HomeNewsArticle Display

Better Together: Whiteman AFB Airman initiates change by connecting community

Staff Sgt. Jarrod Peterson, a 72nd Test and Evaluation Squadron software engineer, poses for a photo, July 8, 2020, at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Peterson, who is an Airman passionate to initiate change within his community, develops and maintains software for training modules in the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sadie Colbert)

Staff Sgt. Jarrod Peterson, a 72nd Test and Evaluation Squadron software engineer, poses for a photo, July 8, 2020, at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. Peterson, an Airman passionate to initiate change within his community, develops and maintains software for training modules in the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sadie Colbert)

Will Taylor, left, a business owner, and Staff Sgt. Jarrod Peterson, center, a 72nd Test and Evaluation Squadron software engineer, talk with Chief Rich Lockhart, the Warrensburg, Missouri, Chief of Police, mid-June 2020, at Warrensburg, Missouri. Peterson and Lockhart met through Taylor. Together, they initiated the Community Forum which consist of local community representatives made up of key leaders from the Chamber of Commerce, City Manager, business owners and people from Whiteman Air Force Base (Courtesy Photo)

Will Taylor, a business owner, and Staff Sgt. Jarrod Peterson, center, a 72nd Test and Evaluation Squadron software engineer, talk with Chief Rich Lockhart, Warrensburg, Mo., chief of Police, mid-June 2020, at Warrensburg, Mo. Peterson and Lockhart met through Taylor. Together, they initiated a community forum which consisted of local community representatives made up of key leaders from the chamber of commerce, city manager, business owners and people from Whiteman Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. (AFNS) --

Current events, such as the death of George Floyd, have made organizations across the U.S. Air Force take a deep dive into talking about views on racial disparity.

One Whiteman Air Force Base Airman, Staff Sgt. Jarrod Peterson, a 72nd Test and Evaluation Squadron software engineer who normally finds himself maintaining mission planning and information distribution software for the B-2 Spirit, took the racial disparity discussion outside the gate into the local community.

Peterson received opportunities to speak with Missouri congresswoman, Rep. Vicky Hartzler, Warrensburg Police Department chief, Rich Lockhart, community action officers and social workers, to develop a plan to build a better future for generations to come.

“We’ve had these social disparity conversations several times and nothing is changing,” Peterson said. “To think that I would have to teach a child that they should fear for their lives or explain to them why certain people died—it’s sad. My goal is to not need to have these conversations when the next generation is born. I would like people to not have to fight the same fight that America has fought for the past couple hundreds of years.”

The inception of what would be called the Community Change Committee—local community representatives made up of key leaders from the chamber of commerce, city manager, business owners and people from Whiteman AFB—started as a casual conversation between Peterson and his local barber, who felt so moved by Peterson’s knowledge and desire for a lasting change that he connected Peterson with Lockhart.

“I was excited and very interested to hear Peterson’s plans and thoughts,” Lockhart said. “I enjoy meeting with young people to discuss issues and concerns, but I was pleasantly surprised after meeting with Peterson. He was very prepared and had an idea of what he wanted to accomplish.”

During their discussion, Lockhart and Peterson exchanged ideas, perspectives and personal experiences with racism. They spoke about the impact of these experiences and what changes could be made going forward.

“We agreed that everyone wants to go home safely and that not having biases on either side could help with that,” Peterson said.

Peterson attended a Black Lives Matter rally in Warrensburg where he read a poem he had written entitled “Tired.” He was inspired to write the poem after watching the video of George Floyd’s arrest and subsequent death. During the rally, Lockhart heard the poem and was deeply moved.

“I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the poem since I heard it,” Lockhart said. “I think it is something that has a wide-reaching message and would be good for more people to hear. His message is positive and demands change without actually asking for it. If the message doesn’t touch your heart, you may want to check your pulse to make sure you are still alive.”

Once again, Lockhart and Peterson met virtually, but this time to discuss tangible ideas that could make lasting changes through building community connections on the foundations of trust and people caring for people.

“People want clarity and transparency, so we thought through ways for the community to be involved, provide input on community decisions, be able to see police department statistics and have part in the internal reviews of how things are decided,” Peterson said. “I think it would give some transparency to a lot of processes.”

