Janet Jackson's bassist Eric Smith has joined Black Eyed Peas rapper will.i.am in accusing Qantas Airline of racism. The musician expressed his frustrations in a series of tweets and on an Australian radio station.
Smith’s altercation with the airline came about as he took a flight to perform at the RNB Fridays Live concert, which lists Jackson and will.i.am as top acts.
According to the Australian website, 7 News, Smith was flying from Brisbane to Sydney on Saturday and claimed an airline employee stopped him from taking his guitar on the flight despite letting other white passengers do so.
"I’m really upset at the way I was treated by a gate agent," Smith reportedly wrote in a tweet that appears to have been deleted.
"He tried to make me check my guitar, & sign a waiver while he’s letting WHITE musicians walk right past us taking there’s (sic) on board," he continued while also asking black musicians to boycott the airline.
While explaining the incident further to a Twitter user, Smith added:
"First of all, I was confronted with attitude. Sitting at the gate minding my own business. All of these WHITE guitars boarding the plane, but you tell me that I have to check mine. Not happening, & you want me to sign a waiver saying that they’re not responsible for damages."
The instrumentalist also reportedly posted a photo of one passenger’s guitar stowed away in an overhead compartment while his own remained strapped to the seat nearby.
According to Daily Mail Australia, Smith also shared the unpleasant encounter with Melbourne's KIIS 101.1's Jase & PJ.
"I'm sitting at the gate area, and the guy comes to me with a piece of paper saying, 'I need you to sign this, and I need you to give me your guitar,'" he recalled.
Smith went on to reveal that he asked the attendant why other passengers, who were white, didn’t have to submit their guitars. "[The attendant] basically told me that wasn't my concern," he said.
Qantas airline has since responded to Smith’s claims, defending their staff and telling Daily Mail that the bassist has not filed a formal complaint:
"When musicians bring oversize instruments onboard like guitars, our crew are required to ensure that this has been pre-arranged. So there's nothing out of the ordinary about our crew checking that this has been done."
Smith's allegations come on the heels of will.i.am's claims that he was given discriminatory treatment during a flight on the same airline.
"I’m currently on a flight from Brisbane to Sydney," he tweeted on the same day as Smith. "I'm sorry to say me and my group have experienced they (sic) worse service due to a overly (sic) aggressive flight attendant."
"I don’t want to believe she racist," he continued. "But she has clearly aimed all her frustrations only at the people of color."
As Daily Mail recounted, will.i.am said he was wearing noise-canceling headphones while mixing music on his laptop as the plane was about to land.
As a result, he did not hear an announcement over the P.A. system, and this led to a misunderstanding. Will.i.am revealed the attendant then went as far as calling the police on him.
In a tweet, Smith showed support for the music artist, describing will.i.am and his crew as "some of the nicest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of interacting with."
"Your character is solid, bro," Smith added. "Unfortunately, the world we live in likes to treat racism like it’s cool, and it’s not. I will not be silent on this one."
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