Back to Squawk list
  • 69

Doug Parker Flies Southwest Airlines And Gets Into A Conversation About Race

Parker was reading White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism. During the trip the flight attendant sat down next to him, he was in an empty row, and she asked him how the book is. He told her he’s “half way through it’s really good” and that it “points out how important these conversations on race are.” ( More...

Sort type: [Top] [Newest]

AWAAlum 7
Doug Parker, you da' man !
Jaime Terrassa 11
read the article numerous times and every time I read them I tears thank you and god bless.
gregger77 8
Great article. Thanks for spreading something positive. This is the kind of behavior and discussion we should all be modeling if we are to make our way forward together.
hal pushpak 10
Thanks for posting this. Such a nice story.
lynx318 7
Poignant story and it this sort of thing needs to spread.
Vaughn Blue Jr 12
Great story on proper racial communication. Looting, destroying businesses & killing cops is not communication; it's an insult to the cause of race relations; it's evil at its core. Thank you for sharing this story!
ImperialEagle 2
I grew up in the Atlanta of the 1950's.
At one time I lived about ten years in a war-zone ghetto.
I have seen all kinds of racism and hatred.

However, I do not buy into the "born into white guilt" manipulation of the American people by the extremely biased corporate mainstream media.
If white Americans are so racist then how did Obama serve TWO terms as President?
After all, black people are about 13% of the population and have been for decades.

In any event the spineless politicians on both sides are not setting a very good example. By turning their heads to all the violence, they are condoning it.
Division of the American people seems to be the goal. The racisism issue is just a helpful catalyst.
What a shame it has come to this.
first,i would like to say that airline executives fly on whichever airline(not necessarily their own carrier)that gets them to a destination for a meeting,conference,or even vacation..they also fly for free..since so many flights and destinations have been cut back because of covid 19, im sure southwest was the only available option for mr parker..since he is after all, a human being, and the airlines employ many persons of color and ethnicities,rest assured he was interested in speaking with the black flight attendant when she asked him about the book..i might add, that in many years in the airline industry,i worked with a lot of black agents,flight attendants,ramp and ground crew,mechanics and cockpit crews,and they they all received the same treatment and respect as of the nicest pilots I ever met was the first black captain hired..
Glenal Morean 24
Mary, in rushing to reply, you’ve made the classic mistake of white privilege: this is not about you.

I’ve been a Black pilot and captain for 25 years, so rather than telling me how you wish the world to be (offering a narrative of zero white guilt), why not ask, listen and trust Black people tell you our own experiences, as Doug Parker has done?

We do not receive the same treatment and respect as others. Racism is always present. Microaggressions are frequent. I literally take a deep breath and put my guard up every time I go to work.

There are those who can’t shut up about their MAGA, inherently white supremacist, or otherwise xenophobic politics despite being asked to leave politics at the door. There are the insinuations of being underqualified or privileged. There are the looks of surprise, when the face doesn’t match the voice.There are the times I am mistaken for a flight attendant or skycap, when uniformed staff address the first officer when I’m the captain, and differences in courtesies. And I can go on. It is exhausting, living in this skin.

To all who wish to see a fairer world, learn to listen. Ask how you can help. Do not assume your imagined experience for others is the experience of others. Move from the pretense of a colorblind nonracist to an active antirracist. Take off the rose-tinted glasses.
VKSheridan 9
Mr Morean, I am grateful for your willingness to share your perspective with Mary. Being white my whole life, I can only imagine your experience from what you shared and since you’ve been black your whole life, you can only assume your imagined experience with what has been shared with you. Unfortunately, our mutual inclination to assumption is an equal opportunity burden.

I’d like to continue this conversation, would you be up for it? Maybe we can both learn something.
s s 13
Mr. Morean, my family were fervent abolitionists and were active in the Underground Railroad trying to save escaped slaves. My family name is on the monument of the Pennsylvania volunteers at Gettysburg and I was named after a relative who died a prisoner in a Confederate POW camp.

