Mem Fox’s apology from the US should be news only because of the hypocrisy it highlights

When I travel to the USA, it is always the same deal. The moment they see on my passport “Place of Birth: Caracas” it must sound a dog whistle somewhere because suddenly “Sir, you have been selected for a random search.”


They take out my luggage, pass over it with some ridiculous bomb search device. Open up any boxes with gifts or electronics. Ask me ridiculous questions like “have you used drugs in the last 48 hours?” or other charming things, like the last time I was there “so what’s with the tight pants and hair?”


This is part and parcel of being a person of colour and travelling to the United States. Interviews, dumb questions, luggage searches. It happens, every, single, time.

So when today I read the furore around Mem Fox’s admittedly horrendous experience with immigration during Trump’s Muslim travel ban, I knew what was up. When I read that she received an actual apology I was furious.

Reading the comments from the ABC News post to Facebook just about gave me an aneurysm, a sea of white people calling out at the way that the US had treated their national treasure.

What in the world? THIS is what you are mad about? A white woman, of extraordinary privilege, SO privileged she receives an official apology was treated poorly? What about all the Muslims and Latinxs who are rightfully attempting to enter being detained and questioned with the same abuse and harassment, on a daily basis?

Where is my god damn apology? Apologise to me! Apologise to people of colour!

Every white person’s response to seeing this article should have been “that is terrible, but this happens everyday to people of colour, and worse.”

Mem Fox received just a taste of what it is like for people of colour to travel, and she has every right to feel how she does. But the rest of you need to get the hell over it and recognise, that if the USA is willing to apologise to a white woman for how they treated her, it’s because they recognise that the practice is horrible to experience, but they don’t care if they put entire nationalities and ethnicities through that very practice on a daily basis.

Get it together white people – check your privilege.


About Saúl A. Zavarce

Venezuelan-Australian journalist and international relations academic.

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