Peterson didn’t stop there. His motivation to make a difference propelled him to hold conversations of racial disparity throughout the Kansas City metro area.

It was during this time that Missouri congresswoman, Rep. Hartzler requested Peterson share his poem with her in person. Later, she asked for his input on the JUSTICE Act—a bill which focuses on the improvement and reformation of policing practices, accountability and transparency.

“It feels empowering to be able to potentially impact legislative bills,” Peterson said. “Until the bill is passed or not, I will reserve my thoughts on the results, but it does give me hope for a better future.”

Peterson offered his thoughts to Hartzler on the bill in hopes of making a big impact.

“I feel like if we hold people accountable the negative outcomes we see in our communities would happen less,” Peterson said. “It’s a moral task I think we should all take on. My goal is to have a lasting change, even if it’s just getting everyone to talk about it.”

Peterson truly believes in change through a stronger community working together and has hope for the future.

“Success to me is when people of different ethnicities no longer feel like there is a certain level of fear and submission involved surviving a regular encounter, like being pulled over.”

He believes these changes will have a bigger impact resulting in fair and equal treatment for employment, housing and even court sentencing. It will place an expectation on community members to have a baseline level of respect for everyone.

“It’s harder to hate family,” Peterson said. “It’s harder to have such negative biases when you have a tight-knit community filled with people who care about each other. People don’t hurt the ones they care about and if they do, they usually apologize for it and find common ground.”

To listen to Peterson’s poem, visit his Instagram profile here.

 

Engage

Twitter
Bomber Task Force missions enable Airmen to continuously conduct operations globally at a moment’s notice to help m… https://t.co/RqofTathju
Twitter
RT @USAF_ACC: The @505th_CCW provided academic training while Agile Flag 21-1 implemented Agile Combat Employment https://t.co/953FEjkGNn…
Twitter
The 81st Fighter Squadron, a geographically separated unit assigned to the 14th Flying Training Wing at Columbus Ai… https://t.co/8ujOZOemFs
Twitter
New heights Breaking their own record, maintainers and crew members surpassed 50 consecutive combat missions for… https://t.co/IvUmRKn10C
Twitter
Streamlined training improves readiness. #ReadyAF https://t.co/eJA1Ft3320
Twitter
Maintaining readiness through unique times. Airmen assigned to the 15th Wing participate in exercise Tropic Tempes… https://t.co/3uf96rwQPK
Twitter
The Dept. of the Air Force restored military tuition assistance to $4,500 per fiscal year and Air Force Credentiali… https://t.co/b1XKYHpl9y
Twitter
Modern living and educational facilities The Air Force Civil Engineer Center is leading a massive $700 million, mu… https://t.co/wMlJr5T2i3
Twitter
Demonstrating readiness and joint capabilities. #ReadyAF #AimHigh https://t.co/88gGGo3CMG
Twitter
The tools are cool, but it's the Airmen that make them go. #AimHigh #ReadyAF https://t.co/kNrKGKPJ13
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Met virtually with @Offutt_AFB first sergeants today. I am grateful for their valuable feedback on #Airmen issues and for…
Twitter
RT @PACAF: #ICYMI: Check out these new photos of fighter aircrew participating in a joint interoperability exercise in the @INDOPACOM regio…
Twitter
Air power on full display 🦅 An F-15E Strike Eagle takes off from @48FighterWing during routine training. An array… https://t.co/g4vZsO5ViY
Twitter
Aeromedical evacuation missions consist of critical care transport teams executing patient movement and care.… https://t.co/rbtAum69VT
Twitter
Less downtime means the mission moves forward faster. Airmen assigned to the 60th Logistics Readiness Squadron fro… https://t.co/Yark70RZAY
Twitter
Yes, even robodog is a very good boy. 🐕 🤖 @TeamTyndall is one of the first military bases to implement “computeri… https://t.co/H1OSccLwjg
Twitter
RT @cmsaf_official: Focus on the things that matter & the things you can control. Anything else is a distraction at best. Have a fantasti…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: COVID-19 precautions have made in-person engagements with #Airmen challenging. However, I’m grateful for the virtual oppo…
Twitter
Preparing for tomorrow's fight, today. #InnovativeAF #ReadyAF https://t.co/sKXDUgZelP
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
1,310,319
Follow Us