White mom hires attorney after Southwest Airlines crew said she was trafficking biracial daughter

White mom hires attorney after Southwest Airlines crew said she was trafficking biracial daughter

When will people learn that families come in all different colors? Well, someone needs to start by teaching Southwest Airlines employees before a major misstep evolves into a major lawsuit. 

The most recent gaffe by the airline took place a month ago when Mary MacCarthy, who is white, boarded a plane in San Jose, California, with her 10-year-old biracial daughter Moira MacCarthy to attend a funeral. 

When the plane landed in Denver, MacCarthy and her daughter were swarmed by police officers and a Southwest staff member on the jet bridge. MacCarthy says she initially thought the police were there to inform her about the death of another family member. Instead, police separated her and her daughter to question them following a report of a suspicion that MacCarthy was a potential human trafficker and her daughter was a victim. 

“The officer said, ‘We’re talking to you because you were reported to the pilot for suspicious behavior,’” MacCarthy told the Denver Post. “And it immediately occurred to me what was going on. This is the type of situation that mixed-race families and families of color face all the time while traveling.”

The Independent reports that a crew member felt it was suspicious that MacCarthy and her daughter were the last to board the flight, asked other passengers to move so they could sit together, and were not very communicative. What? 

MacCarthy boarded the plane last because she bought her ticket at the last minute due to the sudden death of her brother, so and her daughter were in the last boarding group. She tells The Independent that she asked the flight attendants if she could change her seats so that she and her daughter could sit together, but was told she needed to ask her fellow passengers. 

As for the lack of communication, MacCarthy said: “My brother had died less than 12 hours before, I’m a single mother and he was like a father figure to my daughter … so we were in shock.” She adds, “The police report says I wouldn’t give any information, but I have a three-minute video.” 

In the video below MacCarthy can clearly be heard explaining herself. 

MacCarthy is now demanding the airline apologize and explain why they racially profiled her and her daughter. 

“The whole thing is based on what I believe to be a racist assumption about a mixed-race family,” MacCarthy told The Independent. “Things like this happen to mixed-race families all the time, this is a thing that we are afraid of … I feel an obligation towards my daughter and other mixed-race families to speak out.” 

Sadly, this isn’t something that is that uncommon with mixed-race families. In 2017, Brian Smith, a white Arizona man, was stopped at the Phoenix airport after being accused of trafficking his 16-year-old daughter, who he and his wife adopted from China. A Southwest Airlines flight attendant “had some concerns” about his daughter, according to ABC 15 in Arizona

“I don’t like to accuse anyone of anything,” the girl’s mother, Renee Smith, told ABC 15. “But if Georgianna was a Caucasian child, I don’t believe this would have happened.

In another more high-profile incident in 2018, Lindsay Gottlieb, a coach for the University of California-Berkeley women’s basketball team, was flying with her 1-year-old son when she was stopped at the Denver International Airport by a Southwest Airlines employee asking her to “prove” she was the mother of her biracial son—even after providing the child’s passport.  

“We had a passport that verified our son’s age and identity, and both parents were present,” Gottlieb said in a statement to The Washington Post at the time. “But still being pushed further to ‘prove’ that he was my son felt disrespectful and motivated by more than just concern for his well-being.”

“She said because we have different last names. My guess is because he has a different skin color,” Gottlieb wrote on Twitter.

Now, we’re not against being vigilant about human trafficking, but maybe Southwest Airlines need to be a bit better trained. 

“If [staff] had chatted to my daughter and I, any reasonable person would understand that we’re family … if they are going to be trained in things like looking out for human trafficking, they should also be taught not to engage in ignorant racial profiling,” said MacCarthy, who added that she has hired an attorney to handle the incident.  

Powered by WPeMatico

Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: