Jennifer Hudson: Stewardesses regularly think I belong ‘in the back of the plane’

'Untitled Woody Allen Project' filming in New York

I have such a pet peeve about magazines doing this to women – don’t crop them mid-hairline! It’s just a few inches, and the cover will look fine if you include their entire face and their entire hairstyle on the cover. Anyway, Jennifer Hudson covers the latest issue of Cosmopolitan UK. She doesn’t talk at all about her divorce situation, which is fine with me – I don’t need to know her private business at this point, I just hope she’s doing well. She did talk to Cosmo about racism and how people treat her in the US. I believe everything she says.

Dealing with prejudice regularly: “There have been several situations where I get on a plane and [the air steward] assumes that I’m [meant to be] in the back of the plane. That happens a lot. I’m like ‘No, my seat is up there [in first class], thank you’.

Another story about racism: “People also assume that my home belongs to my white driver, Charles. One time, I was having something moved into my house and they wanted to know where to put it. I said, ‘There.’ [The removal man] just stood there. When Charles came in, he asked him, ‘So where would you like these things?’ Charles said, ‘She said she wanted it right there. You’re talking to the wrong person. Stuff like this happens in your own home! I defy all the odds being African American, living in a wealthy neighbourhood and being a working mom. It’s too many foreign things in one person! It’s so ignorant. Race is just one of them. I face them all.”

On the Weinstein scandal: “I hate that these things have happened, but I’m glad that women are taking a stand for themselves. They should have the right to be able to do that. And no one’s power should be able to take over someone else’s. That’s not cool.”

[From Cosmopolitan UK]

I totally believe stewardesses get snotty with her on a regular basis about sitting in first class. I also believe that story about her driver too. That sounds like it wasn’t just a race thing either, it was probably about sexism too – like a dude mover couldn’t comprehend that a black woman would tell him where something went, so he better ask the white guy. Anyway… love J-Hud.

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Photos courtesy of Getty, cover courtesy of Cosmo UK.

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53 Responses to “Jennifer Hudson: Stewardesses regularly think I belong ‘in the back of the plane’”

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  1. HH says:

    My favorite is the backhanded compliment: “You’re so well spoken.”

    • sunny says:

      I truly despise that one. It is hella condescending. Dealing with micro-aggressions is really tiring.

    • Lori says:

      Wow. I’m sorry people do that to you.

    • Sarah B says:

      I hear this constantly from people trying to praise POC, even in CB’s comment section. “She’s/He’s so articulate!” Just do a text search and you’ll find those comments all over. And the commenter just pats themselves on the back.

    • Abbess Tansy says:

      I heard that one growing up, as if it wasn’t possible coming from a black child.

    • DesertReal says:

      One of the million reasons I will never ever ever live down south again. My family and I would hear this throughout the 13 years we lived in SC and GA.

    • Cran says:

      I get that too. For YEARS I was asked if I were a teacher. Once I asked why the person thought I was a teacher. The answer? Because of the way I speak.

      I speak the way every person in my family speaks. Of course that answered the question of why people respond in one way when I speak with them on the phone and differently once we meet in person. Apparently my voice color is different from my skin color. Who knew?

    • emilybyrd says:

      My favorite is the response I got from a middle aged blond woman when I was checking into the Javits Convention Center in NYC for a stationery/gift show 3 years ago: “It’s so jarring to hear you speak! I hear you talk, and it’s like your voice should be coming out of a young blond woman!” I am a 40 year old Asian American woman.

      She had no clue that what she had said was in the slightest way racist. Apparently, to her, only white people are able to speak English well.

      • harlemjd says:

        huh. I would never have assumed “you sound like you should be a young blonde woman” was meant as a compliment. I would have assumed that meant valley girl.

      • emilybyrd says:

        It wasn’t spoken as a compliment–and I didn’t take it as such. It was said in a tone of disbelief, as if she were shocked that an Asian American woman is able to speak English in as unaccented a way as a white woman. As if, like Cran said above, my voice color is different from my skin color.

        I don’t speak with a valley girl accent. I speak with the general American accent that you find on both east and west coasts of the U.S.

  2. Veronica says:

    These articles are so important. These are insidious acts of racism that many of us in privileged positions don’t think about or even do intentionally. It’s always important to remember that being white in this country means being constantly aware of the sneaky ways racist cultures train us to degrade POC and learning to “unlearn” those ideas.

    • Jess says:

      My thoughts exactly, well said. I know I sound naive but I just cannot believe that this kind of petty racist shit still goes on. It’s 2018 FFS.

    • charo says:

      What’s tough is knowing when it’s racism and when it’s just the rampant rudeness going on these days.

