The basic premise of The Air Force’s Black Ceiling is startling all by itself – that there is systemically programmed racism in the United States Air Force that keeps African-American servicemen from rising in the ranks. With this as the stated phenomenon that the author is seeking to explore, Ivan Thompson delves deeply into the history of this particular military branch, attempting to find an explanation or origin of this measurable truth present in the Air Force.
It is revealed that the clever façade of specialized African-American leadership within the Air Force often hides the fact that there is inherent racism present in the promotional process within the ranks. From start to finish, Thompson takes a brutally honest and comprehensive look at an issue that should concern every American serviceman – and citizen. He is uncompromising in his tone, and doesn’t cast undue blame, making the writing both professional and scathing at the same time.
As an African-American ex-serviceman with a less than meteoric career, the tone of the book could have easily devolved into bitterness or resentment, which would have crushed Thompson’s credibility, but that was not the case. The research is presented in an academically objective way, and the facts clearly make the case, rather than relying on emotional suppositions or accusations. This book reveals not only a black ceiling, but also a scandalous curtain that hides these shameful facts, and does so with scientific precision. There is an emotional undercurrent of the book that stems from the author’s personal frustrations, but it only occasionally rises to the surface, and the writing throughout is clear-cut and well-organized.