"In the wake of Floyd’s unfortunate death, a flurry not only of protests but also of writings on race ensued. In time, many of the latter took aim at VMI, a number of which asserted the school’s Confederate heritage had some connection with terms such as “structural” or “systemic” racism. Suddenly, the small but nationally-recognized military college, founded in 1839, was thrust into the limelight. One major problem with the charges – some of which have come from VMI graduates themselves – was that the published allegations fail to meet a traditional, objective definition of structural or systemic racism; in other words, racism that is part of the structure of the institution (school) itself. If such racism exists at VMI, it remains unsubstantiated as of this writing.
A survey of the articles on VMI and racism in the last six months suggests the allegations of racially-inspired acts – nearly uniformly attributed on the internet or in print to structural or systemic racism – were, in fact, acts of individual poor judgment or an individual’s racism: 1) a second-year cadet’s unserious but equally foolish threat to “lynch” a black cadet during a fevered workout for first-year “Rats” (for which the upperclassman was suspended, a significant discipline given the nature of the event in which the Rats were to undergo intense adversities to prove themselves, an integral part of VMI’s well-known adversarial, successful, model); 2) a professor’s thoughtless, “wistful” comments in class on the entertaining parties enjoyed years ago by her father, a KKK member; or, 3) some stupid or racially derogatory comments on social media. In fact, those are the three primary anecdotes that have been repeated over and over in news articles since June: none were structural (systemic, institutional) in nature; all took place in an individual or small-group/classroom context with a single protagonist or on social media (highly individualistic by its nature). It is altogether possible that the first two incidents were one-time events that have morphed into different versions in the reporting.
Certainly, individual acts of stupidity, poor judgment, or outright racism ought to be addressed (some, like the lynching threat, have been). Such incidents, however, are a much different thing than so-called structural (systemic, institutional) racism. Perhaps Virginia’s $1 million investigation of – in the governor’s words – a “clear and appalling culture of ongoing structural racism” [emphasis added] at VMI, will prove to be unfounded. Time will tell." Abbeville
I have attempted to hold my tongue concerning the rape of my alma mater. No more. I fully and completely associate myself with the undying tradition of service, honor and sacrifice that our graduates have embodied since 1839.
That includes the dead New Market cadets buried around the base of Moses Ezekiel's statue pf "Virginia Mourning Her Dead" and the 50% of our alumni who died in Confederate service in the War Between the States.
There are VMI people who do not revere our dead. I am not among them. pl