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Opening the dialogue: MacDill leaders committed to understanding and inclusion

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Shannon Bowman
  • 6th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Across the Air Force, open dialogue for the tough conversations regarding race are taking place. Senior leaders are encouraging base commanders and unit supervisors to open the lines of communication for their Airmen to have these difficult discussions.

In a recent video, Air Force Chief of Staff, General David L. Goldfein, and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force, Kaleth O. Wright, discussed how commanders around the Air Force can create a comfortable space to have these challenging conversations.

“This dialogue is difficult, and very often because it’s so difficult we avoid it,” said Goldfein. “It may be that the one big opportunity that has been presented to us in this tragedy, is to stop walking by the problem.”

In line with Air Force senior leaders, the 6th Air Refueling Wing leadership team convened on June 1, to hold initial conversations focused on the unique perspectives of MacDill’s Airmen and to find a way forward concerning racial biases.

“Now is the time for open dialogue, honest and respectful reflection internally and externally,” said Col. Benjamin Robins, the 6th ARW commander. “These conversations will help our Airmen develop empathy for other viewpoints and discover points of connection with those who may think or believe differently about this important issue.”

According to Robins, MacDill’s units will hold open conversations to discuss racial issues and biases in the near future.

“We must be steadfast in driving a culture that values every individual, and that fosters inclusion, equality and understanding,” said Robins. “We are committed to fostering an unbiased, racially inclusive environment for all of our Airmen.”

As the Air Force opens the dialogue regarding this difficult topic, senior leaders have brought a call to action for unit commanders to create the safe space for better understanding of racial issues.

“I often hear commanders, chiefs, and first sergeants say that one of their strengths is the ability to have tough conversations,” said Wright.  “Well now is the time to prove it. You have to be able to talk about this. And more than just talk about it, you have to be willing to listen.”

Just as the CSAF and the CMSAF have committed to gaining a better understanding of Airmen and acknowledge problems of racism throughout the force, MacDill’s leaders have banded together to initiate the difficult but necessary conversation.

“We must not be silent,” said Robins. “Our leaders at all levels recognize the need to remove barriers that still exist. Our success as an Air Force is measured by the success of our Airmen. Let’s fix this together!”