Roland Martin talks to Mary Tobin, a 2003 graduate of West Point, about the investigation underway of 16 black women whose raised fists in a photo has caused national outrage.

“These women are dismayed. They already have the pressure of final exams, but in a few weeks they’ll go out into the military and into war and now they have the added pressure. These young ladies, their connection to that symbol means unity and pride.”

Click the link above to hear the entire interview.

(Photo Source: NY Times)

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36 thoughts on “Black Female Cadets Under Investigation After Photo Of ‘Raised Fists’ Goes Viral

  1. NEW YORK (AP) — “Sixteen black West Point cadets who posed with raised fists for a pre-graduation picture that sparked debates on race and proper behavior in uniform won’t be punished for the gesture, the U.S. Military Academy said Tuesday.
    The decision, less than two weeks before the 16 female seniors are poised to graduate, found they didn’t violate military rules limiting political activity.
    An internal inquiry found the cadets didn’t plan to make a political statement, West Point’s superintendent, Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen Jr., said in a letter to the student body”.(Jennifer Peltz-writer for AP)

    I saw the picture when it first circulated. I was so proud to see not only females, but that many AA females within the same class. Per Ms. Peltz, females only make up 20% of the population, with 80% being males. 70 out of 80% are Caucasian. AA females make up less that 2% of the population. To have 18 females out of 1000 seniors slated to graduate in the same class, is absolutely phenomenal! Congrats to all the ladies. I’m glad they don’t have to worry about being punished and can now focus on Graduation.

  2. I speak as a Retired CDR, U.S.N. What were you cadets thinking when you made this decision. I’ll keep it simple. KNOW YOUR TACTICAL ENVIRONMENT!!! The same place that gave us Second lieutenant Henry Flipper, and the four year silencing of General Benjamin O. Davis Jr. is the institution that you have, up to this point, successfully navigated. Sound judgement is a virtue in our personal and professional lives. Please exercise it moving forward.

  3. Congratulations for the ladies hard work in the academy. I have seen so many of my father’s pictures while they were actually in Vietnam; bunch of raised fists in the majority of them. To each his own. what did James Brown say; SAY IT LOUD!

  4. Amber on said:

    This same school has a picture of white student with their fist raised which was showned yesterday. Did any of those guys get in trouble? No. but when black women did this, all of sudden it is a problem? From the looks of all the pictures that were shown to be doing this by whites, the fist raised is something that is done when an event happens so these women were not doing anything no one else did not do.

  5. kimboo on said:

    I’m in agreement with you CMSGT, Thank you for that understanding, and your right… they aren’t military personnel until they sign on the dotted line. This looks like a symbol of Unity and Pride, a sense of accomplishment, in which I’m sure was NO easy task… Nothing to see here!!! No investigation needed.

  6. T. Grant on said:

    As the wife of a retired military Vet I am appalled and disgusted with this whole discusssion. These women have worked hard and as black women they have done something very few have done or can do. We protect organizations like the KKK who choose to wear hoods to represent their white pride and we use the First Amendment to protect them. Our military suppresses the First Amendment rights of their members. If we have black pride does that mean we love our country any less. We need to support these young women and stop being bamboozled by all the establishment. My husband served for 25 years and we have been waiting for VA to finish his claim for four years this is the establishment that will someday serve these PROUD BLACK WOMEN AND ALL BLACK MEN SHOULD BE IN THEIR CORNER.

  7. DeJon Sutton on said:

    It is my personal belief that individuals should be able to celebrate our accomplishments how we see fit. When excitement begins there’s no telling how you might photograph. Allow these young women who happen to be black women enjoy their graduation without personalization…#proudofourpeople

  8. msstarr82 on said:

    why would any BLACK woman in the military even think that she could appear in a photo indicating unity with the BLACK females she went through a RACIST institution in a RACIST country with and NOT be held to a different standard??? hell they had a controversy in the military about BLACK women wearing their hair the way GOD designed it to grow from their heads!!!

    why go into the military in a country that doesn’t VALUE you as a human being?????????

  9. TopSarge98 on said:

    To me that only represents their unity for the time they spent together and graduated or will graduate together, anything other than that perception is ridiculous. I’m sick of the double standard its a pic and there is really no damn need for an investigation. Waste of time and Money…get a damn grip. Search through unit symbols and you will see a lot of things that should have investigated.

