Shannon Stacey

The US Border Patrol & unpleasant lessons

A couple/few weekends ago (I think it might have been Memorial Day), we encountered a traffic disturbance heading north. At first we thought it was an accident, but then we got close enough to read the numerous vehicles—US Border Patrol. Huh. Never seen them before, but whatever. They were only stopping southbound traffic.

At the end of the weekend, heading southbound, we found they were still there, which was surprising but not too much of an issue because they weren’t really stopping anybody, just slowing cars so they could scope out the passengers. Except for the one car they’d pulled off the highway. The one, in the picture, with a white arrow pointing to it.

As we went by I could see they were an Indian family with Massachusetts plates. At least I assume they were Indian, as the woman in the backseat was dressed in a colorful sari along with other traditional aspects of appearance. Whenever I see a traditionally-dressed Indian woman, a part of me is thankful I’m from a society where I can tell my husband to kiss my ass if he doesn’t like my sweats, and another part is envious because they are so amazingly beautiful.

Then the short kid asked what that family did wrong.

I’ll admit…I tried tapdancing. Explained they hadn’t done anything wrong. They were just doing random checks. Blah blah blah. But he wanted to know why, of all the thousands of people on the highway, they pulled over that one car.

“Because they’re not white,” I was finally forced to admit.

There’s a person on the periphery of my life who’s had a lot of shitty things to say lately about Flatlanders (to NH-ites, anybody born pretty much anywhere else, with CT and MA being the worst offenders.) Having been born in Mass, it pisses me off to be judged—to be lumped in with a group of people—based on where my parents lived when I was born. But people only know I’m a Flatlander if I tell them (or my husband does, which he loves to do). It’s not a part of my appearance.

Not a typical Shan blog post, I know, but I’ve thought about that Indian family every day since that weekend. I’ve been pissed off at the US Border Patrol every day, and I’ve wished I could apologize to that family every day.

I’m only thankful my children were as angry as me.

5 comments to “The US Border Patrol & unpleasant lessons”

  1. Annmarie
      · June 11th, 2008 at 10:18 pm · Link

    I’ve faced sexual discrimination but never racial discrimination. (Maybe because I have skin tone that could place me in a lot of different races.) I’ve never been in a situation where someone was singled out due to race. I’d be pretty horrified too. And mad.

  2. Ro(dent)
      · June 11th, 2008 at 11:52 pm · Link

    If I’m correct, that roadblock is in my neck of the woods. We were overrun in L-W with Border Patrol Memorial Day Weekend.

    While on a walk around town my son asked me why we had so many strange police cars in one particular hotel. I was able to tapdance around the issue, and hope my in-laws never get pulled over in a situation like that with my munchkin in the car.

    Btw- they will probably be back here for Bike Week, they usually are.

  3. Michelle B
      · June 12th, 2008 at 5:57 am · Link

    What a tough situation to deal with! I couldn’t imagine having to answer a question like that (though my parents did with me and my sister growing up as we’re biracial and picked up all sorts of crazy things from adults around us).

    I don’t know much about the situation with the Border Patrol there (in the North East, right?), but I have some experience here in the Southwest. I regularly drive from Phoenix, AZ to San Diego, CA along the southern border and have gone through many Border Patrol Check points- especially in the last year. Sometimes they wave people through, but from time to time they do stop cars and ask questions.

    Usually in the periods they decide to stop cars here, they stop all cars. I’m biracial, but you can’t tell from looking at me. I’ve been stopped and asked a variety of things like “Where are you coming from?” or “Where are you headed?” or “Are you a US Citizen?” Sometimes they also have dogs checking cars, too.

    I’ve seen only a very few people pulled over, but I never really paid attention to who was pulled over (and what they looked like). I moved from San Diego to Arizona last summer with a fully loaded car, and the guy stopped us for a bit longer than most of the other times I’ve been stopped. He asked questions that just seemed like he was chatting, but according to my mom, he was thoroughly checking out the stuff in the back. We didn’t get pulled over, though.

  4. Ro
      · June 13th, 2008 at 2:16 am · Link

    We’ve got a frost advisory…. glad I haven’t done the strawberries in the hanging basket yet…

  5. Alicia baby
      · June 13th, 2008 at 6:13 am · Link

    I get angry at situations like this too, and it is hard to explain to children why this happens….because it shouldnt be happening in our divese societies today. When will we all be equal?! Will we ever all be treated the same?

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