A recent incident on an American Airlines flight proves that the Black women are constantly ostracized for their bodies while existing in communal spaces.
Amber Phillips, a noted 28-year-old political organizer and host of “The Black Joy Mixtape” podcast shared a Twitter thread about a harrowing encounter on an American Airlines flight.
During a Thursday flight from Raleigh to Washington, D.C., Phillips was accosted by a white woman who for an unknown reason, felt that Amber’s Black body was a threat to her own. It began as soon as Phillips’ arm brushed against her on the armrest.
“Before she said any words, she was doing this thing of fidgety around trying to move me over,” Phillips shared with HelloBeautiful.
For the entirety of the trip, the woman kept shifting her weight and positioned her body to make Phillips uncomfortable. She moved her arms and legs in a way that trapped Phillips into her window seat.
“I was starting to shrink, I was starting to feel it. I texted jasmine, this white woman next to me, I can feel her upset because my arm is touching her. Anyone who isn’t a size two probably has stories about this. “How dare your fat ass fly.’ Some people will engage with my fat body as a respectable fat body because I have a small waist or an instagram physique,” she continued.
Phillips decided instead of shrinking she would in turn stand up for herself. “I said ‘You’re being really awful. You’re being really mean to me, the world doesn’t revolve around you.'”
As the flight went on, the woman continued her tirade, and verbally asked Phillips to move. After she told the woman “no,” she prepared to position herself in a way to further block Phillips with her leg. But right before they landed, the woman finally let go of her tyrannical actions and positioned herself to not encroach on Phillips’ space.
Phillips quickly videotaped the woman on her cell phone, which prompted the woman to run to a flight attendant and report that she was assaulted.
Soon after as they were exiting the plane, the flight attendant called the police, which resulted in the police approaching Phillips in front of passengers as they sat waiting in a shuttle parked on the tarmac. Phillips was asked to brandish her ID, even though she had clearly gone through the TSA process prior to her flight. The woman was never asked for her identification.
In the end, after inquiring on whether or not she was being detained, the officers let her go.
“You can’t use the cops as your customer service hotline,” Phillips said, alluding to the fact that many Black lives have been taken because of a premature call to the police.
Phillips says she wants more of a cognitive recognition that she should be allowed to live freely in her skin. To evoke the words of body positivity activist Sonya Renee Taylor, Phillips’ body is not an apology.
“I want us to also expand, like when we’re talking about Black folks interaction with the cops, I need to talk about the size of my body, and how I am treated,” she said.
“It’s too much for me to have to move to the world trying not to upset white people. That’s too much of a load for me. And just because I make you uncomfortable, it’s not against the law for you to be uncomfortable,” said Phillips.