By Staff Sgt. Heather Fejerang, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 20, 2020
The Grand Slam 5/6 counsil hosted a diversity and inclusion panel discussion, “Talk, Heal and Change Together,” at the Blatchford-Preston Complex Theater, July 19, 2020, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.
This was the second panel focused on diversity and inclusion at Al Udeid AB, with the goal to provide an open forum for service members and panelists to share their experiences, perspectives and thoughts on the topic in the Air Force, as well as how to move forward and heal from the obstacles Airmen face.
“The work environment is where we have [our] most diverse interactions - therefore, what better place to have the discussion than in the professional environment?” asked Lt. Col. David Payton, 379th Expeditionary Mission Support Group deputy commander and panel moderator. “Understanding each other’s views and how different cultures relate to ongoing topics can provide a basic foundation to understanding and respecting each other.”
This and other forums hosted across the U.S. Armed Forces were initiated by the Secretary of Defense, Dr. Mark Esper and further supported by Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. David L. Goldfein.
“The death of George Floyd is a national tragedy. Every American should be outraged that the conduct exhibited by police in Minneapolis can still happen in 2020.” Goldfein explains. “We all wish it were not possible for racism to occur in America, a country founded on the sacred ideal that ‘all men (and women) are created equal’ and have the ‘unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But it does, and we are at a moment where we must confront what is.”
Panel member Senior Master Sgt Douglas Greene, U.S. Air Forces Central Command A-6 senior enlisted leader, stated that this topic is an uncomfortable one that will not solve diversity and inclusion issues within the Air Force, or society, in one go.
“This isn’t a conversation that dissolves overnight,” Greene explains. “Accountability is necessary now for Airmen to keep pushing [these] conversations in order to elicit change.”
Panel members stated that at the end of the event, if one attendee left learning more about their fellow service members and knowing their leaders are listening, then progress is made.