All my life I have worked for non-profit organizations which help educate and empower people in the poorest urban communities in America. I have worked with international organizations who work for social justice issue in the developing world. I have barely benefited from this financially and in fact have often lost money trying to work on issues I am passionate about.

That said, I am disgusted of hearing about my, or any persons, inherent racism based on the pigmentation of their skin. I am disgusted of hearing about microaggressions and all of the other politically charged terms that have been created by academics to divide people, to make them hate themselves and to make them look at themselves as something less then they are.

You go out of your way to call the people who did not vote the way you did as white supremacists. You sound like a man doing nothing but spouting the hateful rhetoric the media and, sadly, educators are using to destroy this country by making people hate their culture.

You have a job I envy and, very likely, far more financial freedom than I will ever have. You have likely done and seen amazing things I will never be able to. I would love to be able to talk to you about your job and annoy you asking minute details about your work. I don't know what struggles you had to get where you are but the fact alone that you were able to get where are and be successful says something about your character and abilities.

But if you want to see a fairer world, do not assume to know what is in the hearts of others because of their skin color or their politics.
You, sir are my hero.
John Georg 1
Excellent comment!
Joe Schmitt 17
The seriousness of any argument is lost when you begin by contradictorily offending the audience, then demand they sympathize with experiences.
acarr229 12
wow you carry a heavy burden when the world is about you. Your a captain with a chip on your shoulder that can be easily be read in you comments in fact you sir are blind to you own racism. We know for a fact that rude and evil people come in all colors. Perhaps you should learn to be a light to their darken hearts.
sicamore 9
Why do I need to help you? I am white and I have been through all the experiences you have been through. I constantly get mistaken for a security guard or a gate agent.

Have you ever thought that you turn everyday human experiences into something racial. Yes that would get exhausting.

People can be aholes, or having a bad day, and they can do it to everyone regardless of skin colour.

Does anyone listen to me? No one gives a crap.
cyberjet -3
Talk to us when you're been pulled over for driving while (insert your skin color here).
sicamore 4
I grew up in Zimbabwe, this happened all the time. We were expected to pay our way out. My grandfather spent his last years in prison for advocating for greater democratic freedom. My families have been driven off there land in the dead of night with nothing but their clothes on there backs, if they made it out alive. We were not allowed to become politicians, public servants because of our skin color. Yes, I can talk about racism. It was everywhere where I grew up.

[This comment was deleted.]

[This comment was deleted.]

[This comment was deleted.]

[This comment was deleted.]

[This comment was deleted.]

ko25701 1
I've been stopped dozens of times in my life and I'm just a pale white freckled face red headed man, minding my own business and I still get stopped and harassed by both black and white police. Ya'll think everything is because you're black. Well, I can tell you I get the same thing from black or store owners and black or white cashiers, is it because I'm white? People are just rude and insensitive everywhere today. I get talked to like I'm old because I have a few grey hairs but does that bother me?
Everyone gets hassled and followed in stores if they think you might be a potential shoplifter. It's NOT about your damn skin color. We all get ignored at restaurants sometimes but it's because they are understaffed or managed by idiots, regardless of anything else. Ya'll are just trolling for something that doesn't exist. If you want to live in a majority black country, there are plenty you can move to. I just know that America ain't perfect and we all get treated like crap sometimes.
LOL,that is the most apathetic cry wolf ever. I had a neighbor taken to his face at gunpoint (because he was black) whole the police were looking for WHITE burglars...I guess th e black orthopedic surgeon looked out of place in the white neighborhood. Oh, andhe was in his own yard. The cop was profiling, so does El Al.
You hit the nail on the head. An African American friend who regularly commutes on Southwest Airlines pointed out a peculiar behavior that I hadn’t notice until he pointed it out to me. Southwest with its open seating in large part let’s their patrons choose Who they want to sit next to. If the airplane is at 90+ % capacity there is a curious dance among the last few travelers to board. If an African American sits next to a vacant seat Whites will avoid sitting in the seat until it is the last to fill. I initially didn’t believe him but I tested his assertion on several flights and it proved to be true. Since our little test I have taken notice of his observation and it holds true, at least in the pre COVID 19 environment. I can’t explain it other than to say it is a reflection of the racial bigotry that is deeply woven into our society. Racism is real in the USA
RECOR10 -2
I avoid anyone in a hajib what.
doublet 2
Then you would possibly avoid sitting next to my doctor and his wife. Both are good people.
RECOR10 -1
Or one of the many MD's I work with...they are great people. They also do not wear deodorant.
paul trubits 3
Well said! BTW: SWA is exploiting this story on their Instagram page
Ahhh, white guilt and white privilege. Two sentences, two virtue-signaling talking points. Right on cue.

