NEWS | May 7, 2013

JB Charleston Multicultural Committee: promoting diversity, ethnic education

By Airman 1st Class Tom Brading Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

The United States military is a melting pot of different cultures, backgrounds and heritages. To some, the unique nature of the military's mission creates a multicultural stew, with flavors from all over the world. However, according to one Joint Base Charleston committee, the military is more of a tossed salad. Each ingredient unique, yet not completely blending with every flavor of the multicultural salad, creating its own taste and importance to the overall result.

The Joint Base Charleston Multicultural Committee, formed in April 2013, has a mission to promote awareness of different cultures while embracing diversity.

"The multicultural committee's mission is to enhance cross-cultural awareness and to promote diversity among all military members, civilian employees, family members and retirees," said Tech. Sgt. Terrance Whitehead, 628th Logistics Readiness Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of inspection. "If you have access to the base, want to share your experiences and want to enhance your knowledge base of other cultures, you're welcome to join."

Whitehead is currently the president of the JB Charleston Multicultural Committee.

According to Whitehead, it's challenging for us, as a society, to move forward without understanding the various cultures that make us unique. The committee will give everyone, regardless of their background, an opportunity to not only appreciate those differences, but learn from them.

A native of Virginia with 17 years of active-duty Air Force service, Whitehead has been able to apply his experiences with other cultures and desire for knowledge, toward his military career.

"Whether it's food, tasting Asian delicacies, or celebrating Hispanic festivals, there is always more we can learn about each other as a society," said Whitehead. "Understanding others, and where they come from, helps me understand myself and what our society can and will be with enhanced cultural awareness."

The MCC plans on bringing as many festivals to JB Charleston as possible. Observances are held throughout the year and spotlight different historical heritages: Black History Month (February), National Women's History Month (March), Asian Pacific Heritage Month and Older Americans Month (May), Gay and Lesbian Pride Month and Caribbean Heritage Month (June), Hispanic Heritage Month (September and October), National Disability Employment Awareness Month (October) and National American Indian Heritage Month (November).

"Most of the events throughout the year will be covered," said Whitehead. "But the overall success of all the heritage events is based on maximum participation by our volunteers."

Before the formation of the MCC, observances such as the Black History Month Luncheon were held by respective committees dedicated to that individual celebration. The unique nature of the MCC is encompassing other observances and creating sub-committees within themselves, then every observance gets equal and proper attention.

According to Whitehead, volunteering to take part in the exciting multicultural awareness and diversity committee will promote its individuals to become better Airmen, Sailors, wingmen, shipmates and leaders.

The next MCC event scheduled is Asian Pacific Heritage Month. This event is a celebration of the culture, traditions, and history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

Military members, civilian employees, family members and retirees looking to volunteer for the MCC, can contact Tech. Sgt. Terrance Whitehead at 843-963-5208 or email at terrance.whitehead@us.af.mil.