Right now I'm sitting in the Milwaukee airport waiting patiently to get on the plane to go home to see my family for Easter. Like many people, I really hate the airport but not for the reasons you may think. My complete and utter dislike is due to the treatment that I have unfortunately become accustomed to between security and getting on the plane.
When it comes to security, you would be appalled by the number of times I've been stopped for a "hair search." "I'm sorry, but your bun is really big." Yeah…but what would I be hiding in my hair? The metal detector didn't even go off, yet they feel the need to stop me and check my hair…it's absurd. Other passengers get to breeze through security while I'm stopped, searched, and have to rush to my gate with a now crooked bun.
For this trip to save money, I decided to fly basic economy, which means that I have a guaranteed seat on the flight but have to wait until I get to the airport for an assigned seat. Even though I arrived early to get the best possible seat, I was told conflicting information by Delta personnel. I said to one employee, "Hi I am looking to get a seat assignment, and I'm flying…" and the woman rudely cut me off saying, "you're way too early. Come back in forty minutes." This was the third person I had spoken to about getting a seat assignment, so I was starting to get a tad frustrated. I was told that this was supposed to be a quick and easy process, but it was anything but that. A white woman only a few years older than me was in line behind me. When I heard her ask the same question, the now friendly Delta worker said: "I will be assigning seats shortly."
Because I no longer trusted the information I was receiving, I sat near the desk and saw the difference between how I was treated and spoken to and how others were being treated. When they made the announcement that they were ready to assign seats, I was the first person in line but was again given the cold shoulder. When they finally gave me a seat, it was in the last row of the plane in the middle seat. While I was happy to just be able to finally go home, I realized that the White woman from earlier wasn't anywhere near where I was sitting. She wasn't in the last row in the middle seat. Even though I was in line and given a seat assignment well before her, she was quite a few rows ahead of me.
People are so quick to say equal opportunity exists, but I can't even get on a plane to see my family for Easter without running into issues of prejudice. I can't go to the mall without getting stopped or followed. I can't start a semester without students acting surprised that I thoroughly understand the course material. I can't walk around my college campus without the campus police looking at me like I don't belong and must not go to school here. So the next time you claim that "Black women are angry," maybe consider our day to day experiences. The next time you say to a minority "equal opportunity exists," remember this article. And the next time you say "people need to pull themselves up by the bootstraps," maybe you should look at your new Gucci boots and reevaluate because at the end of the day, you could be talking to someone who is wearing hand-me-downs or don't have boots, to begin with, and no real equal opportunity to improve that situation. At the end of the day, I am a very calm person and typically refuse to let microaggressions affect me. However, these "coincidences" add up, and sometimes I think it's imperative to bring them to light.