A black transgender journalist, Amanda Stevens, was recently kicked off a United flight from Albany to Chicago because her T-shirt was making the pilot “uncomfortable.”
Her shirt was from A$AP Rocky's 2015 PacSun line that featured an upside down American flag.
Stevens, who identifies as a woman, was going to Chicago to cover the world championship tournament for an online battle game League of Legends. While boarding the plane, an airline representative seemed concerned about her outfit. Once she was on the flight, Stevens was asked to remove her Black Panther Marvel super hero hat. She then had a tense exchange with a flight attendant who told her to place her bag under the front seat.
Stevens continued to tweet updates of the following events, announcing that she was kicked off the flight, and then not placed on another one until three hours later. The airline claimed that her exchange with the flight attendant was the reason she was kicked off the plane.
He didn't seem that bothered to give me a smug look when he walked past me to the bathroom @united— Amanda Stevens (@sagegnosis) October 12, 2016
Kicked off the flight— Amanda Stevens (@sagegnosis) October 12, 2016
I am on my new flight safe and sound ??— Amanda Stevens (@sagegnosis) October 12, 2016
Landed in one piece. Waiting to get off the plane— Amanda Stevens (@sagegnosis) October 13, 2016
According to the United States Flag code, the upside-down flag is only supposed to be used as a sign of “dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.” However A$AP Rocky claims that it “represents the way we’re fighting.”
“The reason that those flags are upside down are because our world is upside down,” the rapper said at a performance in 2012.
“We're just trying to be understood,” he added speaking up for the black community.
Stevens received a lot of support from fellow Twitter users who narrated similar incidents and called out the airline for being racist.
@sagegnosis Nothing on a shirt should make the PILOT nervous short of "I Have a Bomb and a Gun." Your shirt is well within our social norm.— Karl Luebee (@smokeyjacket) October 13, 2016
@sagegnosis I'm so sorry you experience racism today. I hope something good happens for you today.— Melanin & Honey (@blackstilettos) October 12, 2016
The airline even sent a statement to io9 about the incident, but confused it with a bad experience another flyer had two weeks ago.
“We have reached out to Ms. Campos to discuss her concerns,” they said. “Our goal is to provide safe and comfortable travel for all of our customers and we regret that Ms. Campos was unhappy with the handling of the seat assignments on her flight.”
It is absolutely ridiculous that a woman’s superhero hat and a T-shirt can cause havoc on a flight. It is even more absurd that the pilot, who does not even have to see the woman or have any contact with her, felt uncomfortable.