See What a Black Top US Air Force General Said About Racism in the United State

See What a Black Top US Air Force General Said About Racism in the United State

Air Force Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown, the commander of US Pacific Air Forces, opened up about race in a powerful video message Friday during a national conversation about race and policing in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Gen. CQ Brown Jr. Pacific Air Forces commander, speaks with the 374th Airlift Wing Airmen during an all-call at Yokota Air Base, Japan, November 14, 2019

Brown, who is set to become the first black Air Force chief of staff, talked about his career and, as a senior officer, often being the “only African American in the room.”

The nearly five-minute video offers insight into the general’s personal experiences inside and outside the military, and follows messages from the current Air Force chief of staff and the service’s top enlisted airman, who is also African American.

The general expected to become the first black Air Force chief of staff spoke out Friday on race in America and in the military, delivering a powerful message at a time of nationwide unrest following the death of George Floyd last week.

“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,” Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown in a video Friday. “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,” he said.

“I’m thinking about a history of racial issues and my own experiences that didn’t always sing of liberty and equality,” revealed Brown, a career fighter pilot who earned his Air Force commission in 1984.

He said that during his time in the Air Force, he has often been the only African American in his squadron, and as a senior officer, “the only African American in the room.”

“I’m thinking about some of the insensitive comments made by others without awareness,” he said, recalling an incident where a fellow service member, as he was wearing the same flight suit and wings of his peers, was asked whether or not he was a pilot.

Despite the storied history of black trailblazers the Tuskegee Airmen, the US Air Force has struggled to recruit and train minority pilots; only about 5% of its pilots who reported combat experience identified as African American, according to 2015 statistics.

Speaking openly about his experiences, Brown said that he has also been accused of “not being black enough” by fellow African Americans because he spent more time with his squadron than with them.

He explained that he has often found himself living in two worlds.

Brown said that his nomination to be the next Air Force chief of staff “provides some hope but also comes with a heavy burden.” He said that he cannot “fix centuries of racial discrimination in our country” and that he does not have all the answers.

He is thinking about possible improvements, “personally, professionally, institutionally, so that all airmen, both today and tomorrow, appreciate the value of diversity and can serve in an environment where they can reach their full potential.”

Brown’s video message Friday follows a statement days earlier from current Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, who said in a memo Monday that “every American should be outraged” about what happened to George Floyd .

His remarks came on the heels of the Air Force’s top enlisted airman, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright, who wrote “I am George Floyd,” a heartfelt post on Facebook about racism in the US civilian and military life.

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