“American Airlines believes in equity and inclusion for all,” read a statement from American provided to USA TODAY by representative Sarah Jantz. “In light of the appropriate attention to lives of Black Americans, we will allow team members who wish to wear a Black Lives Matter pin to do so if they choose.”
Some of American’s Black employees noticed workers at other airlines sporting Black Lives Matter pins and asked if they could do the same, Jantz said.
American Airlines is working with its Black Professional Network to design a company-specific Black Lives Matter pin that may be worn with the American uniform, as it has done with several other Employee Business Resource Groups, including its Christian, Veteran and LGBTQ groups. Until a company pin is created, employees will be allowed to wear their own Black Lives Matter pins.
“Fundamentally, we believe Black Lives Matter is an expression of equality, not a political statement,” the statement continued. “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. We are showing our support for our Black colleagues and customers who have experienced discrimination and injustice, not any particular organization.
“This decision underscores our belief that all people, regardless of race, gender or ethnicity, deserve to be treated with equality and respect.”
American isn’t the only airline to offer Black Lives Matter pins.
Last week, Delta Air Lines passenger Demetria Poe applauded the company for “taking a stance” against racism and discrimination after she was harassed by her seatmate during a flight from Minneapolis to Washington, D.C.
Poe told USA TODAY Wednesday that a white woman appeared to purposefully swap her American flag face mask for a Blue Lives Matter mask once realizing she was assigned the seat next to Poe, a Black woman. Blue Lives Matter supports police officers and is viewed as a counter movement to Black Lives Matter, which aims to eradicate white supremacy and has organized nationwide protests in response to police violence against Black people.
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“That woman was trying to entice me into an argument because there was no need for her to flip that mask in my presence,” Poe said. “She didn’t do it for anyone else. It was as if she was making a statement and wanted me to know.”
The company replied to Poe’s viral Facebook post, writing, “When we say Black lives matter, we mean it. You matter to us, Demetria.”
Poe said Delta Air Lines went above and beyond to rectify the situation by upgrading her seat on her flight back to Minneapolis. Poe said she also received a gift bag filled with goodies, including a Black Lives Matter pin engraved with Delta Air Lines’ logo.
“This is a major corporation saying that Black lives matter,” Poe told USA TODAY. “It was very heartwarming. I cried because I look at God using me for the movement.”
On Facebook, Poe added, “It’s time and situations like these were these companies need to take a stance.”
Contributing: Cydney Henderson