Traveling While Muslim: The Case of the Exploding Chocolate

This is an excerpt from and a commentary on a Politico article dated August 11, 2018, by this same name.

end racism now image from facebook

End Racism NOW.

He’s a Muslim.

He’s an American citizen.

He has a passport. And a Global Entry Card

He travels. A lot. He estimates that he goes abroad six to eight times a year.

And he regularly is pulled aside by Customs and Border Patrol. He estimated that he gets pulled over for additional screening at least half of the time.

This time it was at Dulles International Airport. Not once. Not twice. But four times.

The second agent ripped up his kids’ chocolate present to check and make sure it didn’t explode.

The third agent confiscated his Global Entry Card because he was “noncompliant” and he “mocked us for checking your chocolate for explosives.”  

The fourth agent then came forward.  This conversation was their interchange:

“I’m the supervisor on duty. So you think because you have Global Entry you’re exempt from screening?”

“What? No. I said I’ve been screened and cleared three times so far. But despite that, your officer took my Global Entry card and said I’m being non-compliant. And he said that I’ve broken the law. But he refuses to give me any example of non-compliance or cite what law I’ve broken. Please explain this to me.”

The supervisor turned to the confiscating officer and asked, “Why’d you stop him?”

“Well, he was laughing at us.” (It’s true, I did chuckle in disbelief. Guilty as charged.)

“But did he refuse orders?”

“No, I mean, he harassed us.”

I didn’t yell at this point, but I raised my voice. “This is ridiculous. You have the power. You’re detaining me. You have my property. But somehow I’m harassing you? What? Do you hear yourself?”

I turned back to the supervisor. “I’m asking for about the 10th time now. How was I non-compliant and what law did I break?”

“Well those are his words—not mine,” the supervisor said. Now we were getting somewhere.

“Great, so you won’t even stand by your own officer’s words. Meanwhile, you have my Global Entry card. I’m still detained. Why am I still here, then?”

At that point, the fourth agent asked a question. “What do you do for a living?

So he told them. “I’m a civil rights lawyer with expertise on racial and religious discrimination and profiling.”

And then he asked again.

“I’m asking for the last time. What law have I broken? How was I non-compliant?”

Rather than answer, he [the fourth agent] responded, “Well, I think everything checks out. You can go.”

Who is this man? His name is Qasim Rashid (@MuslimIQ), He’s “an attorney, author and national spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA. He’s [also] a Truman national security fellow.”

As the article states, and I agree, why should someone have to be a lawyer to be treated equally under the law? Why should an immigrant seeking asylum who has little knowledge of the English language be subject to intimidation and removal of their children from their care?  Why should any person of color, because of their name or what they wear (e.g., a hijab), or what they look like be profiled, pulled aside, and intimidated when they travel?

And how do we let people know their rights when interacting with law enforcement?  According to Mr. Rashid, you should check out the ACLU’s booklet entitled KNOW YOUR
RIGHTS WHEN ENCOUNTERING LAW ENFORCEMENT.

And Speak Out.  Just like with the #MeToo movement that has more and more women speaking out on their experiences with sexual harassment and sexual assault, individuals who have been profiled because of their race, religion, or national origin should also speak up about their experiences.  Then people will, like the #MeToo women, begin to see and push back against the maltreatment, harassment, and discrimination of people of color by those in power.

Bellefonte’s Civil Rights Legacy

My town. Bellefonte. I’m proud of its legacy on civil rights. We were a significant part of the Underground Railroad in the 19th Century.

Serge Bielanko posted an article about Martin Luther King and Bellefonte’s history associated with civil rights on our local website.  There are a couple of paragraphs from this article that I’d like to share:

In the early 19th Century, Bellefonte rose up from nothing on the hardworking backs of the iron workers who sweated away in the forges that dotted the landscape. Many of those workers were African-American. And later, before the Civil War- when slavery was becoming a hotly contested issue- Bellefonte was a vital stop along the infamous Underground Railroad. The name Bellefonte was whispered in hushed tones among men, women, and children who were fleeing a life of servitude in search of true freedom.

Think about that for a moment.

Bellefonte once literally meant ‘one step closer to freedom’ to human beings in a way that none of us will ever truly understand or fathom. That’s something for each and every one of us to be proud of in this town. I’m not blowing smoke. It’s a heavy notion, but one which I suspect Dr. King would have tipped his own cap to if given half a chance.

Around the time Civil War broke out, Bellefonte’s very own, Andrew Curtin, became Governor of Pennsylvania. This native son was a fierce champion for equality and a close confidant of President Abraham Lincoln’s throughout the war. Governor Curtin was in staunch opposition to slavery and fought fiercely to wipe it off of the American map. He was an important man in United States history, and one that represented a side of Bellefonte that so many current residents still stand strong for.

