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October 27 2017

NAACP Issues Inane Flying-While-Black Advisory, Please Keep It to Yourselves

by Patrice Lee Onwuka

The NAACP has issued a travelling warning against American Airlines for black Americas warning that they will likely face discrimination and racism. If this wasn’t so absurd we would summarily dismiss it, but this a tactic in the new playbook for a storied organization that once fought for the rights of all Americans, and is now struggling to be relevant.

According to the travel advisory, the organization is issuing a warning to African Americans to “exercise caution” when booking and boarding flights on American Airlines because they may be subject to “disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions.”

The NAACP cites a handful of incidents reported by black passengers, which they say create a “disturbing pattern.” They listed four incidents, which we hope isn’t the sole basis for a sweeping national advisory. These were minor annoyances in which the customers happened to be black, but didn’t point to company-wide racism or discrimination.

In one incident, a black woman booked a first-class ticket for herself and a white companion, but her seating assignment was switched to coach while her companion’s seat was not. Perhaps a clerical error?

In another incident, the pilot directed that a black woman be removed after she complained to the gate agent that her seat assignment had been changed without her consent. Again, an annoyance, but not a racist ploy.

In a third incident, a black man was removed from a flight after he responded to “disrespectful and discriminatory comments directed toward him by two unruly white passengers.” It would be nice to see the evidence, but they don’t provide that.

Instead, the NAACP is overblowing these cases and calling them the “tip of the iceberg” of mistreatment of black folks by one airline.

I am no fan of American Airlines. My qualms are with the seats and the experience on my flights which is not nearly as fun as some other airlines, but at no time have I ever felt discriminated against or heard of discrimination of other people of color.

The newly installed NAACP president, Derrick Johnson, is flexing the century-old organization’s muscle to show that they are still in business and still relevant enough to scare corporations into acquiescence, which often has a price tag attached. He said as much:

“We expect an audience with the 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,”

The group issued a similar advisory against visiting Missouri in June on the grounds that a pending law would make it harder to sue a business for race discrimination. Again, we see this is about money.

Perhaps there aren’t enough issues in the black community for Johnson and the NAACP to work on. If they need ideas, I have a few:

  • K-12 education
  • College attrition rates
  • Unemployment and underemployment
  • Business startups and growth
  • Household wealth
  • Poverty
  • Diseases and mental and other health issues
  • Murder and crime rates
  • Incarceration rates and reintegration struggles
  • Fragmented family structures

Fighting for equal rights and freedoms of all Americans is an important cause, but making up discrimination that doesn’t exist is a fast way to minimize the real cases.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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