Aformer U.S. Naval Academy midshipman who was recently expelled for using a racist slur against African Americans has drawn outrage from an NAACP chapter in Maryland, the Capital Gazette reported Wednesday.
The Rev. Stephen Tillett, who is president of the Anne Arundel County NAACP, reacted to then-Midshipman 4th Class Ted Colter‘s repeated use of a slur, which he posted online as part of a mnemonic device. The racial epithet, not specifically referred to the academy, had regularly been used by non-African-Americans in a derogatory way, Tillett, who was not involved in the case, told the Capital Gazette.
“You don’t get to reinterpret it and say because African-Americans in the rap industry use it, it is no longer disrespectful or pejorative,” Tillett said.
Colter, who is White and from New York City, was dismissed by the academy on February 26 after using the slur in a sexually explicit way three times in talking with other school members, according to a memo provided to the Gazette.
Colter’s attorney, Jeff McFadden, is fighting the academy’s decision with the excuse that the former midshipman was only using language common to a “generation of street-tough teenagers” that he grew up with in Queens, New York.
McFadden also argued that Colter didn’t use the slur in a discriminatory manner, touting the “other-people-have-messed-up-and-said-offensive-stuff” defense. He even called out an African-American midshipman who wanted to listen to Kendrick Lamar‘s song, “Humble” during a Navy event, claiming that Lamar’s song used the same slur in question.
Clearly, the naval academy was not having this defense that just brushes all blame off of Colter, who Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter said ignored complaints from fellow academy members and continued to say the slurs, according to the Navy Times. Carter ultimately wrote a memo asking for Colter’s dismissal. Two midshipmen also filed Command Management Equal Opportunity complaints against Colter, Carter said.
There’s even more to the story: Colter “twice sent pre-generated images with racially-charged language to classmates,” Carter added.
Colter does have the option of filing a claim with the Board of Corrections of Naval Records to reverse the expulsion. But if Carter and other countless folks who were outraged over Colter’s actions have their way, it will be a permanent wrap on his time at the academy.
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