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Airline Backs Flight Attendant Will.i.am Accused of Racism

Qantas says it was a 'misunderstanding'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2019 5:05 AM CST
Two Qantas planes taxi on the runway at Sydney Airport.   (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
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(Newser) – Will.i.am says he was singled out by an "overly aggressive" Qantas flight attendant because he is black. The Australian airline says it was all a "misunderstanding"—and it will support the attendant if she wants to take legal action against him. The Black Eyed Peas singer called the flight attendant racist and tweeted her photo and name after the incident on a Brisbane to Sydney flight Saturday, the New York Times reports. He said the attendant was aggressive in asking him to stow his laptop before landing, and "clearly aimed all her frustrations only at the people of color." He says he was questioned by police officers who were called to meet him at the gate.

Qantas says the singer did not hear earlier warnings to put the laptop away before landing because he was wearing noise-canceling headphones, NBC reports. The airline says the incident had nothing to do with race and it would be willing to support a defamation lawsuit. "Absent a retraction, and if the crew member wanted to take the matter further, we'd certainly be willing to provide legal support for them to do this," the airline said. Will.i.am—who has more than 12 million followers on Twitter—later deleted the post with the attendant's name, called for "compassion" and urged fans to stop directing abuse at her. He also noted that other people on the flight had corroborated his account, reports the Washington Post. (Read more Will.i.am stories.)

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