straine

Search

blog

#MakeLove — Air Force Academy Head Calls All Cadets To Attention After Racist Act

Published on September 29, 2017

The superintendent of the Air Force Academy called all cadets to attention on Thursday to address a racist message left on a dormitory message board — and even encouraged them to record his speech so there was no confusion.

Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria issued a frank directive to the 4,000 cadets at the Air Force Academy’s Preparatory School in Colorado after five black cadets found the words “go home” and an accompanying racial epithet scrawled in their dorm.

“If you’re outraged by those words, then you’re in the right place,” Silveria told the group. “That kind of behavior has no place in the prep school, it has no place at USAFA and it has no place in the United States Air Force. You should be outraged not only as an airman, but as a human being. And I’ll tell you that the appropriate response for horrible language and horrible ideas, the appropriate response is a better idea. So that’s why I’m here.”

Silveria said it would be “tone deaf” not to acknowledge the current racial issues, discussions and protests being held across the country, specifically referencing the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., where a counterprotester was killed in August.

He also mentioned Ferguson, Mo., where black teen Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white cop in 2014. Silveria, after touching on the recent protests during the national anthem before NFL games, said: “We can’t pretend that doesn’t impact us.”

Instead of focusing on differences among them, Silveria suggested the cadets “embrace the power of diversity” moving forward.

“The power of that diversity comes together and makes us that much more powerful,” he said. “That’s a much better idea than small thinking and horrible ideas. This is our institution and no one can take away our values. No one can write on a board and question our values. No one can take that away from us.”

The incident remains under investigation, Air Force Academy officials said. A source told the Colorado Springs Gazette that one suspect is believed to be involved, based on the handwriting.

“We’re unable to release any additional information at this time due to the ongoing investigation,” Lt. Col. Allen Heritage told the newspaper in an email.

Silveria later urged the cadets to take out their phones and record his message, saying “reach for your phones, I’m serious.”

He continued: “If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, then you need to get out. If you demean someone in any way, then you need to get out. And if you can’t treat someone from another race or a different color skin with dignity and respect, then you need to get out.”

Back to Posts »