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You’ve probably seen the picture.

If you haven’t, you can easily find it online.

Just go to and find it there.

Sixteen African American women — graduation seniors at West Point — posing for a photo while wearing high-collared uniforms and standing on the steps of historic Nininger Hall.

It’s a tradition.

Generations of cadets have one it proudly.

But, there’s something different about this photo.

All the women are raising clenched fists.

Cue the outage.

An online post entitled “Racism within West Point” claims it was out of line and racist and reminiscent of the Black Panthers, Black Lives Matter and the Black Power movement.

Now, West Point is investigating and could discipline the cadets who are scheduled to graduate May 21st.

Critics like veteran John Burk who is white, took to Facebook to voice opposition to photograph


“Your beliefs are your beliefs. If you want to identify with the BLM group, that is your individual right,” Burk said. “But while in uniform, it is not. You are a representative of the United States Army. That’s the bottom line of it.”

According to NPR, Burk also wrote in an email that he had “disciplined soldiers for making Nazi salutes in photos and felt the raised fist was not much different.”

On his website, former Florida Representative Allen West called the actions and photo dishonorable.

The retired Army lieutenant colonel also wrote that he would have the cadets apologize to their class and the academy.

It’s that clinched fist that’s getting people so riled up, just as it did when Beyoncé and crew collectively did it during her Super Bowl halftime performance.

The difference is that Beyoncé is an artist, but the Army prohibits soldiers from making political statements while in uniform.

Beyond that, critics call the photo inappropriate and offensive.

But Mary Tobin, a West Point grad who mentored some for the women and spoke to them about the picture, says the women were just showing pride while honoring previous generations of soldiers


Mary Tobin – “They had no idea that the photograph would be viewed through any negative lens.”


“Some of us need to check our biases at the door and ask ourselves why we are finding something negative in that picture instead of finding something positive.”

Another West Point grad, Sue Fulton, who is a member of the school’s Board of Visitors and is friends with some of the cadets, says quote “a black fist has a different connotation” from a white fist.”

Sue Fulton is saying that there’s a double standard, especially when we see all the time, athletes and others raising their fists in victory.

But is it different when you’re wearing a uniform representing The United States?

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Don Lemon: Is Black Power In The US Military Off Limits?  was originally published on