The clitoris has 8,000 nerve endings and still isn’t as sensitive as a white bro on the Internet, as the saying goes. And one former Delta flight attendant learned this the hard way after being fired from the company over an altercation with an online troll, who ratted her out to her bosses claiming that she was being “racist” to white men.
Kiersten Bak runs an irreverent feminist merchandise website called “That Fucking Feminist,” which sells a variety of progressive activist-themed apparel and accessories. But because the site is run by Shopify, her products are automatically posted to Facebook Marketplace, which in turn links to her personal page. Unfortunately, this leaves her open to her fair share of trolling from fragile white male egos.
Back in late August, Bak received a random message from a man whom she did not know which plainly read, “You are one dumb woman.”
Fed up with the constant trolling, Bak screenshot the message and shared it to her personal page. “Imagine having the ego of a white man in America,” she captioned the screenshot, adding in parentheses, “No idea who this guy is. just some random snowflake who messaged me and immediately blocked me so I couldn’t respond.”
However, less than two weeks later, Bak received a call from her base manager who informed her that the company had been “alerted to her Facebook page” by one of her harassers and that an investigation had been opened over her use of social media. She was then asked to remove all ties to Delta from her Facebook page. Though she didn’t list Delta as her employer, she appeared in company uniform in an old profile photo.
Bak was then called in for a two-hour disciplinary meeting with managers, where she was ambushed with receipts and grilled over whether she, a white woman, was “racist” toward white men. “I went in that day, and they had about 10 pages of blown-up screenshots from my Facebook page,” Bak told Buzzfeed News. “And they just kind of questioned me on all of them.”
Coincidentally, the post which her former employers took the most umbrage with was the aforementioned screenshot she had shared.
“They asked me, ‘Do you think this about all white men?’” Bak recalled. “I did everything to not laugh. I was respectful, and I said, ‘Well, my dad is a pretty nice guy. No, of course, I do not think this about all white men in America—but when you get 10 messages a day … only from white men named Chris or Brian or Todd, yes, I’m going to have this opinion about white men in America.’”
Bak said, and she spent about half an hour explaining why the term “snowflake” was not racially charged, but that she was using the popular term, which has been used to mock liberals as sensitive, to taunt her aggressor.
“[One base manager] said, ‘Is it racially charged?’ And I said, ‘no!’ I think she thought I was being racist because he was white, and snowflakes are white,” Bak said. “It seemed as if they maybe thought I was being racist towards this guy, but, [speaking] as a white person, you can’t be racist towards a white person.”
Yet, despite her best efforts to defend herself, Bak was eventually terminated by Delta on October 7.
“In our phone conversation you stated that you were not trying to engage in victim blaming,” reads a termination letter seen by BuzzFeed News, “but you stated that you receive 10 to 15 messages daily from individuals you do not know, similar to the message from the individual who complained to Delta about your posts, because they disagree with your beliefs expressed on social media.”
For her part, Bak says that the company’s decision to fire her just proves her point. “When they were presented with an upset white guy who harassed me, they picked his side and not the side of their employee who did nothing wrong,” she fired back.
For the company’s part, Delta disputed Bak’s account in a statement to BuzzFeed News—but refused to provide any further evidence or details.
“While personnel issues are considered private between Delta and its employees, the circumstances described by our former employee are not an accurate or complete explanation of the company’s termination decision,” the spokesperson said. “Delta is a values-led company and our employees know and understand that they are representatives of our brand at work and through their conduct in social media and other public forums. When Delta employees intermix Delta’s brand with conduct or content that does not reflect our values of professionalism, inclusion, and respect, that conduct can result in discipline or termination.”
Clearly, something doesn’t quite add up here, and Delta’s decision not to elaborate speaks volumes.