Things That Matter

JetBlue Issued An Official Apology After One Employee In Florida Dressed Up As A Hurricane Maria Victim

Every Halloween, we have the misfortune of reporting on how white people still don’t understand that culture, poverty, and other races are not costumes. JetBlue has recently issued an apology after one of its employees at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport showed up to work in a homeless Hurricane Maria refugee for Halloween. With tattered hair, makeup smeared across her face, and ripped disheveled clothing, the woman carried a cup for change and an offensive sign. It read, “Homeless, Need help trying to get back home to Puerto Rico or Cuba.”

According to one Twitter user, the costume “sparked controversy” at the airport, offending both employees and travelers alike. The Twitter user decided to take to the Internet to gather public opinion, tweeting, “This was the costume of a JetBlue employee at the airport in Fort Lauderdale, FL. I want to read your opinions.” Needless to say, the employee has been adequately roasted by Latinos everywhere, JetBlue has issued an apology, and has told NBC News that “the situation was immediately addressed.” 

Immediately, people took offense to the idea of dressing up as a Hurricane Maria refugee.

Credit: @nats248 / Twitter

“It seems fatal to me. It doesn’t matter if she didn’t say Cuba or Puerto Rico,” one offended Twitter user said in Spanish. She went on to say, “Many people don’t care about the homeless because they think they “asked for it,” but that is the sad reality of life. So many don’t care or respect the pain or difficulties of others.” Another Latino commented, “This IS offensive. Not because the name of my country is there, that only reflects their ignorance. But the issue of being homeless is too delicate and it is not funny at all to not have a roof, food, or clean clothes … but that’s just me.”

Meanwhile, Florida has become a hub for displaced Puerto Ricans after Hurricane Maria decimated the island.

Credit: @nats248 / Twitter

One woman took offense to the degrading imitation of the immigrants “who created and are the basis of this country.” Another woman suggested that the staff be given some sensitivity training regarding the community they serve, actual Cubans and Puerto Ricans. “Not sure if they know but thousands of people lost everything due to Hurricane Maria,” tweeted another dissenter. “For this JetBlue employee to think it’s OK to joke about the epidemic of homelessness in Puerto Rico and the U.S. is sickening and completely unacceptable. That’s NO JOKE.”

Another Latina was absolutely incredulous that a JetBlue employee actually “showed up to work in this racist and highly offensive ‘costume.’ People’s hardship and suffering should not be mocked like this.”

Then, the Twitter trolls infiltrated, calling Latinos “snowflakes” and “virtue signalers” for taking offense at the costume.

Credit: @dhock47 / @greciamaria / Twitter

We’ll spare you some of the more pointedly racist remarks. One user defended the costume, wondering out loud to a group of Latinos if, “maybe she couldn’t afford an expensive store bought costume, so she used what she had.” She went on to say, “I was a gypsy practically every year growing up, I’m sure that’s offensive too these days!” ????????????

Someone else jokingly pointed out that the costume is a fail because there is zero bandera pride. ????????????????

Credit: @ElGeorgeRiveraR / Twitter

“It grates me because a true homeless Boricua would have the flag, even if it was painted on their teeth,” tweeted Mr. Rivera. The Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York reported that more than 135,000 Puerto Ricans fled the island for the mainland United States within six months after Hurricane Maria made landfall. Nearly 57,000 of them moved to Florida. Puerto Rican homelessness is no laughing matter. Hurricane Maria made significant, generational impacts on Puerto Ricans. Whether the JetBlue employee decided to take on that traumatic event as a weak pander to vacation on the Caribbean island, or if she truly was so ignorant that we cannot find reason for her costume, commenting Latinos are largely “furious.”

Others are demanding that JetBlue actually “leave her jobless to find the joke in her ‘costume.'”

Credit: @dominopr777 / Twitter

“Shame on @JetBlue and their management for not sending this employee home as soon as they saw this highly inappropriate & insensitive ‘costume’. SHAME!,” commented one user. Jetblue has not responded to the tweet that set the public roasting in motion. Jetblue’s manager of corporate communications, Derek Dombrowski, emailed NBC News to issue an apology: “In the spirit of Halloween, our crew members are welcome to celebrate in costume, but one crew member chose a costume that was clearly insensitive and not in line with our costume policy. The situation was immediately addressed, and we apologize to anyone who was offended.”

While JetBlue has apologized for the offense, folks still want to know how the employee was “immediately addressed.”

READ: This Latina’s Chanclazo Costume Has Us All Terrified And Really Made Halloween A Time To Remember

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