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American Samoa Teacher of the Year says she faced racial discrimination at Alabama airport

The Hill
The Hill

An American Samoa Teacher of the Year alleges that she faced racial discrimination while at an Alabama airport, multiple news outlets reported.

Sabrina Suluai-Mahuka in a Twitter thread on Tuesday shared that she along with other colleagues of Asian descent were denied accommodations by American Airlines representatives at a Huntsville, Ala., airport after their flight was canceled

Suluai-Mahuka, who is of Chinese and Samoan Filipino descent, said her group was leaving a weeklong space camp program and alleged that her white colleague on the trip received better treatment from the airline employees, including hotel room service and meal/taxi vouchers.

“@AmericanAirlines tell me how you made the decision to treat us differently? Was it my brown Polynesian skin? Or maybe my almond eyes that speak of my Chinese heritage? My Filipino and Samoan tattoos that adorn my body? #DoBetter #StopRacism #StopDiscrimination,” Suluai-Mahuka wrote in her Twitter thread.

The allegations come amid a spike of discrimination toward Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“American Airlines strives to ensure all customers feel cared for throughout their journey. We’re deeply concerned by the allegations shared and are working to investigate the matter further. Our team has reached out to Ms. Suluai-Mahuka to apologize for her experience and provide reimbursement for her hotel-related expenses," the airline said in a Thursday statement to The Hill.

Suluai-Mahuka, who is an English teacher, said that she hopes the airline company will reevaluate its training, stating that “they can control how they approach people.”

“A little bit of empathy would have been nice,” she told

The Hill has reached out to the Huntsville International Airport for comment.

—Updated at 2:52 p.m.

Comments / 136

Scott Patterson

The airlines have these cancellations and accommodations with "all" races, but the race card will garner more attention to their complaints and hurt feelings regardless of the situation whether it's weather or mechanical issues with the plane. I see the staff at the airport now rubbing their hands together saying, "Here comes some them thar Polynesians now, Let's give them a bad time. (Thought by no-one ever!)

Carla Joos

I slept on the floor in Iowa and then watched AA send off 4 flights as those of us who had our flight delayed for "weather" spent 28 hours waiting for AA to find a crew to be on our flight. We waited and was told it was weather yet when we finally got back in the air our Flight Attendant told us the crew hit the amount of hours for working and they had to sleep. They didn't even try to bring in another crew. AA only has email you can send comments to and no employee ever responded back. I would have got a hotel room and slept there if we were told the truth

Summer Cook

In most situations the problem is not racism, it's entitlement. The difference I see between the races is some talk to their therapist about things that bother them and others start screaming racism.


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