By Ed Diokno
Fifteen years ago, the United States changed when terrorists attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
President Bush warned us that the war against terrorism would be unlike any war we have ever experienced. At the time, most Americans had no idea how different the tactics would be and how our country would react.
I’m reminded of this every time I go through airport security, because of my dark complexion, goatee and shaved head, I draw the special attention of the guards. They tell me I’m picked at random as they pat me down, but I know better. It has happened too often to be random.
What I go through, though, is nothing compared to what thousands of our fellow citizens must undergo.
On the 15th anniversary of September 11th, organizers with the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) and KhushDC will take part in a performative action so other people will be able to experience the impact of Islamophobia and the legalized profiling of LGBTQ South Asian, Muslim and Black communities.
“We are creating ‘checkpoints’ in high-traffic areas of Washington D.C. that replicate the various ‘checkpoints’ experience every day by South Asian, Muslim, Arab, Middle Eastern, and Black people experience every day – being stopped when passing through TSA, being denied service because of religious markers, being called terrorists, being kicked off of flights, etc. Black Muslims experience this profiling at an even higher frequency, leading to brutality or death at the hands of law enforcement,” stated a press release from NQAPIA,
Numerous studies have documented the impact of Islamophobia.
- A Gallup poll found that nearly half of all Muslims – 48 percent – reported that they, personally, had experienced racial or religious discrimination in the past year.
- In a Columbia University survey, 28 percent of Muslim high school students in New York reported being stopped by police as a result of racial profiling.
- A labor market study found a 10 percent decrease in earnings for Muslim and Arab men immediately after 9/11, with the effects greater in areas with a higher incidence of hate crimes.
The “checkpoints” will be set up this Sunday, Sept. 11 between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. across D.C. in Adams Morgan, Dupont Circle, Verizon Center (Chinatown), and other locations.
“I feel the aftershocks of 9/11 every day,” said NQAPIA’s Organizing Director Sasha W. “From profiling at the airport, to verbal harassment on the street, to surveillance outside my apartment, the policies enacted in the wake of 9/11 have legalized the profiling and surveillance of my people. I cannot feel ‘safe’ until the legalized profiling, surveillance, and harassment end.”