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Reserve Airmen embrace AFRC Diversity and Inclusion training

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  • By Staff Sgt. Monet Villacorte
  • 433rd Airlift Wing

Members of the 433rd Airlift Wing and 960th Cyberspace Wing participated in Cross Cultural and Diversity & Inclusion Awareness Training hosted by the Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command here, May 10-14. 

According to the Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Diversity and Inclusion update, the Air Force stood up a special task force in 2020 to focus on issues of racial, ethnic and demographic disparities and how it affects the Air Force and its mission.

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Pennington, Commander, Fourth Air Force, visited the 433rd AW to introduce the first of multiple classes the D&I team conducted during the week.

“You’re in this room to have conversations, learn, explore and be a better human being because you discover something that you didn’t know before,” said Pennington. “That’s why we have these events, to equip you on how to help people through things that they’re not aware of.”

He also explained the significance of the training and encouraged everyone to be open to learning more about internal inclinations they may have towards others who are different from them.

“Like it or not, we are all ingrained with biases in our life,” said Pennington. “Part of the next couple of days is learning to recognize and overcome those and how to value other people who aren’t like you.”

Lee Floyd, AFRC chief Diversity and Inclusion officer and instructor of the training, spoke about what the class and program aims to accomplish: giving all members a safe space to communicate and see the value others bring to the mission, no matter their background.

“It shows that you have a seat at the table, but not only that, you have a voice when you get to that table,” said Floyd. “That is, in essence, what D&I is all about. Bringing talent to the table and allowing that talent to participate, grow and flourish, and be a viable member of the team.”

Master Sgt. Shatasha Estes, 960th CW first sergeant, attended the class and said the training also gives people the opportunity to self-reflect on areas they can improve on to help listen, understand and empathize with anyone they interact with.

“The training really helped me figure out some things about me,” said Estes. “If I don’t know myself and I’m not aware of the biases I might have, then I don’t know if I can really approach a situation in the best or most effective way. So it is helping me be a better person professionally and personally, to be able to help my children, my Airmen and senior leaders.”  

Estes said she felt excited to have volunteered to go through the training so that she can assist in facilitating conversations at every level.

“The team was really professional, and I feel better prepared now to have this conversation, said Estes. “I feel like I was prepared before, but this training solidified my confidence and better equipped me to answer some of the questions that our Airmen have with regard to current events that have happened.”