By Louwanda Evans
From African American pilots being requested to hold people’s baggage to buyers refusing beverages from African American flight attendants, Cabin Pressure demonstrates that racism continues to be a great deal alive within the “friendly skies.” writer Louwanda Evans attracts on provocative interviews with African americans within the flight to envision the emotional hard work inquisitive about a company that provides occupational status, but in addition a heritage of the systemic exclusion of individuals of color.
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Additional resources for Cabin Pressure: African American Pilots, Flight Attendants, and Emotional Labor
The vast underrepresentation of people of color becomes a signifier. . Because most people in these institutions fail to make the connection between historical racist exclusion and contemporary institutional norms, much of the white frame remains tacit, thereby reifying whiteness within the space without need for intentional action to do so. The spatial reality of racism and the idea that specific spaces remain designated for whites is crucial in my analysis largely because this is indicative of the experiences many African Americans face even before becoming commercial aviation pilots.
I remember coming into Pittsburgh with my uniform on and it was like, oh my God, I landed from Mars . . I mean everybody was staring (laughs). I mean I understand why everybody is staring. It’s like, oh my God, she’s a pilot—she’s black—she looks so young. Or, she’s a woman . . I mean, you know it still gets to you even after a while. ” As she discusses the looks she gets from passengers, she easily references her gender, race, and age, which collectively create a complex experience. Though she does not explicitly state a singular reason people are staring, she does note that it becomes “second nature” to deal with these pervasive and unspoken methods of exclusion.
For this pilot and other African American pilots, because they are in an industry dominated by white males, they have to contend with the fact that a great deal of these spaces are unsafe (and even sometimes hostile) spaces in which they are not free to counter many of these racist interactions. As this industry is spatially and culturally white, norms, ideologies, and customs that involve racist narratives and stereotypes are salient activities in this environment. To understand emotional labor in this case, we have to understand the possible outcomes for the black pilot if he had called them on their racist language.
Cabin Pressure: African American Pilots, Flight Attendants, and Emotional Labor by Louwanda Evans