Here is the latest scandal, if you can call it that at the US Air Force Academy:
Master Sgt. Zachary Parish emailed cadets that morning about a perceived decline in some cadets’ grooming, and reminding both male and female cadets about the rules governing their hair.
The first sergeant concluded his email by reminding them about former NBA superstar Michael Jordan’s habit of appearing at press conferences in a suit and tie, even without a dress code requiring it.
“He was never seen with a gaudy chain around his neck, his pants below his waistline, or with a backwards baseball hat on during public appearances,” Parish said. [Air Force Times]
There is apparently concern that the email was racist. However, if you read the whole email in context in my opinion it is not racist:
The email is fine until he gets to the final point portion about Michael Jordan. Clearly in this section of the email he is trying to make the point that Michael Jordan understood how a professional appearance increased his own creditability and thus his personal brand. He wants cadets to think the same way. If he would have left out the gaudy chain and sagging pants line there probably would not be anything to complain about.
However, here is what the USAFA Vice Commandant for Climate and Culture had to say in response:
Col. Julian Stephens, vice commandant of cadets for culture and climate, sent another email that afternoon apologizing for Parish’s email.
“These comments were very disrespectful, derogatory and unprofessional and in no way reflective of [cadet wing leadership] views,” Stephens wrote. “Microaggressions such as these are often blindspots/unintentional biases that are not often recognized, and if they are recognized they are not always addressed.”
First of all I can’t believe the USAFA has an O6 position for Climate and Culture? Isn’t climate and culture something commanders are supposed to set?
Anyway in my opinion this email is more troubling than the original email. The whole “microaggressions” line seems to me to paint the First Sergeant as being unknowingly racist in effort to appease the Daily Kos / Huffington Post social justice warrior crowd.
It seems to me that Colonel Stephens could have said that First Sergeant Parish’s email referencing grooming standards could have been worded differently and he has been counseled on proper email etiquette. However, the First Sergeant’s point about improving grooming standards in the Air Force Academy is still valid. Writing a response like this would have saved the creditability of the First Sergeant and reinforced his message. Instead he is made out to be unknowing racist and thus a pariah.
With that all said why does an email about grooming standards even need to be sent out? Isn’t there enough leaders at the USAFA to light up cadets not following the grooming standards? Do leaders now not want to hurt cadets’ feelings by telling them to get a haircut and instead send out emails to enforce standards?