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Is There a Problem? Racism, White Privilege and That 'Scary' Brown Man

Gyasi Ross

(Disclaimer: ok, 100% of this shit really happened just as I tell it, but it didn’t really happen at 30,000 feet.  I almost didn’t make it to 30,000 feet.  But I thought that just sounded like some cool 1970s “movie title” type shit.)

There’s a reason why I’m sitting on a US Airways flight right now.  I usually only fly Southwest or Alaska.  Here’s why:


Last month, I had a big business meeting in NYC and also a reading for my new book “How to Say I Love You in Indian” (available at www.cutbankcreekpress.com and at amazon.com!!  Get it today!!) at the American Indian Community House in Midtown Manhattan.  For some inexplicable reason, there are/was some television exec-type folks interested in me doing more television work.  Look, I’m from the rez—we’re hunter-gatherers.  If someone is willing to give me free food AND an opportunity to provide for my family and me, I’m definitely going to be there.

The lunch meeting was Thursday the 12th at noon.  I usually fly red-eyes when I go across country so that I can tuck my son in to bed and spend as much time with him before I leave.  This time, however, I wanted to be well-prepared and rested, so I flew in the night before, on December 11th.  Give myself some time to get ready instead of rushing around—I’m ready for the cameras, NYC!!! 

First half of the flight was cool, or as “cool” as a flight making your reservations a couple of days before your flight can be.  I’m in my comfortable, flying clothes—camouflage sweats, camouflage sweatshirt, braids, and a skullcap.  It was on Southwest—whom I’ve flown a million times, simply because they SOMETIMES have cheaper flights AND, most importantly, I don’t have to pay separately for bags.  I know that I still pay for them, but it’s just not a separate charge. 

And I appreciate that. 

First leg of the flight was from Seattle to Chicago.  No problem—I get off the plane for my 4-hour layover (no, seriously) and go get an all-beef dog at Chicago O’Hare.

The second leg of my flight.  Ugh. 

I have a backpack and a small duffle bag.  I’m in the “C” Boarding Group (again), and so I know that I’m getting a middle seat.  Guaranteed. Therefore, I wait to be one of the very last people boarding.  When I get on, there’s a seat in the very first row—it’s a middle seat.  I know I’m going to get screwed on the seating, so I figure “Why not sit get screwed in the front seat of the plane?”  At least I can get off the plane first.  There was a middle-aged white couple (“Sarah Jessica Parker”-type middle aged, where they tried to dress like they weren’t quickly approaching AARP-status.  Not “Wilford Brimley” middle aged) there, the man in the aisle seat holding a baby and the woman in the window seat.  They were being slick (like I do as well) and had a pile of stuff in the middle seat pretending that it was occupied and hoping nobody would sit there.

I know the game—I’m not mad.

I asked, “Excuse me, is somebody sitting there?” 

The lady responded, “Yes, I’m waiting for a friend.  She’s supposed to be boarding.

I was pretty sure she was lying.  Now under normal circumstances, I would’ve just taken the seat—this is Southwest Airlines, for God’s sake—there’s no “saving seats.”  Southwest Airlines is PURE social Darwinism.  Every person for themselves!!  But since I wasn’t getting a good seat anyway, and I’m at the very end of the boarding group, I’ll wait.  No biggie—I’m getting screwed on the seat anyway.

So I decided that I’d just wait it out, “Ok cool.  I’ll wait here to see if your friend gets on.”

Nobody.  Literally, the LAST person boarding—another middle-aged white woman—gets on.  The lady literally grabs her and asks her to sit there.  I’ll call that lady “The Recruit.”

I smirk and tell her, “You don’t know that lady at all—ha! You lied.  You realize how rude that is right?” 

She responded, “That’s not rude.”

I said, “Ok, well I suppose that’s just you then.”  And smiled at her. 

Different flight, different white lady. The author is still a big scary brown man...

The Recruit got up QUICKLY and strolled toward the back—evidently she had zero interest in this discussion and saw more fertile ground in the back of the plane.  I put my bags up above and went to sit down.  The husband (I’m assuming they were married—so sue me) scooted over to the middle seat, chivalrously.  No problem.  Well, no problem until there was a problem.

The wife pointed at me and told her husband loudly, “I don’t want him sitting there.” 

