I did not expect, in the era of Obama, to find that issues such as slavery and stereotyping would haunt some of these highly successful homeland security professionals. But not only were those issues evident, in some cases they were palpable, and on the lips of those we interviewed before we could even finish asking the question.
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Burke, VA (PRWEB) September 9, 2009
The Department of Homeland Security's failure to understand the African American communities in and around New Orleans was central to the government's failure to respond adequately to Hurricane Katrina, according to a newly released documentary by Homeland Security Television (HSTV).
In the first installment of its new diversity training series, Security Through Diversity, Homeland Security Television (http://www.hstvchannel.com) explored the lives and viewpoints of five prominent African American homeland security professionals, including LT. General Russel L. Honore (USA-Ret.), the former Army general who helped lead the response to Hurricane Katrina.
The five prominent African American homeland security professionals profiled by HSTV also argued that African Americans are significantly underrepresented at the highest decision making levels of the government homeland security community -- one of the reasons for the government's inept response to Katrina and a situation that leaves the country ill-prepared to respond to a major disaster impacting minority communities.
"This was a real eye-opener," said Dan Verton, HSTV's Executive Producer and the driving force behind the program. "I did not expect, in the era of Obama, to find that issues such as slavery and stereotyping would haunt some of these highly successful homeland security professionals. But not only were those issues evident, in some cases they were palpable, and on the lips of those we interviewed before we could even finish asking the question."
In one case, David Mussington, Ph.D., a senior homeland security policy advisor for AMTRAK, recalls a meeting with a large company that was trying to sell the passenger rail service new security technologies. And when Mussington, who not only has a PhD., but was a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard, entered the meeting room one of the first questions asked of him was who at AMTRAK makes the purchasing decisions for Mussington's projects.
"That would be me," said Mussington. "And their faces sort of fell and then there were many awkward apologies. I saw it on their faces and I'm very good at picking it up. Any African American in this field learns how to pick those things up," said Mussington, who added that the homeland security field is among the worst when it comes to African American representation at the highest levels.
When asked about his perceptions of racism in America and how it has impacted his career, Don L. Rondeau, the CEO of Total Security Services International (TSSI) Inc., which provides consulting services to the Department of Homeland Security, said defiantly that while racism has been unable to stop his success he has come to believe that some people struggle to understand how an African American can be a patriot.
"I think the average American, to include the African American community, struggles with understanding how an African American can be a patriot, can love their country," said Rondeau. "And that is left unaddressed by many in the African American community. And for obvious reasons. This is a country that has enslaved my ancestors. And that at times has legalized the unfair treatment of my ancestors -- of my parents."
African Americans In Homeland Security is the first in a series of programs that HSTV is producing on workplace diversity issues. Each program will focus on a specific minority group and attempt to help educate homeland security professionals, particularly managers, about the unique contributions that minorities continue to make to the security of our nation and the need to remain vigilant in the face of intolerance, racism and inequality in the homeland security workforce.
Security Through Diversity: African Americans in Homeland Security is playing now on Homeland Security Television (http://www.hstvchannel.com) and can be purchased on DVD through the HSTV Store (http://www.homelandsecurityvideos.com).
About Homeland Security Television:
Since its founding in 2005, Homeland Security Television (http://www.hstvchannel.com) has become the Web site of choice for broadcast quality videos on all aspects of homeland and cyber security. The network streams hundreds of hours of on-demand and live programming to viewers every month and benefits from the advice of an unmatched editorial advisory board, which includes the nation's First Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, former FEMA Director Michael Brown, former national cyber security director Amit Yoran, and former TSA Administrator Rear Admiral David Stone, among many others.
In addition to its online content, HSTV Channel offers its content for distribution to broadcast satellite and cable networks. HSTV was founded by Neal Award-winning journalist and renowned security author, Dan Verton, and is dedicated to bringing the highest traditional reporting and production standards to its online video programming.
Dan Verton, President & Exec. Producer
Homeland Security Television