LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
Col. Lee Gentile, 47th Flying Training Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Robert Zackery III, 47th Flying Training Wing command chief, led a series of discussions about racial injustices within our nation at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, June 10, 2020.
The purpose of the two-week series of discussions that ended June 17 is to have an open and informal dialogue between members who are encouraged to speak up and raise concerns or have their voice heard.
“As your commander, you must know I will not tolerate or support any form of abuse of authority, disrespect towards racial groups, bigotry, or systemic discrimination,” Gentile said. “Every member of Team XL is a part of our Laughlin Family and without you, this mission would fail, our families would feel disconnected and our Air Force would be obsolete.”
Zachery finds it greatly important for this message to be spread amongst all Airmen and the community, and for a trust to be built among one another.
“The biggest thing is we want to remove the assumptions of what the purpose of these talks are,” said Zackery. “It’s about having an open dialogue and coming together as a team and supporting each other.”
Laughlin maintains a zero-tolerance policy on any form of discrimination, harassment or intimidation against another Airman on the basis of bullying, hazing, race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic information. Service members and civilians are encouraged to speak up if they encounter any of these issues.
“We recommend members talk to the Equal Opportunity office about their issue, whatever it may be, and if we don’t have an answer, we’ll send you to the best place to solve your issue,” said Anita Williams, Equal Opportunity director.
Gentile expressed hope when quoting the late Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall.
“I wish I could say that racism and prejudice were only distant memories. We must dissent from the indifference. We must dissent from the apathy. We must dissent from the fear, the hatred, and the mistrust… We must dissent because America can do better, because America has no choice but to do better.”