Seattle-based hip hop artist Gabriel Teodros performs his song Third World Wide that connects the issues that affect people of color in the US with those struggling against injustice around the world. As if to emphasize the point that racism is far from over, during his recent trip to England to perform at the University of Kent, he was detained by UK Customs officials and denied entry to the country on highly suspicious grounds:
I got detained, fingerprinted, arrested, for the first time in my life. I was in the holding room for 8 hours before being told that i’m getting sent back to the United States. But what’s really frustrating? Is that since i was invited to participate in an academic conference, i didn’t even need a work visa for the performance i was scheduled to do, and the University of Kent actually got UK Customs all the paperwork that was needed in the time i was being held. Apparently, i was kicked out because they didn’t believe i had enough funds to support myself while in the UK, yet no one working there could tell me exactly how much money would be sufficient. So i didn’t know why i was being held for so long, and the reason they gave for kicking me out is sketchy.
What else i can tell you about my experience at London-Heathrow is that it was only people of color in the holding room, that they separate us from all of our belongings, phone numbers etc. And there is a pay phone in the room. The seats are uncomfortable… no windows, just flickering fluorescent lights… and it feels like jail for real. Everyone else i met throughout the day seemed to be really cool people with no ill intention whatsoever, just unprepared to get treated like a criminal when they come halfway around the world to see their loved ones.