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Mission SA: Airmen address race and inclusion

The Air Education and Training Command is on a mission to raise awareness about race inequality. Local airmen share their personal experiences.

SAN ANTONIO — The Air Education and Training Command is rolling out different initiatives to open the dialogue on race, diversity and inclusion. One initiative is a series of educational videos called “Seek to Understand," which features defined terms and personal accounts from African-American airmen.

Senior Master Sgt. Morgan, First Sergeant of the Air Force Personnel Center, is showcased in the first video. She covers microaggression, which is a subtle statement or action that is unintentional discrimination against people in a marginalized group. She dives into her personal experiences and addresses racial disparity.

She goes deeper into her experiences with Chief Master Sgt. Natasha Williams, Superintendent of the 59th Medical Logistics Readiness Squadron. The women shared their lives as African-American women in the military. Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of AETC, is the host of the episodes called “Real Talk: Race and Diversity in the Air Force.”

“My major themes hosting these ‘Real Talks’ is that dialogue is important. Conversations and tough conversations are important. This is not training at the end of the day. This is about us talking about national security, about readiness, about teamwork, unity and really, at the end of the day humanity,” said Lt. Gen. Webb.

The airmen cover their family background and why they decided to join the military in the episode. They discussed the pressures, addressed the “angry Black woman” stereotype and shared unique challenges of African-American airmen in the Air Force. 

"I’ve gone through experiences that cause me to feel like my voice is not being heard. Or when I walk into a room, you automatically discredit what I’m bringing to the table? Then, when I get a response to something, it’s going to come off with aggression because I need you to know: yes I’m intelligent, yes I deserve to be here and yes I have value added. I have something to bring to the table," shared Chief Master Sgt. Natasha Williams. 

“Yes, you can do this. If you do this with your hair, is it possible that people are going to look at you and stereotype you? It’s very possible. We’re going to have to pick our battles,” she said. “To be honest, it’s something I’ve struggled with. When I take my pictures, my official picture, I usually straighten my hair for the picture. When I go into a new squadron, I typically straighten my hair.”

If you would like to see the entire conversation, click here for part 1 and click here for part 2.