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 Racist Encounter at the White House :A Bad Time to be Brown in America?

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Posted on 05-08-13 2:15 AM     Reply [Subscribe]
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My Racist Encounter at the White House Correspondents' Dinner

Seema Jilani

The faux red carpet had been laid out for the famous and the wannabe-famous. Politicians and journalists arrived at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, bedazzled in the hopes of basking in a few fleeting moments of fame, even if only by osmosis from proximity to celebrities. New to the Washington scene, I was to experience the spectacle with my husband, a journalist, and enjoy an evening out. Or at least an hour out. You see, as a spouse I was not allowed into the actual dinner. Those of us who are not participating in the hideous schmooze-fest that is this evening are relegated to attending the cocktail hour only, if that. Our guest was the extraordinarily brilliant Oscar-nominated director of Beasts of the Southern Wild, Benh Zeitlin. Mr. Zeitlin's unassuming demeanor was a refreshing taste of humility in a sea of pretentious politicians reeking of narcissism.

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."

I explained that I am a physician, that my husband is a noted journalist for a major American newspaper, and that our guest was an esteemed, Oscar-nominated director. They did not believe me. Never mind that the American flag flew proudly outside of our home for years, with my father taking it inside whenever it rained to protect it from damage. Never mind that I won "Most Patriotic" almost every July 4th growing up. Never mind that I have provided health care to some of America's most underprivileged, even when they have refused to shake my hand because of my ethnicity.

I looked at him, struggling to bury my tears beneath whatever shred of dignity that remained. They finally saturated my lashes and flood onto my face. Shaking with rage, I said, "We are all human beings and I only ask that you give me the same respect you give others. All I am asking is to be treating with a dignity and humanity. What you did is wrong." They stared straight ahead, arms crossed, and refused to even look at me. Up came the cruel, xenophobic, soundproof wall that I had seen in the eyes of so many after 9/11. Their eyes, flecked with disdain and hatred, looked through me.

The next affront came quickly thereafter. "You were here last year, weren't you? You caused trouble here last year too. I know you," they claimed, accusing me of being a party-crasher. Completely confused, I explained that this was my first time here and that I had no idea what he was referencing. Clearly, he had assumed all brown people look the same and had confused me for someone else.

I wonder what their reaction would have been to a well-dressed white woman trying to reach her husband. Would she have struggled for over an hour while they watched and offered to escort others in? Would they not have extended an offer to help, bended over backwards to offer assistance, just as they did with the woman who "lost her ticket"? Would the Boston bombings even be mentioned to a white woman?

Let's stop this facade that we are a beacon of tolerance. I don't need you to "tolerate" me. I don't want you to merely put up with my presence. All I ask, all I have ever asked, is to be treated as a human being, that bigoted jingoism is not injected into every minute facet my life, that there remains at least the illusion of decency.

Despite being a native English speaker who was born in New Orleans and a physician who trained at a prestigious institution, all people see is the color of my skin. After this incident, I will no longer apologize, either for my faith or my complexion. It is not my job to convince you to distinguish me from the violent sociopaths that claim to be Muslims, whose terrorism I neither support, nor condone. It is your job. Just like when a disturbed young white man shoots up a movie theatre or a school, it is my job, as someone with a conscience, to distinguish them from others. It's not my job to plead with you to shake my hand without cringing, nor am I going to applaud you when you treat me with common decency; it's not an accomplishment. It's simply the right thing to do. Honestly, it's not that hard.

This year, Quvenzhané Wallis took the world by storm with her staggering performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild. At several award ceremonies, reporters refused to the learn the accurate pronunciation of her name, and one reporter allegedly told Wallis, "I'm gonna call you Annie," because her name was too difficult to pronounce. If reporters can learn to pronounce Gerard Depardieu and Monique Lhuillier then surely they can take the time to learn how to pronounce Quvenzhané. It's not hard; it's just not deemed worthy of your energy because she is someone of color.