      As a single white woman, I’ve been treated w/attitude by “stewardesses” plenty of times. And I’ve had black friends who complain about how a server is treating them, but I’ve pointed out that you can’t always tell if they’re just rude in general or if it’s directed at you. Because people are rude to other white people these days too.

      That’s one of the hidden problems of racism that I don’t hear people talk about often — that you don’t always know for sure. But he examples JH cites are pretty clearcut, esp. them assuming her driver is in charge.

      I hope she set them straight that she is THE Jennifer Hudson.

      • Anna says:

        Yeah, except I think it’s best to err on the side of believing Black people and Black women in particular when we say we know it’s racism. The time for second-guessing us constantly is over. Seriously. We know. Maybe you don’t but we do. And whether it’s “primarily” racism or something else or a combo of that and sexism: who has time to waste parsing that. We know. Just *believe Black women.” End of story.

      • HH says:

        @Anna – I’m so glad you had the patience to write something. I’m so sick of people thinking minorities don’t know the nuanced differences between general douchebaggery, racism, or any combination of the two.

      • LOU says:

        This comment gave me a headache. Anna, thank you for responding.

      • NewKay says:

        Lol @charro- what’s tough is knowing when it’s racism and when it’s rudeness? That’s what you took from what she wrote? HA! Well I know who you are.

  3. INeedANap says:

    I think about things like this when people get really defensive “but I’M not racist” and “but I’M not sexist”.

    Too much focus has been placed on what the disenfranchised need to do to make progress. It’s time we drag the retrograde fools with us into the future.

  4. Mgsota says:

    My husband and I were traveling to Hawaii first class. When we got in line to board some jackass in a business suit said “this is first class boarding” implying we shouldn’t be in line yet. We were dressed casual and my husband is black. I turned around and said “we know.” That was almost 4 years ago and I’m still pissed at myself for not “educating” that man.

    • Dee says:

      When we fly with the kids on long haul flights, we usually do business/first class. We always get side eyed because ‘this is first class’ and apparently families can’t afford it and shouldn’t fly it.

      • emilybyrd says:

        I wonder if the side-eye is also partly because people who fly first class sometimes think that first class should be an escape/haven from dealing with kids on a plane. My sister and I often got the side-eye as kids if we flew first class with my parents. The message seemed to be that they couldn’t believe, having paid for first class tickets, that they still had to put up with kids in their immediate vicinity!

    • Veronica says:

      The best part is that the businessman probably didn’t pay for that first class seat, either. I travel for my job, and once you rack up so many miles/points, they start upgrading you if seats are available. My one coworker flies first class to nearly every site we go, and he’s only worked here two years.

  5. MandyMc says:

    It’s a shame this still happens all the time.

    And can we retire the term “stewardess”? It’s so outdated and flight attendants do a lot more than serve drinks.

  6. Tw says:

    I’m a white woman I experience this on planes, too. I 💯 believe this happens because of race and also gender. Flight attendants should receive better training.

    • A says:

      Yep. I’m a white woman and also look young, and I think sexism and ageism come into play.

      Even small things like standing in the priority line checking into a hotel – I’ve had the person at reception tell me “this is the platinum line” (I know, I’m a platinum member). I’ve also gone to job interviews (I’m a highly educated professional) and when announcing I’m there for an interview, heard “oh you must be (insert other name here) – they were also interviewing for executive assistant positions, and didn’t even consider that I could be there for the other role.

  7. AG-UK says:

    I could go on and on about this..
    * standing in line to order a bagel, next please.. someone from behind me goes oh I want. I say oh I am next oh I didn’t see you there ?? I am 5’8 right in front but no don’t see me
    * once working in a travel company some old guy on the other end of the line yes this is in the South, oh you sound black ok.. I could go on but won’t it annoys me to much..

    • Anna says:

      Word. I’m like, you really don’t see my Black ass standing right the f- here? Blatant or not, it’s near constant.

  8. Tania says:

    I just started a new job – which is below my education and experience but it isn’t stressful, the group is great (unlike my last one which paid great, had great benefits but the people sucked) and I enjoy the work.

    A few weeks ago some of the big wigs stopped by. They asked about the Tesla P85D parked in the front. When they were told it was me, the looks were priceless. How can someone like me afford something like that? Actually I’m driving it today but it’s my husband’s car. Oh? What do you drive? “A Model X.” You have 2 Teslas?!?!?” It’s hard to differentiate if it’s because I’m a woman, a minority or in this position. I think it’s a mixture of all 3. I have faced this my entire life so I believe everything Jennifer says here. At first it was amusing and now it’s just insulting on many levels.

