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.
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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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DISCUSSION

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At this point in my life I literally cannot count the number of times something like this happened to me or one of my brothers. On no less than three occasions my mother was asked if she was a basketball and/or football coach while at the ER (we broke a lot of bones growing up). She is 5'4" and round. She is not a coach of any kind and the fact that someone would assume that before even considering that she might be our mother is baffling to me.

I had one teacher just flat out ask if I was adopted during a parent/teacher conference. She thought my “life before adoption” might the reason for my attitude problem. My mother told her it was probably just because I didn’t like her. The teacher was so fucking stunned she didn’t even bother saying anything else after my mom cheerfully asked if there was anything else they needed to discuss.

I had another doctor - who also assumed I was adopted - ask to speak to me alone because she thought my mom might be pimping me out when she asked to have me put on birth control from my horrible cramps when I was 13. I had been to the emergency room in horrible pain at least 4 times before this and it was clearly noted in my medical records why. We found out six years later, when we finally got a doctor to listen, that I have endometriosis. Fun times.

The funny thing is, all of these people were white. I have never had a black person or really anyone else ever think my mother was anything other than my mother. Considering the number of mixed race people and interracial adoptions that take place every day, you’d think these people would have caught on by now, but nooo...they see white and black together and immediately their brains shut the fuck down.