I looked at her to make sure that I heard her correctly.  She said, “Don’t look at me.”

Yeah, I was pretty sure I heard her correctly.  Damn, I couldn’t believe that—adrenaline rushed through me.  I told her, “Look, you have no input into where I sit or where I look.”  I sat back and got my MP3 player ready to play some Marty Robbins.  I know the drill—I’ve been trained since I was a kid.  “You’re a big brown guy—don’t be too scary.  Don’t be too big.  Don’t be too brown.” 

We’re taught these things for our own safety and to get along.

And I was cool—but before I pressed play on my Sony MP3 player the husband—all 5’5 and probably 125 pounds told me, “You need to shut your mouth!”

WHOA!!!  For a woman to tell me something rude, that’s one thing.  I’m not going to clobber a woman for a rude remark.  But this guy—let’s be clear, he would never talk to me like that under any other circumstances.  Ever.  But he was feeling bold or threatened or insecure or something and turned what were simply words into possibly a really bad situation.

...until you see him as a human being.

I got really close to him and told him, “Look, you know this plane ride is going end at some point, right?  You have to get off this plane.”

At that point he shut up.  He realized that those words had a different significance to me and that he put himself in jeopardy.  But the wife continued, “You can’t sit there.” 

By this time, I’m really mad. Admittedly. Not at the lady, necessarily, but that this grown man would talk to another grown man like this and expect no response. “I’m not moving anyplace so if you don’t want to sit by me, I suggest you move.”

Just then, the Captain comes out. I’m elated. Yes!  I don’t like feeling like I have to run tell anybody anything, but I also don’t want to get thrown into jail for stomping this dude into the luggage area below the plane.  So I’m happy to see an objective person.  But unfortunately, that’s not how it went down.

He comes out and looks at only me.  “Is there a problem?”

I wanted to tell the whole story, but I really just wanted to get to New York.  So I responded, “Well, this lady right here told me that she doesn’t want me sitting here for whatever reason and her husband tells me to shut my mo-…”

The Captain interrupts me. “Well, I only hear you.”

I tell him, “I understand—I have a loud voice, that’s why I’m telling you what happened.  Ask any of the folks sitting here…”  I pointed around to the people staring at us. He didn’t ask anybody anything.  Instead, his focus was squarely on me. 

CAPTAIN: “You need to lower your voice.  Do you want to take the next flight?”  Admittedly, I DO have a loud voice and I WAS agitated by this time.  I think that was understandable. 

ME:  “No, I don’t want to—I’m telling you what happened.”

CAPTAIN: “Well I only hear you out here hollering.”

ME: “Well, I suggest that you have selective hearing.”

CAPTAIN: Staring me down.  “Oh now you want to get in MY face?” I was a bit confused because that implied that I had gotten in someone else’s “face” already. Maybe he meant that I got in the husband’s face that told me that I need to shut my mouth?  I wasn’t sure how that worked, but I started to answer his question.  He cut me off and answered for me, “I suggest you quiet down before you take the next flight.”

I was stewing.  But I knew I couldn’t take the next flight—that would not have been until the next morning and I would’ve missed my very important meeting.  I don’t have a lot of very important meetings—I’m not a very important guy—so I didn’t want to be late to/miss one of the only ones that I’ve had.  I would’ve been sitting in a federal holding cell and the middle-aged, white couple would be laughing to wherever they were going.  When I went to go get my bag at baggage claim, a couple of the younger white guys sitting immediately behind me came up to tell me (one of them was from Hicksville, Long Island.  I laughed when he first told me that—I thought he was joking): “That was bullshit. I told the captain afterwards that everything happened exactly like you said.  She obviously didn’t like you.  I thought the captain was going to ask us some questions.” 

Made the meeting.  Thankfully.  Made a complaint on the Southwest Airlines website.  They responded with an incredibly patronizing and condescending email that said that they were sorry for my “less than pleasant” experience on the plane (it wasn’t “less than pleasant”—it was humiliating).  The email also stated, as a matter of fact, “As you know, our Pilot did not hear any other Passengers, which is why he only addressed his question to you.”  (No, I have absolutely no reason to know that—I do know that he only addressed me).  Also, the Captain flat-out lied and said that he asked me to lower my voice twice before asking if I wanted to take another flight—that’s just not true. Finally, the email said, in ABC After-School Special speak:

We realize that sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it, and we apologize that you feel as if our Pilot could have used a more patient and professional tone when intervening in the exchange between you and the Customers in question. 

