Welcome Home, Boy!
In the late 90’s I was one of two Black men on a 747 flying from Munich to Boston. I was casually dressed, with dreadlocks flying. The other Brother was attired in an expensive three-piece suit and carried a pricey briefcase. I imagined him to be a high-end lawyer or diplomat.
As I proceeded through US Customs, I was pulled aside and taken to a corner by two Caucasian customs officials. I noticed that the other Black man was taken aside as well. (We didn’t know each other; he had flown in the first class cabin, unlike myself.) In the meantime, hundreds of Caucasian travelers were ambling through to the baggage claim area sans concerns.
One man asked me what I was doing flying from Munich to Boston. I indicated that I was on vacation and had visited a friend. He laughed, “You have a friend in Munich??!” I didn’t respond. He then asked, “What do you do for work, man?” I explained that I was an Administrative Director of a mathematics project at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. He guffawed, “You don’t fucking work at Dartmouth! Where’s your ID?”
I produced the Dartmouth ID.
He looked at it for a long time - perhaps thinking it was bogus or something - then put it up against my face and barked, “Welcome home, boy!”
Later that day, I sat down and wrote a lengthy letter to the Head of US Customs at Logan Airport and copied the letter to the Governor and various other officials about the incident. (The letter was on Dartmouth stationery. )
It is now 2012, and I have yet to hear from anyone about the incident.
[I always document and write letters because these things have a way of finding their way to personnel files and such - if they aren’t destroyed. Because of this sliver of a chance, I figure it’s worth the trouble to write authorities about these things. Of course with modern electronics such as IPODs, it is possible to record one’s encounters with authorities discreetly. Such evidence is less easily ignored because it is so vivid and dynamic. So I plan to write about and record events forthwith to make my cases even more robust and more likely to be investigated.