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Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am claims he and other people of color on a Qantas Airways flight from Brisbane to Sydney, Australia, were targeted by a “racist” flight attendant.
Will.i.am—whose real name is William Adam—voiced his frustrations on Twitter. He said flight attendants were preparing for landing and told passengers to store their electronic devices, but he didn’t hear the announcement because he was wearing noise-canceling headphones.
The music producer, who apparently had his laptop out at the time, eventually put it away after he was pilloried by an “over aggressive” flight attendant who was “beyond rude,” he said.
He added that the flight attendant called the police, who were waiting on the singer when he landed.
“I don’t want to believe she racist,” he tweeted. “But she has clearly aimed all her frustrations only at the people of colour.”
I’m currently on a flight from Brisbane to Sydney.— will.i.am (@iamwill) November 16, 2019
I’m sorry to say me and my group have experienced they worse service due to a overly aggressive flight attendant...
I don’t want to believe she racist.
But she has clearly aimed all her frustrations only at the people of colour
This is how your greeted when you land from Brisbane to Sydney flying @qantas with a #RacistFlightattendant named Lorraine Marshall...She sent the police after me bacause I couldn’t hear the P.A while making beats on the plane wearing noise canceling headphones... pic.twitter.com/9xT7WqTUoO— will.i.am (@iamwill) November 16, 2019
.@Qantas Your #RacistFlightattendant was beyond rude & took it to the next level by calling the police on me. thank god the other passengers testified that SHE was out of Control 🙏🏿 the police finally let me go. imagine if the police were as aggressive as Lorraine Marshall 😵— will.i.am (@iamwill) November 16, 2019
Will.i.am said he was escorted by five police officers after he got off the plane, and was eventually let go after other passengers “testified that SHE was out of control.” He also posted a photo of one of the police and named the attendant who he said targeted him on the flight.
When asked on Twitter why he thought the harassment was targeted to him, he replied: “I’m sorry? Is callin the police on a passenger for not hearing he P.A due to wearing noise canceling headphones appropriate? If didn’t put away my laptop ‘in a rapid 2min time’ I’d understand. I did comply quickly & politely, only to be greeted by police. I think I was targeted.”
I’m sorry? Is callin the police on a passenger for not hearing he P.A due to wearing noise canceling headphones appropriate? If didn’t put away my laptop “in a rapid 2min time” I’d understand. I did comply quickly & politely, only to be greeted by police. I think I was targeted https://t.co/8WVIuMKXJa— will.i.am (@iamwill) November 16, 2019
A spokesperson for Qantas denied allegations of racism in a statement to the Daily Mirror and said the incident was prompted by “a misunderstanding on board.”
“We completely reject the suggestion this had anything to do with race,” the company said. “We’ll be following up with will.i.am and wish him well for the rest of the tour.”
While some Twitter users defended the singer after the incident, others chided him for posting the name and badge number of the attendant in question and said will.i.am might be subjecting her to online abuse.
Something is definitely missing from this story. On top of that its a little late to tell your fans not to send hate her way after you send your 12.8 Million followers her full name. Im sure that was not your intention @will.i.am #DickUR https://t.co/uNZCYh1g9k— Andrew McGill (@Andrew__McGill) November 16, 2019
Hahahaha! Will I Am actually RTed this to back up his story. Meanwhile his fans are abusing/threatening a flight attendant. 🤦🏽♀️ https://t.co/kItKxAjZ6i— Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) November 16, 2019
Still, the singer said he didn’t regret his actions.
“If I did something wrong….or if I was the slightest bit rude to a FAN or a journalist during work, I would be publicly named…this is what Twitter is for…we are supposed to call out wrong doings so we can have a safer more compassionate world,” he said.
If I did something wrong....or if I was the slightest bit rude to a FAN or a journalist during work, I would be publicly named...this is what Twitter is for...we are supposed to call out wrong doings so we can have a safer more compassionate world https://t.co/au4ibWeqWY— will.i.am (@iamwill) November 16, 2019
“Please do not send Hate…This type of disrespect and name calling is uncalled for…I don’t support abuse & attacks like this…I hope that everyone can be more compassionate & understanding towards one another…because it was the lack of compassion that caused this #noH8,” he added.
Please do not send Hate...This type of disrespect and name calling is uncalled for...I don’t support abuse & attacks like this...I hope that everyone can be more compassionate & understanding towards one another...because it was the lack of compassion that caused this #noH8 pic.twitter.com/zNwoIyyaBP— will.i.am (@iamwill) November 16, 2019
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Alexandra Samuels is a political reporter at the Texas Tribune and contributor to the Daily Dot, where she started as an intern covering politics in the summer of 2016. She enjoys Marvel movies, baking, and reading murder-mystery novels.