A prominent documentary maker of the United States and the co-founder of the Groundswell Movement Sikh woman Valerie Kaur was forced to show her breast pump after fellow passengers suspect her of being a terrorist.
Valerie Kaur posted on Facebook:
A few minutes ago, while waiting in line to board a #Delta flight home to LA, I removed the luggage tag on my carry-on. It carried my breast pump, and I needed to make milk on the flight. The passenger behind me raised his voice. I turned around. He was a white man and his face was angry. He asked why I removed the tag. I offered to explain but he said he didn’t want to know. Instead he told the other passengers in line. A gate agent arrived, alarmed and angered. I explained that I was a nursing mother, but she still didn’t let me board with my bag. Her face was just as angry. I had to pull out the breast pump to show her. Only then was I allowed to take my seat. All the passengers in first class watched and I smiled weakly to show them I wasn’t a terrorist.
I’m sitting on the flight now, shaken. I’m thinking of the countless subtle acts of profiling of Muslim Sikh and brown bodies in the last 14 years. The double-pain: I was reading tweets on my phone about the #SanBernardino shooting while in line, but my grieving was interrupted by a passenger seeing me as suspect.
I’m angry and shaken and sad. But I’m flying home for Kavi’s 1st birthday tomorrow, and I know that the only social and political force powerful enough to fight hate is love, and I want to practice the loving response now. What does revolutionary love look like in this moment?
Update: Delta responded immediately over Twitter and offered an apology. The rest of the flight crew was truly professional and respectful. The responses to this post are overwhelming. Thank you!