A school child recently threatened my 12-year-old niece claiming, "I'm going to kill you Miss Bin Laden." Again, it is not my job to teach your children manners and social justice, to remove the disgusting threads of racism that you have woven into their hearts with your insecurities. Last week, a 39-year-old Muslim American cab driver who served in the Iraq war was attacked and had his jaw broken in a hate crime. The assailant, an executive from an aviation company, told the veteran "I will slice your [Disallowed String for - bad word]ing throat right now." I suppose the "support the troops" rhetoric by the right only applies to white veterans.

It wasn't enough that I have had to prove my "American-ness" at every step of my career, but now the next generation is suffering as well. It wasn't enough that I was asked whether my father taught me how to make bombs, or that I was told that I was doomed to the seventh circle of hell during my medical school interviews. I was also asked whether I would wear a burqa or if my parents would arrange my marriage during interviews. It is outrageous that I have to actually prove to the world how horrified I am that an 8-year-old boy was brutally murdered by a terrorist bombing. Any normal human being feels this agonizing grief with the rest of the country. I do not have to prove to you that, I, too, find it morally reprehensible. Of course I do. I have a heart. I am human.

So, I no longer want a seat at your restaurant, where you serve me begrudgingly, where I am belittled for asking for food without pork, where I endure your dirty looks at my hijabi friend. I want my pride intact, I want this struggle of mine to be recognized, for you to look me in the eye and acknowledge that yes, this tumor called bigotry is indeed rivering through your veins, polluting your mind, and is so malignant that it compels you to squash my dignity.

It's the little indignities that slowly devastate your soul. The ones where your guard is down, and you just expect to dress up, look pretty, and enjoy an evening as a newlywed, or at the Oscars, but instead end up humiliated and snubbed. The ubiquitous racist slap in the face is thinly veiled just beneath the carefully crafted façade. This filthy, highly infectious plague is transforming our nation into one of unwarranted suspicion and anguish inflicted on disenfranchised, voiceless people of color. And now, it is no longer my job to enlighten you. To quote what you so often tell ethnic communities, "It's time for you to step up to the plate, take responsibility, and stop taking what I have earned," my integrity, my dignity.


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Posted on 05-13-13 11:59 AM     [Snapshot: 3456]     Reply [Subscribe]
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Very true Mr Shrestha. This feeling of inferiority complex makes them angry and defensive, whereas I am smiling here hehehe. Deep down they are simply jealous of the white race. It is fun when they equate making clothes out of cotton to discovering electricity, inventing internet, discovering radium to millions of other things the White race has given us. But I am a nightmare for these type of people hehehe.

I remember i met an indian once who went "Hotmail was invented by an indian." He shut up when i replied not for forget Jack Smith who invented it with him. And also to never forget the fact that it was invented in USA post western education. So no credit to India there if that was what he was hinting at hehe.

I am not denying Eastern contribution but majority of what makes up the modern world are Western inventions. Trust me life would not be this good without white people and their inventions. (But of course they invented bad things too)

Posted on 05-13-13 12:30 PM     [Snapshot: 3502]     Reply [Subscribe]
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 Wah, I was waiting for someone to say el goog and wikipedia was invented by them westerners, and congrats freedomji, now you have find your soulmate. :-)
Posted on 05-13-13 1:46 PM     [Snapshot: 3562]     Reply [Subscribe]
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pshreshta and Freedom,

You two need to get together and get on 69 position asap.

Who has talked about whites not being successful and leading the modern world? I think people are talking about resenting the discrimination when experienced one. Most whites do not even want to own losers like you two but you to are so adamant about being a slave for your masters.

The question on the article is, should you be able to express it when one feels discriminated in this country and the answer is pretty plain and simple, its YES anyone should be able to express their feelings once felt discriminated.

I know whites invented electricity, internet, computers, television, rockets, airplanes, and phones but they are still not my Masters, i appreciate their inventions but i refuse to be their slave. I want to be able to speak up when wrong is done.

Try to free yourself from mental slavery.

