Marine Corps Stories: Majorities
A Marine lieutenant colonel has words for her superior.
The desk showed no signs of dust. The masked PFCs and lance corporals had sprayed and polished it to a shine. In the room sat the top generals and colonels in combat positions in the Marine Corps. Lieutenant Colonel Vivian Snell treasured her job leading women into combat. She knew it could be challenging at times, but she was always prepared for the vicious times.
Projecting an air of seriousness, but not without warmth. Lieutenant General Tya Knealy sat down and addressed Vivian first.
“Good morning. What do you have to report?”
“Ma’am, I thought we’d talk about majorities.”
“Don’t you mean minorities?” Tya asked. The other top brass looked at each other.
“No, ma’am. I mean exactly what I said. Minorities in the Corps, and for the most part the country, have served us well. We need to find synergy with white males to be more compatible with brown, red, yellow, black and female Marines. You’ve heard it said, ‘we’re all green.’ Now, what about the folks we’re protecting? Are they supposed to don a uniform and take up a rifle as one of the ‘green’? I thought not.”
“What are you saying, Lieutenant Colonel Snell?” Tya asked.
“I’m saying we forget about diversity for diversity’s sake. We shouldn’t be a ‘multicultural Corps.’”
“You do realize we’re women, and there are other top-level women in this room right now, don’t you?”
“Yes, I do. That’s why I’m calling for more merit-based Marines, without making us a meritocracy.”
Tya took in Vivian’s words like cod liver oil: smooth, but greasy, but good for her health.
“Okay, so we make the best Marines. We spend millions trying to recruit the same color and gender we’ve targeted for over two hundred years. Is that what you’re proposing?”
Vivian breathed. “What I’m saying is, we ought to think of everyone individually, based on their core abilities. Whether it’s a white boy from the inner city who wants to stop hitting liquor stores and going to the bullpen for a few days, or a rural black girl who just wants to see her baby grow up in a world without fear, or a brown young women who’s not afraid to pull triggers, or a red boy from the res, or a yellow atheist woman who wants to champion marksmanship, I want them all in our beloved Corps.”
Tya looked somber. “I want that too.”
The other colonels and generals nodded their heads.
“This should be a place where excellence must thrive. Women and min—non-majorities should be held to the same high standards as those ‘majorities’ you described so eloquently. We’re in the business of winning battles. Our mission is to protect the homeland, and come home breathing and whole. Now, we all know that that doesn't always happen, but with the union of traditional Marine and new Marines who’ve joined our ranks, we should achieve our goals,” Tya said.
Vivian continued. “Yes, ma’am. I’ve done metrics related to the effectiveness of women who fight combat missions; They passed. People of color passed. Majorities have always passed. Let’s not denigrate them, but instead uplift women and the people of color as Devil Dogs who are mission ready and able to breach doors. That’s what our Corps needs now. We’re supposed to be the tip of the spear. Why can’t the tip be majorities and minorities railing against the enemy?”
Tya held a pen in her hand. “You’ve said quite a bit there, with substance, and I thank you for your words.”
“Thank you, ma’am,” Vivian said.