the military the color of the uniform is supposed to mean more than the skin color of the individual wearing it. That's something Harrison Floyd, a Marine Corps veteran, pro Mixed Martial Arts fighter and current Policy Fellow at the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, believes in.

"Within the institution of the United States Marine Corps, absolutely, black Marines do not exist," Floyd says. "I truly believe it's all about getting the job done, it's all about doing the right thing, and on that premise? No. But socially, that's a different story."

Floyd says that while the military has integrated well professionally, as has much of the country, there's been a lack of self-imposed social integration in all aspects of society. He says that in America the black community often faces assumptions from outside and within, based on their race, ranging from politics to profession.

"It's the same thing in the military," Floyd says. "If you were gonna write a movie about the military, what military occupations would you fit a person of color in? Or what would you think they would be in? Number one, I think across all branches, would be cooks and then probably supply and logistics, motor transport, infantry and then it would start to taper off." 

Floyd says he'd love to see more diversity within the military, but not at the cost of operational readiness, as the mission should always come first. He says anyone who is predominantly focused on what they think a military unit should look like, or puts filling a quota ahead of readiness, is clearly making a mistake.

"That's not the goal," Floyd says. "The goal, and the intent, is on accomplishing the mission and it doesn't matter what those people look like, you have the best people sitting in those seats to accomplish the mission. That's who you want in there. To me, that's what diversity is. You're colorblind, you don't even notice it."

But if having a quota isn't the way to foster more diversity, what is? In Floyd's opinion, it boils down to those who find success setting an example others want to follow.

"What really needs to happen throughout the country, not just in the military, is we need more leaders who lead by example," Floyd says. "The more people who you see doing the right thing, at the right time, being in the right place? Then we will see more people gravitating towards 'what right looks like' as we say in the Marine Corps."

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