AA KICKS BASKETBALL PLAYERS OFF FLIGHT AS THIEVES
Does American Airlines hate black people? It’s now an open question. But since American Airlines loves the color of everybody’s money more, there may be a chance of some improvement soon. Christmas Eve was the day of the latest AA race travesty. Memphis Hustle players Marquis Teague and Trahson Burrell thought nothing of their normal boarding of a flight few days ago. They were heading from Dallas-Fort-Worth International Airport to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. But little did they know that they’d shortly be removed from the plane after a flight attendant said they stole blankets. They are black NBA players, but they were called thieves.
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Teague and Burrell simply boarded the plane and walked thru first-class seating like normal. But as they passed, two first-class passengers gave them blankets to take with them to Coach. Unfortunately for everyone, a flight attendant then did absolutely everything wrong. You know it’s not good when the first assumption is you’re a thief. And this wasn’t good. Darnell Lazare, an assistant coach for the Hustle, said that the flight attendant’s first words when he saw the two players with the blankets was, “Did you steal them?” “How about you teach people to get the facts first before jumping to conclusions?” Lazare commented angrily on Christmas Eve.
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Despite common sense by all the passengers on the plane, the flight attendant still forced the two from the flight as thieves. It still isn’t being black in America, is it? But maybe that’s a blanket statement. Maybe a two-blanket statement, as it is cold, right? Joshua Freed, an AA spokesman, later said that a manager apologized to the two players. AA flew them on a later flight to Sioux Falls in first class seats. There’s no word if the two black NBA players had their own blankets on the flight or not.
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“We take pride in bringing people together and we know that on this flight we let some of our customers down,” Freed related in a statement. “Our team at American, along with Envoy Air, is reviewing what happened, and will be reaching out to them.” That may be true advertising, but AA has had some serious issues treating minority passengers with basic respect accorded to others. Just three months ago the NAACP put out a warning to African-American travelers that they faced likely discrimination if they flew on AA.
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After multiple racial profiling missteps this year, AA pledged to get outside help to improve all aspects of its labor management to prevent these kinds of issues. Clearly, it isn’t happening quickly enough. They need to send out a memo on this one. It can be one functional line: don’t assume black people are thieves.