A United Airline passenger was kicked off a plane for wearing a Black Panther hat

Another day, another person getting kicked off an airline for a stupid reason. Despite the recent scrutiny toward airlines about profiling passengers – especially passengers of color – they still don’t seem to get the point. Passenger Amanda Stevens was kicked off a flight over a Black Panther hat and upside down American flag shirt. Seriously.

The e-sports journalist was flying on United Airlines to cover an event and minding her own business on the plane (like we all do) when she was told to take off her shirt because it made the pilot “uncomfortable.” The ASAP Rocky-designed shirt previously caused controversy and was pulled from stores last year.

Stevens began to document her encounter on Twitter and said the pilot gave her a smug look as he walked past her to go to the bathroom. Then, the airline staff turned their attention to her Black Panther hat and asked her to remove it. After calling them out on social media and presumably fighting for her right to wear what she likes without being bothered, she was kicked off the airplane. Fortunately, she was able to get another flight and make it to her event, but she also had to deal with internet trolls who thought the staff’s behavior was acceptable.

For those who don’t know what Stevens hat refers to, Black Panther is a black comic superhero who is the king of Wakanda – a fictional African nation. The character has seen a recent resurgence in popularity due to the new Black Panther comic series, the character’s appearance in Captain America: Civil War, and an upcoming 2018 movie centered on Black Panther. Stevens, like many other people, are thrilled to see a non-white hero dominating comics and in movies, so she wore a hat to celebrate the character.

I’m no genius, but I can safely assume the pilot saw the phrase “Black Panther” and immediately thought about the pro-black group that came to rise in the 1960s. Or, the pilot simply focused on the word “black” because (let’s be honest) that seems to be enough to make some people feel uncomfortable.

Either way, asking someone to remove a hat because of two harmless words is ridiculous and offensive. This situation may seem trivial to someone who is privileged enough to have not experienced blatant racism, but for others, it is serious. It’s a problem when airline staff can look at a person with brown skin who is wearing something that they don’t agree with or understand and force them off a plane because of it. It’s even more disturbing if the pilot IS familiar with a character like Black Panther and “uncomfortable” with a beloved black, powerful, and wealthy hero. What exactly ARE you afraid of, sir?

The upside down flag shirt has certain people in an uproar, yet a symbol like the Confederate flag is seen by so many as “heritage.” It is also a problem when a person like Stevens – who has to deal with the issues of being both a person of color and a trans woman – brings this to the attention of social media only to be met with racist and transphobic comments. It makes me wonder why people care more about a T-shirt or a hat than they do about racial profiling.

Just last year, United Airlines passenger Tahera Ahmad accused the airlines of Islamophobic treatment during her flight. She was refused an unopened can of soda because it could be used to “make a weapon” on a plane despite them bringing an unopened drink to her seat neighbor. Then, after she complained, she was verbally taunted by another passenger who made racial slurs toward her. Ahmad said no one reached out to her to resolve the issue.

It’s a shame to see people treated so terribly for existing.