The title of the book in question seems racist to me. White fragility? Not here. Why it's so hard for white people to talk about racism? Not here. You wanna talk racism, let's talk racism. ALL racism, from ALL racists, of ALL stripes (no pun intended). But that's not what anyone means when they "talk about racism." Can't cite facts and statistics and context. Can only talk color, and only in one direction.

That's how you get the simple-minded, infantile canards "white fragility," "white guilt," and "white privilege."

Maybe if more people STOPPED seeing seemingly everything through the prism of race, first and foremost, stopped with the BS identity politics, things might be better among all people.

But that wouldn't serve Democrat politicians' ambitions nor major media narratives, so it'll never happen.
Couldn’t agree more. If you’re a hammer everything is a nail. If you’re a nail, everything is a hammer. WP only exists in the minds of those that try to perceive it. There are black police officers, black corporate officers, black law makers, ect. If you want an education, you can get a loan for one regardless of skin color. Same for a mortgage. As a matter of fact it’s a crime to discriminate in most all situations. The data doesn’t back up more blacks being shot by police. There are more blacks in prison but, they all got due process and broke the law. Why don’t we look at causes rather than try to outlaw or treat the effects, such as disbanding police? Why do more blacks disproportionately break the law? Why do we have qualified immunity for anyone govt official with a deadly weapon? Why are there jail times in victimless crimes?

If White privilege exists, so does black privilege, hispanic privilege, and even American Privilege for that matter. Everyone suffers trials and tribulations in their life. That’s part of the human experience. However, to blame your hardships on someone else’s perceptions of you or someone else’s supposed oppression of you in a free society, is down right abhorrent and to blame a particular race or ethnicity is racist and divisive.
Jeffrey Bue 5
Bro.. I travel all of the world - all of the time and I can confidently say that if you live in the USA, you most definitely have "American privilege". People in this country don't realize how good they have it here. The identity politics that's going on today is a cancer to our country. The idea of equal outcomes for every sub-group is total BS. We have equal opportunity in this country. Does racism exist.. hell yeah it does. But it ain't only whites that are racists. However for some reason, it's become societally acceptable to demonize caucasians and a lot of people are really getting tired of it.
Larry Tullos 9
Andrew, as a 69 yr old white guy, I'm trying not to judge you; but would just like to say that please don't confuse empathy with white guilt. Each of us live in a different world that is created not only by ourselves; but also by the others that came before us. While I know that mine has been one of privilege, I also know that many if not most black Americans face biases that demean and limit them in ways that we simply never see or imagine. Are you so sure to deny ...

"There are the looks of surprise, when the face doesn’t match the voice.There are the times I am mistaken for a flight attendant or skycap, when uniformed staff address the first officer when I’m the captain, and differences in courtesies. And I can go on. It is exhausting, living in this skin."

