HomeNewsArticle Display

A message for the Air Force JAG Corps

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) --

Editor's noteThis commentary was originally published in the Air Force JAG Corps newsletter in June, but its message is applicable to all Airmen and Space Professionals.

"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." - Theodore Roosevelt (26th President, United States of America)

Like many of you, I have faced a gamut of emotions especially in light of the current discussions and events in our country (and our Air Force) revolving around race and justice. Perhaps unlike many of you, these emotions are familiar to me. I am a Black woman. I have faced my fair share of bias and prejudice. I have learned to operate in our society as a person wearing a mask — one that I can only take off around family and friends, where I am confident I will be accepted and included.

I grew up in an area in Western Pennsylvania that was predominantly blue-collar. My maternal great-grandparents moved from Alabama to Pennsylvania during the era of “The Great Migration” where millions of Black Americans moved to major northern cities in search of better social and economic opportunities. My great-grandfather landed a job at one of the local steel mills in one of the lowest paid and most dangerous jobs due to the perception that Black Americans were shiftless, ignorant, and lazy. Still, this opportunity was better than options he had in Alabama and he worked hard in an unskilled position, earning 30 cents an hour for working eight to 12 hours a day.

My paternal great-grandfather was a retired chief master sergeant in the Air Force friends with some of the renowned Tuskegee Airmen and his circle also included the first Black highest ranking enlisted person in the Air Force. He was very proud of being a Black man serving his country, in spite of the adverse treatment he received as a black servicemember.

I am the proud descendent of these two men, and many other strong and resilient men and women in my family, who have persevered despite years of institutionalized marginalization, bias and bigotry. When I decided to apply for the Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps, I talked proudly of these men during my interview and my desire to show their good works, struggles, and hardships would not be in vain.

Along the way during my career, I have faced countless disappointments and setbacks, mostly related to my race or gender. But, I understood that these experiences were to be expected as the Air Force is just a subset of a society struggling to address these matters. However, like my great-grandfathers, I persevered for those who have walked these steps before me and for those who will walk in these steps after me. And, I’ve met some wonderful people — brothers and sisters in arms who have oftentimes walked beside me and even carried me when I could not walk on my own. We have had candid conversations about race, offering perspectives not otherwise considered and brainstorming solutions to 400-year old problems we had no part in creating. But, we have the discussions actively listening and hearing each other as we attempt to grapple with the complexities of race topics and how it impacts what we do in the Air Force.

These are the conversations that matter for leaders because subordinates do not expect leaders to have all of the answers. They just want to know that their leaders care. This is leadership. And leadership is what we all need during such a time as this. Please have these constructive conversations so we can move one more step towards having the Air Force we need. Your Airmen need you.
 

“Head or Heart?” A distinction used to characterize a wicked-hard problem. The connotation is that the hardest issues to resolve seem to be those where people think with their hearts instead of their heads. Actually, “head or heart?” is really a false dilemma, a self-created, juxtaposition of two things, something I accuse others of often doing unnecessarily. Maybe “heart vs head” is just intellectual laziness on my part or a coping mechanism to make sense of a seemingly irresolvable issue. In the law, we pride ourselves on our objectivity, sometimes to the point where our strict objectivity may actually be a bias. In an attempt to reconcile the dilemma, perhaps a better way to say it is to always approach justice with an objective head, and with all the heart you can muster.

Lt. Col. Williams’ piece moved me, perhaps because it sounds like my family story, sans the race and gender aspects. My father and grandparents worked in the very same steel mills and mines in southwest PA she mentions, where they learned proper English and how to tell time, with words like “younze” and “10 til six.” They weren’t known as “lazy and shiftless”; instead, they were thought of as “dumb and stupid, fresh off the boat.”

Ja Rai and I are a lot alike. We serve two professions, both greater than ourselves, to defend a diverse nation. We love our Black and Gold too. We’re also a lot different, thankfully. A diverse force is required to defend a diverse nation. Perhaps part of that difference is easier for me to navigate, maybe because you can’t see a protected class in me, if any, like you can in her the instant she walks into the room?

Talk to each other, with “head AND heart.” We look forward to hearing your solutions to yesterday’s call.

- Lt. Gen. Jeffrey A. Rockwell, The Judge Advocate General, Headquarters U.S. Air Force

Engage

Twitter
RT @AirNatlGuard: "Their exceptional service in conducting over 100,000 COVID tests set the conditions to reduce the effects of this pandem…
Twitter
Botinsol Analytics has developed a portable precision chem-bio lab for people who need to do real-time analysis in… https://t.co/XgOq8ROkSE
Twitter
#FollowFriday: The 22nd Air Force Chief of Staff @GenCQBrownJr https://t.co/UOG0JDKTVJ
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: On #PurpleHeartDay we honor and remember the members of the U.S. Armed Forces who were wounded in combat or paid the ulti…
Twitter
.@GenDaveGoldfein retired from active duty and passed on the duty of Air Force Chief of Staff to @GenCQBrownJr. https://t.co/AdlykogVjZ
Twitter
.@GenCQBrownJr's tenets of leadership: - Execute at a high standard - Be disciplined in execution - Pay attention… https://t.co/9EmCYue0OO
Twitter
RT @AirMobilityCmd: We are incredibly proud of our #TotalForce #MobilityAirmen and their support to ongoing relief efforts in #Lebanon. Del…
Twitter
Today, we salute the #heroes, wounded or killed in action, who have served our country. #PurpleHeartDay https://t.co/4yHljdUaNf
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: I’m blessed to have Sharene by my side & the support of our sons, Sean & Ross. She has committed so much to our family &…
Twitter
RT @CENTCOM: Gen McKenzie informed Gen Aoun of the impending delivery of three C-17s shipments of U.S. relief supplies including food, wate…
Twitter
RT @AFResearchLab: Tune into @hack_a_sat all weekend to watch in the 3D environment, and participate in the @DefenseDigital workshops, made…
Twitter
"I could not be prouder that a true warrior, leader, and personal friend will be taking his first Walk of the Chief… https://t.co/OEIDekSFyo
Twitter
"Of all the blessings of serving as the 21st Chief, the best, by far, has been having the chance to do so side by s… https://t.co/LhEkaVhr5o
Twitter
"This is a very historic day for our Nation & I don't take this moment lightly. Today is possible due to the persev… https://t.co/bAzAQJ6o8l
Twitter
RT @MilitaryHealth: Have you been diagnosed with #COVID19? The @DeptofDefense urges you to donate your convalescent blood plasma when you a…
Twitter
“This is one we’ve been working on for a while, and I’m glad we could get it across the finish line.” - @CMSAF18 https://t.co/xtVu5BQuWW
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: @usairforce @GenDaveGoldfein Working together & accelerating change, I'm confident that our @usairforce can continue to b…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: @usairforce @GenDaveGoldfein You can expect my leadership will be framed by the same four tenants I've used throughout my…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: @usairforce @GenDaveGoldfein To do so, we must no longer defer, but must accelerate the needed change & tough choices we'…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: @usairforce @GenDaveGoldfein Building on @GenDaveGoldfein's 3 focus areas, I'm committed to addressing today's challenges…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,262,644
Follow Us