Whereas the black community is alert to the opportunities that the military offers its young people, it has difficulty focusing on the black career officer. . . . The leaders of black organizations seem reluctant to recognize the achievements of blacks in the military. I have asked many senior black officers why this should be the case, and the following reply is typical of what they had to say: "To pat us on the back would be to pat the military on the back. This they can't afford to do. It galls them that of all institutions, it is the Army that is really making a go of integration."
It galls them, I was told, for several reasons. One is that blacks in the military have chosen to pay their duein the white system, not the black one; as a result, career blacks in the Army have less of an affinity with established black organizations than many other blacks have. More important, though, is the ideological orientation of civilian black leaders. Most of them are uninterested in, even alienated from, the long-term goals of American foreign policy, among which resistance to Soviet expansion is central. When foreign-policy issues are raised by black leaders, the discussion generally involves racist features of U.S. behavior overseas, especially in Africa and the Caribbean. . . . .
As a group they are unquestionably less liberal than blacks outside the military. . . . Even so, my informal poll indicates that by far the majority of black officers and NCOs voted Democratic. For the fact is that blacks in the military, unlike whites, cannot forget their color. One career soldier told me: "My wife said I should vote Reagan because the man gave me a raise. But my father made me promise I would never vote for anyone who kept the black man down. I kept my promise to my father."