Racism exists. Racial incidents occur countless times every day. And, as I end every installment of my “Real Racism” series with, it comes in all forms from all sources, no group is immune to it or from it.
But, despite its existence and pervasiveness, there are ways to trivialize racism. One of them is invoking it at the drop of a hat, when there is no apparent reason to do so.
This brings us straight to Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX).
Jean-Marie Simon, a 63 year old teacher, had booked a December 18 first-class flight from Guatemala to Houston to Washington, DC. The first leg of the flight was fine. But when she got to her Houston-to-D.C. connection she was told that she had “unreserved” her seat and it had been given to someone else.
Ms. Simon adamantly denies she did any such thing. But when she was put further back in the plane (with a $500 voucher to smooth things over) she was told that her erstwhile seat was given to Rep. Jackson Lee. Ms. Simon took a picture of her in that seat and posted it on social media.
So far, what do we have here? Someone bumped from her seat, either through her own actions, a misunderstanding of some sort, or United Airlines’ decision to create a first-class seat opening for Rep. Jackson Lee as an accommodation to her or at her insistence. We don’t know which, and probably never will.
But here is what Jackson Lee posted about it on her facebook account:
December 22 at 4:16pm
Statement from Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee regarding incident on recent flight from Houston to Washington, D.C.:
“I am disappointed in having to respond to this accusation, but I believe transparency is very important. Unfortunately, it looks like Grinch is trying to steal the spirit of the holiday.
Last Monday, I arrived at the airport to catch my flight to Washington to continue my fight to get Hurricane Harvey funds back to Texas and other hard hit areas, along with funding of the Children’s Health Insurance Program and of course, trying to stop a tax bill that was going to cause millions of Americans to lose their health insurance.
After receiving my boarding pass, I boarded the plane in the normal process. I did nothing wrong. I asked for nothing exceptional or out of the ordinary and received nothing exceptional or out of the ordinary. I proceeded to take my seat and work on legislative issues on my way to Washington.
Although I was not involved, I observed a disruption by an individual walking back and forth in the cabin. I could overhear her speaking with a flight attendant (an African American woman). I saw the gate agent go to the seat of the individual who was walking back and forth before we took off.
I later came to understand that the individual had canceled her own flight. However I had nothing to do with that.
I noted that this individual came toward me and took a picture. I heard later that she might have said “I know who she is.” Since this was not any fault of mine, the way the individual continued to act appeared to be, upon reflection, because I was an African American woman, seemingly an easy target along with the African American flight attendant who was very, very nice. This saddens me, especially at this time of year given all of the things we have to work on to help people. But in the spirit of this season and out of the sincerity of my heart, if it is perceived that I had anything to do with this, I am kind enough to simply say sorry. I understand the airline is working to address the passenger’s concerns. I am glad of that.
But as an African American, I know there are too many examples like this all over the nation. I hope one day, we will accept our collective diversity. Happy Holidays.”
Why did Sheila Jackson Lee attack Jean-Marie Simon as a racist? What did Jean-Marie Simon say or do that made this incident a racial one?
The one and only person who invoked racism here was Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee – who then, solely responsible for the racial element, shamelessly self-promoted herself by saying “in the spirit of this season and out of the sincerity of my heart, if it is perceived that I had anything to do with this, I am kind enough to simply say sorry.”
Yep, you were really kind, Ms. Jackson Lee. What a giant among us mortals.
I have read that Sheila Jackson Lee is avidly disliked; one of the most unpleasant house members to work with. Illustratively, non-partisan Washingtonian.com has voted her meanest person in congress multiple times.
If this obnoxious, gratuitous invocation of the race card, coupled with Jackson Lee’s paean to her own benevolence, is any indication, they have a point.