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Last week, the Army launched an investigation after blogger John Burk, an Iraq veteran, posted a photograph on Facebook of 16 black women cadets at West Point posing for their "Old Corp" photo, a time-honored tradition in which modern senior cadets mimic the old-style, black-and-white photos of cadets long past.

Other than showing nearly every black woman in the graduating class which, in itself, is sad and begs the question of whether the Academy should step up their "diversity outreach" efforts , nothing about it is remarkable. But Burk took issue with the "raised fist" gesture of the cadets, which he claims is meant to represent support of the BlackLivesMatter movement. Nevermind the wealth of photographs that show white male cadets making the same gesture.

Does this support BlackLivesMatter? Burk claims in his blog that the cadets are violating DoD Directive He believes that this is an example of racism and implies it's anti-white.

Why 16 black women would go through one of the most rigorous admissions processes in existence, spend four years at a mostly-male, mostly-white institution spending every waking moment interacting mostly with white white men , and commit five years of their lives to more of the same after graduation with the possibility of, you know, death because they, apparently, "hate white people" is beyond me.

But there you have it. This former drill sergeant with a sizable following on Facebook who spends most of his time ranting about political correctness is, himself, hurt that any black woman in uniform would dare show confidence in her existence as a black woman.

As a white male who served in the military I can say, without a doubt, that nothing in this photo says "I hate white people. Burk compares this gesture to a Nazi salute, which, I gotta say, is arguably the funniest violation of Godwin's Law I've seen in quite some time. I'll admit that I can't be percent certain that I know why every black woman in this picture has a raised fist.

For some, it could be solidarity. For some, it could be an expression of pride in their blackness, a gesture of acknowledging how far African-Americans have come in this country despite the ludicrous barriers put in their way. For some, it could be a way of saying "Goddman, after four years, I'm finally taking this photo. The journey is almost complete. But as a white male who served in the military as an enlisted soldier and later attended West Point, I can say, without a doubt, that nothing in this photo says "I hate white people.

Their "raised fist" gesture is about life. It doesn't represent an ideology on anything other than marching toward a greater good. The Nazi salute, on the other hand, is about an ideology of superiority, representative of some of the darkest moments of humanity.

It is racism incarnate. For Burk to compare the two is completely childish and stupid and reveals his own deep insecurities. To understand why these black women would feel the need to make such a gesture, it would be good to put their struggle in context. Traditionally, West Point is not a totally hospitable environment for women and people of color.

The speech wasn't the kind of speech any given luminary makes at any given college. It wasn't even the kind of speech that a president makes in any given year. It was rare and bold and it would set the tone of American foreign policy in the coming decade, and this was all-too-obvious to everyone in American politics and media in the fall of , let alone the cadets of West Point, where it was announced the speech would be delivered live to the entire Corps at Eisenhower Hall in primetime.

For a speech of this magnitude, one would expect a college campus to be excited and honored to play host. Even the students of an institution like West Point, which has so many famous visitors on an annual basis that the presence of a U. Instead, the week prior to the speech saw the most passive-aggressive racism I have yet witnessed, not only from many of my classmates but the upperclass cadets who are charged with leading by example.

I vividly remember overhearing, on several occasions, cadets talk of wanting to get out of attending the speech which was mandatory , not because it might be boring or a waste of time a precious resource in the life of a cadet but because they didn't want to listen to the President, who they felt was a communist, socialist, Nazi, terrorist-sympathizer, and yes, at least one time that week, I heard the n-word in reference to our Commander-in-Chief.

There were small rumblings of "protesting" the speech by walking out, claims that they'd never salute him, etc. No, this wasn't everyone, and perhaps a case can be made that most of the cadets that week didn't care one way or the other, but the racist reaction to the President was substantial.

It wasn't a small thing. At the time, four other black men were at the Academy. When Flipper matriculated, he endured something far worse than the typical stress a plebe that's Academy parlance for "freshman" encounters: West Point can be a lonely place for anyone.

