A funny thing popped up on Twitter today and started trending with its own hashtag, #FlyingWhileBlack. Let’s have a look at this story to see if it is legitimate racism or another racial hoax.

It happened to Imani Cezanne, poetry slam champion and #BlackLivesMatter (BLM) activist.


Victim bucks, woo hoo! I’m personally against racism and discrimination in any form, but I’m even more against “Listen and Believe. ” So, let’s have a deeper look at her claims.


Please,  tell me more. You’ve said twice already that it’s racism to poison the well before telling what happened. Stop teasing me!


Nope. It’s an epic fail already without even knowing what happened. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen black people on flights before. If she was Muslim-looking, ok, maybe I could believe this is racial profiling. What did she do? The suspense is killing me!


It sucks that the foreign couple lost the “better seats” but with extra legroom comes extra responsibilities.

For those who have not heard my voice on the stream yet, I have a French accent. That same situation has happened to me before on a flight. I got moved to another seat because the flight attendant believed that I didn’t comprehend English well enough to understand commands from the crew and open the emergency hatch in case of disaster to save the lives of all the passengers trapped in that terrible situation. I didn’t argue with her and got relocated, probably in the same way as the foreign couple has.

It didn’t happen to her personally, it didn’t affect her directly, it didn’t have any impact on her whatsoever so there is still no explanation as to why she got asked to leave the plane.


Interesting… What concerns could she have? That a foreign couple that didn’t speak English proficiently enough was in charge of the passengers’ safety in case of emergency? That the couple got relocated? That it happened only because they were foreign?

Wait, what did she mean by “foreign”, not black because she would have capitalized on that, not white because she wouldn’t have cared, not Asian because she probably would have pointed it out. Why would she use the non-descript generic term “foreign” when she seems to be all about racial identity?

I know! I know! I know! I know! I know! Could they have been brown? Like Arabic/Muslim/Hindu/Sikh kind of brown so she didn’t want to specify it because she didn’t want to identify them by their religion (Muslim/Sikh) or race (Arabic/Hindu) and didn’t want to sound pro-Muslim publicly?

Let’s try to imagine what kind of concerns she could have in this context. The couple was a victim of racial profiling because of the way they looked and she voiced her concerns to other passengers loudly, to the point of being insulting to the cabin crew and sounding disgruntled. That would be a typical case of pathological altruism, when somebody wants to help others so much that they disregard the negative impacts their actions or words can also have on themselves or others around them.

Let’s continue to look at her tweet-rant to see if the hypothesis can be confirmed.


First, using the world problematic seriously in a discussion is already problematic. Why did she get noticed by the flight attendant if she was using her ”inside voice” and being courteous? Flight attendants colloquially refer to passengers as “self-loading cargo” so they couldn’t care less about what somebody says on the plane unless they are being purposefully insulting or disrespectful to them or disturbing other passengers.


Why would she need to specify “calmly” if she was calm? If her mood hadn’t been a factor in this, she shouldn’t have needed to mention it.


I personally fly a lot for work, twice a week almost every week. I’ve seen cabin crew staff members be firm with passengers when they started to be mildly disruptive and could potentially spread that behavior to other passengers. I’ve never seen a manager be called on site to come all the way from the office during all my time as a frequent flyer, so if a manager indeed had to be called, it probably was because the unruly passenger didn’t decrease or at least stabilize their behavior. The more critical the situation, the more handling it requires. Maybe, just maybe, the flight attendant felt threatened because she was threatened or insulted.

Sometimes, I wish I was black so I could blame all the bad things that happen to me in life on the amount of melanin in my skin, not my personal behavior that could have resulted in negative consequences.


I didn’t say it myself, it’s just a funny screencap from Twitter that seems to apply to the situation at hand.

Let’s continue to look at her fascinating story.


I’ve honestly done some dumb stuff on planes or in airports and been denied boarding flights before because of that but they have always re-booked me for free. My expert opinion as a dumbass/frequent flyer would be that she has done something really severe to be banned from an entire airline.

Also, travelling without any money in case of emergency, like this situation, is not that smart. I know $400-$500 can be a lot of money but there are always potential risks when traveling.


How did the situation of being barred from flying escalate to being shot dead? How is that even equivalent? If 9/11 has shown us something, it’s that a plane makes a very efficient weapon of mass destruction. What if she had decided mid-flight to try to open a door or the emergency hatch that she was sitting next to? That would have endangered all the other innocent passengers on the flight, the air crew and possibly people on the ground. I’d say those concerns from the staff are justified if they felt threatened. Also, to humor her story, police officers face possible life-threatening situations on a daily basis and are apt to judge by themselves when they should feel threatened or not.


No matter what the color of her skin is, if I was on a flight with her, I’d be scared, especially if she has control over the emergency hatch.


Keeping luggage on the aircraft when a passenger is not boarding is typical airline policy for domestic flights. It sounds like she put her money (cash, debit card, credit card) in her checked luggage, which again is not that smart. Airlines actually recommend keeping anything of value in a carry-on luggage, in case the checked luggage gets lost or delayed, also there have been cases of baggage handlers stealing items from checked luggage, too.


Well, if she was indeed banned from the entire airline, of course they won’t do anything to help her. They have a policy in place to prevent flights being delayed by disruptive passengers.


This is cute. Dindu nuffin’. Logically, people who didn’t do anything wrong don’t get banned from an entire airline. If it was a minor disagreement as she mentioned, she would have been re-booked on the next flight after she had calmed down.


