On Friday night (Nov. 15), Will.i.am live-tweeted his experience with an “overly aggressive” flight attendant. The Black Eyed Peas member was flying with Qantas from Brisbane to Sydney when the altercation occurred. A female cabin member was “beyond rude & took it to the next level by calling the police on [him]” for not putting his laptop away as requested by a P.A. announcement. Will.i.am claimed that he was didn’t hear the announcement because he was using noise-cancelling headphones to make beats. Although he was initially hesitant about attributing the flight attendant’s hostility to racial discrimination, he ended up labeling her #RacistFlightAttendant in one of his tweets that tagged the airline. “I don’t want to believe she (is) racist. But she has clearly aimed all her frustrations only at the people of color,” he initially wrote.
The recording artist also ended up tweeting out the flight attendant’s name after he was approached by police upon his arrival in Sydney. Since he exposed the woman’s identity to his 12.8 million Twitter followers and accused her of racial discrimination, she may have grounds for pursuing legal action against him for defamation. A spokesperson for Qantas told CNN that the company will support its employee if Will.i.am does not retract his claim and she wishes to sue. “Absent a retraction, and if the crew member wanted to take the matter further, we’d certainly be willing to provide legal support for them to do this,” said the spokesperson.
Will.i.am defended his choice to share the flight attendant’s name in response to criticism from some Twitter users. “I don’t regret my actions of taking to public to speak for the other for those who don’t have the voice who felt the same disrespect,” he wrote. “I am saddened that People chose to spread hate and attack… there were other people on the flight were disrespected.” He also called out a double-standard that could be at play in shaming celebrities for publicly naming those who wrong them. “If I did something wrong….or if I was the slightest bit rude to a FAN or a journalist during work, I would be publicly named…this is what Twitter is for…we are supposed to call out wrong doings so we can have a safer more compassionate world.”