18-year-old Anthony Bauswell wanted to join the U.S. Marines, but claims he was rejected by a recruiter because of the ink on his skin.
Bauswell has a Confederate flag tattoo, with a banner across it reading “Southern Pride,” on his left ribcage. Because of that tattoo, the Marines recruiting center in Conway, Arkansas reportedly “disqualified” him from serving his country.
Bauswell says he went to the recruiting center on Monday to enlist. “As soon as I said rebel flag on my ribs, he says DQ, just automatically, DQ,” Bauswell said of his disqualification.
The young man told Arkansas Matters these recent developments “turned his life upside down.” The recent high school graduate said he felt “pretty low” after being rejected. “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.
The Marine Corps tightened its tattoo policy back in April. It prohibits tattoos that are “sexist, racist, eccentric or offensive in nature.” Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Ronald Green told the Marine Corps Times that the most recent review of the branch’s tattoo regulations aimed to “provide… better guidance on what’s acceptable and what’s not.”
“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,” Green said.
Bauswell doesn’t believe his tattoo is racist in any way. In fact, he said, he specifically designed it not to be racist or offensive. According to a CNN/ORC poll, 57 % of Americans view the Confederate flag as a symbol of southern pride, rather than racism.
While Bauswell is now dealing with the aftermath of being rejected, other Marines already serving have been dealing with other consequences of the policy. Sgt. Daniel Knapp told the Marine Corps Times that his crossed rifles tattoo prevented him from progressing in his career.