I’ve grown up in a mainly post 9/11 world so most of my travel happened after, hence; came with all of the bigotry, bias, and ignorance that followed.
Since Trump’s election, I’ve had many friends, Muslims, Latinxs, POCs who have either wanted to get the heck out of dodge or who have been too afraid to travel. Afraid, not because of any looming “threats” but because of the threat that the state poses to their direct physical and mental safety and well-being.
I met a Puerto Rican woman at the airport recently who told me that she was terrified and had to request Klonopin from her physician.
Traveling is already stressful enough, especially for people with depression and anxiety, without the added layer of having to be hyper-vigilant due to your race/ ethnicity/ religion.
I’m attempting to focus on mental health-related issues, understanding that those issues do not happen in a vacuum. Rather, they are a direct response to the things that are happening in the outside world. I just want to address the straightforward human issues we see around us. Namely that most foreign and domestic policy are arbitrary.
Many Muslim women are feeling less and less safe wearing their Hijabs under the current political climate/ this administration. I remember when I used to travel with Hijab I would always get “randomly selected.” But now that I don’t wear it? Not a once. How does this system make any sense? I’m still the same person. Profiling doesn’t work.
I’m sure there are dozens of more works, more eloquently written than this blog. But there is a mass psychology to actions of states which have direct impacts on mental health of populations.
I remember once I took a train across the US rather than flying because I was terrified to be profiled after a previous experience while traveling.
People shouldn’t have to go to such measures if we do indeed live in a free society. Like how does a person exist and be their “authentic self” as many would like to chase their American dream, if what it means to be an American is only one thing? How can you be yourself if, by being that self, you then become socially a 2nd or 3rd class citizen? Only treated with respect and dignity from all if you dress, look, or sound a certain way? It either takes a resiliency of spirit, or it can have the adverse effect of radicalizing people.
People do not exist in vacuums. The best response to alienation from communities/ anti-radicalization I heard of was as follows. In one of the progressive countries of Western Europe or Scandinavia (source to come), they had the most success rehabilitating at risk youth who had been radicalized due to marginalization in society, and they worked with the youth through counseling, mentoring, and involvement in the community to where the youth felt they had agency and voice again. That they could look forward to bright futures.
I feel that all of the world’s ills could be solved by looking more humanly at populations and by empowering them, rather than criminalizing, etc.