As college students who stay up-to-date on current events, we’re unfortunately familiar with instances of racial profiling. When students at Geneseo report alleged incidents of racial profiling in our own community, it’s something important that we need to pay attention to. Recent high-profile incidents of racial profiling that occurred in California remind us that not only our direct community, but also our country as a whole has a long way to go to end baseless and unwarranted racist harassment.
A University of California, Berkeley student was recently removed from a Southwest Airlines flight after a nearby passenger became nervous that the student spoke Arabic on the phone. The student—who is Iraqi—was talking to his uncle in Baghdad about a speech he recently attended led by a United Nations official. After the call, a female passenger reported him to the flight crew, claiming she overheard him making “potentially threatening comments.”
This woman gave no indication that she actually spoke Arabic and could understand the student’s innocent conversation. This student was confronted and removed from the plane to support these ignorant and racist accusations. The student told The New York Times that he was excited to tell his uncle about the event and later felt afraid when an Arabic-speaking crew-member harshly questioned him. He believes the actions against him were Islamophobic.
Unfortunately, discrimination, harassment and violence against Muslim-Americans have increased since the 9/11 attacks and recent attacks claimed by the Islamic State. At first, we’re shocked that innocent college students are treated as potential terrorists just for being of another culture, yet at the same time, it is unsurprising.
America has a big problem with xenophobia and it constantly rears its ugly head in the forms of racial profiling and harassment. When we do not have to look any further than people our own age to see this discrimination, it shows how much farther we must go as a nation to undo our racial biases.