Ignorance encourages Racism

Racism can be defined as a prejudice against a race/community. It is based on generalization and encourages the belief that every individual in a group possesses the same characteristics and can be assumed to be the same.

Landing at one of the busiest airports in the world after taking a red-eye flight from Delhi, I met a typical immigration officer whom i greeted with a quick hello in the local language. I received a curt hello followed by the regular questions about my stay. Having taken the same flight more a dozen times over the last year, I was ready with all my replies supported by attachments on my phone. What happened next was unusual- the officer said that my documents weren’t correct and that my return ticket was not valid! He raised his voice and asked me repeatedly whether I intended to return to my country, without giving me a chance to explain. Unhappy with my responses, he called a police officer and I was escorted to a holding room and interrogated for the next 30 mins. Feeling completely bewildered by this accusation, I answered all the questions honestly and patiently. When the police officer told me I was free to leave, I only had one question for him- As a frequent traveler, what can i do differently to avoid such a similar situation again. His answer was simple- All your docs are in perfect order and I don’t know why you were stopped in the first place- maybe the immigration officer misunderstood you. I realized that my dark hair and olive skin tone were enough for him to put aside logic and profile me as a high risk potential immigrant – I was a victim of racism.

People with dark hair, head scarfs etc are increasingly facing questioning eyes and lack of trust while traveling. In the name of security, a lot of people are racially profiled and discriminated against by the police etc. Such instances only create an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion and should be discouraged.

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