A physician working in Afghanistan penned an opinion piece describing how she was subjected to “racism” at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner recently.
Seema Jilani, who has worked in Sudan, Egypt, Lebanon, and other countries, visited the late April event with her husband, a journalist. In a Huffington Post piece, she said that when she forgot her keys and when she approached a security official to go through, he told her “you can’t go down without a ticket.”
After spending a few moments to explain her situation, the guard still refused to let her in, she said.
“Then something remarkable happened. I watched as they let countless other women through — all Caucasian — without even asking to see their tickets. I asked why they were allowing them to go freely when they had just told me that I needed a ticket. Their response? ‘Well, now we are checking tickets,’” she added.
Jilani then claimed that the security representative taunted her and when another blonde woman told him she forgot her ticket, he said, “I’d be happy to personally escort you down the escalators ma’am,” while smirking at Jilani.
“‘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 said.
When persisting in asking the security official as to why he wouldn’t let her in, he said he would have Secret Service throw her out.
“We are all human beings and I only ask that you give me the same respect you give others. All I am asking is to be treating with a dignity and humanity. What you did is wrong,” she said.
The White House Correspondents’ Dinner, which was created in 1914, is held every year and gives select journalists and celebrities to mingle with Washington officials.