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Flying While Black: New Face of Terrorism

New America Media, Commentary, Jasmyne A. Cannick Posted: Dec 30, 2009

As America closes out 2009, we usher in the New Year with a newly refreshed and heightened sense of panic. After last weeks would be attack by 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, whose failed attempt to ignite an incendiary device aboard a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, we are being reminded why we need our government to impede on the last of personal freedoms when traveling by air.

The latest madness that travelers were subjected to included staying in their seat for the last hour of their international flight, and on some flights, passengers were told to keep their hands in plain sight, a feat that most kindergartners couldnt pull off even with the threat of federal prison time hanging over their head, much less adults who contrary to popular belief by the Transportation Security Authority (TSA) and Homeland Security, cant control their bladder when its that time to go.

But as we so obediently subject ourselves to even longer lines and even more scrutiny while traveling through the nations airports, I have to tell you, none of it makes me feel any safer.

I think that we lose more and more of our common sense when the threat of domestic terrorism is in the air literally. Today its no restroom use an hour before touchdown. Tomorrow, some passengers might make some TSA agents day by going through a full body scanner. So whats next? A new airport surcharge to pay for that full body scanner that strips me of every ounce of dignity and any pride I have left followed by an additional airline surcharge on top of the already ridiculously high price I pay for that ticket to begin with?

And dont get me started on what type of racial profiling is going to take place on black people traveling into and around the United States until they open their mouths and display an American accent. Let me just say, leave the Kente cloth and other fashionable African prints at home for a while.

And to my East, West, and South African brothers and sisters, work on that accent because history has shown, you will be targeted. Ask your Northern African counterparts, or as we so affectionately refer to them, people from the Middle East.

Congress can use taxpayer money to hold all of the hearings they want on what went wrong. I like political theatrics as much as the next person, but its not going to change the fact that its Americas foreign policies that dictate and fuel hatred. And even if were not willing to make changes in how we try to run other countries, what about the barely living wage thats paid to the average TSA agent at domestic airports that almost ensures that someone somewhere will slip through security?

I live with the threat of domestic terrorism every single day. You tell me whats worse suicide bombers or gang members? They both just dont give a f--k and will just as soon take me out in pursuit of their cause. Its just that one of the two receives the governments full attention and our silent obedience while the other continues to terrorize law-abiding citizens domestically.

Americans are willing to write a blank check when it comes to certain types of terrorism. But when it comes to the other domestic terrorism in the form of gangs and gang violence we continue to raise an eyebrow in objection the minute a new tax is imposed to add more officers on the street, or a new legislation is proposed to provide more gang intervention and prevention?

Ill feel safer in this world the day we start treating gang violence with the same sense of urgency and government participation that we afford to 23-year-old Nigerians with incendiary devices in their underwear aboard planes.

Unexpected and unapologetically black, at 32, Jasmyne Cannick is a critic and commentator based in Los Angeles who writes about the worlds of pop culture, race, class, sexuality, and politics as it relates to the African-American community. She can be reached at www.jasmynecannick.com.

Related Articles:

Nigerian Terror Suspect: This Apple Fell Too Far From the Tree

Obama Quietly Changes U.S. Immigration Policy

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