Air Force Academy on racial slurs at school: Show respect or ‘get out’


Air Force Academy Jay Silveria
Air
Force Academy superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, addressing
cadets, September 28, 2017.

US Air
Force/Twitter


After racial slurs were found on dormitory message boards
belonging to five black cadet candidates at the Air Force Academy
Preparatory School this week, the academy’s superintendent
offered a harsh rebuke of racism, misogyny, and other forms of
bigotry.

“If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, then
you need to get out. If you can’t treat someone of another
gender, whether that’s a man or a woman, with dignity and
respect, then you need to get out,” Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria said to
a gathering of Air Force Academy cadets, flanked by academy
officers and staff.

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

Lt. Col. Allen Herritage, director of public affairs for
the academy, told Air Force
Times
that the slurs were found Monday. According to a photo
posted on Facebook by one cadet candidate’s mother, “go home
n—-r” had been written on one of the boards.

“This is why I’m so hurt!” she said in the post, which was
posted on Wednesday and taken down on Thursday, according to Air
Force Times. “These young people are supposed to bond and protect
each other and the country. Who would my son have to watch out
for? The enemy or the enemy?”


Air Force Academy cadets
Air
Force Academy cadets during an address by academy superintendent
Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, September 28, 2017.

US Air Force/Twitter

Herritage told Air Force Times that the academy’s security
services were looking into the incident. The father of one of the
cadet candidate’s involved said his son was fine and that the
school was handling the situation properly. He called the
incident “utter stupidity.”

Silveria said the prep
school’s commander had discussed the incident with students and
faculty there, and the Air Force Academy’s superintendent told
officials there not to avoid the subject.

In his address on Thursday, which touched on race relations
in the US in the wake of incidents in Charlottesville and
elsewhere, Silveria told the cadets assembled to take out their
phones and record his final comments, “so that we all have the
moral courage together.”

“All of us on the staff tower, lining the glass, all of us
in this room, this is our institution,” he said. “And if you need
it, and you need my words, then you keep these words, and you use
them and you remember them, and you share them and you talk about
them. If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, then
get out.”

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