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Tue Jun 19, 2018, 12:35 PM

What It's Like To Fly When The TSA Profiles You

https://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/racial-profiling-tsa-airport-security

Itís 4:45am on a Monday morning, and my flight from Washington, DC to Charlotte, North Carolina is set to depart in 90 minutes. I havenít made it through security yet, but my friend tells me it should be ďno problemoĒ -- itís so early we should be able to cruise through. Iím more skeptical. I donít think she usually flies with people who look like me.

Midway through the line, a TSA agent pulls me aside to swab my palms for explosive powder. For the 15 minutes weíve been in line, Iím the only person whoís been pulled away for this drill. When we get to the metal detectors, I go through without a beep, and yet the agent asks me to step aside for frisking and pat-downs.

Finally Iím allowed to pass through to pick up my bags from the conveyor, but I already know Iím not going to see my backpack come out the other side. Sure enough, itís been redirected on the other conveyor at the security checkpoint for more detailed inspection. As it always is.

We wait another 15 agonizing minutes. An agent finally comes, inspects the bag, and lets me get my things. My friend is stunned at how long everything has taken; we have to jog through the terminal to catch the plane. When we sit down, she literally sighs with relief that we made it. I donít tell her that if this was an international flight and we were moving through passport control, there would have been another round of interrogation about who I was and why I was doing anything. Unless weíd planned accordingly for these inevitabilities, we would have missed our flight.



IíM A U.S. CITIZEN, VERY MUCH FROM AND OF THIS COUNTRY, without the smallest blemish of a criminal record. I was born outside Chicago and raised right outside DC by a computer engineer father and a clinical research auditor mother. In high school, I was a keener for AP and IB courses, and I graduated with a biology degree from Virginia Tech (go Hokies!). Now I eke out a living writing about NASA and Hyperloop and whatnot. Stereotypes are bad, but I will admit, my life does little to dispel the ones about Indians.

I wouldnít say Iím a model citizen (I work in the media, for chrissake), but at 5-foot-2-inches and with a petite frame, Iím the definition of non-threatening. I put airport security on alert only because Iím brown -- a typecast stand-in of how Americans picture a Muslim terrorist.


Yes, it has gotten worse after Trump took office.

The author wears athletic shorts, t-shirt, and flip flops, but I always go with slacks, polo shirt, and slip on dress shoes. And I have TSA Pre-check and CBP Global Entry. Like a honey badger, TSA don't care. They're going to go for an extra-thorough hand screening every time, to catch anything their full body scan machines may have missed.

I love travel a little bit less than most liberals. White liberals can never understand why. Brown liberals know why.

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Arrow 16 replies Author Time Post
Reply What It's Like To Fly When The TSA Profiles You (Original post)
IronLionZion Jun 2018 OP
dembotoz Jun 2018 #1
Corvo Bianco Jun 2018 #2
lapfog_1 Jun 2018 #3
Ron Obvious Jun 2018 #10
USALiberal Jun 2018 #15
LeftInTX Jun 2018 #4
shanti Jun 2018 #5
progressoid Jun 2018 #6
IronLionZion Jun 2018 #7
progressoid Jun 2018 #8
IronLionZion Jun 2018 #9
progressoid Jun 2018 #11
LanternWaste Jun 2018 #12
hermetic Jun 2018 #13
hunter Jun 2018 #14
DFW Jun 2018 #16

Response to IronLionZion (Original post)

Tue Jun 19, 2018, 12:44 PM

1. kick

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Response to IronLionZion (Original post)

Tue Jun 19, 2018, 12:57 PM

2. My cousin who is brown came to visit me over the weekend. He watched every white person in front

and behind him avoid a pat down but he certainly got his. Same story.

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Response to IronLionZion (Original post)

Tue Jun 19, 2018, 01:17 PM

3. not sure about the color of the skin being the determinant factor

as I am a 60 year old white male software architect...

BUT, I get profiled every F'ing time I fly... just yesterday I was on a flight from Seattle back to San jose... as I went through the TSA-prechk line I was "randomly selected" for more intense scrutiny... as I went into the body scanner with absolutely NOTHING ON ME but underwear, jeans, socks and a T-shirt... the machine "alerted" on me (bullshit) and indicated that I had metal in my back pocket... so a body search ensued with the hand swabs, etc And my backpack was searched, etc.


Now if this was the first time this happened I would say... oh well, random... but it happens almost every time I fly.

Mostly I ascribe the actions of the TSA due to the fact that my company typically prepurchases tickets for me that are ONE WAY because they have access to a pool of prepaid tickets credits from various airlines... I flew up on Delta, returned the next day via Alaska. This saves them some money... but at a cost to me of TSA busy bodies.

I also used to fly to Vegas and other places using cash to purchase my tickets... which I believe put me on a list someplace... not a "no-fly" list, but a different category of "suspect traveler" list. I have no proof of this other than I am selected for extra inspection almost every trip...

In addition, I believe in packing very light for short duration trips... so I've perfected the art of pack everything I need into my backpack (standard laptop bag) including a change of clothes, needed items of toiletries, my laptop and cell, etc. So I never check a bag or even have a roller bag. This may be some sort of signal to TSA as well.

