This Black Flight Attendant And White CEO Discuss Racial Tensions At 35,000 Feet

Southwest Flight attendant JacqueRae S. Hill is like a lot of Americans in 2020: distraught. Social media, she confesses, likely plays a role in her anxiety, but a conversation about race on a flight from Dallas to Panama City has given her hope.

Hill, whose flown the friendly skies for over a decade, says she was motivated to speak with a passenger carrying a book entitled White Fragility onto the plane. The non-fiction book by Robin DiAngelo focuses on why White Americans struggle to talk about racism. Hill shares in a Facebook post that after she completed service, she joined the passenger for a conversation.

Let’s Talk About Racism

“I go sit next to him as he was sitting in a row all by himself (That was God). I said, ‘Hey, how are you? I see you are reading that book. So how is it?’ He replies, ‘Oh I’m halfway through, it’s really good. It really points out how important these conversations on race are. As I began to respond the tears just start falling. I have been so sad every day and I just want to understand and be understood so we can begin to fix it.”

Passenger’s Surprising Identity Revealed

The Dallas native says as her conversation with the gentleman concluded, they exchanged names. “He asks me my name. I told him ‘JacqueRae’ and then he said, “Well, I’m Doug Parker the CEO of American Airlines.” Hills rejoiced over the revelation because her mother is employed by American Airlines in Washington, DC. 

“There are so many different ways to affect change in the world. I stand with anyone who wants to make a difference no matter if it is how I would do it or not. I believe that God answered my prayer so perfectly that I want to be apart of an answered prayer for someone else. I’m following behind my sister Audresha Lynn by saying LETS TALK!!”

Southwest CEO Comments

Southwest’s Chairman and CEO, Gary Kelly, posted the following on Twitter in response to the chance encounter:

“It’s important for us to listen to one another to achieve understanding. This moment between Doug and one of our Flight Attendants is a beautiful example of that. Though we wear different logos, Doug and I have a duty to be the example for our People.”
Today, Southwest Airlines spokeswoman Brandy King wrote, “Tens of thousands of times every day, our People connect with Southwest Customers to weave across the sky a diverse patchwork of perspectives, life experiences, and understanding. We were touched by the dimension of a true connection between one of our amazing Southwest Flight Attendants JacqueRae and Southwest’s friend Doug Parker who leads another great, Texas-based airline. We thank Doug for the business, and for celebrating one of the many real connections that makes the more than 60,000 People of Southwest so special.”
Hill for her part is riding high on this incredible moment, but she doesn’t plan on letting it pass. “I want to work on a solution. I want to have conversations. This experience gives me hope. I feel like a shift will come out of this.”
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Eric has revolved in and out of passport controls for over 20 years. From his first archaeological field school in Belize to rural villages in Ethiopia and Buddhist temples in Laos, Eric has come smile to smile with all walks of life. A writer, photographer and entrepreneur, the LA native believes the power of connectivity and community is enriched through travel.

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