Cabin Pressure: African American Pilots, Flight Attendants, and Emotional Labor (Perspectives on a Multiracial America)

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9781442221352: Cabin Pressure: African American Pilots, Flight Attendants, and Emotional Labor (Perspectives on a Multiracial America)
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From African American pilots being asked to carry people’s luggage to patrons refusing drinks from African American flight attendants, Cabin Pressure demonstrates that racism is still very much alive in the “friendly skies.” Author Louwanda Evans draws on provocative interviews with African Americans in the flight industry to examine the emotional labor involved in a business that offers occupational prestige, but also a history of the systemic exclusion of people of color.

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About the Author:

Louwanda Evans is assistant professor of sociology at Millsaps College. She has published articles in The American Behavioral Scientist, Contemporary Sociology, and The Encyclopedia of International Education.

Review:

The reality of everyday racisms are excellently exposed in this unique study of African Americans in the airline industry. Louwanda Evans provides a rich and powerful account of the emotional labor involved in negotiating systemic racism providing a fierce critique that has a profound resonance across a wide range of occupations. Highly recommended. (Ian Law, Centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies, University of Leeds)

Louwanda Evans’ analysis of African American flight attendants and pilots provides a long overdue corrective on the sociological study of emotional labor. One of the first manuscripts of its kind, Cabin Pressure reveals how intersectionality—in this case, the simultaneous effects of occupational position, gender and race—influences not only how individuals’ do the work of their paid jobs, but also the oft unpaid work of emotional labor. Based on occasionally jaw dropping interviews with African-American pilots and flight attendants, Cabin Pressure simultaneously updates our understanding of emotional labor performed in the airlines industry and challenges student and scholars, alike, to take a more nuanced look at the racialized and gendered nature of professional service work. (Kathryn J. Lively, Dartmouth College)

For those who doubt the existence of systemic racism or minimize the costs of emotional labor, Louwanda Evans has written a dynamic book that puts the ongoing reality of both phenomena into stark relief. Cabin Pressure is a hard-hitting analysis that contributes mightily to research on the sociology of race, emotions, and work. (Adia Harvey Wingfield, Washington University in St. Louis)

Flight, as both fact and trope, has always figured prominently in the black imaginary—flight from slavery, flight from the Jim Crow South, flight from a world that offered no refuge from racism. However, when blacks were finally integrated into the commercial airlines in the 1970s, it became clear that the skies were a white workplace. In this pioneering book, Louwanda Evans meticulously documents the ongoing struggles of African American pilots and flight attendants against the endemic racism of coworkers and passengers. Thus, Cabin Pressure is more than an account of one of the last bastions of occupational racism. It also brings to light the stubborn persistence of racism in the white imaginary. (Stephen Steinberg, Queens College and Graduate Center, City University of New York; author of Race Relations: A Critique)

Cabin Pressure is an excellent contribution to the sociology of race and ethnicity and to the sociology of occupations and professions. Beyond the issues of emotional labor and expressions of everyday presumptions of white supremacy, the book reveals to anyone interested in the persistent problems of racial and ethnic antagonism in America that the struggle is not over. There is a legacy of racialized political psychology that expresses itself in the insults and assaults that service professionals endure as they give the best of themselves to a public. Cabin Pressure invites sociologists and people interested in social justice generally to look beyond the airline industry—the safest and most well regulated service industry in the world—to other work places where black people and other peoples of color must also confront the persistent significance of a racialized society. (Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, Colby College)

From African American pilots being asked to carry people’s luggage to patrons refusing drinks from black flight attendants, Cabin Pressure demonstrates that racism is still very much alive in the “friendly skies.” The book draws on interviews with African Americans in the flight industry to examine the emotional labor involved in a business that offers prestige, but also a history that excludes people of color.

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