AAHC hosts Osan’s black leadership panel

  • Published
  • By Story by: Senior Airman Megan Estrada
  • 51st Fighter Wing

In honor of African American History Month, leadership across the military teamed up with Osan’s African American Heritage Counsel to host Osan’s first all-black leadership panel.

The panel consisted of leadership from multiple services and careers, who came together to discuss the importance of diversity in the military, overcoming adversity and to share personal experiences they’ve faced as a black service member.

“In the panel we’re going to be discussing the 2021 racial disparity report as well as what it’s like being an African American leader in today’s military,” said Staff Sgt. Taylesha McGee, 51st Civil Engineer Squadron, Airmen dorm leader. “This year is special, because Osan has never done something like this before, and we have invited the other branches to speak.”

Hosted by leadership from different branches and varying ranks, the panel provided a safe space for attendees to gauge the similarities and differences experienced across the military per the 2021 racial disparity report.

“We have to educate our troops, supervisors and ourselves,” said Col. Henry R. Jeffress III, 51st Fighter Wing vice wing commander. “We all have blind spots to these issues. Transparency is the first step we are going to take in that healing process. This is a campaign that must continue.”

Following the survey discussion, the panel opened for real time questions enabling leadership to provide unrehearsed, frank and timely answers to Osan personnel and interact with the audience on a personal level.

“Often these types of discussions can be very formal, we wanted the panel to be respectful but to also be raw. That is why we opened up the panel to the audience. This way, they can’t prepare ahead of time for those questions. This allows for an honest conversation.” said McGee.

Service members in attendance felt the open and candid dialogue created a positive environment in which like-minded thinkers felt acknowledged and understood.

McGee said, “In today’s service, it’s important to have diverse leaders. It’s an inspiration to black members to see someone who looks like them in those positions. It is a vision to see where we can be. It makes you feel like you can do anything.”