The U.S. Air Force Academy issued an apology after a commandant said basketball legend Michael Jordan’s conservative appearance is a great example of good grooming and fashion sense. What started off as a compliment turned into a comment that some viewed as racist, according to published reports.
How did this happen?
Master Sgt. Zachary Parish wrote an email to cadets that began by saying their haircuts did not meet Air Force regulations. Cadets need to keep their hair trimmed, he wrote. That comment was not surprising because the military enforces strict shaving and haircut regulations.
"It's unfortunate that a small percentage of cadets who fail to maintain their hair appropriately cast a negative impression that's reflected on the entire ... cadet population and armed service members at large," Parish wrote. He went on to make a reference to Jordan's appearance:
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.
Some recipients of the message viewed the comment as being derogatory toward African Americans, The Gazette in Colorado reported.
What did the apology say?
In a written statement, the school apologized for the comment, calling it a “microaggression.”
"Let me apologize for the email sent earlier today by our first sergeant," Col. Julian Stevens, vice-commandant of cadets at the academy, said in a written statement. "The comments were very disrespectful, derogatory and in no way reflective of (cadet wing) permanent party views."
Stevens continued: "Microagressions such as these are often blindspots/unintentional biases that are not often recognized, and if they are recognized they are not always addressed.”
Many people on Facebook defended Parish’s comment, but the academy still admonished him, according to reports.
"The comments were inappropriate," the academy stated in its follow-up email. "We have a responsibility for how we communicate and if anyone feels disrespected by someone's words, we take that very seriously. We need to take responsibility immediately and learn from it as we move forward."
The school has since apologized for the Wednesday "microaggressions." #copolitics https://t.co/BcFCGTmcIp— Colorado Politics (@Colorado Politics)1518802201.0