This is just insulting: as if my problem was with the Captain’s TONE.  No, it was that he didn’t ask anybody else a single question before singling me out and asking me if I wanted to take another flight and then stood staring at me as if I were supposed to stand down from his authority (which I did, by the way, because I had to make the flight.  I would’ve loved to have three minutes alone with that Captain in a small room).



The lady clearly did not like something about the way I looked—even before we exchanged any words at all.  I smelled good (or as good as I could)—I showered that morning, and wasn’t in any way offensive with my clothing (e.g., I wasn’t wearing any t-shirts with swear words or anything like that).  Perhaps it was the camouflage—looked “terrorist-ish?”  Maybe it was the braids or long “Native” earrings.  Maybe it was the huge Native guy in braids and camouflage? In either event, after being overwhelmingly gracious and waiting for her to find her “friend,” the lady’s first words about me (to her husband) were “I don’t want him sitting there.”  For the life of me, I cannot think of what would have caused her to say something like that to/about me other than an inherent dislike

Moreover, the man felt completely comfortable telling me—a grown man, “You need to shut your mouth.”

I don’t think it’s possible to see a stranger as a human being and talk to them like that.  They didn’t see me as a human. I was something less.  I’m not overly sensitive—I know that there are a million times people are rude (or that I’m rude) where it’s obviously just that they’re a rude person.  No racism, no sexism, no anything other than everyday mundane rude behavior.

This was different.  That was, in my estimation, the “racism” part.


White privilege is different than racism.  I don’t THINK that the Captain was racist.  That said, he at least had a very bad case of white privilege.  Southwest Airlines emboldened that privilege by white-washing (see what I did there?) his behavior. 

White privilege is the inherent knowledge/suspicion that people of color—and predominately men of color—are doing something wrong. Big black men and big brown men are presumed guilty.  All the time.  It’s similar to my first jury trial when the young white prosecutor came into the courtroom where I was in my suit and practicing my cross-examination—and she asked, very politely, “Excuse me sir, are you waiting for your attorney?”  It’s similar to when the pundits/armchair analysts and jurists during the George Zimmerman trial assumed that Trayvon Martin HAD to be doing something wrong when he walking to the store.  There are countless other examples.

Every day.

The Captain may have just heard me—that may be true.  Nonetheless, it seems that in the pursuit of finding a resolution he should’ve asked a question or two instead of simply 1) cutting me off while I was trying to explain MY take on the situation (after he asked), and 2) threatening to throw me off the plane.  He knew he had me by the balls—I can’t do anything otherwise I’ll be a) thrown off the plane or b) provoked into physical conflict (in the same way that cops provoke men of color by staring us down and asking if we have a problem and other rhetorical questions intended only to provoke), and/or c) physically detained.  A huge Native guy in camouflage was arguing with a clean-cut white couple (or worse yet, a clean-cut white airlines Captain??)???  Three guesses who started that one.

That’s privilege.

The white couple didn’t have to think of any of that.  They didn’t have to think about appearing TOO big or TOO brown or TOO Native or anything other than simply enjoying their flight.  They did  NOT have to consider any ultimatums—“Respond honestly to this guy’s questions OR and you will NOT make your important meeting.”

Look, I’m not special.  This shit happens everyday.  Most of us are bullied into not saying anything, like I was by the Captain. That’s the privilege.  “Answer the question honestly—“is there a problem”—but if you answer honestly, you won’t make your flight or you might be detained.”  That’s privilege.  Unfortunately, my example is an EXTREMELY mild version of that privilege; I’m quite lucky that all I had to do was swallow my pride. It doesn’t even compare to other times where brown men and women are “presumed guilty” which leads to brothers and sisters and mothers and aunts beat down, pepper sprayed, thrown in jail, for choosing to answer that question honestly instead of swallowing their tongue.  I know of stories where cops literally got into men’s face—cheek to cheek, daring them to fight—trying to con them into responding.  We know EXACTLY what would happen if that big man of color gave that response that he wanted.

