A teenager from Greenbrier, Arkansas said he was disqualified from joining the Marine Corps because of his Confederate flag tattoo.
Anthony Bauswell, 18, said that after he told a recruiter about the “Southern Pride” tattoo on, he was told the enlisting process would not go forward, KARK reports.
“As soon as I said rebel flag on my ribs, he says DQ, just automatically, DQ,” Bauswell told the news station.
The tattoo features a Confederate flag, with the words “Southern Pride” written across it.
“I felt pretty low,” Bauswell added. “My own government wasn’t going to let me serve my country because of the ink on my skin.”
Bauswell graduated from high school in 2015, according to Heavy.com. He said he understood the negative stigma associated with the Confederate flag and explained that the tattoo was meant to show his pride in his southern upbringing.
“I definitely don’t want it to be seen as racism, which is 99 percent of the reason I got ‘Southern Pride’ on it,” he told KARK.
Bauswell added that he felt he had a plan set for his life, but now he does not know where he stands.
The Marine Corps officially forbids tattoos with “racist, sexist, eccentric or offensive” content. The Marine Corps is expected to update its policy in order to provide clarification for service members, The New York Daily News reports.
“Having talked to them, I don’t think most Marines understand what the policy is,” Commandant Gen. Robert Neller told the Marine Corps Times on Jan. 20, according to The Daily News.
“I don’t think they understand what they can do,” he added. “They just know they can’t get a sleeve.”