Photo by NASA on Unsplash

The U.S. Space Force has taken actions to improve its diversity from the start. It created the American military’s first all-female space operations crew, promoted Nina Armagno to become the first female three-star general and appointed a Black woman, Carrie Baker, as its Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer.

Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond called racism one of the enemies that America must be protected from. He also said the Space Force must build diversity and inclusion into its cultural DNA and make it one of the bedrock strengths of the service. Being founded only in December 2019, the Space Force has an opportunity to get things right from the start.

However, some critics worry that the Space Force might inherit the problems of the Air Force, its mother branch. According to a report from the nonprofit group Protect Our Defenders, the Air Force has the worst racial bias problems among all U.S. military branches. Data from the American Homefront Project showed that Black airmen were 70% more likely to be punished or court-martialed compared to their white counterparts.

Some retired and active service members have also expressed their concerns. Retired Air Force officer Yvonne Pacheco said the problems with gender and race discrimination is rooted in how the military is organized. Tanya Wood, who works in IT for the Department of Defense, the Space Force might suffer from the same “archaic process” with reporting discrimination as its mother branch. But Baker clarified that the Space Force’s recent diversity announcements go “beyond window dressing.” She also mentioned other diversity efforts including outreach initiatives that target women and people of color, mentoring and unconscious bias training for senior officers.

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