Slurs prompt U.S. Air Force Academy head to call for racial tolerance

The academy’s prep school, where the slurs appeared, is a 10-month program that gives about 240 students the chance each year to train and study to become full-fledged freshman cadets the following year.

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

The Air Force Academy superintendent addressed cadets, faculty, staff and cadet candidates Sept. 28, 2017, in the wake of racial slurs recently written on the dormitory message boards of five African American cadets at the Academy’s Preparatory School.

“If you’re outraged by those words, then you’re in the right place,” said Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria. “That kind of behavior has no place at the Prep School, has no place at USAFA and has no place in the United States Air Force.”

Silveria advised cadets to engage in open discussion on the topic and focus on solutions.

“What we should have is a civil discourse and talk about these issues,” he said. “That’s a better idea.”

He referenced current race issues across the country, to include Charlottesville, Virginia, Ferguson, Missouri and the protests in the National Football League, and gave an example of a recent forum the dean of faculty hosted for cadets to discuss Charlottesville.

Silveria went on to talk about the power of diversity.

“It’s the power that we come from all walks of life, that we come from all parts of this country, that we come from all races, that we come from all backgrounds, gender, all make-up, all upbringing,” he said. “The power of that diversity comes together and makes us that much more powerful.”

Silveria left cadets with what he called his most important thought on the subject.

“If you can’t treat someone from another race or different color skin with dignity and respect, then you need to get out,” he emphatically said. “If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out.”

This was not the first time the new superintendent discussed the topics of dignity and respect. In his first address to cadets, faculty and staff in August, he made it clear where he stands, “If you want to find a red line with me, it will be in the area of respect and dignity.”

Air Force Academy Security forces are investigating the incident.

U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs / Published September 29, 2017

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CDR (Ret.) Gregory Black

CDR (Ret.) Black, US Navy, is the founder and key contributor to this Diverse Military Veterans Network website. He is a minority military historian and is well-versed in military diversity. (If you are interested in writing or contributing to this website please contact us.)

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