USAFA Supt. Silveria Tells Racist Cadets to “Get Out” In Response to Racial Slurs Left on Black Cadets’ Rooms

Superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA), Lieutenant General Jay B. Silveria, is in the news this week after giving a moving speech, urging his cadets to embrace and acknowledge each other with “dignity and respect” following racist messages being found outside of the dorm rooms of five black Air Force cadet candidates. The racial slurs included a written message that read “go home n****r,” which one of the cadet candidate’s mothers posted onto Facebook.

“This is why I’m so hurt!” the mother said in the post. “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?”

The cadet candidate’s father spoke with Air Force Times and called the racial slur incident “utter stupidity.” “The word has zero power in my house,” the father said. “Zero power. The word is not going to yield a reaction. My initial advice to him was, respond with intelligence, do not react, do not get upset. You don‘t have to defend intelligence, you don’t have to defend common sense, you don’t have to defend confidence. He’s fine.”

The identities of the cadet candidates and the aforementioned family members are being withheld to protect the family’s privacy.

Lt. Gen. Silveria issued a statement publicly Thursday (Sept. 28) during a five-minute lecture that he gave to cadets, condemning the racial slurs and the incident outright and in a timely manner. “There is absolutely no place in our Air Force for racism. It’s not who we are, nor will we tolerate it in any shape or fashion. The Air Force Academy strives to create a climate of dignity and respect for all… period… those who don’t understand that are behind the power curve and better catch up.”

“I‘ve said it before, the area of dignity and respect is my red line,” Silveria continued. “Let me be clear, it won’t be crossed without significant repercussions. Diversity is a strength of our academy and our Air Force. We are stronger when we take into account the views of those with different backgrounds and life experiences.”

“If you’re outraged by those words, then you’re in the right place. That kind of behavior has no place at the prep school, it has no place at USAFA and it has no place in the United States Air Force.”

Silveria expressed thoughts that radiated moral clarity and distinction in a time where most prefer to walk the line of politically correct as opposed to what is correct. He also made note of the current state of racial tension most Americans are experiencing. “We would be naïve to think we shouldn’t discuss this topic. We’d also be tone deaf to not think about the backdrop of what’s going on in our country. Things like Charlottesville and Ferguson, the protests in the NFL.”

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

“I also have a better idea, and it’s about our diversity. And it’s the power of the diversity… the power of us as a diverse group. 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, all backgrounds, gender, all makeup, all upbringings. The power of that diversity comes together and makes us that much more powerful.”

“So just in case you’re unclear on where I stand on this topic, I’m going to leave you with my most important thought today,” Silveria continued. “If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, then you need to get out. If you can’t treat someone from another gender, whether that’s a man or a woman, 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 of skin, with dignity and respect, then you need to get out.”

“If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out,” he repeated.

Photo Credit: Screengrab/KOA 55

Sheriden Chanel is a twenty-something writer, Beyoncé enthusiast, and lover of all things visual art. Keep up with her and her musings on social via @indiebyline.