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Southwest Airlines Actually Asked A Woman To Prove She Was Her Biracial Son’s Mother

Lindsay Gottlieb, the women’s basketball coach at UC Berkeley and mother to 1-year-old biracial son Jordan Martin, tweeted on May 28 about her experience with a Southwest Airlines employee at the Denver airport who demanded that she “prove” she was actually Jordan’s mother.

Gottlieb said that she was “appalled” and called the incident “demeaning and insensitive, not to mention inefficient.” She added, “She [the Southwest employee] said because we have [a] different last name. My guess is because he has a different skin color.”

Gottlieb told The Washington Post, “We had a passport that verified our son’s age and identity, and both parents were present. 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.”

Gottlieb has since used the incident to make a statement to the Associated Press about non-”traditional” families. “I felt that in this situation it was my responsibility to say ‘Hey, this isn’t OK,”’ she said. “I hope the coverage this has received can serve as a learning opportunity, and that all families—regardless of how ‘traditional’ they may or may not look—are treated with dignity and respect.”

Some, including Chrissy Teigen, have pointed out on Twitter since that the incident was likely a precaution for child trafficking.



However, some are still insistent that the incident is racially motivated, since it only seems to occur with children who look different from their parents (as Gottlieb pointed out in her original Tweets, another mother whose child had a different last name but was the same race had never been asked for proof).

According to Business Insider, Southwest has since apologized to Gottlieb in a statement, calling the moment a “coaching opportunity”—perhaps a reference to Gottlieb’s occupation.

Erica Kam

Columbia Barnard '21

Erica is an Associate Editor at Her Campus. She was formerly the Contributing Editor (2020-21), Wellness Editor (2019-20), High School Editor (2018-19), and an Editorial Intern (2018). She graduated from Barnard College in 2021 with a degree in English and creative writing, and was the Senior Editor of Her Campus Columbia Barnard (2018-20). When she's not writing or editing (which is rare), she's probably looking at food pictures on Instagram.
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