Air Force Academy Head Delivers Powerful Response to Racist Incident at Prep School

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

After five black cadets at the US Air Force Academy preparatory school discovered racial slurs written outside their dorm rooms this week, the academy’s superintendent Lt. General Jay Silveria on Thursday delivered a scathing speech denouncing racism, instructing anyone who held such bigoted views to pack up and leave.

“If you’re outraged by those words, then you are in the right place,” Silveria told the school’s 4,000 students. “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. You should be outraged not only as an airman, but as a human being.”

 “If you demean someone in any way, you need to get out,” he added.

Silveria continued by invoking the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, as well as the ongoing displays of protest during the national anthem at NFL games. He urged students and faculty members to engage in civil discourse and embrace “the power of diversity.”

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


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend