Where books become bombs

From 9 PM tonight, Seattle International Airport:

Just spent 20 minutes being physically searched at Seattle airport, body searched, and at one point being spoken to and surrounded by seven — yes seven — TSA agents while being informed my backpack had bomb making materials in it. A few thoughts:

  1. My bag was flagged at the X-ray machine because I had too many books in my bag.
  2. Then the chemical testing machine told them that there were bomb making materials in my bag. Remember, they were only looking because I had “too many” books.
  3. Then a second machine told them that my 2014 model MacBook Pro had extra bomb making materials on it.
  4. They checked my hair, my breasts, and between my legs.
  5. Then they told me they would have to do it again.
  6. In this time, many white people walked by and didn’t even look at me. One white woman watched until her husband came through. No one stayed to see if I was ok. One brown woman asked for directions to the food court from the people accusing me of having bomb making materials in my backpack.
  7. I’m a theoretical physicist who uses pen and paper for her work. The chances that my backpack has bomb making materials in it is less than zero.
  8. The TSA agents tried to socialize with me while they went through my underwear. “Where ya goin?” “A funeral.”
  9. They were all really nice people. The trans woman who was the highest ranking bomb inspector tried to thank me for being patient with them. She felt bad. They all felt bad.
  10. They were nice people doing a horrible thing.
  11. Despite everything that has happened in the last week, nobody stopped to ask the brown skinned woman with curly hair if she was ok, to make sure she would survive, to make sure someone would know, if as it seemed at one point would happen, I was taken out of public view.

Nobody stopped. Many people participated. Asian American man, trans woman of color, white women. Only one white man was there on the ground. And they seemed like nice people.

And I was standing there saying to myself:

Don’t cry

Don’t seem too angry

Don’t seem like you have a problem with this country

Those machines can’t possibly be doing anything useful if they are afraid of books and think that I of all people have any chemicals that will be turned into a bomb

What if my mom doesn’t answer the phone?

What if they don’t let me make a call?

Why doesn’t anyone care enough to stop and show solidarity?

Don’t seem too angry, but fuck this fucking country.


Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

Written by

Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein: fighting scientists with science http://www.linkedin.com/in/chandaprescodweinstein / http://cprescodweinstein.com

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