For those of us who don’t experience it first hand, it’s sometimes hard to wrap our minds around the systematic and blatant racism that people of color face every day, regardless of what they’re doing.
One woman was so deeply mired in her own hatred of others, that she couldn’t conceive of how a black man at the airport could be flying first class – and she even went as far as to tell him that.
Emmit Walker was minding his own business while waiting in line to board his plane from Washington, D.C. to the Dominican Republic for his 37th birthday in December of 2017.
He was standing in the priority boarding lane when a woman came up behind him and told him he was in the wrong place and that he needed to let her through.
Pointing out that his ticket was, in fact, a first-class one, he reminded her that he had lined up first and so she actually belonged behind him in line.
Amazingly, she couldn’t let it go – whether out of embarrassment or bigotry or both, she began muttering loudly about how he couldn’t have paid for the ticket himself.
Clearly unable to deal with a black man being given priority, she said he must be in the military or have some other reason for the ticket.
Walker didn’t let her misunderstanding continue, telling her that he’s “too big” to be in the military.
He said that he’s just a black guy with money.
According to Walker, everyone in the line actually started to clap when he said that.
Walker was understandably frustrated with the entire exchange and decided to share what happened on his Facebook page, complete with a picture of him with the woman behind him (her head facing downward).
By the time Walker landed for his vacation, his Facebook post had already begun to go viral.
While the woman’s actions were unacceptably ugly, it was actually Walker who expressed regret over the incident, especially posting the woman’s photo (even though her face is barely visible).
He even posted a video apologizing to the woman a day later on Instagram.
In addition to the video apology to the woman, Walker also wrote out a caption expressing his regret that the story traveled so far and wide that the woman might experience harassment. A big man, indeed!
While Walker acknowledged that the racism the woman displayed is certainly a problem, he said his post was not the best solution.
He even said that waking up in “paradise” on his birthday wasn’t as happy as it should have been since he was concerned about the negative consequences of his actions.
“The story was definitely real, just like this issue is definitely real, but I now know that I myself should of handled it another way, or left it how it was, and not shared it publicly,” he said.
After expressing regret for how he handled the situation and indicating that he wished he hadn’t called her out so publicly, Walker concluded by letting everyone know that he prides himself on not harming others and always putting himself in other people’s shoes.
“When dealing with people I always try to stay on the side of right; so to make sure I never do anybody wrong, I try to always put myself in that person’s shoes, and ask how would I feel if that person did this to me, and if I was her this morning I would be a total wreck today, and that doesn’t help this situation, or her… It only makes them more angry, and brings more drama…”
It was even more proof that Walker was the bigger person in this situation.
While it’s been frustrating for some to see the woman get an apology when she never apologized, being able to let things go is an important part of happiness and harmony.
Her hatred will continue to fester while Walker knows he did all he could to show her that yes, a black man can indeed afford a first-class ticket.
We can only hope that next time she might not be so quick to judge.