Imagine having only a handful of folks with whom to interact. He graduated as Lieutenant Flipper in , the first black man to do so, and four years later, was court-martialed and dismissed from service after being framed with embezzling funds by a white commander.

Despite the obviously racist nature of the incident and the community rallying around the young officer in a show of solidarity, the trial was swift and harsh. After his unjust removal from the military, Flipper worked as a civil engineer and later served as an assistant to then-Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall. His request to serve in the Spanish-American War was rejected by Congress.

In , after decades of lobbying by his descendants, Pres. The presentation of the award is accompanied by an annual dinner that is mandatory for all cadets. In my time there, although the vast majority of cadets looked upon the dinner with at least a tired indifference given to any event by exhausted students, I occasionally heard comments of resentment by white cadets along the lines of "there's no White History Month" or "white officers have been unjustly court-martialed; where's their namesake award?

The election of Barack Obama in brought to the surface a kind of venom among millions of white Americans who could not stand seeing a black man lead the country. West Point was no different.

On the night of the election, after the result was announced at approximately 11 p. EST, numerous accounts tell of the loudspeaker at West Point's Central Area the equivalent of a college quad area blasting out the National Anthem of the Soviet Union, a sarcastic and blunt act of protest against Obama's election that many saw as overt racism.

It is unknown to me if the cadets in charge of the loudspeaker at the time were punished. In the following days, black cadets who were at the Academy at the time spoke of encounters with white cadets that could aptly be characterized as harassment. One such story comes from a friend of mine who was a plebe at the time. All plebes are required to greet upperclass cadets with a simple statement.

Part of being a plebe is ironing out the wrinkles and getting disciplined. The appropriate corrective action for the upperclassman would be to order the plebe to greet and if they were a particularly insufferable hard-ass, file a formal negative report. The latter, as you can imagine, is a rarity for such a small infraction.

There is a long history of racism against black cadets at West Point, both direct and implied. Instead of reminding my friend of her duties as a plebe, the upperclassman said, "What, you don't have to greet now that a black man is president? Black cadets who were at West Point in the years after Obama's election have stories in this vein.

Because nearly all of them are officers the Class of , for example, ended its service obligation in but many still continue to serve , the odds of you reading these stories in the first person aren't great. But there is a long history of racism against black cadets at West Point, both direct and implied.

For example, display of the Confederate flag by members of the military in their barracks rooms has generated controversy for decades. Although there is no Army-wide or military-wide policy on their display for personal use, individual unit commanders can forbid it under Army Regulation Last time I checked, West Point has such a policy in place. That doesn't always stop cadets from displaying them, even if discretely. Even at an institution as disciplined as West Point, some behavior goes unnoticed, sometimes because it's seen as unimportant in the scheme of things, sometimes because cadets in authority look the other way.

But for black cadets who witness the rare Confederate flag on display, it can be uncomfortable, especially if the white cadet in question is in charge of them. A few years ago, military leaders attempted to restrict the hairstyle choices of black women in order to streamline the overall regulations on grooming and personal appearance for all Soldiers. Although not intentionally racist, it was certainly tone-deaf and after months of debate, the Secretary of Defense authorized additional hairstyles that are used by black women serving, seen by some West Point cadets as an unfair bending of the rules.

Where this gets bad, however, are the comments that are made in lieu of such a decision. When it comes to issues of race and gender, West Point can be a lot like an online comments section. It's not that any given white man at West Point is racist or sexist.

In fact, most don't care or think about race or gender although they definitely should as future leaders. They just want to get through those fours years and be on their way. But many, indeed, are hostile to women and people of color, even if to a small degree. The hair thing is only one aspect.

A bigger issue is the recurring critique of so-called affirmative action policies that supposedly give spots at the Academy to less-qualifed women and people of color. There are intense "diversity outreach" efforts by the Academy to get qualified women and people of color to apply because diversity makes an organization stronger, including the U. Army, but this has been mangled by some and by "some," I mean insecure white males to constitute an unfair advantage gained by non-white, non-male applicants to West Point.

