Air Travel Ethics: When In Doubt, Play The Race Card.

Dr. Tisha Rowe, an African-American family physician from  Houston, was pulled off a recent American Airlines flight and required to cover herself with a blanket before being allowed back on the plane, which was traveling from Jamaica to Miami. You can see above what Dr. Rowe was wearing, thanks to her angry tweet about the episode.

I have no idea why this outfit was found so objectionable; I’ve seen much worse on many flights. On the other hand, a little taste and decorum while flying in close quarters with strangers is basic manners and civility.

Yesterday she said that she had been humiliated in front of her 8-year-old son, and asserted that racial bias was behind the incident. “Had they seen that same issue in a woman who was not a woman of color, they would not have felt empowered to take me off the plane,” Dr. Rowe said. “In pop culture, especially black women with a body like mine, they’re often portrayed as video vixens. So I’ve had to deal with those stereotypes my whole life.”

SHE looks like a “video vixen?” Okay! Whatever you say, doctor!

I did a little checking. As I suspected, the vast, vast majority of women being told that their outfits were too revealing to fly have been white, perhaps, I suspect, because airlines are reluctant to be hit with race-baiting accusations like Rowe’s. Here is rejected female flying garb from earlier this month…

And another from May of this year…

But the squeaky race-baiter gets the grease, so American Airlines apologized and agreed to issue a refund to Dr. Rowe. I don’t argue that she didn’t deserve the apology or the refund. I object to her manner of getting it, which amounted to race-bullying. American even tacitly acknowledge that it was her groundless accusation of racial bias that prompted their action. A spokeswoman said,

“We were concerned about Dr. Rowe’s comments, and reached out to her and our team at the Kingston airport to gather more information about what occurredWe apologize to Dr. Rowe and her son for their experience, and have fully refunded their travel. We are proud to serve customers of all backgrounds.”

The lesson for airlines is, then, that white women can be held to the airlines’ minimal dress code standards, but black women will be able to get away with being a little bit sloppier, and a little bit more immodest. After all, African American always will have the race-card in reserve, and as Americans were taught under the Obama Presidency, they should never hesitate to play it as their “Get Out of Accountability Free” card.

16 thoughts on “Air Travel Ethics: When In Doubt, Play The Race Card.

  1. I recall walking around on the University of Arizona campus one evening two falls or two ago with my then seven year old grandson number two on our way to a violin recital. The girl students (presumably?) were wearing Daisy Dukes and bras. That’s all. Okay, and flip-flops. I was amazed. What happened? When I was in college, girls wore peasant blouses and no bras. Now they don’t wear blouses but they wear bras? Born too soon, I guess. But maybe not. What kind of trouble with both grandsons get into?

    • Sports bras are considered acceptable in public these days. Don’t ask me to explain why: such questions got the ever-dreaded eye roll from my wife and daughter. I am just so old fashioned…

      • sw, my daughter was a teenager in the late ’80s when teenaged girls started wearing boys’ boxers as outerwear. I objected but got the eye-roll, even from Mrs. OB. An eternal mystery.

        • Defying the length rules about short shorts seems to be the teenage female passtime at our local school. My wife (a teacher) just tells daughter that she commits the crime, she does the time.

          Rules used to mean something. Too many rules mean that they lose the ability to be enforced, and then we see anarchy…

          • “When you break the big laws you do not get liberty; you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws.”

            I guess the anarchy follows from the resulting law inflation.

    • There is a comment below from SW that sports bras are acceptable now. I think that is because the US women’s soccer team started lifting their shirts when they celebrated goals back in the day. Just google Mia Hamm. They don’t so much now because I understand it is now an offence on the field. But it really started a trend. Lots of fashion uses inner as outerwear.

      Anyway it reminds me of the debate yesterday about paying women’s soccer players. OB maintained, despite my objection, that how FIFA paid out to winners/World Cup participants was important. I disagreed. But I will keep an open mind because as this site reinforces, it is the correct thing to do.