Plllleeeeaaassseee, I’ve been kicked off a flight for causing problems, plllleeeeaaassseee help me cause problems on another flight.


Now she wants to be reasonable, except that from her tone, she sounds like somebody in a couple that wants to make up after storming out in the middle of a fight.


Did somebody send her money in some way or did she have money all along?

I really hope American Airlines won’t apologize for this. They are well within their right to not let known unruly passengers on their flights. I highly recommend them to take the Protein World stance towards this.


Welcome to the professional victim’s club, where oppression points get exchanged for cash prizes.



Coincidence! I actually had to Google this. She would probably call me racist because I don’t know what her shirt is about. Trayvon kind of hinted me in the right direction but it could have been a something else.

If the cabin crew was white, they probably had no clue either about what this T-shirt is about. I asked 7 different people and they only guessed right because they recognized the name Trayvon like I did. Because the T-shirt has meaning to her, doesn’t mean it has a meaning for everybody else. Seeing somebody with a T-shirt like this wouldn’t make me want to kick them out of a plane, it would tell me that they believe there is a racist conspiracy of oppression against them and I should stay away or I’ll end up being called a racist just for being white.


Holy shit Batman! The police had to come and escort her out of the plane, that means that she already had refused to get out willingly when first asked by the cabin crew and/or the manager. That doesn’t fit the narrative of an innocent victim of institutionalized racism at all, more of a stubborn kid who won’t leave the store until they get the toy they want. A couple of times, I’ve seen passengers being asked to deplane voluntarily for various reasons but never saw a situation where the police at to get involved.

Would it have been ok if the policemen were black or Asian? Would it still have been a conspiracy of incessant racism then?


It’s nice of random strangers to show concern for another random stranger. Nothing wrong with compassion as long as it doesn’t open the door to enable the other stranger in trouble to take advantage of you.


Please American Airlines, don’t give in to her blackmail. Stand your ground if she disturbed the flight, we’re talking about aviation safety here, not PR for a candy factory.


I sooooo want to hear from witnesses or see videos of the incident. There has to be somebody who recorded at least parts of it.

Let’s see some random comments from other Twitter users that have various opinions.


I won’t factor in the skin color of the avatars to keep this unbiased. I honestly didn’t look at those comments before reaching this point in the writing process so if some people raised the same questions as me, it is pure coincidence.

Either people are flabbergasted by what she says happened to her or point out strange things going on with her story.




Her version of events:

Foreign couple was asked to change seats on a plane because they didn’t understand English well enough to sit in the emergency exit row.

Imani Cezanne asked “why” then sat quietly minding her own business.

Flight attendant walked over, felt threatened by her T-shirt and called a manager because of racism.

Ms. Cezanne got escorted off the plane by armed police officers because of racism.

She was also banned from the airline because of racism.

She had no money at all but managed to take a bus to her destination.



More probable version of events:

Foreign couple was asked to change seats on a plane because they didn’t understand English well enough to sit in the emergency exit row.

Foreign meaning not black, not white, not Asian, probably Arabic/Hindu-type.

Imani Cezanne saw racial profiling and racism, and started a loud commotion on the plane while insulting the cabin crew.

Flight attendant walked over, asked her to calm down but she didn’t.

Flight attendant didn’t notice her T-shirt.

Manager was called over, asked her to calm down but she didn’t.

Manager asked her to leave the plane of her own volition but she refused.

Police officers escorted her out of the airport because she could have been a danger to the safety of other passengers during the flight.

She tweet-ranted a story making her appear like a victim of racism, hoping somebody would buy her a plane ticket.

She will try to sue for victim bucks.

She will make a video series on racism in video games then on ordinary women of color in history before even completing the first series.



NOTE: I purposely didn’t make any connections between her involvement in Black Lives Matter with the events that happened on the flight. This would be a baseless conspiracy theory and it is definitely not my goal.

I wasn’t there on that flight. Witnesses haven’t come forward yet. I am a dumbass/frequent flyer so it allowed me to apply my knowledge and past experiences to help compare what are normal operating procedures to the events that she mentioned throughout her story. My hypothesis on what really happened on that plane is pure speculation derived from what she said but also what she didn’t say and which words she emphasized or not. It’s possible to interpret a statement of less than 140 characters in different ways individually but a long tweetrant like this gives a richer context and better insight into the mindset of that person.

She seems to put a lot of emphasis on racial identity, shown by her mentioning specifically Caucasian policemen. That would be an example of racism, judging people by the color of their skin. She had never met those policemen before but assumed they wanted to kill her based on her prejudices against white people and her preconception to think they want to hurt her because she is black. Judging the character of somebody based on the amount of melanin in their skin is racism. Reverse-racism doesn’t exist, that’s why I said it was racism. If a black person goes through her life thinking that white people are all out to get them, maybe that would facilitate her predisposition to see racism everywhere, even when it’s not present.

With all the pejorative buzzwords that are thrown left and right for no reason like racism, ableism, sexism, islamophobia and transphobia, only to name a few, these words lose their power and value the more they are misused. Same principle applies to qualifying everything as rape. Real cases of these things are terrible so reducing the value and meaning of those words is insulting and detrimental to real victims. Don’t cry wolf when you see a puppy dog so that the next time somebody gets attacked by a wolf, less people will think that a puppy dog did it.

Let’s conclude the article with this picture which doesn’t require any comments.