Similarly, I already knew what would happen.  So I couldn’t tell him the truth when he asked the million dollar question that tens of thousands of police officers, BIA agents, slave overseers, and teachers have asked likewise helpless and muted people of color, “Is there a problem?”

Hell yes, there’s a problem.  But you have absolutely no incentive or reason to find out what that problem is, my man.  What a privilege.

Gyasi Ross
Blackfeet Nation/Suquamish Territories
New Book, "How to Say I Love You in Indian"—order today!!
Twitter: @BigIndianGyasi

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Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
I'm sorry you had to endure this, Gyasi. I'm sorry when anyone of any color has to endure this, but let's face it White Privilege makes it so. I have endured racism and the effects of White Privilege all my life. From being kicked out of the neighborhood store as a four year old, clutching my nickle for candy because "You kids are all thieves," to getting all the "shit jobs" in the military, and later (with a college degree) being passed over and over for promotions with the defense contractor I worked for. I'm not an angry person and don't tend to carry this luggage with me everywhere I go, but the wounds aren't far beneath the surface and if you give me the slighest reason to believe you're discriminating against me, I get confrontational pretty quickly. That said, it easy to place yourself in a position like Mr. Ross found himself simply because we are at the mercy of institutions that require complete submission. I wonder if they would have reacted differently if you had used the "I'm an attorney" card, Gyasi? Would they respect that, in spite of your obviously Native appearance? We've come so far, and yet not really. We live in the 21st century in the last remaining world superpower and the age of technology. Who would have thought public "Indianess" was still against the law?

Itsoch's picture
Submitted by Itsoch on
There are so many emotions running through me ... it is difficult to find the words that I want...other than, I am sorry.... and that seems too frivolous... I want it to be more, but don't know if that is possible. I am sorry for your experience(s), and I am embarrassed to be white... I would rather live next door to you than the couple on the plane, and the pilot. In the spirit of all who have gone before...

HontasF's picture
Submitted by HontasF on
I have a really short story like this. Months ago I met the family of my very dearest friend, in the sense that John Adams said that about Abbigail, and main hangout girl. While on a trip with a group we had dinner with her family. I suggested it and she made it happen. Before and after that dinner, well, I felt like Othello ... it went almost exactly like this ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvUBIJCfcks&t=2m50s ). The difference was her father was much nicer that that guy. "How many generations has your family been here?" Then there was her older sister who when we came to the issue of race somehow wound up asking me, Hontas, how many generations my family has been in this country. She then informed me that they had bee in the US for three generations! Three. I'd like to think I reacted in the most diplomatic way possible. I informed her that when my earliest ancestors got here their were mammoths and sabre tooted cats running around. No airports or hotels. Their mother actually kind of took my side. The mother informed the family she probably had African and Native ancestry by way of Cuba. I don't talk to that now formerly dearest friend anymore not because of that. You know how things go sometimes. I will never forget these events for two reasons. We can never guess who will harbor those sentiments by looking at them. Who would guess that mid 40's to early 50's white parents would in some way be more progressive than some of their children? That and I learned that not much has changed since the time Othello was set in. Be black or brown in a white dominated country, even if you are the commander in chief of the armed forces, you are subject to guilt by accusation. When will things ever really change?

jjjnam's picture
Submitted by jjjnam on
Sometimes people are jackasses, and sometimes it seems like there is a jackass party and we accidentally crashed it. Consider that you didn't stand down-- you took the high road. You were guilty till proven innocent, and yet you behaved as a gentleman. It's amazing how much some people assume based on appearance. I am not a big brown man-- I am a little white lady-- I doubt I've felt discrimination to the extent you have but I've felt enough to know it HURTS and ANGERS. Your photos show a pleasant young man with an honest smile. Why would anything else matter? Maybe they were afraid of your skull cap. ;-)