      So I wonder then, since the US men’s team failed to qualify for the World Cup final in 2018, and the women’s team won the 2019 World Cup final, how is it relevant that FIFA paid some other men’s teams a certain amount of money? Why didn’t the US men’s team get less money this and not more than the Women’s team?

      The real question is, of course, if FIFA pulls in at least $4-5Billion, why do the male players only get ~10%? Ethics and FIFA rarely meet and kinda reminds me of the NCAA.

      • JLo, I’m going to assume the US team still bases its budget at least in part on anticipated monies from FIFA, plus whatever ad revenue they get from even unsuccessful qualifying games and rounds. Don’t you think men’s games are more widely viewed? Plus, a guy like Christian Pulisic (“Wonder Boy” as the Andreas Cantor calls him, he of “GOOOOOOOOOOOAL” fame) is paid handsomely by his top tier English Premier League club, Chelsea. As a matter of fact, my staff advises me he is paid 1.3 Million USD per year and Chelsea paid Borussia Dortmund, his former Bundesliga club, 73.1 MILLION USD to acquire his contract. He’s only twenty. His next will doubtless be somewhere in the stratosphere. Average Premier League salary is 3.3 Million USD. Guy soccer players get paid more because they play in front of more eyeballs. It’s supply and demand. Why would Christian Pulisic fly all over the world between his Chelsea matches to play with a bunch of vastly inferior compatriots for free or what you could pay a woman player? Who attends women’s soccer professional games? Who watches them on TV? Are they even broadcast? Now the women’s world cup is over, except for news of the frivolous lawsuit, it will be four more years before we hear a peep about them (Praise Allah, in Megan Rapinoe’s case).

        For lack of better explanation, it’s simply supply and demand.


        • And by the way, as a point of interest, the girls I saw on the U of A campus were wearing bra bras, not sports bras. Like so many entertainers and celebrities these days, whom I think they’re modeling, more than soccer players.

        • If I were the czar of US Men’s Soccer, I’d propose settling the lawsuit by agreeing to pay any woman who could make the Men’s team a salary commensurate with the other salaries on the team, which I assume vary significantly.

          • As I suggested a coupla days ago: 3 games between the Men’s and Women’s team. Best two out of three. Women win 2, equal pay; men win two, the women sit down and shut up.

  2. I am old enough to remember when flying was something special and you would actually dress up. Now? A box of chocolates regarding dress. I have a son that is an airline captain and he has said that a few occasions have existed where the purser has refused a passenger entry over dress and intoxication.

    • Late ’50s. Eastern or National DC-6. Miami to Savannah. Two or three stops. Real silverware, linen table cloths. Sunday best. Got out of school early for the flight. Unforgettable.

      • [Seethes with jealous rage]

        These days, one nearly has to scour the dark net and physical junkyards to find a decent set of lead crystal drink ware.

        It’s as though my father’s generation said “My kingdom for a horse!” and now I’m left with no birthright and a 1000 lb animal to bury.


        • The Jet Age! Faster, higher, easier to maintain. Billed as super fashionable in the movies and everywhere else. There was hardly a movie that didn’t start with a shot of a 707 landing or taking off. Cheaper fares and bigger planes with smaller flight crews brought fares way down, turning air travle into the Greyhound and Trailways of the sky. Affordability is a double edged sword. But I’ll take a 787 any day of the week.

    • Used to be (generations ago), people aspired to conservative (not political conservative) personal values and public presentation. Rightly or wrongly, this often was tied with more elevated wealth. Even while you saw lower wealth echelons still aspire to those values and demeanor, it seemed as a very general rule that conservative personal values often assisted in wealth accumulation while anti-conservative personal values generally led to loss of wealth. So, people who could afford to do things like flying, on average and in general, looked more personally conservative.

      But, I can’t tell, if one of two things are happening or if both are happening simultaneously.

      1) People across society (of all wealth levels) on average are decreasingly concerned with personal conservative values, especially as it comes to appearance.

      2) Our incredibly successful capitalist experiment in America has generated such material blessings, that even what used to be expensive is now easily available to the “lower” wealth echelons, so we see more and more individuals who may or may not care at all about personal and dignified appearance in public.

      I suspect both are happening and both affect each other.

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