Karim Rashid Detained at JFK


This boils my blood to read, probably because I am biased. I’ll explain my bias first.

Before he was famous, Karim Rashid was my professor at Pratt Institute. He had a slight foreign accent—a Canadian one, as that’s where he was raised. When I first saw his name printed on my schedule I assumed it was pronounced “Ka-REEM,” but then learned it was pronounced like “Karen” with an “m” on the end instead of an “n.” That was the extent of what was “foreign” about Karim, and then he simply became the designer whose class I would wake up early for to ensure I wasn’t late.

When I first visited his fledgling design firm as a student, he was employing two freelancers, a black man and a white woman. After graduating Karim gave me a job, where I worked alongside people from America, Asia and Europe. Karim didn’t give a damn what color you were or where your ancestors came from; you were evaluated based on merit, and in New York City, that meant you’d wind up with a mix of races and genders. Because this was one of my first jobs, I assumed all design organizations would look like that.

Here is the story that Karim posted on his Facebook page yesterday (edited for clarity):

I had a crazy journey. I had phenomenal turbulence for about 4 hours. I was on Turkish Airlines and banned from using my iPad and tech even though they have the best wireless of all airlines (thanks to Donald Racist Trump). Then a woman died on the plane. It took 1 hour and about 24 people to board the plane from police to health inspectors to agents to ambulance crew to inspect everything before we were allowed to disembark.

After flying these 18 hours from Tbilisi, Georgia I landed at JFK to be rejected at Global Entry. I was put in the Border Customs and Immigration room for over an hour. I watched many immigrants come in and out and I was the longest in the room.

This happened to me after 9/11 for about 4 years until I became a US citizen. I had a greencard prior with a Canadian passport. Apparently my name is on some watchlist again. It stopped 13 years ago after getting a US passport, but now I am not sure what the solution will be.

I was asked to put my name, my height, birthdate, social security number and weight on a paper that the officer literally scribbled on. No official form. Then told to have a seat in a dirty, disgusting space. Nothing to read, can’t use your phone, and not allowed to call anyone. When I wanted to go to the toilet I was escorted and watched in a holding room with hooks for handcuffs.

Finally a call, supposedly from Washington, cleared me. But I assume now this will keep happening to me again.

It is 2017. What about the digital age? Is there no more advanced way to know I am not the Karim Rashid they are looking for? Based on my height, weight, birthdate, and social security number? This data is so rudimentary.

And how, over the phone, can someone in Washington clear me based on what I wrote on a piece of paper? I could have written anything. And this is all thanks to @realDonaldTrump and his racial profiling of Muslims. I am not even Muslim. It is only a name.





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