Models of the Post-Racial World? Rhetorics of Race among U.S. Military Brats
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The U.S. military has long been claimed as a model for racial integration, having been integrated by executive order before the general population; significantly, too, the military is constantly shuffling but organized by service branch and rank, and so installation neighborhoods are more prone to organized diversity than their civilian counterparts, which tend toward homogeneity based on race and class. For the estimated two million children growing up in this system,1 such experiences of diversity provoke worthwhile questions of what influence those military children will have upon leaving the military system for the civilian world. Many have speculated that military children are more comfortable with constructive racial integration than their civilian peers; as third culture kids, they have been referred to as prototypes for the future due to their blended identities and global backgrounds.2 Yet as sociologist Dr. Morton Ender noted back in 2006, no one has yet done a study specifically looking at race among military kids; as of 2015, as far as I can tell, this claim remains true.3 In this paper, I look at the content and quality of what now-adult military kids say about race to explore the constructive elements of their rhetoric about race in and after the system, as well as to consider the unique challenges and anxieties involved in living out racial experiences in unusual and shifting environments.