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Entries in Black Hair (1)

Monday
Jul182011

TSA Targeting Black Women With Natural Hair - TSA Subjected My Afro Puff to a Pat Down Twice 

I was reading this story about a Black woman who was targeted by the TSA  to have her hair pat down.

Earlier this month, a black womancomplained that while traveling, she was pulled aside by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners so they could search her thick coifed hair.

She said she was racially profiled. TSA responded that it is their practice to search anything that looks too poofy, and so in the past TSA have faced criticism for searching a baby’s diaper and an elderly woman’s hair too.

It is not certain this was considered an incident exclusive and limited to black hair. Washington Times. 

I believe every word this woman is saying.  In all the airports that my afropuff has strolled through, I've only been targeted for a afropuff patdown by Black employees. 

The first time was in Washington, DC, by a male employee who appeared disgusted that I would wear my hair in its natural state. He was so unnecessarily dramatic. Eye rolling and lip smacking when I asked why my hair was being targeted and whether he made every Black woman with natural hair go through a pat down.  He dragged over an embarrassed Black woman ( who was wearing some type of polyesther ponytail-like object) to massage my scalp.  No doubt he's still at Reagan National harassing other Black women with natural hair who make it through the metal detector.  

I tweeted about it , but never thought to write a blog post about it, probably because flying is stressful.  The people in my twitter stream joked and asked if I had wires sticking out of my hair and the answer is no. 

This policy of targeting anything "poofy" automatically places Black women who don't relax their hair in the crosshairs and gives its employees who don't like natural hair an opportunity to target these Black women and put them through a humilating ritual to punish them from not relaxing their hair.  Whether that was the TSA's intention is irrelevant, as a practical matter, targeting "poofy" hair is de facto discrimination based on race. 

So if this has happened to you, you're not alone.  After reading this article, I'm going to write a letter to my Congressman and both US Senators requesting that the TSA start to collect data on the race and gender of individuals who clear the metal detectors, but are forced to have their hair inspected because of alleged "poofiness." I'd also like the race of the employee who makes the decision related to poofiness and  find out whether the TSA has done any testing or evaluation of the negative attitudes many of its African American employees may have about Black hair in its natural state. Yes, Black people can discriminate against other Black people, especially those of us who don't conform to Black community cultural norms by... GASP displaying our hair in the state that it exits the scalp. In my limited experience non-Black people aren't nearly as obsessed with what I do with my hair as other Black people.

I wonder which airport this woman was at when this happened. If it was in DC, I bet its the same eye rolling, lip smacking fool who accosted me. 

Now I guess my name will go on the list or people who always get a pat down.  You know there's a list for trouble-makers. 

If this happens to you at the airport, please make sure to read the name of the TSA agent who target you off of their name badge. No need to be dramatic about it, just memorize their name and send me an email as you proceed to your gate.

In review, according to this article and the TSA's "poofiness" response, its the policy of your government to target any African American woman who choses not to relax her hair... in the name of security.