The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has been in the business of looking out for civil rights since 1909. When the organization issues a nationwide travel advisory for African-American fliers, as it did this week against American Airlines, it's worth listening.
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"Disturbing incidents" and "troublesome conduct" compelled the NAACP to release its announcement on Tuesday. The advisory urges Black passengers "to exercise caution, in that booking and boarding flights on American Airlines could subject them disrespectful, discriminatory, or unsafe conditions." There's no end date to the advisory; it's simply "until further notice."
While the NAACP alleges "a corporate culture of racial insensitivity and possible racial bias on the part of American Airlines," it also calls out specific examples of discrimination. Among then: a man booted from a flight after responding to racist language from two white passengers; a Black woman being reassigned to coach seating while her white traveling companion retained a first-class ticket; and a Harvard Law School student removed from a plane after asking for help with her infant's stroller before disembarking.
This isn't the NAACP's first travel advisory by a long shot. Just in June, the Missouri state chapter issued a warning after that state passed a bill making it harder to sue a business for racial discrimination. The airline industry in general has had a rough year, highlighted by incidents such as the April United Airlights flight in which police forcibly removed 69-year-old Dr. David Dao from a plane, beating him badly in the process.
"All travelers must be guaranteed the right to travel without fear of threat, violence or harm," Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, said in a press release. "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."