A flight attendant was harassed and insulted for being a Black woman while working.
During a flight from Philadelphia to Fort Myers, Fla., last week, 82-year-old George Francis Alexander approached the American Airlines flight attendant, who remains unnamed, from behind as she was serving drinks. He poked her in the back and told her to move, the News-Press reports.
According to the arrest report, he then called her a racial slur. And when the flight attendant asked him to stop, he said she was “too big for this job; you’re too fat for this, overweight.”
After the plane landed at Southwest Florida International Airport, Lee County Port Authority police arrested Alexander. He was charged with suspicion of battery and interference of aircraft operations.
Alexander, of Fort Myers, was released on bail, which was set at $1,000. He is scheduled to appear in court on June 26.
There is a history of Black flight attendants being subjected to racism. Casey Grant, who worked as a flight attendant for more than 30 years before retiring, wrote the book, “Stars in the Sky: Stories of the First African American Flight Attendants.”
“I began my career with Delta in 1971 and racism was still very common,” she told NBC News.
“Many people don’t realize that we endured overtly, racist treatment even well into the 1980s. For example, I tell the story of this pilot that used to have this rule, ‘no ni**ers, no night riders [Blacks] and no gays in the cockpit.'”
In regard to the behavior of white passengers toward Black flight attendants during that time, Grant said:
“Sometimes we would walk up to them and ask if they wanted a drink and they wouldn’t even look at us; they would actually turn their head the other way.
“We knew what that meant, so we’d just move on. Then a white flight attendant would walk up to that same passenger later and they would say that they didn’t want the Black flight attendants to serve them.”