Posted on 05-13-13 4:37 PM     [Snapshot: 3637]     Reply [Subscribe]
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"I know whites invented electricity, internet, computers, television, rockets, airplanes, and phones but they are still not my Masters, i appreciate their inventions but i refuse to be their slave."

See bro, if given a choice between a leech and a slave, i had rather be a slave. Leeches suck the blood of the host and they were once even misunderstood to be beneficial and used in treatment, but alas, the only purpose of the leech was to suck blood thus proving it was injurious to health.

"Most whites do not even want to own losers like you two but you to are so adamant about being a slave for your masters."

Yeah yeah as if winners like you can teach the white people to improve their anti discrimination laws, hold free and fair elections, ensure human rights in USA etc,

"I want to be able to speak up when wrong is done."

Or you can just sue as there are already laws againsts discrimination. White people already did the speaking up ages ago. I do not think the laws are going to get any better than they already are. If you got a case, you sue. Now if you want an anti discrimination office place in every non white house so the process of suing, whinging  gets easier, then lage raho munnabhai.

Last edited: 13-May-13 04:43 PM

Posted on 05-13-13 5:05 PM     [Snapshot: 3646]     Reply [Subscribe]
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@freedom2012 The orginial thread is about the racism and yes racism should be eliminated. Now talking about the white am i consider white coz i look white? are jews consider white coz America is run by jews. Can u explain me what white is? if rednecks are consider white u gotta go and leave in redneck county atleast for a week and u'll see wat racism is. Racism still exist if u agree or not and we sud all fight against it. One of my white fren is looking for a slave if u r interested coz for me slavery is long gone. And yes laws always gets better with the time.
Posted on 05-13-13 5:41 PM     [Snapshot: 3665]     Reply [Subscribe]
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So, all the hooligan dagos being of  fairer complexion (as someone pointed out/ raised, what is your definition of white?) are superior in football to this humilated guy, right?? Do you think this guy should admit himslef being inferior because of his color, like you do?Europe tira (especially italy/ spain/ russia tira) najau hai sathi feri timlai pani kera faldelan.... 

Last edited: 13-May-13 05:42 PM

Posted on 05-13-13 7:07 PM     [Snapshot: 3698]     Reply [Subscribe]
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See bro, if given a choice between a leech and a slave, i had rather be a slave. Leeches suck the blood of the host and they were once even misunderstood to be beneficial and used in treatment, but alas, the only purpose of the leech was to suck blood thus proving it was injurious to health.

Most of us pay our bills, may be you are on a welfare getting all those services for free and hence you are a slave to your master. That actually makes sense.

The biggest irony is that you have a sajha nick of "freedom" but you would rather be a slave.  I think you need help, a serious one.

Posted on 05-13-13 7:28 PM     [Snapshot: 3709]     Reply [Subscribe]
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No Sir,

That name is apt for me. Because i am free, i do not have any complex. I acknowledge superiority where it is due without feeling inferior. This is how meritocracy is born. I do not live in denial like the majority of you. But you Sir, even if white people discover time travel in future, you will avail those services like a leech at the same time, indulging in your anti white rhetoric from time to time.

Sir, I am an honest person. I am not a hypocrite. But if one were talking about war, aggression and colonial mindset, you could blame them and i would agree.
Last edited: 13-May-13 07:42 PM

Posted on 05-13-13 9:25 PM     [Snapshot: 3749]     Reply [Subscribe]
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Not exactly relevant but I couldn't resist posting it.I didn't find the original video. This one is camera-recorded from tv. Warning: "N" words.

Posted on 05-13-13 9:27 PM     [Snapshot: 3760]     Reply [Subscribe]
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Freedom2012 is someone who can never admit he is mistaken or that his view is wrong. He will try to bring all sort of unnecessary examples to confuse others if he is cornered but no matter what he just needs to get the last word in.

For example he brings an example of if Aliens discovered electricity then humans would consider them superior race. Aliens who identity have not been verified just like God, yet he is hell bent on considering that they would be a superior specy. It is evident that freedom2012 has a constant need to stand in an inferior grounds so that he can live his life in servitude.