    • Michelle Stevens on said:

      Absolutely TopSarge98…it’s all about the color of that clenched fist…while in uniform…what about the sexual unjusts and their COVER UP performed while in uniform…umm held to a much higher standard

  10. I will ask a couple of questions of these students and future officers and leaders: In this photo, what was the purpose (reason) for the raised fist? If there was a specific reason/purpose for the raised fist, why did you do it IN uniform? Depending on the answers to those two questions, we can begin to understand and take a position on the disposition of the investigation by West Point.

      • The use of “we” is in regard to those of us “judging” if this picture is a problem or a simple expression of accomplishment. Naturally, none of us have any skin in the game…this is between the students and the Academy.

  11. Timothy Green on said:

    ….. based off the comments obviously NOONE on here has served in the military, when IN UNIFORM you’re supposed to avoid making any & all statements that can be perceived as being devisive in anyway ESPECIALLY if you’re an officer as these ladies will be … Ive seen individuals both white and black almost have their careers ended for making indirectly disparaging comments about our Commander & Chief aka the president, (under Bush & Obama) .. Thats how the military runs there shit, if you dont like it then dont join

    • R. A. Freeman on said:

      BULL CRAP!!! You have, at different times, opportunities to show unity/solidarity in military units using symbols (a skull, swords, eagles, a sniper crouched in a firing position), etc. A raised fist is no different than a skull and crossbones symbolizing an attitude or a strength or whatever, in the military. Don’t join! That’s sexist!!

    • CMSGT on said:

      Okay allow me to use my 23 yrs of service and recently retired as E9 in the USAF. What you say is not totally true. These are cadets not military personnel until the graduate and then take the official oath to protect/serve this country…etc etc….They didn’t just go to a recruiter and sign on the dotted line, they had to be appointed by a congressional member to gain access to the academy. Yes when these ladies graduate they will become 2nd LT no doubt however the punishment dictated by West Point will be totally different that what they would be subjected to if they were already in the Army. West Point will handle this internally and will not be dismissed I can assure you. Of course once the the Army they would be subjected to an Article 15 which could lead to a dishonorable discharge. Now the question would be “do I have an issue with this”? Of course not when you serve 23 yrs you encounter a lot of stuff you don’t see on Cnn/Fox/MSMBC. Like is stated earlier most likely they will have to endure some more PT training and loses so privileges.
      Just thought I would chime in with some inside knowledge…oh yeah the last 6 yrs I was Chief MSGT overseeing the discipline of 5,000 airmen.

      • ButterPecan on said:

        Thank you for clearing that up. Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with it. It looks more like a symbol of Unity and or Pride! People are afraid of things they don’t understand. I don’t see why they feel a need to investigate.

  12. Linda on said:

    So what!!!!!

    I guess that FREEDOM OF SPEECH does not apply to folks of color!!!
    This reminds me of the 1968 or so Olympics where several African-American medal winners stood on the platform with their FISTS RAISED–white folks had a fit!

    KUDO’s to these FEMALE CADETS FOR THEIR SHOW OF SOLIDARITY–F–K WHAT OTHERS MAY THINK OR SAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • kimboo on said:

      Hey Kates1221, is she white or very light? I’m saying this because I have white skin, and naturally straight hair from my Sicilian grandfather, and my parents are both black, and a little darker than me… but she does look Caucasian. A question I stopped answering a long, long time ago, in public school, and college, is what are you? Ugh… My answer: I’m what God made me! 🙂

    • specialt757 on said:

      Kates in all other reports concerning this pictures, it’s being reported as 16 African American women. I really don’t think it would be as big a deal if a white woman was featured, because then no one can call it a racial issue, but they could say it’s a “woman” thing.

  13. Why are so many scared of unity? Its because of the power that comes with the UNITY of Black females and Black people. This is only the tip of the iceberg. This generation is on to something and many are afraid of the change solidarity within the Black Community can bring.

  14. jhuf on said:

    Hum I guess you could argue that the pride and unity should be in wearing that uniform
    I know there is a code of conduct I don’t know if this violates it, I would think these women would know if it did, after all if a group of white cadets had raised their right hands palms extended that would raise some eyebrows as well

  15. Anytime black folks show any sort of unity and pride, it somehow offends. When John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their fist it offended. We just have to accept the fact anytime we show some pride or shine light unto a problem it is a threat to “some people”.

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