While President Obama poked fun at himself at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner for not being "the strapping young Muslim socialist" he used to be, a journalist’s wife was experiencing her own form of bigotry.
In a viral blog post written by Seema Jilani, the physician and journalist’s wife recounts a confrontation she had with the White House security outside the ballroom.
As a spouse of an invited guest, Jilani wasn’t invited to the dinner – only the cocktail hour held beforehand. After her husband left to go to the ballroom, Jilani realized he still had their hotel room keys.
When she asked security if she could go to find her husband to retrieve them, they refused to let her go down without a ticket.
“Then something remarkable happened,” Jilani wrote. “I watched as they let countless other women through -- all Caucasian -- without even asking to see their tickets.”
Jilani confronted security about the apparent unfair treatment.
"We have to be extra careful with you all after the Boston bombings," a security representative told her.
Jilani describes how she felt in her post:
“Like a malignancy, it had crept in when I least expected it -- this repugnant, infectious bigotry we have become so accustomed to. ‘White privilege’ was on display, palpable to passersby who consoled me. I've come to expect this repulsive racism in many aspects of my life, but when I find it entrenched in these smaller encounters is when salt is sprinkled deep into the wounds.”
Jilani has spoken before about bigotry towards American Muslims.
“If you were to search my home, the only flammables you would find are hair products. The only thing my family is radical about is keeping up with "Glee". Is this assimilation enough?” she wrote in a 2011 article for The Guardian reacting to the establishment of congressional hearings on American Muslims to investigate homegrown terrorism.
According to Jilani’s profile on The Guardian, she is a pediatric specialist who is based in Texas. She has worked in Afghanistan, Israel, Gaza, the West Bank, Sudan, Lebanon, Egypt and the Balkans. Her radio documentary, “Israel and Palestine: The Human Cost of The Occupation,” was nominated for The Peabody Award.
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