As I read these words, I don't hear a guy that is carrying a chip on his shoulder or looking to blame, but rather someone that is tired and frustrated by constantly having to navigate through a world that judges him differently than you or I. If you feel he is seeing the world through the "prism of race"; perhaps it is because of the reactions from others that he experiences as he is has tried to explain to us. I think we all want fairness and to be judged and appreciated for who we are. I hope that you will open your heart enough to listen, appreciate, and respect what this pilot is trying to convey.

Are you satisfied with the continuation of this racial divide? If not, do you think your words of blame are going to change it? It starts with listening and empathy, which I think is what Doug Parker gets.
VKSheridan 1
Well stated Larry. Unfortunately, “implied bias” exists in all of us. It is genetic and critical to the continuation of our species. We carry the same genetic traits that cause “birds of a feather to flock together”.

We can consciously try to oppress this ever present tendency but it’s always there. Some struggle with this inner conflict and to make it seem “less wrong”, they project it on others providing insight into their own insecurities.

Imagine being forced down a narrow street. On the left is a large group of angry pro-white protestors. On the left, angry pro-black protestors. You must go through one of those crowds to exit. Implied bias has repeatedly proven you will choose the group that you closest visually resemble. That doesn’t make you racist, it makes you human.

Humanity will never evolve genetically beyond that until we recognize it for what is is and consciously dismiss it, even when under pressure.

This has been a great conversation even though there are perceptions in here that don’t align with my own. I openly admit I’m biased and I understand others are too. I struggle to dismiss it but I will keep trying.
hal pushpak 1
Well stated too, @VK Sheridan. Science (DNA) does indeed support your premise (in the great “nature” vs. “nurture” debate..)

Indeed, had we descended from Bonobos instead of Chimps, things might have been quite different for our species. (Thus I might differ only slightly with you about the "nature" side being a necessity for the "continuation of our species..") Species could evolve, I would hope. And so I keep hoping that, before the next ice age, we, as a species, as intelligent as we are, could do at least a little something towards the “nurture” side of things. But it seems quite unlikely!

When it comes to ethnicity/colour/geography, comments one sees all over the internet on forums such as this one, leave me highly pessimistic that much would ever change. Witness any discussion here about aviation accidents and incidents. The knee-jerk comments are highly predictable.
Jeffrey Bue 2
Bingo! Couldn't agree more.
Lee Dilley 1
Disagree "MAGA, inherently white supremacist". This is incendiary. Perhaps some behave this way, but Make America Great Again is to return to the founding principles of ALL men (men & women) are created equal... with liberty and justice for ALL. This is what we need and with it an end to either liberal or conservative persuaded citizens perverting these paramount founding principles to their own selfish ends.
If you want to get an idea what it's like to be black, read Dick Gregory's book, the title of which I can't type here.

I grew up on a military base, and had friends from just about every racial background. We all played together. At that young age, the most I experienced was 'classism', in that we 'dirt bags' didn't play with the kids of the upper tiers of the military. They didn't live in our part of the 'backwoods'. It wasn't until we all got older that we were segregated more by race. Kids want to be kids. I didn't see black, white, Mexican, European, etc. I saw Mike, Joe, Mary, Nick, Raoul. We were invincible. We were a team. We were determined to squeeze all the fun we could get out of a day. Adults and 'growing up' killed it.

But, seriously, get Dick Gregory's book. (N****R) I cried reading it. I was shocked. I was horrified.

I worked at a large community college, and was in the maintenance department, and got to meet the workers that most people ignored. One was an exceedingly kind older black woman. She was responsible for cleaning the '(president's name) Conference Center', which was a free standing old building that was used for presentations, and other functions for the president of the college. She, one day, took me aside and showed me how she had to clean the cottage. I had just walked across the carpet she vacuumed, my bad, and I felt horrible after we talked. She was told to vacuum the carpets so the vacuum left a fan shape evenly spaced horizontally across the floor, and no more than 3 feet tall. (Yeah, I messed up her pattern) Apparently the previous day, she was home after working a long day, and was called back to 're-vacuum the carpet' because there was a mistake in some of the patterns. Seriously!? They called her back into the building, to vacuum the pattern into the damn carpet! AT NIGHT! WTF!!! It was just a carpet!

