College Basketball Coach Says Southwest Airlines Employee Asked Her to Prove That Her Biracial Son Was Hers

In an Aug. 30, 2017, photo, California women’s basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb holds her then-6-month-old son, Jordan, during NCAA college basketball practice on the campus.
Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez (AP Images)

The airlines are back at it again, with Southwest being accused of demanding that a white mother prove that her infant biracial son was indeed her own.

According to CBS San Francisco affiliate KPIX-TV, University of California women’s basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb said that she was approached at a Denver airport by a Southwest Airlines employee who asked to know her relationship to her son before she could get on a flight.


Gottlieb took to Twitter to express her shock at what happened to her, stating that this happened after approximately 50 times of flying with her now 1-year-old son.

Gottlieb gave birth to her son, Jordan Peter Martin, last year. Patrick Martin, Gottlieb’s fiance, is black. As KPIX notes, the tot has traveled often, even on Southwest, with his mom’s basketball team this past season.

However, this trip didn’t go as smoothly. Gottlieb said that she presented her son’s passport, only to have the agent demand the child’s birth certificate.


Gottlieb said in her tweets that the employee insisted that the demand was made because she and her son do not share a last name, but a mother next to her pointed out that even though her family uses a different last name, they’ve never been asked.

The basketball coach noted that that woman was not part of a mixed-race family.


Nonetheless, Gottlieb stayed woke, acknowledging in her tweets that incidents like this happen far more often to “people that don’t look” like her.


“I do feel like as a white female, with a position of privilege, and a platform where someone is going to listen, it is my responsibility to say, ‘Hey, this happened, this isn’t OK,’” Gottlieb explained to the news station. “And maybe somewhere down the line, that helps my son, who is biracial and will be for his entire life.”

Of course, Southwest is now apologizing (for the umpteenth time?) and saying that it is investigating:

“We’re looking into this specific interaction, and we have engaged with the customer directly to address her concerns,” a statement from the airline read. “Our employees are well regarded for their hospitality and we always strive for the best experience for anyone who entrusts us with their travel.”


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Breanna Edwards

News Editor at The Root, animation nerd, soca junkie, yogi