When I decided to take a picture & video to document the incident, I deplaned, picked up my bag, and boarded the shuttle. While I'm on the shuttle, this woman LIED that I assaulted her and the @AmericanAir flight attendant called the cops to remove me from the shuttle bus. pic.twitter.com/czMyxkQVQ7— amber j. phillips (@AmberJPhillips) April 27, 2018
An African-American woman claimed she was humiliated on an American Airlines flight after a cabin crew member called cops on her essentially for “flying while fat and black.”
Amber J. Phillips, 28, who is a writer and co-host of podcast “Black Joy Mixtape,” was seated next to a white woman, who remains to be unidentified, during her 45-minute flight from North Carolina to Washington D.C. She added that the aircraft seats were close together and small which is why her arm kept touching her fellow passenger.
She added that the woman started feeling uncomfortable even before the flight took off and was “aggressively rubbing up against my arm.”
“This white woman literally spent the entire 45 minute flight making an active scene because my arm was touching hers. Loudly, asking if I could 'move over' on a plane so small everyone's carry on bags had to be valeted. It was awful!” she said.
Phillips further said she had no room to move as she was seated on the window seat and felt like the woman was trying to shrink her during the journey. She said she was so upset with the entire flight experience that she decided to record a video of the tight space she was sitting in.
The 28-year-old also took a photo of her seatmate. The move by Phillips irked the woman and she complained to a flight attendant and accused Philips of assaulting her.
The writer added as they got off the plane and got on a shuttle bus, a flight attendant came up to her and asked her to get off the bus.
"The flight attendant comes over to me and says, ‘You need to get off the bus. I’m calling the cops, I’m calling security. This bus isn't going anywhere,’” said Phillips.
I'm tired but in the morning, I'll tell you all how a white woman @AmericanAir flight attendant called the cops on me bc I made the white woman siting next to me uncomfortable bc my arm was touching hers on flight AA5580. The cops were called on me for flying while fat & Black. pic.twitter.com/9vc0PoFbX4— amber j. phillips (@AmberJPhillips) April 27, 2018
She then saw a white officer coming toward her after having a chat with the white passenger and flight attendant.
“He asked for my ID. As I looking for my ID, I asked if he asked for the other woman's ID. He aggressively responded to me by saying 'I'm not dealing with your abuse! Give me your ID!' I handed him my passport and he yanked it out of my hand,’” she added.
The officer further told her that he was investigating the incident as an assault.
Shocked by the entire ordeal, Phillips said she made sure her hands were visible and took a step back from the cop. She added the police didn’t ask for a statement and she was allowed to leave after “being lectured like a child.”
Phillips shared the entire incidents in a series of tweets and that is when American Airlines contacted her and asked her for more information.
The 28-year-old told BuzzFeed that she deserves to be treated with respect and did everything she was supposed to do. She also stressed on the fact that the experiences of black and fat bodies while flying must be highlighted.
“I’m using the word fat, as well as black, because I need people to understand how those two things work together. My body was criminalized. Like 67% of women in this country are over a size 12. But because of this woman’s perception of me, of not only my size but the color of my skin, the cops were called on me and everyone believed it was justified,” she added.
I am so sick of this insanity. Flying while black. Golfing while black. Sitting in Starbucks while black. Just living peacefully as a self-respecting African American in this country is increasingly impossible. And it needs to change. VOTE with your dollars and your ballots! https://t.co/BYokxJtlVm— Susan Rice (@AmbassadorRice) April 28, 2018
So hard to read and digest, @AmberJPhillips. I can’t imagine what it was like to live it. I’m sorry that you experienced this. @AmericanAir: What steps are you taking to ensure that this doesn’t continue to happen? https://t.co/fPHpyn1adt— Be A King (@BerniceKing) April 27, 2018
As a black person...this makes me angry. As a fat black woman...it makes me scared. All these stories day in and day out and there is no visible change in cops behavior nor at the at least 5 mins of the benefit of the doubt. ?? https://t.co/u0EvyiCRx9— Keez Winchester-Ackles to Wakanda (@Keez360) April 27, 2018
Banner, Spotlight: Reuters, Mike Blake