The U.S. Air Force has launched an investigation after a Technical sergeant told a black airman that he wasn’t going to put him up for a desired position because “the Air Force is looking for somebody of white complexion” and “with the image that the Air Force needs.”
“We won’t be sending your name up for [redacted] at the squadron,” a White technical sergeant allegedly texted a Black senior airman at the 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron on Wednesday.
When the senior airman asked for a specific reason why, the technical sergeant said, “We personally do not feel as if you are a good choice for the squadron. You currently have a shaving waiver which isn’t a professional image, and I think the air force is looking for somebody of white complexion and with the image that the air force needs.”
“We can talk tomorrow to further discuss,” the text concluded.
While the Air Force prohibits male members from growing beards, waivers are issued to airmen who, for medical or religious reasons, are not able to shave in line with regulations. For example, Air Force doctors can allow airmen to grow well-kept beards if they suffer from painful razor bumps. However, as noted by Task and Purpose, many airmen with shaving waivers have reported being prejudiced against despite their legitimate condition or religious beliefs.
The senior airman said that “this is the third job that has been held over my head due to my looks, and that’s something based on personal preference.
“I will not talk about it any further than what was just said,” he said according to the report. “I know the commander would not agree with this.”
An Air Force spokesperson said base leadership is looking into the matter.
“The 56th Fighter Wing is currently investigating the allegations of misconduct purportedly in a text message interaction between two Luke AFB Airmen published online yesterday,” said Sean Clements, chief of media relations for the Luke-based 56th Fighter Wing. “Without going into specifics of the investigation, we can categorically say that Luke Airmen are held to a high standard of conduct and that we maintain a zero-tolerance policy regarding acts of discrimination based on race.”
Read the full report on Task And Purpose.