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My So-Called First World Problems: Racist on a Plane

Posted By Rebecca Zipp, Tuesday, March 6, 2018
My So-Called First World Problems: Racist on a Plane

 

I start a jury trial in less than 48 hours. I have work to do. I have an opening statement to perfect and witness statements to review. Instead, I am sitting here in 22A (window seat, so completely trapped) next to a white supremacist who doesn’t even have the decency to be ashamed of himself.

 

I remember I have a kippah in my purse. I find it, put it on. When I arrive at my hotel later, I will be annoyed, because I will realize I actually had three kippot in my purse, and could have shared them with other passengers. (I had just attended a Jewish wedding.)

 

I asked the flight attendant whether the airline has a policy about racist clothing. I later discovered that they do, and it isn’t allowed. But the flight attendants were in the dark about this policy, because at least two of them said, “Oh, yes, we saw that when he boarded the plane.”

 

The flight attendant did offer me an available middle seat elsewhere. Are you kidding me? Move the white supremacist. Or at least make him take off his vest.

 

I feel sick.

 

I feel like punching him in the face.

 

There is an anger and a fear that I am not accustomed to experiencing.

 

The vest is hanging over the armrest and it is touching me.

 

My discomfort is palpable.

 

The kippah on my head is my son’s and it says Benjamin on it in Hebrew letters.

 

I wish I had a bobby pin.

 

I would use it to keep my kippah in place. I swear.

 

Is coughing on him too passive-aggressive? Is the kippah passive-aggressive?

 

I grew up charmed, in New Jersey! The closest we got to anti-Semitism was an uncomfortable dispute over lyrics in the school Christmas concert.

 

I know people harbor hate. But to wear it on your sleeve? In an airport in a major city?

 

What is this? And who are we?

 

Rebecca Zipp is a San Diego County Deputy District Attorney in the Economic Crimes Division, and focuses her practice on securities fraud and elder financial abuse cases.

Tags:  LCB  My So-Called First-World Problems  race  racism 

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