I want to personally thank Nick Irving for writing this piece for SOFREP; it’s an important topic and his perspective is extremely valuable.

In the Special Ops community racism and bias surely still exists but with far less frequency then what is still found in American society. One of the biggest gifts of being in a military unit is that it’s a mash of cultures, backgrounds, religion, and race, all playing for the same team. This environment does a lot to kill any inherent bias people drag around with them.

So thank you Nick, we’re all cut from the same cloth in Special Operations, you would have made a damn good SEAL, and I’m proud to call you a brother. 

Brandon, Editor

I’m sure most have read the article by Blake Miles, “Race Relations in the Team Room.” I thought it was a great article that really helped shed some light on the type of individuals that make up our nation’s finest. After reading some of the comments and receiving emails asking for my input on what I thought about the topic, I was more than happy to give my perspective on race in our community.

Out of my Ranger R.I.P (Ranger Indoctrination Program) class, there were around 70 men who wanted to become Rangers of the 75th Ranger Regiment. Out of those men, eight were African American, including myself. For some strange reason, and conforming to the well-known stereotype, all of the African American men failed the swim test. There were a few laughs from the class, including a few laughs of my own at the fact that they all had failed the swimming portion of selection, and let it be known that they were not the only ones to fail. I don’t think it had anything to do with their color pigmentation, nothing at all. If it did, it would be the first time I’ve ever heard of a “color” that swam better than others.

I think where the individual grew up had a lot to do with it. Most African American males who join the military and pursue a career in Special Operations grow up in urban environments. In fact, according to a study conducted last year, over 60% of African Americans lived in metropolitan areas in the US. Although I did grow up in the city, my lifelong dream was to become a Navy SEAL. My dad would drive me two hours to the beach every week to run 4 miles on the sand and swim in the ocean.

The reason that I did not become a SEAL was not due to failing any standards, it was due to a medical issue with which I was born: I’m color blind. Thanks to an increasing demand for soldiers in the Army during the beginning phases of the war, and a nurse who was willing to “change” a few documents after seeing how depressed I’d become after having my dream of being a war fighter faded, I am where I am today.