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A white mother, Mary MacCarthy, has recently filed a lawsuit against Southwest Airlines. She claims that a flight attendant accused her of trafficking her own biracial daughter. They initiated the legal action on August 3, and it is currently under scrutiny in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, alleges a distressing case of racial profiling. The incident took place on October 22, 2021, during a somber journey from Los Angeles to Denver.

The Lawsuit Claims Racial Profiling by Southwest Airlines

MacCarthy, accompanied by her 10-year-old daughter Moira, was en route to attend her brother’s funeral in Denver. According to the lawsuit, a Southwest Airlines employee notified Denver police about potential child trafficking, solely based on the racial difference between MacCarthy and her daughter. The distressing incident unfolded at Denver International Airport, where authorities confronted the grieving mother and daughter.

In response to this unfortunate incident, Mary MacCarthy stated, “I want Southwest Airlines and the Denver police to be held accountable for what is undoubtedly a case of racial profiling involving a 10-year-old Black girl, who was already suffering the worst day in her life — a death in her family.” Her determination to shed light on the issue of racial profiling is central to her pursuit of justice.

The lawsuit highlights that Denver authorities reached out to MacCarthy and her daughter after receiving an alert that implicated her in trafficking. This accusation stemmed from a “racist assumption about a mixed-race family,” as detailed in the legal complaint. The video captured the encounter, depicting Moira in tears during the questioning.

MacCarthy’s Revelation: Racial Profiling in Play

Recalling the distressing moment, MacCarthy explained, “At that point in my mind, it clicked that we had probably been profiled. I’ve been raising this girl for 10 years; she’s my biological daughter, and I knew things like this could happen.” She adds, “I know about racial profiling, and I know that ‘suspicious’ is a code word for minority.”

The incident occurred despite the family’s attempts to adhere to the airline’s instructions and sit together during their journey.

Mother alleges racial profiling: Southwest Airlines faces legal action
Mary MacCarthy with her 10-year-old daughter Moira. | Photo Courtesy of Mary MacCarthy

Mary MacCarthy’s legal representative, David Lane, asserts that Southwest Airlines resorted to profiling, treating a serious matter like sex trafficking with a “stereotypical, easy formula.” The lawsuit seeks accountability from the airline and urges them to reassess their training and policies. The airline’s officials, however, have yet to comment further on the ongoing litigation.

Federal Regulations Against Racial Profiling on Airlines

Federal regulations forbid airlines from engaging in discriminatory practices against passengers on the grounds of disability, race, color, national origin, sex, religion, or ancestry.

As of February this year, which represents the latest month for which publicly accessible data is available, a total of 20 complaints from consumers highlighting instances of discrimination by domestic airlines were officially lodged with the Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection.

According to The New York Times, a total of 118 complaints concerning discriminatory treatment were submitted, indicating a 7 percent increase compared to the number of complaints registered in the preceding year.

In the midst of this unfortunate event with Southwest Airlines, Mary MacCarthy’s determination to seek justice serves as a reminder that even during moments of grief, the fight against racial profiling remains a crucial endeavor.

Nehemiah D. Frank is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Black Wall Street Times and a descendant of two families that survived the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Although his publication’s store and newsroom...

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