Kadena working together

Kadena working together

by Master Sgt. Maurice A. Monroe
718th Force Support Squadron

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- The Kadena Air Base 18th Mission Support Group recently held their first Diversity and Inclusion Panel, where Airmen stationed at Kadena told personal stories about their life experiences growing up and while serving in the military.

“This event provided our Airmen a safe space to share their perspectives and stories on issues of racial prejudice, discrimination and bias,” said Col. Jason Kane, 18th MSG commander. “I am incredibly proud of our Airmen’s willingness to engage in topics my Air Force generation may have had a more difficult time talking about. This cannot be a one-time event; if we are truly going to make a positive change, we must continue to foster open and honest dialogue.”

Service members have advocated they don’t want another PowerPoint presentation on equal opportunity, but instead, actual discussions seeking empathy and understanding.

The panel consisted of senior leaders across the 18th MSG and a senior NCO facilitator. Master Sgt. Winsome Culley, 718th Force Support Squadron career development superintendent, guided the conversation by asking pre-planned questions. The setting mirrored a talk show to allow for open conversation amongst the panel members.

Though diversity and inclusion can cover many topics, the focus of the event was the evolution of the culture of inclusion in the Air Force, personal and professional challenges when implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives and creating an inclusive and healthy working environment in our diverse Air Force.

“As an institution, we must be willing and committed, without reluctance, to empower our Airmen through events like this to meet racial and inequality issues head on,” said Chief Master Sgt. Tracie Duvall, 18th MSG superintendent. “One effective way to do this is to have open dialogue – by doing so, we gain valuable insights into the needs of our Airmen, but also offer personalized experiences … Vital to creating an environment where everyone can feel safe, respected and heard.”

The goal at the close of this panel was for personnel to return to their work sections empowered as they lead, follow, mentor and work side-by-side with others.

“For me diversity is different people with different beliefs, coming together to establish a better outcome,” said Staff Sgt. Shakia Muchison, Knowledge Management Center NCO in-charge. “Andres Tapia said it best, ‘Diversity is the mix. Inclusion is making the mix work.’”

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