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?

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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ONE MORE QUICK THING:

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As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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