This trope is trotted out on a regular basis by some white male cadets and is inflamed when a person of color or a woman bests them at a task or fails to meet standards. This dynamic is particularly hard for women of color at the Academy. Writer and activist K.

Kylila Bullard writes of her experience at West Point as a black woman:. I would like to believe that all are given a fair shot at life. I would like to say that when our founding fathers wrote "all men are created equal" in our Constitution, they meant it.

I really would want to fall in love with this inclusive rhetoric of equal worth. But the truth and the sad reality is that in , even after the life and death of Rev. Martin Luther King Dr. I am saddened that these strong 16 black women who have turned down top colleges to instead join the army, some deploying before even becoming a cadet at West Point, accepted an abnormal and regimented college experience in an effort to become the best leaders that they can for America's sons and daughter, are treated this way.

West Point graduate Mary Tobin writes:. I have men in my life, whom I call my brothers, and they are from all over of the world and they don't look like me. In fact, for some, I was literally the first black friend they had, because of where they grew up. I have women in my life, whom I call sisters, who didn't understand why my hair felt or looked the way it did. I have friends, white friends, who I consider to be my family, but developing that bond was not without its challenges. When you attend West Point as a black person, there is no possible way to hide among the sea of plus cadets Our attrition rates are on par with the class at large, but can you imagine what it must feel like to live, train, study, eat, cry, laugh, struggle, and succeed in an environment where for 4 years, the majority of the people there don't look like you, it's hard for them to relate to you, they oftentimes don't understand you, and the only way to survive is to shrink your blackness or assimilate.

We don't talk about the microagressions that minority cadets experience every single day.

The Living, Racist Ghosts of West Point | HuffPost

The dry sclerophyll forest dominated by spotted gums on the northern slope eventually gave way to a denser more luxurious vegetation as we approached the top. Here there were a few clearings from an abandoned farming venture; these gave glimpses over and through the tall trees of the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean to the east and the lighter shades of blue of the coastal mountain ranges to the west. One last look at the Budawangs. The track then descended steeply down the south-eastern slope of Durras Mountain through lusher forest, where rainforest patches mixed with spotted gums in the wetter gullies.

Levelling out near the coast, we could hear a distant sound like a thousand jaffas being rolled down the aisle of a theatre at the same time; we were approaching Pebbly Beach. Arriving at a small inlet we were mesmerised, as the surf surged in to the thick steep layers of pebbles on the beach and tumbled them around as it sucked back out again.

The soft rising and falling pitch of water-rattled pebbles is a sound to soothe the troubled soul. However, our souls were light and free, so we headed on over a low headland to the Pebbley Beach campground. It is an interesting piece of trivia that the unnamed beaches on either side of Pebbly Beach are stoney, while the one actually named Pebbly Beach is sandy. We stopped for lunch here and, no sooner had our sandwiches appeared, than a flock of currawongs appeared ready, willing and able to steal any bit of food that wasn't held or nailed down to the table.

Even a couple of bowerbirds joined in. Because of its attractive setting and resident beach kangaroos, Pebbley Beach is a popular spot for mass tourism and, in season, busloads of tourists stop for a brief visit. The local bird life obviously gets too many free handouts from their lunchboxes. We moved on following the rock platform and crossing another stoney beach, with its soothing rumble tumble of rounded pebbles, in parts graded according to size by the surge and retreat of the surf.

Soon we reached isolated and beautiful Depot Beach, less well known and a jewel in the coastline for that very reason. We sat in the shade of a tree at the northern end for some time watching the waves crashing onto the outer edges of a rock platform and a few surfers catching the breaks where the platform joined the beach proper.

