A black woman wearing a hat deemed offensive was kicked off a Delta flight. Video of the incident is circulating widely in social media. The woman’s hat has ‘the F-word’ on it. The video doesn’t show the rest of the context. One Mile at a Time writes, “perhaps it’s part of a phrase, but that’s the only word we can see.”
Over the summer a woman was was kicked off an American Airlines flight over the message on her face mask “F- 12” (with F being a four-letter epithet) which stands for ‘F’ the police. As far as the meaning of the phrase, it’s about the need for police reform. A shock phrase is the point. In one telling it’s derived from the 60s TV show Adam-12, about two LA cops whose patrol car was 1-Adam-12. After the murder of George Floyd this summer the phrase went far more mainstream.
Apparently a flight attendant asked the woman to remove her hat and she wouldn’t. And that’s when the captain got involved. He’s objecting to the hat she’s wearing, but the bigger problem seems to me that he isn’t wearing a mask.
The captain gives the woman a choice:
- remove her hat, or
- getting off the plane.
But that wasn’t going to be enough. The passenger eventually takes off the hat. Then the captain wants her assurance that she won’t put it back on during the flight.
He doesn’t want conflict on the flight, and doesn’t want to divert. She’s offended by the question, she’s already taken the hat off. He insists she pledge not to wear it. It’s a test of wills – the white man in a position of authority, the black woman whose hat is all about abuses of authority. She’s taken off the hat, but she doesn’t want to say ‘uncle’. He counts “1001, 1002” and then says “I got six kids, I raised 10 kids, I know better.”
.@Delta Captain Dennis Reilly berated and embarrassed a member of our community. This kind of white privilege should not be tolerated. We demand a public apology and that this Pilot no longer be allowed to fly a Delta aircraft. #BlackLivesMatter #FlyingWhileBeingBlack #Delta pic.twitter.com/xaLCWq7dxa
— Black Lives Matter DC (@DMVBlackLives) October 25, 2020
Pilots generally aren’t required to wear masks while in the cockpit though they have to wear masks throughout the rest of their journey. Some pilots complain that they can’t perform their duties effectively with a mask on, though other pilots dispute this and equate it to passengers feigning medical excuses. Regardless, a pilot absolutely should be wearing a mask inside the passenger cabin. It’s his attire that’s most inappropriate here.
That said, the airline doesn’t have to allow the passenger to wear the hat. You can clearly wear an ‘F-12’ shirt in a courtroom, but not on a plane. For its part, in response to the incident the airline emphasizes their intolerance of discrimination.
Delta does not condone discrimination of a person or group for any reason. As a global carrier with a diverse workforce, serving a diverse customer base, we are committed to treating all passengers equally. (1/2) Terrence
— Delta (@Delta) October 25, 2020
Thank you for sharing your concern – we have followed up with those directly involved as we review the situation. (2/2) Terrence
— Delta (@Delta) October 25, 2020
What’s appropriate attire for a plane is an ongoing source of dispute. Earlier this month a pilot gave his shirt to a woman so she could cover up on a Southwest flight. Vague statements about inappropriate attire lead to confusion and acrimony, and we’re a far cry from the days when passengers dressed up to fly. (As an unaccompanied minor circa 1980 I had to wear a jacket and tie.)
The pilot exercised his authority rather than defusing the situation here, the way the Southwest pilot did giving a woman his own shirt recently. And he wasn’t wearing a mask, which is a bigger deal than the hat the woman was wearing. Only the captain isn’t the one kicked off the flight.