Among the several stops on the Railroad were the Saint Paul AME Church, the Linn House (which now houses the Bellefonte Art Museum), the Samuel Harris House (home to Candace and Bob Dannaker; she’s a former mayor of Bellefonte), and the William Harris House (aka, “The Wren’s Nest,” home to Ted and Carla Conklin ). Here are some pictures of these stops on the Underground Railroad.

IMG_9809 St. Paul AME Church-001

St. Paul AME Church

IMG_9812 Wren's Nest-001

William Harris House: aka The Wren’s Nest

IMG_9815 Samuel Harris House

Samuel Harris House

IMG_9813 Linn House-001

Linn House

Standing up for equality on Martin Luther King Day and every day, as was done here in the 1800’s, is the legacy we need to perpetuate here and across the country.

I’ll do my part. Will you?

 

8 years of “suffering” under Barack Obama

Take a moment and think. What have/did we “suffer ” under 8 years of President Obama? An improving economy. Kindness and outreach to all. No scandals in the White House…. 

I say, “Let’s have more of this. Not more of 45’s junk, scandal, and fear mongering.”

Teri Carter's Library

andersonlogo

3C54DC7D00000578-4140672-Barack_Obama_waves_as_he_boards_Marine_One_and_departs_the_Capit-a-77_1484945371469 Photo credit: The Associated Press

The sentence I hear most from well-meaning, conservative friends since President Trump’s election is this: “We suffered 8 years under Barack Obama.”

Fair enough. Let’s take a look.

The day Obama took office, the Dow closed at 7,949 points. Eight years later, the Dow had almost tripled.

General Motors and Chrysler were on the brink of bankruptcy, with Ford not far behind, and their failure, along with their supply chains, would have meant the loss of millions of jobs. Obama pushed through a controversial, $8o billion bailout to save the car industry. The U.S. car industry survived, started making money again, and the entire $80 billion was paid back, with interest.

While we remain vulnerable to lone-wolf attacks, no foreign terrorist organization has successfully executed a mass attack here since 9/11.

Obama ordered the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.

He drew down the number…

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NAACP Report in Opposition to the Nomination of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions to Be Attorney General of the United States

Read and then call your US Senators to tell them to oppose Jeff Sessions for US Attorney General. Do it today!

Central Oregon Coast NOW

Read the entire, shocking report.  Call your Senator now with opposition.  This man cannot be Attorney General of the United States

“From his actions as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama in the 1980s, to his actions as Attorney General of Alabama in the 1990s, to his twenty-year career as a United States Senator, Sessions’ record demonstrates hostility to principles of equality and justice, and to the core civil rights statutes and legal principles that as Attorney General he would be charged with enforcing.    For this reason, the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) strongly opposes the confirmation of Senator Jeff Sessions to serve as the 84th Attorney General of the United States….

In sum, any fair and objective assessment of Sessions’ record demonstrates that he is neither qualified nor prepared to vigorously enforce the nation’s civil rights laws. ”

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The Day We’ve Been Dreading: Plans to Evict #NoDAPL Water Protectors Made Public

Native Americans are asking all of us to stand with them. Speak out. Help stop this atrocity and violence against the indigenous peoples.

Transformative Spaces

14917209_1834292066812571_2296314898723987447_o Water Protectors square off with police earlier this month. (Photo: Johnny Dangers)

As people from around the country continue to converge in Standing Rock, and less than a week after police blasted Water Protectors with water cannons in freezing temperatures while gassing them in a confined space, the Army Corps of engineers has lived up to a long-held tradition of the United States government — the displacement of Native peoples. In a letter addressed to Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II, the Army Corps outlined its plans to remove water protectors from their frontline encampment areas on December 5. In what we can expect will be a violent spectacle, reminiscent of the violence we have already witnessed during this struggle, Indigenous people will once again be faced with forced relocation for the sake of white wealth. While the government has at times voiced sympathy for the Protectors, such actions are, of course, both historically consistent…

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picture of PSU's Old Main Building surrounded by students, faculty, staff, and community members at the "#NotMyPresident Walk-Out/Love Trumps Hate" Rally

Love Trumps Hate Rally

picture of PSU's Old Main Building surrounded by students, faculty, staff, and community members at the

Outdoor portion of the PSU “#NotMyPresident Walk-Out/Love Trumps Hate” Rally

Penn State University held a “#NotMyPresident Walk-Out” Protest on Tuesday, November 15. It was one of many held at universities across the country. Students who believe in human rights and who oppose the election of Donald Trump got up, walked out of class, and headed to a designated meeting space on each campus to “show their resistance” to this election.

Students at PSU left their classrooms at the University Park Campus and headed to Old Main’s front lawn where protests have historically been held since the civil rights protests of the late 1960’s.

