Do we even need to ask how 16 white West Point cadets posing in uniform, with a white power fist before graduation would have been resolved? Never mind the media circus it would have created…
Sixteen black West Point cadets who posed with raised fists for a pre-graduation picture that sparked debates on race and proper behavior in uniform won’t be punished for the gesture, the U.S. Military Academy said Tuesday.
The decision, less than two weeks before the 16 female seniors are poised to graduate, found they didn’t violate any U.S. Department of Defense rules limiting political activity.
An internal inquiry “found that the cadets did not pre-plan or set out to make a political statement,” West Point’s superintendent, Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen Jr., said in a letter to the student body.
But, he said, they showed “a lapse of awareness in how symbols and gestures can be misinterpreted and cause division” and they will get some instruction on that.
The fists-up image, which circulated online, led some observers to question whether the women were expressing support for the Black Lives Matter movement, which grew out of protests over police killings of unarmed black men.
But the inquiry found the picture, one of multiple photos the women made in keeping with an informal campus tradition, captured a spur-of-the-moment gesture intended to demonstrate unity and pride in graduating, Caslen wrote. Groups of cadets often take Old Corps pictures in traditional dress uniforms to echo historical portraits.
A raised fist has symbolized political resistance for generations, from Nelson Mandela upon his release from prison in 1990 to Democratic Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on the presidential campaign trail this year. It was used by black power advocates in the 1960s, including by two American sprinters during a medal ceremony at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games, and more recently by activists for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Some observers suggested the women were improperly identifying with the movement while in uniform.
Defenders said the women were simply celebrating their forthcoming graduation, something closer in spirit to a team lifting helmets to celebrate a win or Beyonce raising her fist at this year’s Super Bowl halftime show. Via: Yahoo h/t WZ