In a recent press release, the NAACP outlined the series of events that led to the warning, saying: “The series of recent incidents involve troublesome conduct by American Airlines and they suggest a corporate culture of racial insensitivity and possible racial bias on the part of American Airlines.”
Elaborating, the release goes on to detail the story of an African-American man who was “required to relinquish” purchases seats on a flight from Washington D.C. to Raleigh-Durham, “merely because he responded to disrespectful and discriminatory comments directed toward him by two unruly white passengers.”
According to the release, an African-American woman had her previously booked first-class seat downgraded to coach while her white traveling companion retained hers. Another still was removed from a flight with her infant child when the woman, a Harvard Law School student, asked that her stroller be retrieved from checked baggage before she disembarked.
“The NAACP deplores such alarming behavior on the part of airline personnel, and we are aware of these incidents only because the passengers involved knew their rights knew to speak up and exercised the courage to do so promptly. Historically, the NAACP has issued travel advisories when conditions on the ground pose a substantial risk of harm to black Americans, and we are concerned today that the examples cited herein may represent only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ when it comes to American Airlines’ documented mistreatment of African-American customers.”
Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP expressed his concern in the release. “All travelers must be guaranteed the right to travel without fear of threat, violence or harm,” he said. “The growing list of incidents suggesting racial bias reflects an unacceptable corporate culture and involves behavior that cannot be dismissed as normal or random. We expect an audience with leadership of American Airlines to air these grievances and to spur corrective action. Until these and other concerns are addressed, this national travel advisory will stand.” Read the full release, here.
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