JimmyHoffa's picture
Submitted by JimmyHoffa on
Can I offer a possibly different perspective here? I'm not sure race played a role in this situation and at a minimum it doesn't appear you can conclusively say that. First, let me say that the woman was absolutely being a Grade A jerk. However, it seems like to me she was hoping that middle seat would be open whether for her baby or spread out. You walked up and asked to take the seat she was so selfishly trying to hold. At this point she was upset at you for trying to take that seat. Not because you were brown but because she didn't want anybody of any race to take that seat. She then asked the last person, who happened to be white, to take the seat instead of you. Was she an ass? Yes. Was she necessarily being racist? I don't think you can make that conclusion and you seem a bit quick to. As for the Southwest captain. The captain stated he/she only heard you and in your own admission, you didn't exactly explain what was going on. Had you calmed down and explained what happened vs. being snippy I think there might have been a different outcome. Does racism exist in America? Absolutely. I'm willing to bet it also exists in India. I see a lot of people pulling out the race card when it isn't really appropriate and then tell stories to others that only help perpetuate the angst between races. I think if you take a step back and look at things objectively you will realize while the lady was rude and the captain didn't get the whole story, race doesn't necessarily play a role in this. For what its worth, I'm sorry about your experience, whether due to race or just somebody being a jer.

Bowerygals's picture
Submitted by Bowerygals on
This was brilliant, maddening, inspiring (the authors command of the situation was stunning) and infuriating to read. The generosity of the author in stark contrast to the sad couple locked in their bubble. "Sorry" doesn’t quite cover it. It makes me think of what we allies could do? ...for those of us who are white, could we challenge the "silent witness" role we got locked into? It isn't just the overt racism from "bad actors" that kills, it’s tacit agreement from all of us whites. We whites are not immune from the affects of the terror that racism engenders - we just aren't the primary targets -until/unless we stand against it. Our societal role in racism is to act it out or to accede to it - we do both. I think the less examined is the "silent witness". We are terrorized or seduced into going quiet in our own way. Racism, in order to continue, relies on all whites complicity. Even when we know it's wrong, it forces us into submission (differently as whites) by quietly agreeing to it. We get benefits we are either barely aware of or pretend don't exist. Either way, as with all oppressor roles, we lose a bit of our souls. What would have happened if everyone (of any color) near the author had backed him up and insisted on saying what had actually happened? If the two guys behind him had insisted the pilot listen to him -or them? Or asked the author how he'd like to handle the situation? If the white "recruit" had stuck around to see what happened? What if all the other people next to the author risked being thrown off the plane with him? Racism isn't anyone's personal problem or personal failing - it's a brutal oppression that has been institutionalized to benefit the very very few - with no real human benefit to anyone. And everyone has drunk its poison. We have agency and we get to use it...for whites it could mean using that privilege to fight racism instead of only enjoying its counterfeit fruits? That is OUR decision, not the crappy choices that we were twisted into by oppressive societies. This is our fight too.

Pamj's picture
Submitted by Pamj on
I am so sorry for the way you were treated. The couple was horrible and the captain wasn't any better. I can only imagine how infuriating and humiliating that was. Like Bowerygals, I am extremely disappointed that no one in neighboring seats stepped in to correct these people. We are not separate.

Leah1214's picture
Submitted by Leah1214 on
Thanks for sharing this. I have been married going on 29 years to my better half who happens to be from El Salvador. Now being the good Feminist I am when we married I kept my given name.. that is until we took a trip to visit my husband's family in Canada and they tried to leave him in Canada..one of many stories... so the better part of 28 years I am happily a Holmes-Bonilla as are my children... and I listen to and have witnessed incident after incident ... with State Troopers, with Store Clerks, with Wait staff and on...My husband loves to say, just because I speak with an accent doesn't mean I think with one... :)

jrock's picture
Submitted by jrock on
So did you end up sitting in the same seat next to the couple, or did the captain make you move?