It quickly turned into what I believe would be better called a “Love Trumps Hate”  Rally.  The speakers acknowledged that Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States. We, as citizens must, therefore stand up and speak out for all people and the environment.

Caring for all of our brethren including LGBTQIA people, people of color, Muslims, documented and undocumented immigrants, and women is an absolute necessity. Like in the 1960’s, the civil rights movement must rise again.

The rally occurred at two different venues.  The first one happened in front of the Old Main Building.  Somewhere between 800 and 1000 people appeared to be attending this part of the rally. Since the university did not allow any voice amplification, most people, including myself, were unable to hear what was said.

So the best I could do was take pictures of the signs that were carried by the participants.  Here is some of what was expressed.

The “#NotMyPresident” Type Signs

sign saying Donald Trump is NOT My President with Sponge Bob saying,

Grr! Donald Trump is NOT My President

banner asking whether Trump is/will be the President or a Predator/

Prez or Predator???????????

picture of a boot underneath the words

Anger sign declaring those opposing Trump will “Make Racists Afraid Again.” This was the only non-peaceful statement I saw at the rally.

cardboard sign saying

Put a “Fence Around Pence.”

The Public Discourse and “Love Trumps Hate” Type Signs

black sign with a flag at the top. Underneath the flag are the words,

Democracy is Dissent. A statement declaring that we have a 1st Amendment constitutional right “of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress.”

picture of two signs. Once says

Get White Supremacy Out of the White House (a call for Trump to reverse his decision to make White Supremacist Steve Bannon his Senior Counselor) and a call for “Civic Engagement.”

Large fiberboard sign saying

Nasty Women Keep Fighting

The March

After the speeches were done, about half of the participants marched over to the Hetzel Union Building to hold a second rally calling people to stand up, support our brethren, and to fight back just as those that fought segregation did in the 1940’s, 1950’s, and 1960’s during the Civil Rights Movement.

picture of people leaving Old Main and heading towards the HUB

Leaving Old Main

picture of people moving from the outdoor rally into the HUB for the second part of the program.

Entering the Hetzel Union Building (aka the HUB)

Inside the HUB

Once inside, people gathered on the steps near the HUB-Paul Robeson Center that  was created to “provide cultural, educational and social support for Black students. It was also expected to provide a place for ‘building bridges to understanding.'”  Using the Center as a backdrop, the rally focused on standing up, fighting back, making sure our voices are heard, and spreading the message of civil rights for all.

I was able to hear much of what was said and sung in this venue.  Here are some of the additional messages I saw and some of the words I heard.

picture of signs and people standing on the steps leading up to the Paul Robeson Cultural Center at the HUB on PSU's University Park Campus.

Rally on the steps of the HUB-Paul Robeson Cultural Center.

Picture of what looks like two federal officers holding a Confederate flag and two other officers carrying a flag that says

A Wall is NOT an invitation to dialogue.

Hand-drawn sign that says,

We are fighting for what’s right.

Hand-drawn sign that says,

We are Stronger Together

A friend and colleague, Peter Buckland, also attended the rally.  Here’s his view and commentary from inside the HUB. If I can get a YouTube link, I’ll embed it here.

And this is how the rally ended:

Let the Sunshine In

What I did not get a picture of was everyone coming together at the end of the rally to hug one another, saying that “I’ll be here for you.” Black. White. Latino. Muslim. Gay. Straight. Women. Cis. Men. As the Three Musketeers said, “All for One and One for All.” Love does Trump Hate.

picture of Rev. Pauli Murray seated in front of a Magnolia tree.

Make Pauli Murphy’s Childhood Home a US National Landmark

Did you know that there are very few National Landmark, National Monument, National Park or other official recognitions of the accomplishments of women? According to the list gathered by Wikipedia, the National Park Service has 11 national parks and 47 national landmarks recognizing specific women. An additional 53 sites include information on one or more women’s contributions to our history.  That is out of a total of 413 sites managed by the Park Service – national parks, monuments, battlefields, military parks, historical parks, historic sites, lakeshores, seashores, recreation areas, scenic rivers and trails, and the White House. That means that just under one-quarter of all of the parks recognize women in general and just 14% focus on the accomplishments of a specific woman.

We can do better.  And there’s a chance right now for you to make this happen.  The National Trust for Historic Preservation is lobbying the National Park Service to designate Rev. Pauli Murray’s  childhood home in Durham, North Carolina as a National Landmark.

sepia-toned photo of Pauli Murray's childhood home.

Childhood home of Pauli Murray. It was built by her grandfather Robert Fitzgerald in 1910. Photo courtesy of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliff Institute, Harvard University.

