Bigotry At The White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Ridiculous treatment.

Ridiculous treatment.

This is an excerpt from The Huffington Post this morning. It is written by a physician and wife of a noted journalist who was attending the White House Correspondent’s dinner last week. She happens to be Muslim:

As I left the hotel and my husband went to the ballroom for the dinner, I realized he still had my keys. I approached the escalators that led down to the ballroom and asked the externally contracted security representatives if I could go down. They abruptly responded, “You can’t go down without a ticket.” I explained my situation and that I just wanted my keys from my husband in the foyer and that I wouldn’t need to enter in the ballroom. They refused to let me through. For the next half hour, they watched as I frantically called my husband but was unable to reach him.

Then something remarkable happened. I watched as they let countless other women through — all Caucasian — without even asking to see their tickets. I asked why they were allowing them to go freely when they had just told me that I needed a ticket. Their response? “Well, now we are checking tickets.” He rolled his eyes and let another woman through, this time actually checking her ticket. His smug tone, enveloped in condescension, taunted, “See? That’s what a ticket looks like.”

When I asked “Why did you lie to me, sir?” they threatened to have the Secret Service throw me out of the building — me, a 4’11” young woman who weighs 100 pounds soaking wet, who was all prettied up in elegant formal dress, who was simply trying to reach her husband. The only thing on me that could possibly inflict harm were my dainty silver stilettos, and they were too busy inflicting pain on my feet at the moment. My suspicion was confirmed when I saw the men ask a blonde woman for her ticket and she replied, “I lost it.” The snickering tough-guy responded, “I’d be happy to personally escort you down the escalators ma’am.”

Like a malignancy, it had crept in when I least expected it — this repugnant, infectious bigotry we have become so accustomed to. “White privilege” was on display, palpable to passersby who consoled me. I’ve come to expect this repulsive racism in many aspects of my life, but when I find it entrenched in these smaller encounters is when salt is sprinkled deep into the wounds. In these crystallizing moments it is clear that while I might see myself as just another all-American gal who has great affection for this country, others see me as something less than human, more now than ever before.

When I asked why the security representatives offered to personally escort white women without tickets downstairs while they watched me flounder, why they threatened to call the Secret Service on me, I was told, “We have to be extra careful with you all after the Boston bombings.”

What a shame that she was treated like this. I hope the men who did this all lose their jobs over it, though I doubt it will happen. No one deserves this kind of treatment and humiliation, especially simply for their appearance since that is all these men could have known about her at the time. And so stupid that with people of color all must bear the brunt of stupid acts of individuals. But no one was paying extra attention to young white males after Aurora, Colorado’s theater shootings. Or the Newtown massacres. Or to white men after one shot up the Sikh Temple. Or many other incidents of stupid people doing awful things. But Dr. Jilani had to bear the brunt of the actions of stupid people. Strange again that those security guards only focused on the misguided interpretation of the Muslim religion by the Boston bombers, but he ignored that they were from the place that the Caucasian ethnicity was named, Caucasus. It was more convenient to focus on their radical religious ties than their skin color I guess. Read the must read full piece here.

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6 thoughts on “Bigotry At The White House Correspondents’ Dinner

  1. ericjbaker says:

    She looks pretty dangerous to me. Maybe they should send her to Gitmo just in case.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention – you have no idea how much I rely on you to bring out so many issues!

    • Earnest Harris says:

      You’re welcome Jen. I look forward to the day when I don’t see such ridiculousness to write about. 🙂

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