The Yorta Yorta man told the Courier Mail, “The only other guy out of the plane full of people that received the same treatment was another brown man… It is hard not to feel like it is something to do with colour especially when I get called out for a bomb test almost every time I go through airport security.”1
Take a closer look at a popular documentary show about Australia’s airport security and it’s possible to observe how racial bias shapes the treatment of travellers flying into the country. An analysis of over 108 episodes of reality TV show Border Security found that 73% of the passengers singled out for searches or interrogation on the show did not appear white, while 81% of border force officials did.2
Racial profiling by airport security (whether conscious or not) stigmatises targeted communities and reinforces racism in other contexts. In the recent report, Islamophobia in Australia III, Muslim respondents spoke about feeling discriminated against by airport security.3 At the same time, a 2019 study of Australian mainstream media found that falsely conflating Islam with terrorism was a common theme in racialised social commentary.4 These stereotypes are rearticulated through individual acts of racism, such as Islamophobic attacks online and in person where the perpetrator falsely accuses the victim of terrorism.5
What we witness in everyday settings – airports, for example – impacts our perceptions of race, and of people from different racial identities. If we want to live in a society where all people have access to rights, opportunities and justice, we need to ensure that First Nations people and those from culturally and linguistically diverse communities are no longer treated as a threat to public safety.
By reflecting on the impact of racism, and taking a stand against it, we can build a fair and equal society – for all.
It stops with me.
1 ‘I was racially profiled: Coast artist’s airport nightmare’ Courier Mail (online, 21 July 2017)  <https://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/sunshine-coast/i-was-racially-profiled-coast-artists-airport-nightmare/news-story/7a64d77af1c80d4470ef0e07ae131807>.
2 Ingrid Piller, Hannah Torsh and Laura Smith-Khan, ‘Securing the borders of English and Whiteness’ (2021) 0(0) Ethnicities 11.
3 Derya Iner, Islamophobia in Australia 2018-2019 (Report No 3, 2019) <https://researchoutput.csu.edu.au/ws/portalfiles/portal/208330970/Islamophobia_Report_3_2022_LR_Spreads_RA.pdf>.
4 All Together Now, Social commentary and racism in 2019 (Report, 2019) <https://alltogethernow.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Social-Commentary-and-Racism-2019-1.pdf>.
5 Derya Iner, Islamophobia in Australia 2018-2019 (Report No 3, 2019) <https://researchoutput.csu.edu.au/ws/portalfiles/portal/208330970/Islamophobia_Report_3_2022_LR_Spreads_RA.pdf>.