Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Race and Airport Security Checkpoints

BOND: Back to race -- you know, there's a school of thought that says if you concentrate on your race, if you concentrate on your gender -- black, woman -- that you are not speaking in universal terms and that rather than attracting us to be together you're setting dividing lines that set us apart. What about that?

GIOVANNI: No, the word I would use is we'd have to snip it out of here, so I'll just say, "Huh?"

You know, no, of course not. We say that because we who are not black women, assume that everything we say is universal. The universals are being allowed to be who you are. And I think that's important. I don't think I have to be a white man in order to be universal. And if I do, then I won't be. I think people have a right -- you know, I travel a lot, I hate TSA and John Ashcroft and people that think like that. And I'm in planes like all the time and I don't even have to -- I used to have braids, I'm just blond now, but I used to have braids when this thing started. And what are we saying here? Nine times out of ten, the person chosen to be examined --

BOND: At random.

GIOVANNI: -- was the brown people, usually the brown guy, right? And he's Arab or something, you know the brown guy with dark hair, and me. And so I finally screamed at US Air one time, US Airways, like "Why is it always the black girl with braids?" And she said, "That's not true." I said "You can look it up, you know, you can see how many times -- " and I travel a lot, as you know. How many times the SSSSSS comes up, so yeah, it is true. And I think it's disgraceful, you know, that -- that because I have braids. And so, of course, I no longer have braids, every now and then I still get picked you know, but it makes you angry. And I've always watched the Arabs, the Arab-looking kids. I don't know that they're -- but it's the brown boys right, you know, "Take off your shoes, take off your belt," you know -- somebody told me once,"Take off your watch," and I said, "You'd steal my watch." And he got mad about it, they said, "We don't steal." I said, "You're Americans, of course you steal. You stole the country, you stole me. Of course you're going to steal." I said, "You can watch it," I said, "I'm going to keep it on my arm, that's what I can do, and you can get a supervisor and he can come over here, and he can wand it but I'm not taking it off, you know, buy your own watch."

BOND: Well, I flew last week from Washington to Austin, Texas, I got picked for a search. I flew from Austin, Texas to Orlando, I got picked for a search. And then I flew from Orlando back to DC, I got picked for a search, and I'm the only person on any of these flights who got picked for a search.

GIOVANNI: And it wouldn't be because you're Mr. Bond -- ha! Well, Julian they know you!

BOND: Well, I'm kind of elderly to be hijacking a plane.

GIOVANNI: No, but you're a radical, I remember -- no, no I remember when you refused to be indicted in the Army. Don't think that the FBI doesn't say, "This is the guy."