Point is, it isn't the color of my skin or my name that sets this off in my case... but I don't dispute that it happens to others.

Last, the entire TSA experience is the "appearance of security" instead of actual security.
In itself, it is yet another preparatory step to fascism in America... authoritarianism run amok.
And we are seeing this start earlier and earlier in our public schools... queue up for the metal detectors and bag search... "warrants, we don't need no stinkin warrants!"

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Response to lapfog_1 (Reply #3)

Tue Jun 19, 2018, 03:00 PM

10. Yeah, it happens to me as well coming into Seattle particularly

I've written about it here before. TSA always claim it's just random, but it's clear I'm on file for some reason. I've even seen one official point to me as I'm about to go through the baggage check to make sure I'm pulled aside to have my luggage checked.

I'm a middle-aged, normally-dressed, blue-eyed white guy. I've really never noticed a particular pattern as to who gets pulled aside for further screening.

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Response to lapfog_1 (Reply #3)

Tue Jun 19, 2018, 05:14 PM

15. Software Architect? Is that fancy for Computer programmer??

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Response to IronLionZion (Original post)

Tue Jun 19, 2018, 01:29 PM

4. Bollywood Superstar Shah Rukh Khan always gets detained....

https://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2016/08/12/why-does-shah-rukh-khan-keep-getting-detained-by-u-s-immigration/



He once said it was because he shares the same name as someone on the terrorist list.

It would be funny, if he showed CBP his videos (many of his movies are on YouTube) and said, "Look this is really me"

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Response to IronLionZion (Original post)

Tue Jun 19, 2018, 01:37 PM

5. Last time I flew

from Sac to Phoenix, I was pulled over for a more intensive check. This was in the TSA Pre-check line too, and I'm an older, white woman. It was annoying!

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Response to IronLionZion (Original post)

Tue Jun 19, 2018, 01:46 PM

6. White liberals can never understand why?

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Response to progressoid (Reply #6)

Tue Jun 19, 2018, 02:15 PM

7. Not really

It's harder to understand something you haven't experienced.

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Response to IronLionZion (Reply #7)

Tue Jun 19, 2018, 02:51 PM

8. OK

I'm not female so I can't understand mysogyny.
I'm not gay so I can't understand homophobia.
I'm not really old yet (hope to be someday) so I can't understand ageism.
I'm not young anymore so I can't understand ephebiphobia
I'm an atheist (now) so I can't understand Islamophobia, antisemitism, etc.
I'm not overweight so I can't understand fat-shaming.

Dang, there's not really much I can understand as a middle aged, white, hetero guy.







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Response to progressoid (Reply #8)

Tue Jun 19, 2018, 02:53 PM

9. Allies are welcome

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Response to IronLionZion (Reply #9)

Tue Jun 19, 2018, 03:25 PM

11. Thanks.

Be a little more welcoming if you didn't say white liberals can never understand why. A lot of us do understand.

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Response to progressoid (Reply #11)

Tue Jun 19, 2018, 03:27 PM

12. While even more merely allege to.

 

"A lot of us do understand..."

While even more merely allege to.

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Response to IronLionZion (Original post)

Tue Jun 19, 2018, 03:58 PM

13. This is why

I will not fly. Screw the TSA.

They don't come much whiter than me but I will not support an industry that treats my fellow humans so horribly, for no real reason other than racism. I do understand that lots of people have no choice but flight. But over the past 15 years I have traveled back and forth across the country and I have done every trip, IN A CAR. Yep, it took a few days. But, again: I will not fly. Sure saves me a lot of grief.

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Response to IronLionZion (Original post)

Tue Jun 19, 2018, 04:53 PM

14. My brother gets rations of shit every time he flies, every time he returns to the U.S.A..

He looks like a biker 'cause he is one. He's also played bikers and cowboys on TV.

It probably doesn't help him that he's got the attitude to match.

"You liking that?" is not the right thing to say to the officer giving you the pat down.

First they've heard that many times before, second that's not why they're giving you shit.

It's all fucking theater for the rubes.


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Response to IronLionZion (Original post)

Tue Jun 19, 2018, 05:24 PM

16. Oh, I know why, too

Above and beyond this:

As for me and the TSA, here is something I posted elsewhere maybe a week ago:

As for the TSA, I was in Boston once, and after the standard security check, some guy in a TSA uniform came up to me and said I had been selected for a "random special security check." Right. Guy traveling alone with dark(er) features and a beard, I must REALLY have looked like a Taliban commando, right? But all you have to do is know the mentality of the idiots you are dealing with. So, I put on my best Southern Boot Camp Drill Sergeant accent, stood at attention, and said authoritatively, "alright sir, let's get this done." He was expecting me to object, or at least ask why. The last thing he expected was a military-type voice practically commanding him to hurry up and get to frisking me. He was so startled that he ran a hand loosely up my right side (took less than five seconds), said, "thank you," and got the hell outta there. I managed to keep a straight face for long enough for him to be gone before I broke into a grin.

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