Getting through airport security as a Middle Eastern Man: Avoiding racial profiling
How to not look suspiciously like a terrorist at the airport when you are a MIddle Eastern man
Everyone knows that in an ideal world, racial profiling would not exist. Most people also realize that we do not live in an ideal world and and the fact is, almost any international airport you visit will employ ethnic profiling in it’s screening process. Nowhere is this more true than in the post 9/11 airport.
Over the courser of the last eight years airport security has been heightened to such an extent that even belonging to certain racial groups can mark one as a potential suspect and threat even if one is behaving like a perfectly normal person. Unfortunately Middle Eastern men fall victim to the practice of racial profiling at airports more than any other group. Being picked out of a crowd to be further searched and interrogated can cause embarrassment, delays and even missed flights.
Below are several tips and tricks and tips on how to avoid being picked out as a suspicious person at the airport, even when you are of Middle Eastern descent.
Getting through airport security
Step #1: Dress Appropriately
Unfortunately, when trying to avoid being racially profiled, one of the best defenses is to hide your race. While you have nothing to hide, and no real reason for security to be suspicious of you, the unfortunate truth is that, in an airport, simply revealing yourself as a person of Middle Eastern descent will make you more suspicious than a person of another race. The easiest way to avoid revealing your heritage is to not dress in traditional ethnic garb. Wearing generically Western clothes will help you to stay under the radar of airport security.
A simple pair of jeans and a t-shirt will work fine. Make sure that your shoes contain no metal and are relatively easy to take on and off. Further, ensure that you do not possess any metal on your person at all. This will make going through metal detectors much smoother and you will be under scrutiny by airport security for a smaller amount of time. Simply pack any metal containing electronics, keys and coins in your carryon bag.
Also, shave. In Western culture, although possessing a beard is acceptable, it makes a person appear more manly and fierce. Your goal is to appear as non-threatening as possible. So shave all facial hair. There is nothing worse than being perceived as a stereotypical bearded, radical-islamist terrorist.
Step #2: Pack appropriately
It is also important to pack your carry-on baggage in such a manner as to avoid extra searching. To do so, try not to pack any liquids. Usually they will offer beverages in-flight so bringing water is unnecessary. If you must bring a certain liquid, such as baby formula, keep it in a clear plastic bottle and be sure that it is under the volume limits for liquids on your flight. These limits vary in different airports so be sure to check yours ahead of time. If you are carrying baby formula, try to also be the one carrying your baby. Babies usually make people appear less suspicious. Don’t pack any suspiciously shaped containers, either.
Also, do not have any hard to open containers in your carry-on. In the event that you do get searched, you do not want the process to take any longer than necessary.
Step #3: Behave appropriately
To behave appropriately, simply act (I call it acting even though technically you’re just being yourself) as if you have nothing to hide. It is imperative that you behave like you don’t think you’re being watched. Don’t look around furtively trying to spot security guards and hidden cameras. Just act naturally.
Also, try not to travel alone. It is best to go through airport security in the company of a child or a female, but even another male companion will make you less suspicious.
Most importantly, don’t get upset if you do get stopped by airport security. While it is true that they are racially profiling you, they are just trying to make your flight safer for you and for everyone else on board. Even if the methods they use to select suspicious passengers is technically discrimination and therefore inappropriate, your cooperation is still imperative in order to make the flight as safe as possible.