Who was she?  Born in 1910 and died in 1986, Murray was a

  • Teacher
  • Civil Rights Activist from the 1930’s to the end of her life. She worked with Philip RandolphBayard Rustin and Martin Luther King in the Civil Rights Movement but became critical of the male domination of the leadership within the movement.  She first expressed this frustration in 1963 in a letter to Randolph, saying, “[I’ve] “been increasingly perturbed over the blatant disparity between the major role which Negro women have played and are playing in the crucial grass-roots levels of our struggle and the minor role of leadership they have been assigned in the national policy-making decisions.” Three years later, she became one of the founding members of the National Organization for Women.
  • Life-long friend of Eleanor Roosevelt. One author has called Murray Eleanor Roosevelt’s “Beloved Radical.” In 1952, for example, Murray lost a position at Cornell University’s Law School because her three references – Eleanor Roosevelt, Thurgood Marshall, and Philip Randolph – were considered to be too radical and by inference, so was she.
  • Lawyer.
  • Writer. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall described her 1951 book States’ Laws on Race and Color as the “Bible for civil rights lawyers.”
  • Priest. In fact, she was the first African-American woman to become a priest. That was in 1977.
picture of Rev. Pauli Murray seated in front of a Magnolia tree.

Reverend Pauli Murray in 1978. Photo Courtesy of the Pauli Murray Papers, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University

If you want to join the National Trust and help get the Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice designated as  National Landmark honoring Pauli Murray, please sign this petition before Tuesday, October 18, 2016. That’s the day the National Park Service meets and is likely to make this decision.

Thank you!

Send Us to the Democratic National Convention

rosie-the-riveter

We Can Do It!

I am an advocate of women’s civil rights and open, transparent governance in the United States and have been selected as a Pennsylvania PLEO (Public Leader/Elected Official) delegate representing Bernie Sanders at the Democratic National Convention.

As a civil rights activist and an advocate for government transparency and access, I will be looking for and advocating for the following in the platform (which I believe in general both Bernie and Hilary agree with):

  1. Universal health care;
  2. Full Reproductive justice including access to abortions and birth control;
  3. A call for a paper trail on all voter ballots so that we don’t lose voters;
  4. Better access to voting ( same-day voting, mail-in paper ballots, no photo id, etc)
  5. Ending Violence against women;
  6. Non-discrimination in general; and
  7. Living wages and a call for a livable minimum wage tied to something like the Consumer Price Index.

I am trying to raise a minimum of $1,850 through GoFundMe to help two, possibly three of my friends and family participate in the convention with me as much as possible.  This will help defray the costs of both delegates (me) and non-delegates (friends and family) to participate in the convention activities.

It is very expensive to travel to and attend this convention.  The hotel room and food while we are in Philadelphia will cost us $3250.00.  And that doesn’t include the cost of travel from California and Washington and one other state where my activist friends live and work.  When you donate you will help those who are not otherwise able to attend to see democracy at work.

The convention is scheduled for July 24-29, 2016. Your donations through my GoFundMe campaign before this time will help us attend.

We are grateful for any funds you are willing to provide.  Thank you so much in advance.  We all appreciate it.

For government transparency, democracy, and fair treatment of all!

And one more time… Here’s the GoFundMe link.  Please donate and share.  We’d really appreciate it.

Thanks for your support!

https://www.gofundme.com/going2DNCnPhilly

The Women’s Movement Is for Everyone

Feminism is for Everyone

Credit: Art Crimes on Flickr, under Creative Commons

This is Women’s History Month.  And today is International Women’s Day.

In celebration of these two events, Women’s eNews Commentator Mary S. Hartman wrote an article entitled “This Women’s Movement, Now, Is for Everyone | Womens eNews.”

In this article, she links Betty Friedan’s views on the early days of the National Organization for Women and the Feminist movement to today’s movements and actions.

In her 2002 interview with Hartman, Friedan was asked what she envisioned the women’s movement to look like mid-century.  She said,

Well, I hope that by then our focus will not long have to be on women as such, or women vis a vis men… [that] we will have achieved what at the moment we seem to be achieving — real equality between women and men.

Friedan then went on to say that we needed “something larger,” namely a “people’s movement” with “diverse leaders of both sexes acting together and championing not just women’s rights but civil rights, unions, youth movements and more.”

I believe we are moving in that direction with coalitions, with the Occupy and Ferguson movements, and with people coming together on social media to raise our collective voices for civil rights.

What do you think? Read Hartman’s article and then comment.

Happy International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month!

Happy Valentines Day

To all my friends, colleagues, readers, and fellow advocates, I’d like to share the Valentine’s Day card and sentiments my husband sent to me this morning.

picture of the Earth shaped like a heart

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and the world. Thanks for all you do for equality and fairness here at home, across the country and around the world.

Thank you for your support, your advocacy, your concern for others, and your willingness to speak out on the issues you are passionate about.

PS if you would like to learn more about this actual heart-shaped Werner cartographic map, click here and here.