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Air Force Commander Defends Black Cadets, Decries Racism

National

10/3/2017, 10:24 a.m.
The head of the Air Force Academy gathered 5,500 cadets, faculty, staff...
Jay Silveria

The head of the Air Force Academy gathered 5,500 cadets, faculty, staff and cadet candidates Sept. 27 to deliver a powerful message after racial slurs were found written on message boards at the academy’s preparatory school, reports NBC News. “If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out,” Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria told the group at the culmination of a forceful five-minute lecture on the “power of diversity.” Five Black cadet candidates at the Academy’s Preparatory School woke up the morning of Sept. 25 to messages saying “go home” followed by an anti-Black slur, according to a statement released by the academy. “If you’re outraged by those words, then you’re in the right place,” Silveria told the group in an impassioned speech that was captured on video and shared widely on social media. “That kind of behavior has no place at the Prep School, it has no place at USAFA and has no place in the United States Air Force. You should be outraged not only as an Airman, but as a human being,” he said. Silveria added that the staff of the Academy would be “tone deaf” if they did not see the racial slurs in the context of other recent events in the country, from Charlottesville to Ferguson and the protests in the National Football League. He said that the military academy should strive for “civil discourse” and that its diversity “makes us that much more powerful.”