Posted on October 23, 2022

Racist Texts Denying an Airman a Special Duty Were Fake, Air Force Investigation Finds

David Roza, Task and Purpose, October 18, 2022

Air Force investigators found that a series of purported text messages where an airman allegedly told another airman that he was not being considered for a position because “the Air Force is looking for somebody of white complexion” were fake.

“Following an exhaustive investigation, authorities determined that the statements published did not occur and the text messages were fake,” Sean Clements, chief of media relations for the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona told Task & Purpose on Monday.

In May, base officials began investigating the texts, which first appeared on the popular Facebook page Air Force amn/snco/nco and allegedly occurred between a technical sergeant and a Black senior airman at the base’s 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron.

“We won’t be sending your name up for [redacted] at the squadron,” the technical sergeant appeared to have texted the senior airman. 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.”

Air Force regulations prohibit airmen from growing beards, but the service issues waivers 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, a skin condition that affects many Black men. However, many airmen with shaving waivers have reported facing prejudice despite their legitimate condition or religious beliefs.

“Male beard growth beyond that allowed by USAF regulation can cast members in a negative light as it can be considered unprofessional,” wrote Air Force Lt. Col. Simon Ritchie, a dermatologist who, along with several colleagues, published a study last year about the beard prohibition’s discriminatory effect on Black airmen. The study found an association between shaving waivers and a significantly longer time between promotions.

Back at Luke Air Force Base, the senior airman appeared to respond to the supervisor’s text by saying 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.


But six months later, investigators say they found that the text exchange never occurred at all, though Clements could not give more specifics.


When asked specifically if the investigation found that the senior airman faked the texts, Clements said that he could not confirm that information on the record.

If this was in fact the case, the senior airman would not be the first member of the Air Force or prospective member of the Air Force to compose fake racist messages.

In 2017, racial slurs were written on the dormitory message boards of five black cadet candidates at the Air Force Academy Preparatory School, Air Force Times reported at the time. Two months later, the academy said that one of the cadet candidates thought to have been a victim of the slurs had admitted to being responsible for them. The cadet candidate said he wrote the slurs because of an untreated concussion, according to Air Force Times.