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Commentary: This moment in time will define us

Interviews with Air Force members from Air Education and Training Command discussing racial disparity in the Air Force.

Torch Bearers,

Over the last few weeks, and no doubt like many of you, I have been working to understand the issue of race and the full extent of the harm racial disparity has caused our Airmen.

During this time, Chief and I have spent time having conversations with small groups, listening and talking in safe spaces that included both enlisted and officers of color.  While these have been difficult conversations to have, the anger, hurt, sadness, and concerns expressed by many over the racial divide in our country and the institutional racism in our Air Force are now even more real to me. 

The shocking stories I heard first-hand from not only Maj. Walker, whom you see on the video, but others’ personal experiences with racism, both in and out of uniform, has opened my eyes to the real unconscious and conscious bias that exists. 

From my perspective, taking ownership of the issue, listening to understand at every opportunity, and implementing meaningful change based on what we learn are the most important things we can do as leaders, now and moving forward.   

This moment in time is a defining one, for all of us, but know that we still have much work to do.  I am encouraged by the initial discussions and steps being taken to identify and remove barriers that stand in the way of our ability to achieve a fully inclusive culture, but we need your ideas moving forward.

To that end, AETC is standing up a task force to continue the discussion for our Airmen who might be afraid to speak up, as well as exploring new, meaningful policy that creates the mechanism towards actionable change when it comes to racism in our ranks.  Please take a look at this video to hear more from some of our Airmen and their perspective on racism and the way forward.

Additionally, if you haven’t already done so, please complete the IG’s racial disparity review survey directed by Secretary Barrett and share your experiences and concerns, so you can be part of the solution.

-bw

Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of AETC