Deepinder Mayell is an attorney and the director of the refugee and immigrant program at a nonprofit human rights organization based in Minneapolis. He was born on Long Island and raised by Sikh immigrants from India. Sunday, he attended his very first NFL game at TCF Bank Stadium. It went poorly.
Writing in the Star Tribune, Mayell says as soon as he found his seat, he was confronted by a nearby fan.
What I didn’t expect was for a man to push aside other people and point his finger in my face, demanding to know if I was a refugee. He needed to make sure I wasn’t a refugee, he said. There was anger in his face and vehemence in his accusation.
I was stunned. He didn’t know anything about me. We were complete strangers. But somewhere in his mind, all he saw was a terrorist, based on nothing more than the color of my skin. He was white, and I wasn’t. He didn’t see anything else.
Mayell writes that he got security and tracked down the man to tell him that what he had done was racist and frightening. Mayell says the man apologized and just wanted to go back to his seat, while Mayell wanted the man ejected from the stadium.
The security staff talked with him privately. I don’t know what was said. He was not removed. Apparently, the Vikings do not think that hate speech and racism are removable offenses. My gameday experience was ruined. I tried to focus on the players, but I continued to take glances at the man who sat just a few yards away. I couldn’t help looking over my shoulder, wondering if he had inspired someone else. It was clear that I would not be bringing my family to a Vikings game.
We’ve reached out to the Vikings and the University of Minnesota for comment, and we’ll update if we hear back.