MeToo's picture
Submitted by MeToo on
I can't imagine getting on a plane with lots of seats available, seeing a couple with a baby obviously hoping to have some extra room (traveling with a baby is no fun) and choosing that seat. Most people would only do that if there when there were no other choices--it's just a decent thing to do. Let the three of them have a little more room if possible. So, from the start, it sounds like a complete dick move. Legal. Within your rights. Sure. But dickish. And yeah, the woman made her own dick move (lying about it being taken) but Christ--just let it be. They had stuff piled up there BEFORE they ever saw you--obviously not out of racism---they hoped the seat would remain empty of ANYBODY. So, they said it was saved when you came by so early, hoping you'd just move on like a FREAKING NORMAL PERSON. I've been tempted to say the same thing when someone grabs a seat next to me when there's others available--and that's without a baby. Why make it into a big deal? Move. The. Hell. On. So, a woman with a baby told what amounts to a rather small lie, hoping you'd move, but you didn't. Unlike any normal person--you decide to stand there,waiting over her. Yeah, you're going to out that bitch! Which makes you go from dick to full on asshole. Then--when inevitably you do "catch her"-- you actually CALL HER OUT--"you were lying, har, har". Again--yeah, you NAILED her(!!!) for her wanting to have room for her baby. What a horrible, horrible person she was to try to get you to go to one of the other available seats. Good thing you were on the case! At that point, I don't blame her one bit for not wanting her (or her baby!) any where near you--I wouldn't want a weirdo who went to such lengths to "out" a couple wanting extra room to travel with their baby anywhere close to me either. So what happens next? Well, after you call her a liar, and (understandably) she says she doesn't want you near her, you respond (evidently loudly). So, the husband says you should shut your mouth (Also pretty understandable considering your over the top behavior and the fact you just called his wife a liar). So..in response to this rather less than over the top response from the husband--from this husband with his wife, holding his baby--this husband who just saw all this craziness from you go down--this husband who just heard you call his wife a liar-- because this husband has the AUDACITY to say you should shut your mouth---you get "really mad" and suggest PHYSICAL VIOLENCE after the plane lands? Evidently loud enough for the pilot to hear?? (And your "aw, shucks, I'm loud" shtick doesn't cut it. Anyone can choose to keep their voice under control. Loudness is interpreted as aggression. It shuts people down. It intimidates. Bullies know that. Big guys threatening littler guys or women know that. To pretend you don't, or it doesn't, or you can't control it (ie, you're out of control?) is ridiculous and shows a complete lack of self and situational awareness.) Yeah, cry me a river. This isn't racism. This isn't privilege. This is just jerk behavior, plain and simple. Overreacting to minor transgressions. Escalation. Then blaming everyone but yourself.

mayalibre's picture
Submitted by mayalibre on
No question that racism and white privilege are rampant. And definitely that woman and her husband disrespected you. But here's some food for thought. When the captain came out, looked only at you, and asked "Is there a problem?" -- you wrote, "I already knew what would happen" based on tens of thousands of past experiences. So a question I have is, how might you be continuing to collude with your own disempowerment? Are you conditioned to answer any time an authority figure asks a question? If so, it might be worth questioning that conditioning and not taking BAIT. Imagine if you had thought to be more artful, and even though he was looking at you, imagining the question was really for THEM. Imagine if you had said nothing, shrugged, raised your eyebrows as if you had no clue, and turned to look at THEM? The captain's gaze would then have FOLLOWED your gaze, and THEY would've had to explain what problem THEY were creating, showing themselves as bigots in the process. What I'm saying is that you don't have to give your power away as often as you do (as we all do). You CAN be more artful. Without words you can bypass the bait, deflect attention, shift the balance, and allow racists, bigots and jerks to dig their own hole while you retain your dignity. How susceptible are you still to bait? Something to think about. We can't win all the time, but we can learn to be less reactive and more artful, as a way of discontinuing participation in our own disempowerment.

Peebee's picture
Submitted by Peebee on
JimmyHoffa >>> Not because you were brown but because she didn't want anybody of any race to take that seat. She then asked the last person, who happened to be white, to take the seat instead of you. This is like the logic "I'm not discriminating against women, I'm discriminating against pregnant people." So she didn't want anyone to take the seat, but since someone had to take the seat, she picks the white woman instead of the brown man? Even though the brown man was there first and had specifically asked to sit there? You're really going out of your way to give the woman a pass. I fly a lot (not Southwest, for this very reason) and while it's always nice to get an empty middle seat, it happens about one out of every 10 flights. You want a seat for your child, then pay for it: otherwise, accept that someone is going to have to sit next to you, especially if you're in the very front of the plane. And you don't get a pass to say "I don't want him to sit there" to anyone, especially once you're caught in a lie and then openly recruit someone of another race/same race as you instead.

