Will.i.am Defends Naming 'Racist' Flight Attendant, Says He'd Be Called Out for Bad Behavior: 'This Is What Twitter Is For'

Rapper Will.i.am has defended his decision to name a flight attendant on Twitter claiming she had targeted him and other people of color on a flight.

The music producer and Black Eyed Peas frontman, whose real name is William Adams, took to Twitter on Saturday after a Qantas Airways flight from Brisbane to Sydney in Australia.

He said an "overly aggressive" flight attendant had "clearly aimed all her frustrations" at the people of color on the plane—and claimed she had called the police to meet him when the plane landed. He used the hashtag "#RacistFlightattendant" in his tweet.

He claimed the flight attendant had called police even though he had done "nothing wrong" and had simply not been able to hear the in-flight PA system request passengers stow their laptops as he was wearing noise-canceling headphones.

Will.i.am wrote that he was "intimidated" by five police officers after he got off the plane at Sydney Airport, but said he was eventually free to go after other passengers "testified that SHE was out of control."

He also tagged Qantas Airways in a post on Twitter to complain about the flight attendant, naming her and describing her as "racist" and "beyond rude."

A spokesperson for the airline denied the allegation of racism to Newsweek, saying the incident was prompted by a "misunderstanding on board."

The spokesperson added: "There was a misunderstanding on board, which seems to have been exacerbated by will.i.am wearing noise cancelling headphones and not being able to hear instructions from crew. We completely reject the suggestion this had anything to do with race. We'll be following up with will.i.am and wish him well for the rest of the tour."

The rapper added that he didn't support the abuse and attacks that were sent to the woman after he named her on his Twitter account, where he has almost 13 million followers. But he insisted that he was right to call her out by name after he came under fire for the move.

"Disgusting that you've publicly named her. I hear a lawsuit coming," one critic said. Will.i.am responded to the tweet, saying he was speaking for those who don't have as large a platform as he does—and maintained that "this is what Twitter is for."

He also retweeted comments from others who said they were on the same flight, including one from Kate Selway who wrote: "I was on the same flight and couldn't believe the appalling behaviour of the flight attendant. My apologies on behalf of Australia."

Will.i.am added that he doesn't regret his decision to name the flight attendant in question because he would be publicly called out if he was in the wrong or ever "the slightest bit rude" to fans or journalists.

"If I did something wrong....or if I was the slightest bit rude to a FAN or a journalist during work, I would be publicly named...this is what Twitter is for...we are supposed to call out wrong doings so we can have a safer more compassionate world," he wrote on Twitter.

He added: "I don't regret my actions of taking to public to speak for the other for those who don't have the voice who felt the same disrespect... I am saddened that People chose to spread hate and attack... there were other people on the flight were disrespected."

He also responded to critics who suggested he should have filed a complaint with the airline instead of speaking out on Twitter, saying he did it because "this way I know my complaint & treatment will be heard."

Will.i.am echoed those sentiments in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, saying: "My taking to Twitter was just thinking of all the other folks that aren't me and all the abuse that people have to take."

He added that he travels frequently and has never had an experience like it. "This was like a police state," he said. "It saddens me because this country's awesome."

Will.i.am is in Australia to tour with The Black Eyed Peas. The group were among the headliners of the "RBK Fridays Live" show at Sydney's Giants Stadium on Saturday night after performing in Brisbane on Friday.

A representative for the rapper told Newsweek: "Upon landing in Sydney the police had a chat with will.i.am at top of the jet bridge-they declined to pursue it further. He and the band have otherwise enjoyed their visit to Australia, and will be flying on another airline as they wrap up their tour of Australia and New Zealand."

Newsweek has contacted the Australian Federal Police for comment.

Update: This article has been updated to include comments from Qantas Airways and a representative for will.i.am.

will.i.am
Will.i.am of Black Eyed Peas performs during Friday James Live 2019 at Western Springs Stadium on November 17, 2019 in Auckland, New Zealand. Dave Simpson/WireImage
Will.i.am Defends Naming 'Racist' Flight Attendant, Says He'd Be Called Out for Bad Behavior: 'This Is What Twitter Is For' | World