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Army Investigating Tradition Known As ‘Racial Thursdays’

A platoon is receiving serious scrutiny from the Army for a tradition called “Racial Thursdays” in which soldiers regularly sling racial slurs against each other in a free-for-all environment.

A black noncommissioned officer (NCO) has finally had enough and decided to inform the media of the practice. The NCO is convinced that if the public doesn’t know about the tradition, the Army will simply sweep the incident under the rug without relieving anyone, Army Times reports.

“When I first got to my unit, someone said we should do ‘Racial Thursdays’ because it’s been a tradition,” the unnamed NCO told Army Times. “It’s something they made up where you can say any racist remark you want without any consequences. The platoon sergeant said no, but the shit is still going on.”

The NCO filed an equal opportunity complaint against the platoon leader, alleging that the leader encouraged the tradition to build a stronger team dynamic. A second soldier spoke with Army Times and confirmed that although the tradition is, in fact, voluntary, it is still ongoing. Soldiers could opt out if they felt particularly uncomfortable. This second soldier, also a minority, then recounted incidents in which members of the unit almost came to blows over slurs gone out of control. He was previously afraid to speak up.

Spokesman Lt. Col. Alan Brown told Army Times that an informal inquiry is underway, but emphasized that at this point, the allegations are allegations only. No findings have yet been made. However, Brown did say that the suicide of Pvt. Danny Chen in 2011, ruled to be because of harassment over his Chinese ancestry, is not in any way connected to the current incident.

After serious hazing, Chen committed suicide on the same day he was forced to crawl 100 yards while soldiers hurled rocks at him. As a result of Chen’s suicide, eight soldiers were either punished or court-martialed.

Chen belonged to the same unit—2nd Platoon, C Company, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment—as the two soldiers reporting Racial Thursdays. The platoon is based in Alaska.

Follow Jonah Bennett on Twitter

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