FORT KNOX, Ky. — Civilian employees at the Fort Knox Garrison recently learned they would attend sessions to have open and frank discussion about diversity, equity and inclusion amidst the civil unrest on these subjects across the United States.“There’s divisiveness out there,” said Col. CJ King, Fort Knox garrison commander. “To be fair, there probably has been for some time. We like to look at ourselves and think we’ve got it better than everywhere else, but I’m not sure that’s always the case.”Called Project Inclusion, the top-down Department of Army initiative attempts to explore ways for people to transparently confront bias and racial issues within the workplace to build a more inclusive, cohesive and resilient Army family.“Race remains one of the most difficult topics to discuss in the workplace,” said Dawn Scholl, complaints manager at the Fort Knox Employment Equal Opportunity office. “The need to have candid, respectful dialogue with colleagues on the topic has never been more crucial. Tensions have heightened over the past few years, in part fueled by national events and media coverage.”King said racial issues should be revealed and worked through among employees. In fact, nearly two months ago he instructed his directors and chiefs to lead small-group meetings that would address current racial issues.The intent is for attendees to freely share their thoughts and perspectives about racism and the ongoing violence in the nation, all without fear of reprisal or judgment from fellow employees and bosses. To date, about half of the workforce has met.“The directors are engaging small groups up to about 15 personnel, and have been for about the last 45 days,” said King. “That will continue throughout the end of the year.”King said the feedback has been good so far, although it varies from group to group.“It is a difficult subject matter area; it’s uncomfortable for a lot of folks given some of the civil unrest we’ve experienced as a nation,” said King. “But it’s been beneficial to get the folks together and work through the complex discussions, and get a feel for how people are dealing with it — professionally within the workplace, but also personally within their lives.”King said the military environment in the Army best reflects the racial diversity of the American society. It also leads the way in building unity within that diversity.“Military communities are somewhat in a bubble because we’ve been largely inclusive,” said King. “A lot of folks who work in organizations like this or settle in communities that have been a member of the military know that it is one of the most inclusive organizations in the world, if not the most inclusive.”As a Soldier, King said he is aiming to enable a truer reflection of racial and gender diversity among the civilian workforce, also, while promoting unity among those who already work here. The meetings provide an opportunity to do just that.“They will be ongoing,” said King. “I’m not sure that we can establish an end date to it. We have to continue to listen and enact measures that promote a fair and inclusive environment across the board.”One of the Garrison leaders who recently hosted a meeting for his and another staff said he for one has been glad that the command took the initiative to talk about the subject of race.“The command brought it up to me and I said, ‘Hey, that’s good that folks are finally taking a deep look at what’s really going on across the country,’” said Joe Colson, Fort Knox Safety officer.Having grown up in an unusual racially diverse environment in the late 1960s, Colson said he understands probably better than most how difficult and painful discrimination can be. A black man, Colson’s father made a decision in 1968 that would permanently shape a young Colson’s understanding of racism.“As a 5-year-old, I was raised by a white stepmother,” said Colson. “Knowing the racial divide that we had back in that time period, a black and a white person were not even authorized to be married until 1967. Those are some of the things that drive me today.“Bottom line — we are all the same.”