A Black writer and co-host of popular podcast Black Joy Mixtape said an American Airlines flight attendant wrongly called the police on her after she endured terrible treatment from a white passenger who shamed her for "flying while fat and Black."
Amber Phillips, 28, was flying on a Washington, D.C.-bound flight from North Carolina on Friday when the white woman sitting next to her made an "active scene" and repeatedly complained because their arms were touching.
Phillips said she was on a small plane with two-seater rows. She sat in the window seat next to a white woman who made multiple efforts to let Phillips know that her body size was an inconvenience.
The woman was "aggressively rubbing up against my arm," Phillips told Buzzfeed News.
"She finally looks at me and says, ‘Can you move over?’ And I’m just like, ‘No, I can’t,'" said Phillips. "I actually couldn’t move over, but she literally could because she’s in the aisle seat."
Phillips said she felt like the woman was trying to "shrink my body and move me over.”
Phillips has not yet returned American Airlines' request.
"One thing I know for sure is that I deserve to be treated with respect," she told Buzzfeed News. "I was in my seat. I was buckled in. I did everything I was supposed to do."
In addition to pointing out the racial bias that occurred in this story, Phillips wants body discrimination to be equally discussed.
"I’m using the word fat, as well as Black, because I need people to understand how those two things work together," she told Buzzfeed News. "My body was criminalized. Like 67 percent of women in this country are over a size 12. But because of this woman’s perception of me, of not only my size but the color of my skin, the cops were called on me and everyone believed it was justified."
A spokesperson for American Airlines said "two passengers seated next to each other engaged in a verbal altercation while on board," and upon landing, "one of the passengers requested the flight attendant contact law enforcement."
(Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
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