A lot of gaps exist in our world today. In our humanity, we are only able to close one gap at a time; doing what we can to fight an uphill battle. It is my belief that we should all live to erase the lines society loves to draw between and within itself. To this end, I would like to acknowledge the struggle of all minorities, visible or not.
At BAPN, we work towards improving the lot of the Black community. A community that has been disenfranchised and continues to be betrayed by the system in little ways that have added up to the current status quo. We are building a network of professionals across all sectors of aviation, following the creed, ‘we rise by lifting others.’
How do we know the Black community needs to be lifted? I believe numbers are a tool that may speak truth, or lie depending on their use.
Approximately 70% of Pilots have a family member or friend that is involved in the profession. This group has the opportunity to be mentored, are more likely to be well equipped in terms of background knowledge and consequently have a career path with less resistance. The other percentage of pilots may not have had readily available access to guidance and possibly floundered their way into the flight deck, aided by luck as much as their hard work.
Flight school is not cheap. It requires a significant financial commitment for a payoff that is often times very far down the road in your career. Why is this important? Family income is closely tied to a child’s academic pathway and how/where they enter into the workforce. As of 2015, 27% of Black children were from low-income households. Black men are approximately 40% less likely to be in management positions than non-visible minorities and we all know how underrepresented Black women are in the board room. With our niche industry, those statistics worsen.
In the United States, less than 5% of active Commercial level pilots identify as Black. Unconfirmed; here in Canada, one of our major airlines boasts a pilot list of less than 1% Black pilots out of almost 5,000. Sadly, these numbers put them at the forefront in the race for diversity in the Canadian Airline industry. I’d like to clarify that the above statistics are pulled from various sources including but not limited to news articles, research papers and Government statistics.
All this to say that a gap exists. The Black community is plagued with various socio-economic problems that make having any kind of professional career a struggle. Entry into the aviation industry is family and friend driven. The statistics above indicate that the chance of a young Black child having someone in aviation to guide them is slim to none if nothing is changed.
BAPN works with school boards and other youth focused organizations across Canada to spark the love of aviation in the next generation. Our financial literacy initiatives were created to empower members of the Black community to make strategic decisions towards growing their money and in turn, they are able to nurture their Aviation aspirations. Our various mentoring programs like the Pilot Open Day we had recently, serves to impart knowledge they might have gotten from a friend or family member within the industry. BAPN’s Resources for Success initiative, helps ensure low-income households, with an interest in aviation, aren’t at a disadvantage in terms of essential training and career supplies. Our upcoming academy and camps will help influence change for our community like our industry has not seen before.
To round up, at BAPN we inspire the next generation to dream big, we empower and develop current Black professionals in our industry, we nurture dreams by providing guidance coupled with resources and we celebrate our achievements.
In the powerful words of a colleague who does wonderful work down in the States; “Because I am, you can!”
– OpeOluwa ‘Ops’ Iyortim
BAPN Head of Pilot Development