“What I Saw!”
Completed an exhausting business trip in Phoenix last week. Upon arrival to the airport, converged with a massive crowd of people who were also hurriedly departing to destinations unknown.
As we moseyed to the customer service counter, kept wondering if the thousands and thousands of passengers took as much pride and joy in observing a particular “phenomena” sight.
As an historical aficionada, expected this particular “phenomena” sight to be displayed behind the walls of academia. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that this particular “phenomena” sight would be showcased in a public institution such as an airport. Surprised that these decision makers were that bodacious by possessing the raw courage to exhibit this collection. Thought they would have opted for motifs characteristic of the west instead.
Sent tears trickling down my make-up free face.
Friends, what I saw may be inconsequential to you. What I saw may also be of no significance to others. And, what I saw may be meaningless to most.
What I saw may have been overlooked by the throngs of travelers. What I saw may not have penetrated and lingered in one’s psyche as deeply or as long as it did in mine. Yes, what I saw gave such a sweet closure to the end of my trip and a respectable adios to the fading days of February.
To folks of my generation, to folks of my race, and to folks who fought with us for justice and freedom, what I saw was overwhelming. To me, this was an incredible milestone, a monumental fete, and a lasting powerful testament.
What I saw, prominently located behind each South West Airline customer service representative, was a wall adorned with pictures of current and past African American achievers. What I saw was a multi-billion dollar company paying homage to black Americans in a city where blacks only account for 6% of the population!
What I saw was an organization voluntarily acknowledging the tapestry of a people who was instrumental in building America. And, what I saw was a business boldly educating the world about blacks’ positive attributes, esteemed achievements, and stories on how we have made such an indelible impression on the culture and history within this country!
What I tasted was a dose of moral victory!
In an era and in an atmosphere where hostility and suspicions abounds between the races, where stereotypes are accepted as gospel, where half-truths and myths overshadows facts, where history is twisted to pander to the wicked schemes of combatants, where the enemy specializes in spewing vile and derogatory acts, and where psychological bars tend to incarcerate our minds and play roughshod with our emotions, it was so refreshing to find an entity using its corporate and civic capital in openly highlighting the intellectual credentials, contributions, and advancements of blacks instead of perpetuating the usual disdain, lies, muck, and malarkey.
Do not know if market research suggested to South West Airlines that they would score handsomely during the month of February if they posted some pictures of African Americans at their counters. However, this act dictated to my noggin that they, at a minimum, recognize that blacks represent an economic engine and not a perilous monstrosity. They also realize that in this new millennium companies that develop strategic plans of inclusiveness will reap tremendous profits, benefits, and public relations.
Business is conducted through teaming relationships and South West Airlines just captured my new business—-not because they stapled some paper to a wall—but because of their intestinal fortitude in celebrating and accentuating the beauty of my people and because they welcomed me to their village!
So, bye-bye Delta, U.S. Air, American Airlines, Frontier, Continental, United Airlines, and Jet Blue as I will become a fanatical South West Airline fan, possibly, for life!
Reflectively, somehow hope that South West Airlines’ profound gesture will help influence and change the world’s perceptions about us. Somehow, hope that this showcase will nudge us to get back on track by lifting each other towards a life of greatness.
Desperately, hope that those of us who are trapped victims in the belly of despair will imitate the leadership, determination, perseverance, and desire to succeed that once catapulted our fellow brothers and sisters to achieve beyond the unimaginable.
Thank you, South West Airlines, for reminding your audience of the exemplary African American honorees who “busted their butts” by forging ahead in spite of incredible odds and barriers. I am proud that you spotlighted our historical value, our results, and about the sacrifices we made in order to enable the rest of our race to advance at various professional levels.
Too bad and so sad that the murdered and incarcerated black boys and the black men did not get a chance to see what I saw.
Might have made a difference!