Rock platform beneath Point Upright. It would have been easy to doze off in this idyllic setting, but we needed to move on and crossed the beach to a long rock platform under the tall sandstone cliffs of Point Upright. The relatively high tide and big seas made for an interesting passage along the platform and both of us ended up with saturated shoes, caught out by the surge of an extra-large wave at the wrong time and place.

Leaving the platform to pass through a narrow section of banksia forest on the southern side of the headland, we emerged to look over the azure waters of the northern end of Beagle Bay to the long sweeping beach at North Durras.

This bay is protected from the large ocean swells and, living up to its name, it was too tempting to stay out of the water. After a refreshing swim, we strolled up the beach to North Durras where we had booked in for the night. One slight disappointment faced us at the end of a great day; the channel from the sea to Durras Lake - a great place to swim when the tide is rushing in or out - had closed over.

At several points along the coast, we had noticed that there appeared to be a build up of sand and this confirmed it. Six months ago the sand finally won and closed off the entrance until the next cycle when a build-up in lake water levels should break through to the sea once again; such is the rhythm of life for many of these coastal lakes.

Although it was no longer possible to swim in the channel, the closed entrance did not detract from the aesthetic qualities of Durras. The view across the lake and dunes to the sea from the deck of our cabin at Joalah Holiday Park is one of those that you could sit and enjoy for hours on end.

We spent the next two days at North Durras relaxing and catching up with washing, website updates etc. The village of North Durras is a time warp, where most buildings are still the old style beach houses of the '60s era.

This is a pleasant change from many of the ultra-modern new developments. North Durras should be heritage listed! North Durras beach houses. One afternoon, desperation overtook us and we strolled 3 km down the beach to Murramarang Resort to have a glass of beer, taking the opportunity to have a quick swim in their large resort-style pool. Very relaxing, but probably not very correct as we were not resident guests; sorry Mr Murramarang, perhaps this small plug for your nice resort in its peaceful coastal setting will be adequate recompense.

Together with another pleasant couple, he took us on a trip on the pristine waters of Lake Durras and we learnt how the lake was saved from "progress" as the Friends of Durras took on and defeated the developers who wanted to line it shores with more houses and resorts. Now it is protected forever as part of Murramarang National Park - more power to the little person!

Any one of us can make a difference. Rounding the lake and heading south once again, we passed through a small section of dunes, before dropping back on to Durras Beach, crossing a small headland to Cookie's Beach and climbing up to Murramarang resort.

By this time the drizzle had ceased and we had a cappuccino break at the resort. This pattern from beach to headland to beach was to be the rhythm of the day, as we were passing through a rugged deeply indented section of coastline within the southern part of Murramarang National Park.

Leaving the resort, we picked up a track leading down to secluded Emily Miller Beach, with its soft golden sands framed by forest and low sandstone cliffs. The track wound through the forest, where large numbers of burrawangs grew under a canopy of spotted gums. The girls on Emily Miller Beach. We descended to Dark Beach, of great fascination to geologists because it marks the southernmost extent of the Sydney Basin sandstones.

This change is quite dramatic, as the northern end of the beach has sedimentary sandstone cliffs and white sand, while the southern end has deeply convoluted layers of metamorphosed chert and phyllite rock with black shingles and sand. Back into the forest once again, the track led us to Flat Rock Point, where a magnificent view was to be had of the deeply indented coast that we had just walked along, framed by the silhouettes of Durras Mountain and Grasshopper Island.

We retraced our steps from the end of the point and dropped down on to Myrtle Beach, where the different geology of the cliffs, with their uplifted jagged layers angled toward the sky, became even more apparent. The cuttlefish grow big in this part of the world. Jagged metamorphic ribs on Myrtle Beach. Strolling down a forestry road.

This coastline must be a geologist's paradise. The burrawang is a species of cycad - large specimens of these slow growing plants can be several hundred years old. Their dark green foliage contrasts sharply with the greyness of the eucalypts. The track out of Oakey Beach was a little obscure, but after a brief period of geographic embarrassment and short section of bush-bashing, we found ourselves again on the right track heading to North Head.

