This is obviously a tough time globally, with the impact that COVID-19 is having on just about everything. That’s bad enough, but then there’s the current situation unfolding in the US. I’m angry and sad and frustrated — we see the same thing happen over and over, and nothing changes — and I can’t even imagine how others must feel. There are simply no words.
There’s an uplifting story along those lines (as much as something related to racism can be “uplifting”), which is shared in a Facebook post by a Southwest Airlines flight attendant named JacqueRae. Specifically, she had American Airlines’ CEO, Doug Parker, on her flight (I’m guessing he was flying somewhere from Dallas that was served nonstop by Southwest, but not by American).
JacqueRae didn’t know who he was, but rather noticed the book he was reading. She sat down near him and started a conversation with him based on that. His book? “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism.”
Only at the end of the conversation did he reveal who he was. He also left her a note, leaving his contact info to encourage her to continue the conversation.
Here’s the text of the Facebook post, for anyone who is interested:
So my heart has been heavy as I’m sure most of you feel the same. I was on social media before preparing to go to work (terrible idea). As I was driving to work I had to really go to God with my thoughts because it would make it hard to smile with everything going on. As we are boarding my first flight of the day I smile and I greet people when they come on and a man was holding a book that has been on my to read list. The book is entitled White Fragility. I was so happy to see that book in his grasp that I knew after I finished my duties I was going to make a point to ask him about it. I go sit next to him as he was sitting in a row all by himself (That was God). I said Hey How are you? I see your are reading that book .. So how is it? He replies oh I’m half way through it’s really good. It really points out how important these conversations on race are. As I began to respond the tears just start falling . I have been so sad every day and I just want to understand and be understood so we can began to fix it.
I’m pretty sure I startled him by seemingly dumping all my emotions on him but his reply was “ I’m so sorry. And it’s our fault that this is like this. We continued to talk and when I tell you it was everything I needed. I was happy (even tho I was crying). I went on to tel him about my prayer on my way to work today and that he Answered that prayer for me with this conversation. As our conversation came to an end he asks me my name I told him JacqueRae and then he said well I’m Doug Parker the CEO of American Airlines. I told him my mother works for him in DC and then I reached over and gave him a BIG HUG ! I HAD TO!! (yes we were both masked) I thanked him for being open and allowing this conversation to happen because I just needed to hear it and I walked off. I thanked God for his LOVE AND FAITHFULNESS the rest of the Flight. On his way off the plane he hands me a handwritten note and I thank him again and ask for this pic. This encounter is Only A Holy Spirit thing!!!!
There are so many different ways to affect change in the world. I stand with anyone who wants to make a difference no matter if it is how I would do it or not. I believe that God answered my prayer so perfectly that I want to be apart of an answered prayer for someone else.
It’s heartwarming and refreshing to see something like this. Call me naive, but I don’t think this was a publicity stunt of any sort (she didn’t know who he was, he was flying Southwest, etc.).
I’ve long thought that Doug Parker at least appears to be a decent person, especially in comparison to some other airline CEOs. That says nothing about the job he does running the world’s largest airline, but he has always seemed to me like a good guy otherwise. This reinforces that for me.