In this thread noone has brought in anti-white sentiments but he is accusing people of indulging in anti-white rhetorics who don't agree with his claim that whites are superior. He is only confusing himself and lying to himself that he is correct and everyone else is wrong.

But he is generous enough to say "The debate is decided by the audience. The debators simply give their opinions. So who won and who lost, they decide. "

Unfortunately he has no clue that amidst the debate, many audience have come forward to tell him he is wrong but the fool, fuelled by his ego will never be able to take a loss. There are already  over 8 people in this thread who have come forward and pointed out his erronous stance but he is still barking strong like the mad dog who won't let go of his ego.

One of my friends was going through similar phase where he hated everything about Nepal and praised US about everything. Turns out he had acquired US citizenship so subconsciously he was blindly supporting America and Americans because deep inside he felt guilty for having to give up his Nepali citizenship. Not saying if freedom2012 is in the same boat or not but just saying coz that's what it reminds me of.

Posted on 05-14-13 1:24 AM     [Snapshot: 3832]     Reply [Subscribe]
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@ alternate,

hehehe, I do not support KKK. Majority white people do not call themselves superior and should not also because it would not be modest or humble of them. However since i am not white, i can give them such an honour of being superior as an independent observor. I am against violence that the KKK represents and I do not support anything militant . I am simply bestowing that honour not as a Nepalese but as a human being based on the achievements of the white race, without which our world would have been a rather BORING place.  

@ Rethink,

This is not an algebra equation that i admit my mistake. In a couple of years, i am returning back home. I love Nepal, never said anything bad about it, except facts which we all must admit. I might say Nepal is a shithole for human rights and anti discrimination but I never said i do not want to go back. Those are facts that has nothing to do with my love for that geographical position called Nepal. Neither i said to give up Nepalese citizenship for US one, though there is no problem in that also. It is an individual decision. 

Gilani can sue if she wants, if her case has merit she will win. There is no need to whinge and write an article about racism for people to read. It is the same old story againsts whites that one reads or hears like a million times. Racism needs to be proven in court. Racism is not an anecdote.  

Yes the debate will be decided by audience. If you take part in debate, you are a debator not an audience. And only 8 individuals?. This thread has hundreds of views. It is not about winning or losing, it is about getting your point across. Sadly, it is you who is mentally enslaved. You will never accept any race as superior because you feel you will become inferior, so no matter the merit, you are enslaved mentally to ever acknowledge it. Come to think of it, a superior race is theoretically possible, you are just scared that it is a reality and not a theory and afraid to admit it. You are enslaved not me. Your colour is green. With Jealousy. Once you let go and become a real human, you will also give white race their due without feeling inferior. 

Last edited: 14-May-13 12:29 PM

Posted on 05-14-13 7:41 AM     [Snapshot: 3867]     Reply [Subscribe]
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Freedom, you are so dumb that you believe everyone else is stupid to accept your logic.

Noone is taking away from the list of things that individuals of the white race have achieved. Notice, it's individual and not the whole race that came up with the list of inventions. If we need to appreciate anything then we need to appreciate the contribution of individuals who happen to be white. Not the entire white race!

The notion of having to accept a superior race, only points to your need to be subservient.

There were highly talented individuals who came up with all these inventions and much kudos is due to them. Their inventions were superior, their talents were superior, but could you even consider them superior human beings? In your opinion anyone who invents something cool is superior human being? 

You logic explodes into the black hole because after all the inventions were done by individuals and not the race!

Would you consider the black race inferior race because few of the individuals of the black populations have been involved in heinous crimes?

Would you consider the bahun ethnicity in Nepal as the superior ethnicity since they occupy most of the govenment positions?

Initially you said "So who won and who lost, they decide." , but now you are saying "It is not about winning or losing". In most debates there are 2 people involved and the audience generally does not butt in, but in this particular case I have seen many audience join the discussion because your stance is just plain stupid.

