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Celebrating multiculturalism helps defeat racial inequality

  • Published
  • By Capt. Tyrone Bess
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing African-American heritage committee
Every February, our nation recognizes the achievements and contributions of African Americans. This year's theme, "Dr. Carter G. Woodson and the Origins of Multiculturalism," celebrates Dr. Woodson's successful efforts to acknowledge the contributions of African Americans.

This month is about not only their history, but also world history and progress.

African American History Month was established in February 1926 as Negro History Week through the contributions of Dr. Woodson, a prominent African American author and scholar. He noticed that, although our nation was tracking history, the contributions of African Americans were being excluded. Throughout his life, his end goal remained constant: Equal treatment for people of color both in the recording of history and in society at large.

If Dr. Woodson were alive today, I believe he would describe our nation's progress toward that goal in this way: M: Memories allow African Americans to move toward equality by U: Understanding wrongs were committed. However, we will elect a level playing field for all Americans of all cultures.

We will L: Learn how to knock down road blocks as one unified body. We will T: Teach all generations, old and young, that the only person holding you back is you. I: We will imagine an environment where equal treatment is no longer a dream, but a reality C: Cultivated by ideas, concepts and insights.

The world is not black and white. The world is a conglomerate of races, religions and nations constantly striving for the betterment of their societies.

U: Ultimately we must realize, life's lessons are not for us as individuals, but for those we impact with our actions and L: lessons learned -- lessons about the importance of language; the language of a movement, a shared interest similar to the language spoken in the military.

As leaders, supervisors and subordinates it is our responsibility to relate to those who work with and for us. Do not discount a person because of cultural differences; embrace their uniqueness and broaden your cultural awareness.

T: Train yourself for a life without racial inequality. The military trains for future wars, in air, space and cyberspace. We are a forward thinking nation and our U: Uniqueness should not be dismissed. We strive for a world of independent thinking, and we fight for that right.

Make no mistake -- we have made tremendous advancements in minority roles at all levels of society. However, we are in the midst of an extended war both on the home front and abroad. It's a war that cannot be won in a climate of racial intolerance.

R: Racism still exists. Can your fellow Airman, Solider, Sailor, Marine and Coast Guardsman rely on you to end racism?

At the end of the day, we are one nation, one people, one culture fighting side by side in an A: Allegiance for multiculturalism and L: Liberation, so other nations will not repeat our past failures. I: Ideas are sometimes radical for the time and are met with negative S: Strongholds.

Those strongholds are not the final authority. We are still on the bus; the difference today is our bus has M: Momentum and we are the force behind defeating racial inequality in the military, our nation and the world.

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