From The American Mirror
By Victor Skinner
Recent high school graduate Anthony Bauswell wanted to join the U.S. Marines, but contends he was rejected by a recruiter because of the color of his skin.
On his left rib cage Bauswell has a Confederate flag tattoo, with a banner across it reading “Southern Pride,” and he told Arkansas Matters that the Marines recruiting center in Conway insists it disqualifies him from serving his country.
The 18-year-old went to the recruiting center Monday and as soon as the recruiter learned of the tattoo Bauswell said he was turned away.
“As soon as I said rebel flag on my ribs, he says DQ, just automatically, DQ,” Bauswell said of his disqualification. “I felt pretty low. My own government wasn’t going to let me serve my country because of the ink on my skin.”
The Marine Corps tattoo policy explicitly prohibits tattoos that are “sexist, racist, eccentric or offensive in nature,” AOL.com reports, noting that the Marines tightened the policy in April.
Bauswell said he specifically designed the tattoo to not to be racist or offensive.
“I definitely don’t want it to be seen as racism,” he said, “which is 99 percent of the reason I got southern pride on it.”
A poster on the Marine Corps website shows some tattoos have been grandfathered into the new system, including lower-arm tattoos that are no longer acceptable.
Bauswell told Arkansas Matters the recent developments turned his life upside down.
“I kind of felt like I had a plan for my life, and now that I can’t go I’m not sure where I stand,” he said.
AOL.com points out a CNN/ORC poll in July showed 57 percent of Americans view the Confederate flag as a symbol of southern pride, rather than racism. The results showed 72 percent of blacks view the flag as racist, compared to 25 percent of whites.
Marine Crops Sgt. Maj. Ronald Green told Marine Corps Times in August the most recent review of the branch’s tattoo regulations aimed mostly to clarify and reconcile inconsistencies, and to provide soldiers with better guidance on what’s acceptable and what’s not.
He said the major focus of the review was to ensure Marines present a professional image.
“America … (looks) for a certain image in the Marine Corps,” Green said. “We want to make sure that the image that we project is the image that America wants (and one) the Marine Corps can live with.”
And while the policy may prevent Bauswell from enlisting, other soldiers already serving are also dealing with the consequences of the policy.
Sgt. Daniel Knapp told the Marine Corps Times said the crossed rifles tattoo on his arm prevented him from progressing in his career.
“They didn’t have an issue meritoriously promoting me when I had a tattoo,” he said. “I never heard anything about my tattoos. Nothing was said until I went to the career planner.”