Airline Criticized for Allowing ‘Black Lives Matter’ Pins to Be Worn

American Airlines is facing backlash from some of its own employees after announcing on Sunday it will allow flight attendants to wear a ‘Black Lives Matter’ pin on their uniforms.

American shared the news in a company-wide announcement.

“Clearly we live in a time where it is so important to have a dialogue about this important issue of racism in our society and try to find common ground,” AA wrote. “American is truly committed to having an inclusive culture that is welcoming to all and a reflection of our country and world. This is why American is so committed to creating a more tolerant and diverse team. Through our partnership with American’s office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, we are continuing to work through an overall plan for addressing these issues in our workplace.”

But according to the New York Post, the backlash was immediate.

“I take offense to this,” one flight attendant said to airline management in an email obtained by the Post. “Serious offense. My husband is a LEO (Law Enforcement Officer), as was my deceased father and as far as I’m concerned ALL LIVES MATTER. I am completely disgusted at the fact that we can’t show support for our GOD, our COUNTRY, our LEOs but when it comes to BLM organization (which is controversial in itself), American Airlines says that’s obviously different. How is that right? Well, I don’t feel included.”

The Black Lives Matter movement began in 2013 as a response to racial inequality and social injustice. It has become more widely known this summer, and the topic has been difficult for some to grasp – and the travel industry has not been immune to the sometimes-uncomfortable conversations as a result.

Another flight attendant who asked to be identified only as John said, “If this pin is sanctioned, I will wear my NYPD pin supporting the police department.”

The Post noted that American defended the decision, with Jill Surdek, the airline’s senior vice president for flight services, saying she had been “taken aback” by “widespread” complaints from black AA workers about “implicit bias and direct racism from customers and other team members.”

“American is truly committed to having an inclusive culture that is welcoming to all and a reflection of our country and world,” she said. “One symbolic way to show our support is through a uniform pin. We are working with our Black Professional Network on designing a specific pin that may be worn with the uniform. In the interim, until this pin is produced, to recognize the significance of this moment in history, we are allowing people to wear a Black Lives Matter Pin.”

American said it views the BLM pin push “not as a political cause but as a universal cause about humanity and equality. Fundamentally, Black Lives Matter is an expression of equality. It doesn’t mean other lives don’t matter, rather that in our society black lives should matter and be valued the same as others. That’s not political.”

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