Remember the 16 Black cadets who received major backlash after raising their fists in the traditional “Old Corps Photo” at West Point Academy? After a careful review of the photo, the Military Academy announced that all investigations would be dropped and the cadets would be cleared of all violations.
The photo originally received much attention and criticism because many believed that the girls violated the policy that states members of the military are not permitted to make partisan political statements. Typically, when students pose in front of the iconic Nininger Hall, they take a more still expression.
The incident caused the school to investigate the photo; however, after much consideration, they concluded that the stance taken in the photo did not violate any regulations. Officials stated that they felt the girls were trying to show unity and pride.
When the photo was originally posted on a blog, many felt the gesture was unprofessional and inappropriate for the iconic photo. However, academy superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr. believed that the girls were taking no political stance. In reference to the public opinions of the girls, Caslen said, “We all must understand that a symbol or gesture that one group of people may find harmless may offend others. As Army officers, we are not afforded the luxury of a lack of awareness of how we are perceived.”
With so many racially charged events that have occurred in the past few years, the powerful raised fist has become an image of Black solidarity. We all remember the backlash the Beyonce faced for her Super Bowl Halftime performance. Unfortunately, a gesture of unity and pride can be seen as a threat to people who do not understand the struggle that inspired the gesture in the first place.
Although the girls received much criticism on social media, at least the school took this opportunity to show support to these strong, young women, instead of feed into the discrimination that motivated the raised fist gesture of Black power.
(Photo: Obtained from Twitter via AP, File)