The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has often been accused of racial profiling. Queer Eye star Tan France is one of the most recent to stand up to the United States’ airport security force.
France is a British television personality and fashion designer of Pakistani descent. On Wednesday, he tweeted that he’d “been put through extra security checks” three times in one week. A TSA agent told him it’s because his name is on “a list.”
@TSA I’ve been put through extra security checks 3 times this week, and was just told by a TSA agent it’s because my name is on a list. WTF? I’m brown but that does NOT mean I’m a damn security risk!!!
France wrote, “WTF? I’m brown but that does NOT mean I’m a damn security risk!!!”
“All airline passengers, regardless of race, gender, or religion, are thoroughly screened at airport screening checkpoints. TSA cannot comment on the security designation for specific individuals, and there are a number of reasons a passenger can be selected for additional screening, including by random designation,” the statement said.
They added, “Any traveler who believes he or she has been unfairly or incorrectly delayed or denied boarding can work through the DHS Traveler Redress Inquiry Program to resolve the issue.”
France wasn’t buying TSA’s response. He went into more detail about his experience on Instagram.
Even though France is a member of TSA Precheck, TSA agents told him he couldn’t go through that line because his name was on a “list of concern.” Despite having gone through the paid TSA Precheck program that includes prior screening by the U.S. government, France had to submit to a 45-minute search that included being patted down and his bags thoroughly inspected.
“I know why I’m being profiled,” he said on Instagram, tagging TSA.
Suman Raghunathan, executive director of South Asian Americans Leading Together, told HuffPost in an email that France’s experience is “all too representative of what countless South Asian, Muslim, Arab, and Middle Eastern travelers deal experience of racial and religious profiling at the hands of government.”
“It is unacceptable, unconstitutional, and indeed un-American that individuals (including Mr. France) are subjected to additional screenings simply by virtue of their skin color, their perceived national origin,” Raghunathan said. “Many in our communities continue to live in fear in an overall climate of division, hatred, and anti-Muslim sentiment, fanned by the current administration.”
France isn’t the only celebrity who has been profiled by TSA based on their skin color or heritage. Comedian Hasan Minhaj, designer and actor Waris Ahluwalia, actor Riz Ahmed, and Indian superstar Shah Rukh Khan have all shared similar TSA experiences as France.
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