As a millennial with an international background, I have traveled to and from many countries. Often times, I remember flying on United Airlines. As of today, I have made the active choice to boycott the airline.
Today (April 10, 2017), passengers were "randomly selected" to give up their seats on United flight 3411. According to the airline, the flight was overbooked; four additional United employees had to be on the flight to Louisville for work the next day. As one might expect, no passengers wanted to give up the seats that they paid for. United Airlines thus decided to "randomly" select four passengers to kick off the plan. Out of those who were selected was an Asian man. This man refused, not out of stubbornness or what some people call immaturity, but because he was a doctor who needed to see his patients the next day. United officials decided the best course of action to take was to forcefully pull him out of his seat, stun him, and drag his unconscious body through the aisle. The sound of his screaming and the sound of his head slamming into an armrest haunts me to this very minute. In the videos taken by fellow passengers, excessive force is clearly used by the three officers who were called to manage the situation.
People of color are not treated the same as white people. This is a universal truth. We see a constant trend of singling out people of color. From being prechecked by TSA to being attacked by armed police while putting your hands up, people of color are constantly being persecuted by the white community. They are constantly being blamed for upsetting fellow white passengers, they are constantly subject to pat-downs by airport security, and they are constantly kicked off of flights when fellow white passengers feel uncomfortable. Who does society put into the prison industrial complex? Whose lives does society sacrifice first for economic benefit? Whose land did the white people colonize?
Before you say "it's not a question about race," check yourself. This Asian man who was assaulted for not giving up a seat he paid for is not an accurate representation of all the violence that has happened to minorities of color. Rather, it is one specific example of how the lives of minorities mean nothing to white America and is indicative of the history of colonialism, silencing, and the Otherization of minorities.
It is easy to engage in the willful ignorance of white supremacy. Some can afford not to consider something minority groups live and act within every moment about their lives.
And to all of those who will respond to this article by saying that compliance is the answer to avoiding violence and injustice:
The Asian man with the bloodied face was not created by non-compliance, he was created by the use of unnecessary violence and brutality. Arguing that such situations can be avoided through compliance only perpetuates the systematic inequality that colored people have to struggle through everyday. It allows for people to think that police brutality is the immediate - and correct - answer to non-compliance. It not only harms minorities, it reduces the responsibilities and reputations of police officers. There will never be a situation where violence is the only solution. Police can de-escalate, bring in other people to mediate, and in the case of the United Airlines incident, they can offer a better offer using discourse. Often times, people make the mistake of prioritizing the rules and ignoring how it will be enforced.
Talk to me about non-compliance when laws can be applied equally among everyone of all race, gender, and ethnicity. But that will never happen. And in the meantime, don't ignore the historical evidence of law enforcement operating under racial biases and prejudice.