There may be a black president in the White House, but the firms contracted to maintain security at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner were mostly white, and white privilege was in full affect according to one attendee.
Seema Jilani, who is married to a journalist, says her mistreatment began when she left the hotel and her husband went into the hotel ballroom. It was then that she realized her husband still had her keys. Since spouses are not allowed into the ballroom, she asked security if she could go in and get her keys from her husband. Private security officers abruptly informed her that she could not get in without a ticket, but as Jilani observed, the same rule was not in enforced for the white spouses attending the dinner:
They refused to let me through. For the next half hour, they watched as I frantically called my husband but was unable to reach him.
Then something remarkable happened. I watched as they let countless other women through — all Caucasian — without even asking to see their tickets. I asked why they were allowing them to go freely when they had just told me that I needed a ticket. Their response? “Well, now we are checking tickets.” He rolled his eyes and let another woman through, this time actually checking her ticket. His smug tone, enveloped in condescension, taunted, “See? That’s what a ticket looks like.”
Jilani says she witnessed the security guard ask a blonde woman for her ticket and when she replied, “I lost it”, he told her that he’d be happy to personally escort her into the ballroom.
And then it happened, that moment when nuanced racism becomes full blown racism. Jilani says when she asked again why she was being held to a different standard than the white spouses, she was told, “We have to be extra careful with you all after the Boston bombings.”
By the end, Jilani says she was burying her tears and frustration. The irony here is that the woman who crashed the dinner a few years back was white and blonde. This explains how she got in: white privilege.