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WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER

Chief Master Sgt. Timothy White is shown here with the Senior Enlisted Council at March Air Reserve Base, California, in January, before COVID-19 social distancing practices were implemented. Left to right are Chief Master Sgts. Octavio Ortiz, Imelda Johnson, Cynthia Villa, Shirley Ozio, White, Travon Dennis, Jim Loper and Billie Baber.

Chief Master Sgt. Timothy White is shown here with the Senior Enlisted Council at March Air Reserve Base, California, in January, before COVID-19 social distancing practices were implemented. Left to right are Chief Master Sgts. Octavio Ortiz, Imelda Johnson, Cynthia Villa, Shirley Ozio, White, Travon Dennis, Jim Loper and Billie Baber.

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --

Let’s face it, there is a lot going on in the world right now. From daily increases in COVID-19 cases, political differences amplified during this election year and racial tensions driving change across our nation, this is an unprecedented and often difficult time for us all.

Diversity, equality and addressing racial disparity are top priorities for not only the boss and me, but also the Department of the Air Force. We are listening to your concerns and recommendations and moving swiftly to make our command the best it can be. To be honest, this is long overdue.

I have been honored to speak with Airmen at several units over the past few months about how systemic racism and inequality permeates our ranks. These are challenging conversations to have. I don’t pretend to have all of the answers, but I am thankful we are starting a dialogue, reaching out for help and clarity when needed, and practicing empathy when we might not understand.

This is the stuff that matters and it is a subject not to be taken lightly. As one of my favorite thought leaders, Brene Brown, stated, “We are in a fight for the dignity of human beings.”

On June 9, the Department of the Air Force stood up the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force to tackle some of these tough problems, change polices and remove barriers to serving. In one short month, the task force has made great strides by revising dress and appearance regulations, implementing unconscious bias training, improving shaving waiver procedures and working to increase ROTC scholarships for minority serving institutions. This is real progress and I’m hopeful more positive changes are to come.

We are all in this together…the worst thing we can do is nothing. Please join the boss and me in making our command a place where people of all genders, races, ethnicities, backgrounds and sexual orientations experience equality and benefit from the same career opportunities.

If you need help navigating this uncomfortable territory, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our resident expert, Lee Floyd, the chief Diversity and Inclusion officer at AFRC HQ. I respect Lee tremendously as a friend and teammate, and admire his ability to facilitate crucial conversations. If you have a suggestion for me and the boss on what we can do to improve our organization, please reach out to me at afrc.ccc@us.af.mil.

Lastly, please take care of yourself, your family and your fellow wingmen, especially during these challenging and difficult times. As always, it’s an honor and privilege serving as your chief.