Posted on 05-14-13 7:58 AM     [Snapshot: 3872]     Reply [Subscribe]
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lol @ at u thinking white race are superior than others. I thought we are in the 21st century aren't we and POTUS is black. Well bro I guess u r the one with inferior complex. "your color is green" I thought its brown but again i look white.... now should i feel superior?

 "There is no need to whinge and write an article about racism for people to read." Seriously.....aren't u taking away her 1st ammendment? 

Posted on 05-14-13 5:42 PM     [Snapshot: 3983]     Reply [Subscribe]
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@ Rethink,

hehehe you are not paying attention. White people as a race have achieved that. While some invented, others made meritocratic and egalitarian societies where people like you and me love to flock to. I am happy to be non white but i want to adopt their superior behaviour. If a white becomes prime minister of Nepal, newspapers in western countries do not go "White man becomes prime minister of Nepal." on their front cover. They might not even cover the news. But if Nepali or black or indian achieves something, no matter where they were born, newspapers back home will be carrying headlines. See our race is born with inferiority complex. This complex does not go away even post education. We have many complex that is why we never progress. That is why in india you can get pizza in 30 minutes but wait for hours for ambulance. 

I want to discard this inferiority complex. You should do the same. Well who won and who lost the debate will be decided by the readers. If i won, it does not matter, you got your point across too. And vice versa. 

@ Giordano,

See Racism should not be about non whites v/s whites. I want to read about a Nepalese complaing about racism in Africa. I want to hear a chinese complaing of same. So it should be reported from all over the world across all races, but look at the pattern, it is always reported in western countries with Whites at the receiving end. This gives a false notion about racism. 

I am not taking her rights to report, actually i read the first couple of paragraphs and the last 2-3 paragraphs. I can sort of imagine what happened. Been there and done that. Same old story hehehehe.   

Posted on 05-14-13 8:45 PM     [Snapshot: 4032]     Reply [Subscribe]
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"See Racism should not be about non whites v/s whites"........well whites were to invent racism in the first place....MLK fought for it.....USA is a immigrant country unlike any other country and therefore you will hear more racism in here.....

what next???

Posted on 05-14-13 10:59 PM     [Snapshot: 4083]     Reply [Subscribe]
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hehehehe guys guys guys......sometimes truth hurts. But we have to accept it, if not we will just end up looking like Steve Martin from the Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Hehehehe

Inferiority complex makes you numb.

Last edited: 15-May-13 12:27 AM

Posted on 05-15-13 2:52 PM     [Snapshot: 4222]     Reply [Subscribe]
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Hagnelai bhanda dekhnelai laaj bhaisakyo.
Posted on 05-15-13 3:16 PM     [Snapshot: 4244]     Reply [Subscribe]
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Posted on 05-15-13 5:41 PM     [Snapshot: 4288]     Reply [Subscribe]
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 lol who is talking and who is having inferiority complex and who is looking like a scoundrel.....
Posted on 05-11-14 8:40 PM     [Snapshot: 6095]     Reply [Subscribe]
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White race is not superior to me. Period.
freedom2012, Accept them as your superior if you want to. But tell them about it and a lot of them will probably look at you with disgust too.
1. The one who considers someone else superior is the one who has inferiority complex.
2. Glad you were not born in the slave era convincing the black people how superior white race were and how they were entitled to enslave the blacks, just, just because they were born with a certain skin color.
3. Your hehehe is sinister.
4. If you go to Nepal, please don't start convincing Nepali people why a certain caste is superior because greater percentage of people in that caste are already educated/richer/employed than rest of them.
5. You actually shouldn't go to Nepal. Be as close as you can on the feet of your dear white race. Well, they are dear to me too, but I don't need to look upto them or down upon them. Heck, there is no such thing as race. There are so many mixed families already. And like others asked, what is "white" really? Their ancestors were a mix of ethnicity too.
But does racism exist? Yes it does. Wasn't it too obvious when people called an indian-descent "miss al-kaieda" and all sort of things? And racism exists because of people like you, who classify the intelligence of human beings by skin color, really?


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