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Air Force technical sergeant removed for racially charged video rant

Tech. Sgt. Geraldine Lovely

SCREENGRAB FROM FACEBOOK VIDEO

By DIANNA CAHN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 30, 2018

The Air Force has removed a technical sergeant at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada from her job after she posted an online expletive-filled and racially-tinged diatribe about subordinates. The post went viral, getting more than 2.5 million views and sparking a frank and unusually public discussion about race and leadership in the service.

On Sunday, Tech. Sgt. Geraldine Lovely posted a video of herself in uniform on a private Facebook forum ranting about the disrespect that she said she suffered from black female subordinates. A portion of the video was then re-posted on a public Facebook community page dedicated to Air Force airmen, non-commissioned and senior non-commissioned officers.

In the video, Lovely, who is a member of the 99th Force Support Squadron, not only uses excessive profanity, she insinuates that she is doing the best she can to remain professional and not “start a fight club.”

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“Why is it that every time I encounter my subordinates that are black females they have a giant (expletive) attitude?” Lovely said. “And it’s not like I am coming to them with a (expletive) attitude. I don’t.

“I am trying my best to hold my professionalism with them but good God, they have no (expletive) respect whatsoever,” she added. “Every time I talk to them, ‘No Ma’am.’ Like they are talking down to me. And I am trying to tread lightly as a higher ranking NCO, not to (expletive) blow the (expletive) up and start a fight club.”

The post was quickly followed by a response from the 99th Air Base Wing public affairs chief, Maj. Christina Sukach, who wrote the video was “inappropriate and unacceptable behavior in today’s society and especially for anyone in uniform. Leadership is aware and is taking appropriate action.”

The video came with an alert: “WARNING: language in video and context is completely unbecoming of a United States Air Force Non-Commissioned Officer.”

It also drew response from other airmen and NCOs on the forum arguing about the video.

“Racism in the military is an epidemic,” one post read, when someone else warned the media might get hold of these public comments. “Forget sweeping yet ANOTHER issue under the rug to save an image.”

“We could literally just be sitting there minding our business and everyone around us will automatically think that we have an attitude,” wrote another poster.

“It’s not an issue of race,” added another. “You don’t know how to effectively interact, lead or build a positive relationship with your subordinates.”

In response to a post on the trouble facing Lovely, one post asked, “Why, for telling the truth?”

“No,” responded another. “For being dumb enough to post it.”

In later responses, some people wondered whether Lovely was being vilified for her profane language rather than the accuracy of her message, while others charged that bad leadership attitudes at the Air Force base were systemic.

On Monday evening, Nellis Air Force Base issued a statement on its official Facebook page announcing Lovely was “removed from her supervisory role while leadership continues to gather facts regarding this incident” and saying that it was an opportunity to “see if this is a broader issue on base” and to talk with airmen about good order and discipline and the Air Force core values.

In a statement Tuesday, Maj. Gen. Peter E. Gersten, commander of the Air Force Warfare Center at Nellis, wrote, “we are all responsible for what we say and do, whether in person or on social media. Additionally, we are also responsible for the environment we tolerate. Respect, dignity, commitment, loyalty and most importantly, trust, is the life blood of our profession.

“These ideals are the difference between winning and losing; both on and off the battlefield,” he added.

Gersten said no disparagement of anyone because of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation will be tolerated.

It was unclear Tuesday what actions will be taken and whether Lovely will face further disciplinary actions. Lovely responded to an email from Stars and Stripes on Monday saying she would like to give her side of the story but wanted to speak with her leadership first.

cahn.dianna@stripes.com
Twitter: @DiannaCahn

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