I am often confronted with people’s disbelief at the continued entrenched and embedded character of white supremacy in this nation’s present. Here is a palpable example of it in its everyday form.
240,000 dollars awarded to man forced to cover Arab T-shirt
NEW YORK (AFP) – An airline passenger forced to cover his T-shirt because it displayed Arabic script has been awarded 240,000 dollars in compensation, campaigners said Monday.
Raed Jarrar received the pay out on Friday from two US Transportation Security Authority officials and from JetBlue Airways following the August 2006 incident at New York’s JFK Airport, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced.
“The outcome of this case is a victory for free speech and a blow to the discriminatory practice of racial profiling,” said Aden Fine, a lawyer with ACLU.
Jarrar, a US resident, was apprehended as he waited to board a JetBlue flight from New York to Oakland, California, and told to remove his shirt, which had written on it in Arabic: “We will not be silent.”
He was told other passengers felt uncomfortable because an Arabic-inscribed T-shirt in an airport was like “wearing a T-shirt at a bank stating, I am a robber,'” the ACLU said.
Jarrar eventually agreed to cover his shirt with another provided by JetBlue. He was allowed aboard but his seat was changed from the front to the back of the aircraft.
Last week, nine Muslims, including three children, were ordered off a domestic US flight after passengers heard what they believed were suspicious remarks about security.
Although the passengers, eight of them US citizens, were cleared by the FBI, they were reportedly still barred from the AirTran flight.
Security has been at a high level in US airports since the September 11, 2001 hijacked airliner attacks against the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.
However, rights groups and representatives of the Muslim community say the security measures have led to frequent discrimination and harassment.
The result of the court case is a sign of hope that there are remedies for people who have to suffer the effects of a white supremacist culture, but the ability of a group of people to be able to violate a person’s (and far more than one person’s) ability to travel based on nothing other than a fear of racial/cultural difference is the embodiment of white supremacy. Which standard is given the “right” to socially police others? Which is seen as the potential threat? How incomprehensible would it be for a group of people of color to get an airline official or an FAA employee to keep a person off a flight for looking suspiciously white?
Is this racism? Yes. This is the kind of racism that runs deep in our culture. Are the people on those flights who complain about Arab-looking passengers racists? Yes. They are reflection of this culture and its values and practices. Are they evil? Well, no. They probably don’t intentionally do anything bad or purposefully racist at all. They merely have to reflect “common sense” standards as taught to them in this culture. But, in these cases, the maintenance and support of the status quo becomes the maintenance of a racist present.