It was something perfectly ordinary: Lindsay Gottlieb, who coaches the University of California at Berkeley’s women’s basketball team, was about to fly with her 1-year-old son.
But her family then had what Gottlieb called an “uncomfortable and hurtful” interaction with a Southwest Airlines employee at a Denver International Airport ticket counter: On Monday, she said, the employee asked Gottlieb to “prove” she was the mother of her biracial son, even after seeing the toddler’s passport.
The employee then asked for her son’s birth certificate, citing “federal law” — and proceeded to ask the dismayed mother if she could prove she was the mother with a Facebook post, Gottlieb wrote in a tweet.
“We had a passport that verified our son’s age and identity, and both parents were present,” Gottlieb said in a statement to The Washington Post on Tuesday. “But still being pushed further to ‘prove’ that he was my son felt disrespectful and motivated by more than just concern for his well-being.”
On Twitter, Gottlieb wrote that the employee claimed she requested further documentation of her and her son’s relationship because the boy had a different last name.
“My guess is because he has a different skin color,” wrote Gottlieb, who is white.
She added that a mother next to her told her she had never been asked for “proof” when traveling with her child, who also had a different last name but was of the same race. “Not shockingly, not mixed face fam,” Gottlieb added of the other mother.
Gottlieb and her fiance Patrick Martin welcomed 1-year-old Jordan Peter Martin last May. Jordan has flown frequently with his mother and the basketball team this season, and Gottlieb wrote on Twitter that she had flown with him approximately “50 times” before.
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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Marwa Eltagouri