By | March 4, 2021

Challenging Military Racism and White Supremacy  

In recent months, public attention has been drawn to racism in the military, leading to an increased emphasis on diversity training and then to President Trump’s suspension of all diversity training in federal agencies. More recently, the participation of military personnel and veterans in the January 6 attack on the Capitol focused attention on the activity of white supremacist organizations in the services. The Secretary of Defense recently called for service-wide stand-downs on that issue, and individual services have created task forces and published policies to educate personnel about such extremism and warn of the potential legal consequences for active participation in supremacist groups and activities. DoD published guidelines for the stand-downs on February 26:  Leadership Stand-Down Framework (defense.gov)[1]. In essence, DoD has generated a great deal of paper on racism and white supremacy, but it remains to be seen whether this will lead to real efforts to solve the problems.

The Military Law Task Force has established an anti-racism subcommittee to work on these issues and provide military personnel with information and assistance in combating institutional and individual racism and white supremacist activity. The committee’s plans include development of self-help literature and webinars for servicemembers, networking with ally organizations to track these issues and provide support for people of color in the military, and training legal professionals to provide that support. If you are interested in joining this subcommittee, or would like more information about it, please contact Kathy Gilberd at email@nlgmltf.org.


Working against racism and white supremacy in the military is one of MLTF’s priority areas. Committee activities include:

  • Monitoring military policies on racial discrimination and white supremacy
  • Evaluating and critiquing military regulations on discrimination, white supremacy and related issues
  • Developing know-your-rights materials for servicemembers on those issues
  • Educating the legal community and the general public about those issues and the military’s weak response to them
  • Creating training materials and webinars for attorneys and non-attorney military counselors on equal opportunity complaints and other means to challenge institutional and individual racism in the military
  • Creating training materials and webinars for attorneys and military counselors on the military’s vague rules regarding white supremacy
  • Providing assistance and/or referrals to military personnel affected or victimized by racism and white supremacy

If you’re interested in joining the MLTF Anti-Racism Committee or otherwise helping in this work, please fill out the form on this page.

[1] https://media.defense.gov/2021/Feb/26/2002589872/-1/-1/1/LEADERSHIP-STAND-DOWN-FRAMEWORK.PDF


Photo credit: “Black lives matter” by pburka is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0