Racism With Food on Qantas — Again?!?
W hen it comes to the choices of serving food aboard its aircraft, Qantas Airways does not seem to have much luck — except this time, a flight attendant was apparently involved.
“Allow me to tell you about the racist Qantas Airways flight I just took” were the words which began this article written by Paul Ogata, a comedian who was born in Hawaii.
After requesting beef as his choice for the meal during the flight, “I was greeted with this idiot Qantas steward’s loud response, ‘You don’t want the Asian chicken? What a disgrace!’ (Emphasis added where he used it.) And when he got the chuckles of the other (white Australian) passengers around me, I glared at him and he moved on.”
The description for the chicken reads as follows: Asian style spicy chicken with steamed rice and broccoli.
So is the word Asian racist as a descriptor? Perhaps it is some form of fowl play? “Plus, what kind of Asian do they mean? Russians? Israeli? Laotian?” What do you think of when you read Asian style? How about American style? Would that mean Southern? Midwestern? New England? Southwestern?
Okay, Paul. We get it. Perhaps Asian was not the best adjective to use to describe how the chicken was prepared. Perhaps the flight attendant did not use the best judgement in attempting to impart a brief moment of levity to you — but do you really believe that the flight attendant in question was being racist to you? I am asking sincerely, as I was obviously not there when it happened.
Along with posting a photograph of Caucasian men in what is known as “blackface”, Paul Ogata added: “So ‘good work’ Qantas, for sticking to your colors. Most likely, the mouth-breather in charge of ‘customer service’ on my flight will get a special commendation from corporate. After all, he went out of his way not to humiliate the white passengers for not ordering the ‘white people style beef.’ For an airline that lost over $200 million in the first half of this year alone, you’d think they would try a little harder to please.”
I am not sure whether this was meant to be funny or if this was actually serious. I will let you decide on that — as well as whether you believe that Paul Ogata was being too sensitive and could not take a joke; or if he had every right to be offended.
According to this article, the official response by Qantas Airways pertaining to this incident is as follows:
Qantas does not tolerate discrimination in any form and we take such reports very seriously. We are investigating this issue further internally.
As a hugely diverse, multicultural business with employees of around 100 different nationalities, suggestions of racism are extremely disturbing to us. We consider racism deplorable and unacceptable wherever it occurs.
This is not the first time Qantas Airways has been embroiled in a controversy over its menu options. As a supposed requirement of its partnership with Emirates — which became effective as of March 31, 2013 — pork food products were removed from the menu on some flights operated by Qantas Airways for religious dietary reasons. In that article, I attempted to impart some levity myself — note the puns and double-entendres inserted throughout the article — but there was a major bone of contention amongst readers who posted comments in response in what became an intense debate.
The contention pertaining to which foods should and should not be served aboard airplanes during flights can be controversial enough when food allergies — such as nuts and peanuts as two examples — are involved; but throwing in religion and race seems to only be akin to pouring gasoline on a raging fire.
Despite passengers having a choice of what airline they can patronize for their travel needs to get from origination to destination, should religious beliefs dictate what menu items are served aboard an airplane as well as which ones are prohibited? Was the flight attendant in question exercising poor taste with his choice of levity? Was Qantas Airways complicit in its descriptive wording of its menu item?
What are your thoughts?