A teenager from Jacksonville, Florida, tweeted this past weekend about an alleged racially charged encounter she had with a fellow airline passenger on her flight home from Denver, Colorado.
Taylor Richardson is a 16-year-old who advocates for girls in STEM, but a white male airline passenger apparently wasn’t advocating for her when the pair flew to Jacksonville on United Airlines Nov. 16.
“So yesterday while flying from Denver to Jacksonville, I had my first encounter with a white man who didn’t want to sit next to me because I was Black. Thank you @united for accommodating him. #flyingwhileblack,” Taylor tweeted Saturday morning.
The message spurred hundreds of replies, with many people expressing surprise, sorrow and outrage over the teen’s experience.
“Holy s–t, I am so sorry that happened to u. How this racist crap still exists just pisses me off. I’m glad u were able to rise above. I would have never been that gracious.”
“So sad this is still the times of the day.”
“😮😮😮🤦♀️I really didn’t think people did stuff like this anymore! But I know I am wrong. I am still upset at all the white people that call the cops if they see a black person they think doesn’t belong there. How do their minds get so warped?”
One Twitter user said, “They should have moved him…off the flight. He could be a danger to others as well.” But according to Taylor, the passenger wasn’t belligerent.
“He was not loud just in normal tone asked to be moved. At first I didn’t even know why then he was like I don’t want to sit next her bc she is black,” she tweeted.
About 20 minutes after her initial tweet, a representative from United Airlines got in touch, asking her to send a direct message with details about the alleged encounter.
“I would like to say upfront there wasn’t any commotion,” Taylor said after thanking the rep. “Your airline rep was not rude she was caught off guard by his comment and to not make a scene just moved him. I’m only 16 so I dare not disrespect an adult even when ignorant to the fact.”
After explaining her in-flight experience, the rep apologized and encouraged Taylor to reach out for any further concerns.
“Please know we sincerely regret this was your experience, as we never want our customers to feel any sort of discomfort while flying,” they said in part.
Taylor’s experience is nothing new. A similar yet opposite incident occurred back in spring 2016. Poet and activist Imani Cezanne was booted from an American Airlines flight after a flight attendant became “threatened.” Cezanne maintained she did not become hostile, however.