Peebee's picture
Submitted by Peebee on
>>> MeToo Where does it say there were lots of seats available? Do you ever fly Southwest? If you sit down in the very front of the plane, the chances of you protecting that middle seat are absolutely nil. It usually is a bulkhead and has more space, and there are usually either larger people (like the author) or disabled people who prefer to get in and out more easily attempting to claim it. And then, you're trying to protect a liar? Make it OK? I know if someone explained to me "hey, because we're traveling with the baby, you might be more comfortable somewhere else...." I would much more amenable to moving on than "I'm saving this for my imaginary friend." And you would have thought the woman would have been ashamed to continue after she was caught out in her lie, but no, she wants him to sit elsewhere because SHE's a rude liar and he knows it? Unbelievable the lengths that people will go to in order to justify a lack of basic decency and civility....

jrsanford54's picture
Submitted by jrsanford54 on
If you know you have a "loud voice" why not tone it down a bit? Be assertive, not aggressive. Why would you want to sit next to these narrow minded people anyway? So what if you are sitting in the back of the plane? You'll still disembark in plenty of time to make it to your destination. Patience is something you need to work on. Reel your ego in some as well. Lead by example. J.R.

guynsd4u's picture
Submitted by guynsd4u on
"No problem—I get off the plane for my 4-hour layover (no, seriously) and go get an all-beef dog at Chicago O’Hare" And seriously. Did you get off the plane at Chicago MIDWAY airport and take the train to Chicago O'HARE just to get a hot dog? LOL

woundedbearcharlton's picture
Submitted by woundedbearcharlton on
i was born in missouri were natives are not very well liked at all and to be frank about it i was one of many victims and i not even of dark brown in color but still am 1/2 sioux plus 1/8 cherokee and i was taken away by state cause the know i was indian and i went thrue 10 years plus hell for it and during that 10 years i witness the death of one native child who i will never know the last name of plus i know i was strangled 2 times plus i was hanged by end of rope at age 8 plus i was raped by a adult female state worker in turn i was robbed of my intire childhood and the racism go's on strong in many area's of missouri state today and i live in oklahoma now days

neonneonneon's picture
Submitted by neonneonneon on
Hi Mate-i'm not native Indian-but i still feel your pain. I’m sorry this happened to you. I give you my empathy. I’m a UK born Pakistani whose well spoken,educated, dressed and i also model and write, so, I’m quite presentable in all respects. I naively believed this would protect me from being judged when i traveled. I don’t know why, as i still face discrimination in the UK whilst shopping, the work force etc. Maybe it’s because i hadn’t traveled much. My first incident was flying to Geneva. I was so happy and felt so free to at last have the confidence to go and explore and meet amazing people. I was in for a rude awakening. I was probably one of the few best dressed people on the train, partly because i enjoy looking good and also, i believe, subconsciously it’s a self protective mechanism to not be singled out because of my ethnicity. It didn’t seem to work much whilst travelling anyway. I was pulled aside by Swiss border police as i was walking out of the airport and took aside. I watched everyone else simply walk by and get into taxis, buses or meet friends etc.I was searched , told to take all my belongings out, all my books were flicked through and i was treated very rudely. I felt like crying. They said it was standard, but i could only see brown people being searched. The second time was flying on Ryanair. I noticed how the Spanish air stewardesses were being overly polite and falling over themselves to help the white customers. When it was my turn to be welcomed on the plane there faces dropped esp one in particular, the supervisor. I wasn't asked if i wanted any food, she wheeled the trolley past me, i had to literally grab her. I noticed they asked the white customers if they wanted ice in there drink. I had to ask. The cherry on the top was, as i was leaving the plane, it’s customary for air staff to smile and say 'thank you have a nice journey' etc .. as you walk past and down the stairs. I noticed this stewardess doing this with all the customers, when it was my turn, i said 'thank you and take care' and smiled, she deliberately put on a stony face and stared straight ahead and ignored me. I felt so humiliated insulted and hurt. I told my white friends but they didn’t understand. They simply said ‘that’s never happened to me’ or ‘Oh she probably just had a bad day’.I really feel for your situation. This is one of the reasons i don’t even want to come to the USA as I’ve heard there I’ve heard there security is very discriminatory. Although i'm in a different ethnic group and in a different country, we still suffer similar disadvantages,God bless you and your lovely children