By Mr. Craig Spisak, Director, U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center
In a June 9 memo, the Under Secretary of the Army, Hon. James E. McPherson, appealed to Army Civilians to “actively participate in and lead the Army conversations on race.” As the leader of my organization, I recognize the need to provide a space for my team to openly discuss race, racism, and how to address it. I and the organization as a whole need to listen, but more importantly to listen to understand.
During my weekly Director’s Q&A that I host across the organization via email, I encouraged USAASC employees – civilian, military and contractors – to share information, personal experiences, and thoughts in an effort to speak to each other about this tough issue in a compassionate and respectful way. I am proud of every member of my team, and even more so of their empathy, awareness, and respect for others.
I was encouraged by the dialogue that ensued, while saddened at times from some of the personal stories. Let me share:
- “I believe there’s one true race and that’s HUMANITY.”
- “None of us choose our skin color…we live with it in every way, and throughout every day.”
- “We are not perfect. We have ‘sometimes fallen short’ and have work to do to.”
- “It is déjà vu, all over again.”
Many gave advice and alternate ways of viewing situations:
- “The only way forward is our country needs to learn to love each other. We need to understand that the true worth of a man or woman is not based upon his wealth, his or her skin color, or religion, but determined by the content of their character and how they treat others.”
- “I witness the most change when I focus on what and how I need to change instead of focusing on what needs to change in others.”
- “Treating each with the respect and dignity that I want to be treated with.”
- “Before sharing information, research using reputable sources to verify its accuracy. Read about things you don’t understand and use several sources.”
I am hopeful that we are able to continue the discussion within my organization, across the Army and the Nation to broaden our education on the important topic of race and equality. As one of my teammates shared: “Self-awareness and recognition are the first steps toward change…we must be proactive in seeking personal growth to work toward changing preconceived notions.”
Please join the conversation.
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