This story absolutely struck a chord with me. As a minority who has, in one form or another, experienced discrimination or the “suspicious treatment” solely because of the color of my skin, I found myself saddened, angry but even more resolute to sit and write about the horrific treatment of Aravinda Pillalamarri, a naturalized American citizen from India.
Ms. Pillalamarri has lived in Bel Air, Maryland for more than thirty years. Three decades. She’s never run afoul of the law in any sense and on the morning of December 21, 2016, she was simply walking in her neighborhood, like she had done for years, when she was stopped only a short distance from her home by police.
In the most humiliating, degrading and embarrassing fashion, Ms. Pillalamarri was questioned on the street very aggressively by the authorities and was informed by them that she was under “criminal investigation”and that apparently a neighbor of hers and called the cops to report a suspicious person in the area. To her credit, Ms. Pillalamarri responded with a question of her own and asked the officers was her crime, “Walking while brown?”
Now, some reading this will say that, “Hmmm. Don’t blame this on Trump. It happened December 21st. He wasn’t even president yet!” Doesn’t matter and here’s why: By this time, Trump had been spewing his xenophobic, mysogonistic, racist, condescending, imperialistic, barely-veiled white nationalist sludge into the collective conscience of the United States for almost two years. By December 21, Trump had one the election and his supporters were operating under the guise that, even though he hadn’t been officially inaugurated, it was “Trump’s America”. And for his supporters—the racist, xenophobic and islamophobic ones—this was their way of “Making America Great Again” and “Taking Their Country Back”.
As has been referenced many times as it pertains to this and other stories of its sort, this horrendous and inexcusable treatment of Ms. Pillalamarri is a call back to Hitler’s Germany, when the anti-semitic sentiment was so high, neighbors were calling the SS against neighbors because they suspected them of being Jews.
We should not be doing this to one another. We should not allow Trump and his band of charlatans to deceive us into make ill-assumptions about one another. We should not be okay with one of our fellow citizens being harassed by the very organizations meant to protect and serve us simply because of the color of her skin. This is quite literally an outrage. How in the hell does someone look suspicious by simply walking? This type of thinking is what led to the untimely death of Trayvon Martin by zealot George Zimmerman and countless other stories just like it. This country, like no country in the world, has a history of rocky race relations. I could pontificate a million different scenarios and reasons for it but I will only say this: Grow the hell up America. This republic was bought with the blood of Native Americans and founded by immigrants and therefore, immigrants will always be here. So deal with it already.
Special note: I’d like to thank my friend, Farheen Saddiqui, for bringing this story to our attention.
Think Passionately. Disrupt Strategically.
-A. Lawrence Haskins
United States Congress: (202) 225-3121
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