Holy crap!!!

White people don't deserve black people.

[This poster has been suspended.]

cyberjet -1
And I'm sure none of that has anything to do with the fact that the cop's knee of George Floyd's neck was a metaphor for America's treatment of a certain element of its citizens. No, nothing at all. /S
MSReed 0
One small step. Let's hope we all can make more and turn them into long strides.
patrick baker 1
the doug parkers of the world are not the root causes of the the racial commotion in america. Now he has some new thoughts and the abiity to transmit those enlightened thoughts. So the inch-by-inch improvement in how black folks are treated has an new advocate, one that commands a large audience.
Jesse Carroll 1
What happened to talking about Airplane's? When I fly with any airline, I choose my seat by location, don't care who sits next to me.
So, you are are racist by omission I guess......

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

[This poster has been suspended.]

dee9bee 4
I think this happens all the time, when needed. Back in the 80s, Frank Borman needed to fly from MIA to ABQ. Flying on Eastern wasn't going to work but American, via DFW worked fine. I was part of the flight crew that took him on the DFW-ABQ leg.
william baker 2
The probably fly to his destination where as American airlines does not.
No, that is not the real question.

[This poster has been suspended.]

John D 0
I was curious too, but in all the flying I have done (as a passenger) I often see flight crews from other airlines of which I was flying. I presume there are agreements between airlines to support this. I presume airline executives have similar arrangements.
Per him "I needed to get to Panama City, FL and all of our seats were sold out!"
HAH! A friend of mine was the local route driver for FedEx Ground. He stopped off with a package for me and had a weird look on his face. I asked what was up, and he told me that he had just delivered some stuff to the strip mall down the street. There are quite a few different businesses there, so I was curious. One of the businesses is a 'UPS Store'. So he was actually making a delivery to the UPS Store, the actual store! As fate would have it, they were being 'inspected' by the regional rep, and he saw the FedEx guy there, and asked what the hell he was doing there. My friend showed him the package, and the rep went ballistic! Yelling at him, and the manager of the store. 'HOW COULD WE BE USING THE COMPETITION TO DELIVER OUR MATERIALS?!?!!!' He smiled, he said, and said it was to save money? He laughed, but the rep told him to leave, and then yelled at the store manager about using competition shippers to ship their stuff. Oh, before he left, the rep also asked how many times he was delivering things like that to the store. He said '3 or 4 times a week!'

Yeah, too funny... 'To save money'? Hysterical... And, yeah, the deliveries did stop.

But, for flying, I'm surprised he didn't take a private plane. Delta has several small private class jets, and can only wonder who flies in them. *shrug* Delta does have Porsche's that deliver 'certain passengers' from gate to gate at 'many airports'.
Steve Cutchen -4
Scaffolded Anti-Racist Resources

This is a working document for scaffolding anti-racism resources. The goal is to facilitate growth for white folks to become allies, and eventually accomplices for anti-racist work. These resources have been ordered in an attempt to make them more accessible. We will continue to add resources.
s s 5
It's hard to imagine anything more racist than a document instructing "white folks" how they should act because of the color of the skin they were born with. SMH
Scott Campbell -2
Doug Parker ? the almost of AA and US airways.... not !
AWAAlum 3
No need for that. He's a good man.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

Paul Phillips 0
Outstanding man. And the conversation speaks volumes about good things that can happen through dialog between good people.


Don't have an account? Register now (free) for customized features, flight alerts, and more!
Did you know that FlightAware flight tracking is supported by advertising?
You can help us keep FlightAware free by allowing ads from We work hard to keep our advertising relevant and unobtrusive to create a great experience. It's quick and easy to whitelist ads on FlightAware or please consider our premium accounts.