Target: American Airlines CEO Doug Parker
Goal: Apologize to man removed from flight after math was mistaken for Arabic language and end racial profiling.
An Ivy League economist was escorted from a flight because a woman mistook him for a terrorist after she saw him writing strange symbols in a notebook that turned out to be mathematical formulas. Guido Menzio, a renowned economist and associate professor at the University at Pennsylvania, is Italian rather than Arabic. However, his tan skin, black hair, and accent apparently makes him a target for suspicion and mistreatment.
It somehow took two hours for Menzio to be escorted off the plane and taken to see security agents before it was determined that the math symbols were in fact not Arabic and he was allowed to return to his seat. Even if he had been writing in Arabic, however, this should not be grounds to move a person from a flight. Writing in Arabic does not make a person a terrorist, and assuming that there’s a connection between them is racism, pure and simple.
This kind of racial profiling promotes the idea that anyone who looks a certain way deserves to be treated differently than others. This fuels national racism and Islamophobia that leads to innocent individuals being harassed and even murdered. American Airlines can’t shut down a flight every time a racist gets nervous. Sign our petition to demand that the company apologizes to Menzio and commit to ending racial profiling on its flights.
Dear Mr. Parker,
Recently, Italian economist Guido Menzio was removed from an American Airlines flight on suspicion of being a terrorist because he was doing some math in a notebook and the passenger next to him thought he was writing in Arabic. It’s not insignificant that he also has tan skin, black hair, and an accent. He was then taken to see an agent of some kind and the flight was delayed for two hours until it could be determined that math problems are not a threat to anyone’s safety.
This kind of treatment of a paying customer and human being is unacceptable. It would have been unacceptable even if he had been Arab and had been writing in Arabic. This nation will never be able to overcome racism as long as companies like yours perpetuate this kind of racial profiling. Arabic does not mean terrorist.
Anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia have resulted in the harassment, assault, and murder of innocent individuals just trying to live their lives. If you choose to be a part of that, then a lot of people might choose not to be your customers anymore. We demand that you apologize to Guido Menzio and commit to ending racism and Islamophobia in American Airlines.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Alan Wilson