What many hailed as #BlackGirlMagic is now under investigation by the U.S. Military.
According to the Army Times, a group of 16 African-American female graduating cadets is being investigated by West Point officials after a picture circulated last week of the group raising their fists. Apparently, it’s believed this gesture means they support the Black Lives Matter Movement, which is “sowing racial divisions in a military that relies on assimilation,” the New York Times noted. It could also be a violation of the Department of Defense Directive 1344.10, Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces, that warns against “partisan political activity” while in uniform.
“We can confirm that the cadets in this photo are members of the U.S. Military Academy’s Class of 2016,” said West Point’s director of public affairs Lt. Col. Christopher Kasker to the Army Times. “Academy officials are conducting an inquiry into the matter,” he added.
As the women are waiting to hear if they will be punished, their supporters and opponents continue to fight online, Mic noted. Some have said the gesture is “no different from a Nazi salute” and that the Black Panthers called for the murder of whites. Others have commended the women and called out the hypocrisy of this so-called hysteria.
Yet, those close to the cadets told the Times that the women were actually saluting Queen Bey.
“These ladies weren’t raising their fist to say Black Panthers. They were raising it to say Beyoncé,” said Mary Tobin, a 2003 graduate of West Point who mentors some of the school’s seniors. She added, “For them it’s not a sign of allegiance to a movement, it’s a sign that means unity and pride and sisterhood. That fist to them meant you and your sisters did what only a few people, male or female, have ever done in this country.”
In addition, the woman who took the photo, West Point graduate and chair of its Board of Visitors Brenda Sue Fulton defended the women the Army Times.
“I am sorry that someone with a blog chose to display this one photo out of context, and to call them racists,” Fulton said. “When I spent time with these cadets and heard them tell their stories and laugh and joke with each other, there’s no doubt in my mind how much they love West Point, they love the Army and they support each other.”
It’s important to point out that West Point, the nation’s most prestigious military universities, isn’t known for its racial diversity.
According the Times, the school is “overwhelmingly male and 70 percent white” and “the 16 cadets in the photo represented all but one of the black women in a graduating class of about 1,000,” a measly 1.7 percent, they wrote.
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