American Airlines will now allow flight attendants to wear Black Lives Matter pins on their uniforms while on-duty, the New York Post reports. The news arrives after Black employees complained about a racist work environment. According to the Post, a “top official” at the airline said she was “taken aback” by the “widespread” complaints from African American flight attendants who had been suffering “implicit bias and direct racism from customers and other team members.”
“American is truly committed to having an inclusive culture that is welcoming to all and a reflection of our country and world,” American’s Senior Vice President for Flight Services Jill Surdek said in an email.
“One symbolic way to show our support is through a uniform pin,” she wrote. “We are working with our Black Professional Network on designing a specific pin that may be worn with the uniform. In the interim until this pin is produced, to recognize the significance of this moment in history, we are allowing people to wear a Black Lives Matter Pin.”
However, not all workers are happy with the new policy. The Post reports that several white staff members have complained about the pin allowance and threatened to wear their own pins that support law enforcement.
“I take offense to this,” an unnamed flight attendant wrote in an email to American’s management, per the Post. “Serious offense. My husband is a LEO (Law Enforcement Officer), as was my deceased father and as far as I’m concerned ALL LIVES MATTER.”
“I am completely disgusted at the fact that we can’t show support for our GOD, our COUNTRY, our LEOs but when it comes to BLM organization (which is controversial in itself), American Airlines says that’s obviously different,” they continued. “And we can. How is that right? Well, I don’t feel included.”
Another flight attendant named John — who described Black Lives Matter as “a terrorist organization” — complained that now, those who refuse to wear the pin will “be ostracized and labeled as racist.”
“If this pin is sanctioned, I will wear my NYPD pin supporting the police department,” he said.
American Airlines has stood their ground on the policy, saying that Black Lives Matter is “not as a political cause” but a “universal cause about humanity and equality.”
“Fundamentally, Black Lives Matter is an expression of equality,” the company said. “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. That’s not political.”
American is also working to develop pins for charitable causes, Christians, veterans and LGBTQ groups.