@charset "utf-8"; /* CSS Document */ p { font-family: "Comic Sans MS", sans-serif; font-size: 20pt;} blockquote { width: 100%; font-size: 18pt; font-style: italic; font-family: 'Comic Sans MS', sans-serif; margin: 10px 10px 10px 10px; padding: 10px; } h1 { h1 class="title"; font-size: 14pt; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 0; line-height: 1.2; font-family: 'Comic Sans MS', Arial, sans-serif; color:#000000; text-transform: uppercase;} .da_body h1 { font-size: 40px; margin-bottom: 5px;margin-top:0; line-height: 1.2; font-family: 'Comic Sans MS', Arial, sans-serif; color: #123D63}

HomeNewsArticle Display

19th AW leadership continues discussion with Airmen, addresses unconscious-bias


Tech. Sgt. Zerrick Haymond, 19th Security Forces Squadron Defender, shares his experience with unconscious bias at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, recently. The 19th Airlift Wing leadership team hosted an open dialogue for Airmen of all ranks to share their stories of unconscious bias experiences. (U.S. Air Force illustration by Senior Airman Kristine M. Gruwell)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. — Nationwide protests highlighting racial inequities led 19th Airlift Wing leadership to open a dialogue on unconscious bias within the Air Force and United States recently.

This dialogue began when the 19th Airlift Wing facilitated training and an open discussion with command teams led by Risha Grant, an internationally renowned diversity, inclusion and bias expert, June 3.

The conversation continued with the 19th Airlift Wing commander and command chief meeting with Airmen of all ranks to hear their thoughts and provide an opportunity for Airmen to share their stories.

“Only when we stop to truly hear people’s stories and let them give voice to their feelings will we be able to work together to make a real difference,” said Col. John Schutte, 19th Airlift Wing commander. “We must have these tough conversations to foster an ongoing, productive dialogue that allows Airmen of all ranks to feel connected, valued and understood.”

One of the first to share his story was Tech. Sgt. Zerrick Haymond, a 19th Security Forces Squadron defender.    

“Knowing the commander wants to hear from us gives me hope because it’s a conversation that needs to be had,” Haymond said. “I can see the shift happening. I can see it with the younger generation protesting to stand up for what’s right, regardless of their background. That’s equality.”

Haymond had a weapon pointed directly at him, with his young son in the car, after being pulled over during a vacation. Police officers had falsely identified his car as being owned by a dangerous individual.

Haymond believes the drawn-gun approach was caused by the police officer’s unconscious bias.

Because Airman come from different walks of life, the open dialogue in a safe space led to a broader understanding of the issues Airmen face.  

“Airmen in my squadron opened up about being bi-racial, and while they were growing up they had to constantly adapt to where they were and who they were with,” said Master Sgt. David Simmons, 19th Communications Squadron first sergeant. “They told me they didn’t fit in with either side of their identity and it was a struggle to not be ‘Black’ enough or ‘Puerto Rican’ enough. This opened the door to some unique discussion points that allowed us to learn something about each other.”

Airmen at all ranks had the chance to share their stories and advice on how to continue this conversation. They recognize it can be a difficult one to have, but they know it is necessary to move toward a strong culture of inclusiveness.

“The military should be leading the change because we are fighting for freedom,” Haymond said. “At the end of the day, we have to stand up for what’s right. The general population looks up to the military, so as role models we need stop wrongful judgments right in their tracks.”

Wing leadership acknowledges that discussion is only the first step toward discovering and resolving racial inequities in our Air Force.

“Our plan is to take what we learn from these discussions and move quickly on any actionable items, while continuing to learn from one other,” Schutte explained. “Weeding out and identifying unconscious biases is an important component of our efforts to forge a culture of trust, empowerment, and accountability, infused with the warrior ethos.  Our Airmen and our Nation deserve nothing less.”

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.