We stopped for lunch on the coarse black sand of Honeysuckle Bay, before following the track around the headland to North Head Beach, from where we had a first glimpse of the broad expanse of Bateman's Bay.

Here the track finally ended, but with the aid of JPS Jules Pointing Straight , backed up by GPS, we made a bee-line through the bush and across a series of small headlands and beaches, before descending steeply to the calm waters of Maloney's Beach. Trevor's earlier reconnaissance trip had determined this to be the safest pick up point for the Bay crossing. A few hundred metres off shore, he and Lloyd were waiting in the boat as we reached the beach.

A few minutes later, we were speeding our way through the ocean swells on a 6 km crossing from Maloney's Beach to Corrigan's Beach on the southern shores of the Bay, where our cabin awaited us a short 50 m walk from the shore. The weekend was special for another reason - both Carol and the fair Nello were celebrating their birthdays, so, joined by Jenny, another good friend from Canberra, we all celebrated with a great meal at a local restaurant and a birthday cake provided by Julie back at the cabin.

We had such a good time that I forgot to take any photos. The weather may have been a bit dull, but the coastal scenery was spectacular and the company was very bright. Thanks for your help and a great weekend folks! Download 3D map for google earth. Ulladulla to Bawley Point This was one of our longest stages of the walk; a family reunion that took over the entire camp ground at Lake Tabourie obliged us to walk to Bawley Point, 9 km further and 24 km in total.

Calf-burning soft sands of Racecourse Beach. Shoreline of Burrill Lake. Lagoon Head rock platform. This giant T-bone is actually the remains of a long-dead whale. Rock Jumble on Lagoon Head. Rainclouds gather over Mount Durras. Sandstone layering at Termeil Point. Swampy forest near Lake Willinga. Bawley Point to Merry Beach. It rained on and off overnight and we awoke to a grey sky.

Early morning surfers at Cormorant Beach. Track through the windswept heathland. Kioloa Bay from O'Hara Head. I can't imagine why someone named this place Pretty Beach!

Like most coastal villages in and near Murramarang National Park, Merry Beach has a big population of kangaroos.

If you own a beach house here, you do not need a lawnmower; the 'roos do that for you. You won't need fertiliser either as they offer a full grass upkeep service. What you will need is a keen eye and the ability to side-step quickly when crossing any grassy area. Merry Beach Lawncare Inc. Merry Beach to North Durras. The coastline of Murramarang National Park. Dance along the sand and surf until you get to the end, where another marked track leads you back into the forest.

Take the path at the far end of the beach up to Bawley Point, a small coastal village. Return the same way, but this time turn off to Meroo beach for a dip.

After a day filled with activity, you deserve to rest. So take a stroll around the local beaches. Along the way, search the rock pools for crabs, starfish and sea urchins.

Pack a picnic and spend the afternoon watching the birds soar around Termeil Lake. Fancy fish for dinner? Cast a line and hope for the best. If your fishing skills are rusty, head to the beach and watch the locals try their luck at spearfishing. The way we see it — coffee, bread and beer is really all you could need! But if you disagree, you can always grab some greens at the IGA supermarket. There are generous tent sites each with a fire pit, and well-maintained toilets. Just remember to bring plenty of drinking water, load up on insect repellant and hide everything from the possums — they are incredibly brazen!

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The Bawley Kioloa Community Association is a group for Have lost my little female white and tan Jack Russel at Kioloa near merry beach caravan park. We have had some interest in a Bawley based book club. Looking Bawley Point Rural Fire Brigade wants alert residents in Bawley Point and Kioloa to be aware of. You may also like The littel girl has been found at Kincumber, safe and well. Coast to search for a 2 year old girl who has gone missing from her home. . All persons have been accounted for. . Low cloud hampering search efforts. Take the path at the far end of the beach up to Bawley Point, a small to collect some kindling on the way back to camp – you'll want to sit by a.