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Sunday, Jan 17, 2021

Stop everything, and watch the likely next Air Force chief of staff’s powerful statement on race

Gen Charles “CQ” Brown, who is poised to become the first African American air force chief of staff in US history, has issued a powerful video statement talking about his experience as a black airman. In a heartfelt, powerful video, Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown, who is now commander of Pacific Air Forces, spoke about his feelings on the death of George Floyd during an arrest by police in Minneapolis, and the many other black people who “suffered the same fate as George Floyd.”
The video, which has spread rapidly on social media, comes in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer and the subsequent demonstrations that have spread across the US and triggered a national debate over racism and police brutality.

“As the commander of Pacific air forces, a senior leader in our air force, and an African American, many of you may be wondering what I’m thinking about the current events surrounding the tragic death of George Floyd,” Brown said in a nearly five-minute video posted to Twitter on Thursday.

“Here’s what I’m thinking about: I’m thinking about how full I am with emotion – not just for George Floyd, but the many African Americans that have suffered the same fate as George Floyd.”

Brown continued: “The equality expressed in our declaration of independence and the constitution that I’ve sworn my adult life to support and defend. I’m thinking about a history of racial issues and my own experiences that didn’t always sing of liberty and equality.”

Brown spoke bluntly about his own experiences of racism in the military.

“I’m thinking about my air force career, where I was often the only African American in my squadron or as a senior officer, the only African American in the room,” Brown said.

“I’m thinking about wearing the same flight suit, with the same wings on my chest as my peers, and then being questioned by another military member: ‘Are you a pilot?’

“I’m thinking about the pressure I felt to perform error-free, especially for supervisors I perceived had expected less from me as an African American. I’m thinking about having to represent by working twice as hard to prove their expectations and perceptions of African Americans were invalid.”

Brown’s moving video comes in the wake of statements from other air force leaders on racial inequality.

In a series of tweets on Monday, chief master sergeant of the air force Kaleth Wright, who is African American, decried the numerous deaths of black Americans at the hands of police.

“Who am I? I am a Black man who happens to be the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. I am George Floyd…I am Philando Castile, I am Michael Brown, I am Alton Sterling, I am Tamir Rice,” Wright tweeted.

It also comes as top military figures appear to be increasingly opposed to Donald Trump and his aggressive advocacy of a crackdown on protests, including by troops.

A series of current and former top military figures, including his ex-chief of staff John Kelly, former defense secretary James Mattis and current chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Mark Milley have spoken out against Trump or taken stances opposed to him.

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Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.

Drew Houston
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