    • ol cranky says:

      those cars are AWESOME (and the only people I know who own Tesla’s are women but they guys at work are crazy jelly about it)

  9. Merritt says:

    Happens all the time. And it is just exhausting.

  10. Mina says:

    I find that plane story a little strange, considering first class passengers always get in first and no stewardess would assume you’re an economy passenger if you’re getting in with the premium crowd.

    • Veronica says:

      I don’t. I frequently travel by plane for a living. You’d be amazed at the class dynamics that play out at airports. It’s like a microcosm of all of America’s bizarre socioeconomic schema displayed in one place.

      • Mina says:

        Interesting. I travel a lot for work too, but it’s usually international flights, I suppose domestic flights within the US can be a little different.

    • Jay (the Canadian one) says:

      First Class can board first but don’t have to. People can board with economy and still be First Class. When you don’t have to fight for overhead space there’s less motivation to board as soon as you’re called.

    • Felicia says:

      I’m not in the States so things might be different there, but don’t you have to show your boarding pass when you get on the plane? Are all of the boarding passes for the different classes the same color?

      Where I’m at, they aren’t.

  11. Tanesha86 says:

    Happens to me all the time in my line of work. Patients assume I’m the CNA and are genuinely shocked when I tell them I’m an RN. Yes people, black nurses exist 🤦🏾‍♀️

    • paranormalgirl says:

      I’m a white female and I’ve gotten the misogynistic “I’m waiting for the doctor” crap when I AM the doctor. If I was a woman of color, I think there would be exploding heads! So yeah, I can only imagine in this age of dog-whistle racism and micro aggression how much casual racism is thrown around. This honestly and sadly does not surprise me in the least.

    • GreenTurtle says:

      Hey, paranormalgirl! I haven’t seen you around as much lately.

  12. mela says:

    Oh i have felt this before!

    Went to buy my first brand new BMW two years ago and brought my white green eyed then boyfriend (who has since passed, RIP my beautiful Shane) as moral support.

    The car salesman shook my BOYFRIENDS hand after I SIGNED the paperwork and I wrote the CHECK for MY brand new BMW.

    I was like….ummmm ‘scuse me? that was my $$$ that just bought that car!!


    • paranormalgirl says:

      I’m sorry to hear about your boyfriend passing. I lost my first husband many years ago. The loss is really unending even when you move on with your life.

      • mela says:

        Thank you. I’m so sorry for your husband. It is hard to wrap your head around the feelings.

        It was tough, he died a few months after our break up though we remained in touch and friends…by the time he passed I had gotten back together with another man whom I am still with to this day. It’s been tough on our relationship to have me mourning another man- he almost gets jealous and it’s been a struggle as my deceased ex boyfriends friends and family and I all still talk. We all love Shane so much.

        I don’t care about looks but Shane was out of this world beautiful. He was truly not of this world. He was like a wild horse- beautiful and free- you would never want to tame it. I think about him so much. I have no idea why this still happens, I practice yoga and become overwhelmed with emotions and cry about him after every single practice during savasana. I miss him so much.

        It’s 12 months this month. Still get choked up when I think about it. Sometimes life doesn’t make sense and bad things happen for no good reason at all.

      • paranormalgirl says:

        I wish I could say it gets better, but it doesn’t. It just gets…. different. I’m remarried now and very happy. And my husband gets it, even though it’s probably not always easy knowing that there was someone I loved just as much (just differently) that I will always miss.

  13. Katherine says:

    Wtf on the delivery thing – it kinda feels more offensive than the plane cause she asserted her role and he STILL assumes she’s not the paying customer. I’d be pissed

    • Otaku Fairy says:

      Agreed. It’s like he just assumed she was the help.

    • LadyT says:

      The delivery story was appalling. The plane thing wasn’t explained very clearly. 95% of us travelers belong “in the back of the plane,” with only 5% flying first class. Was it racism or just numbers behind the assumption?

      • Anna says:

        Racism. Happens all the time. Again: *Believe Black Women*

      • Felicia says:

        Can someone please explain to me how air travel in the US works these days? The stories about the appalling treatment of passengers make the news, but not much else. Do the flight attendants stand at the entry without looking at boarding passes and just randomly tell people “economy class is back there”? Or is this more a question of her getting into her seat and being questioned and/or spoken to by the flight attendant about being in the wrong class at that point?

      • NewKay says:

        @LadyT why do black people need to qualify our experiences for you? When we say it’s racism it’s racism. #believeme

  14. Yanni says:

    Had a white male cisgender colleague, narcissist “I’m all about black rights/“Trump is an embarrassment” racist pig, stare at me in horror when he realises I was applying sunscreen to my hands. I had to explain that I use sunscreen to avoid getting sunburnt. Why was he aghast? I am dark skinned.