Valerie Kaur, an attorney who studied at Stanford and Yale Law School, was boarding a flight on Delta Airlines when she experienced what many Muslims do on a daily basis—ignorance, profiling, and racism. Valerie, however, is not a Muslim; she is a Sikh, yet many Americans remain unaware of the difference, simply conflating brown skin with a threat.
Valerie had innocuously removed a luggage tag so she could access her breast pump in her luggage. This angered a white man nearby, who rebuffed her attempts at explanation, and raised his suspicions to the gate agent. According to Valerie’s Facebook post, “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.”
This sort of behavior, both stemming from a passenger and airline official, is upsetting on many levels. There have been countless incidents of Islamophobia since the Paris attacks (and even before that), but Valeria’s story demonstrates how all people of brown skin can be profiled and treated with suspicion for no fault of their own.
Valerie’s response to the incident was generous—she stated that “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?”
Even in a tense political climate such as this, it is important to remember what Valerie is advocating.
Banner Image Credit: Facebook, Valerie Kaur