Tapestry for life

  • Published
  • By Ms. Margaret Rhodes
  • DEOMI Class 11-1 Group 6
"The Department of Defense's Equal Opportunity Advisor's program is predominantly staffed by minorities." In order to truly understand this assertion, one must read between the lines to see the stereotype that it represents.

The first time I experienced this assumption was when I first graduated the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute in 1986. In those days, my youthful spirit wanted only to call people out on the carpet for their faulty and inaccurate assumption that "equal opportunity is only a minority issue."

However, I learned to educate others as to why this assumption was not only inaccurate, but also discriminatory. One of my first DEOMI trainers told me, "If you walk like a duck, and talk like a duck, then you must be a duck!" I knew then, as I know now, that in order to be successful as an EOA, one must "walk the talk and talk the walk."

The truth is that discrimination happens to everyone, and therefore imperative that everyone take a part in dismantling "the beast." More of late, the idea of "reverse discrimination" is being presented as our nation struggles with the "need" for affirmative action. I purpose that regardless of color, discrimination, plain and simple, is just discrimination.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "I have a dream...where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together sisters and brothers. I have a dream today."

I believe that if Dr. King were alive today, he would give a nod of approval to the American military services. Today, the ranks of the Equal Opportunity Advisors depict Dr. King's dream, as we are the most diverse career field that works together to help our nation overcome racism and hatred by:
  • Providing training and technical assistance, outreach and education to help others to understand and prevent discrimination
  • Identifying stereotypes and offering new information to combat ignorance
  • Tearing down barriers to equal opportunity
  • Encouraging harmonious interaction between individuals of different backgrounds; culture; ethnicities, races and genders...

Equal opportunity is about under-standing and acceptance, not conjecture and rejection. It is about empathy not denial. It is about inclusion not segregation. It is about placing special emphasis on the dignity and worth of each individual and on creating an atmosphere of respect for all people.

It is my belief that EOAs, throughout the military, are the most diverse, well trained and aware individuals serving our nation today. It is a fact; the more diverse the representation, the more creative, thought provoking, intuitive, and aware individuals are, that as they combine their talent and potential, the more successful our mission will be.

"We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color." Maya Angelou-American, poet.