It’s one thing to express a viewpoint. It’s quite another thing to harass a seatmate with unwanted conversation, especially on extremely sensitive topics in a confined space. I applaud Delta and other passengers onboard for stepping in to diffuse what could have been an even nastier situation onboard.
The “B”LM Battle On Delta
Demetria M. Poe was traveling from Minneapolis (MSP) to Washington, DC (DCA) on August 27, 2020. She was wearing a “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt and took her seat. Shortly thereafter, her seatmate appeared wearing a face mask with an American flag design. When the passenger saw Poe’s t-shirt, she traveled to the lavatory and returned wearing a “Blue Lives Matter” mask and matching lapel pin. She was White and Poe was Black.
She remained silent until the plane took off, then leaned over and started speaking to Poe.
“I support blue lives because I support our officers.”
Poe took the bait and argued that “blue lives” don’t exist and that such mantras are used to silence the plight of Black Americans.
The woman responded with additional musings including:
“Africans from the west sold the most slaves.”“The reason Blacks were 3/4th was because the south would have too many votes.”“Having Blacks in America has been the best thing for them because they can work their way up.”
Poe complained to USA Today:
“That woman was trying to entice me into an argument because there was no need for her to flip that mask in my presence. She didn’t do it for anyone else. It was as if she was making a statement and wanted me to know.”
Sorry, but that is her right, just like it is your right to wear the “Black Lives Matter” t-shirt. She had every right to wear a shirt that expressed solidarity with police officers.
But the woman crossed a line. A big line. Her badgering of Poe was totally unnecessary and totally unacceptable, especially on a plane.
Two White passengers stepped in and defended Poe. A flight attendant came over and offered Poe to re-seat the White woman. The flight attendant also said the woman would be banned from future Delta flights.
Delta Upgrades Her Return Trip
Poe flew home earlier this week and found that her seat had been upgraded to Comfort Plus (premium economy) and a gift bag was waiting for her It included a letter, notebook, pen, luggage tag, and a Delta-branded Black Lives Matter pin.
Now Poe promises to exclusively fly Delta going forward.
We are all entitled to our opinion, even onboard an airplane. But when you start arguing with your seatmate in a way that is intimidating and condescending, you cross a line. As far as I am concerned, the White woman crossed a line when she started badgering her seatmate.
This is a divided country in an election year. But that doesn’t excuse us of our duty to exercise common decency…and empathy. However you spell out BLM, remember that we will not make progress unless we seek to understand others, not just tell them why they are wrong.
images: Demetria M. Poe / Facebook