In late September, five African-American students in the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Preparatory School, located on the academy’s Colorado Springs, Colo., campus, confronted those three words on their dormitory message boards.
When he learned of the obscene message, Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay B. Silveria was furious. Silveria, a combat jet pilot who grew up in an Air Force family, quickly summoned the school’s 4,000 cadets and 1,500 staff members to hear him deliver a powerful lecture on the evils of prejudice and racism.
“If you’re outraged by those words, then you’re in the right place,” Silveria said. “That kind of behavior has no place at the prep school, has no place at USAFA (the Air Force Academy) and has no place in the United States Air Force. We would all be naive to think that everything is perfect here. We would be naive to think that we shouldn’t discuss this topic. We would also be tone deaf not to think about the backdrop of what’s going on in our country. Things like Charlottesville and Ferguson, the protests in the NFL.”