Remove the kinks from your mind, not from your hair. -Marcus Garvey
“Am I being punked?” I asked myself as a Transportation Security Administration agent stopped me to check my hair. The agent, looked at me and apologetically informed me that she had to pat down my pompadour to ensure that I didn’t have any weapons in it. I was appalled, but I complied because I had a flight to catch and I was running late.
To my dismay, I was again faced with this dehumanizing search. Just as I made my way through the body scanner I heard the agent’s instruction over his radio, “Check her hair! Check her hair.” The agent proceeded to walk toward me with blue latex gloves and informed me that she would have to check my hair. I declined and insisted that she not put her dirty gloves anywhere near my head or I would ask for her supervisor. Instead of letting her touch my hair, I volunteered to take the pins out of my pompadour so she could visually inspect my hair. Her inspection took less than 10 seconds, but the humiliation lasted for hours.
I was angry; I felt discriminated and I wanted to scream. This wasn’t a security tactic for all women, if it had been I probably wouldn’t have been as upset. This was racial profiling because it seemed that the TSA only fondled the hairstyles of Black women. When did it become the norm for Black women to have their hair searched? Does the TSA think that all women with big afros, pompadours, dreadlocks, and big buns conceal explosives or contraband in their hair?
Imagine my relief and excitement when I recentley learned that this unsettling act will soon be a thing of the past. The Huffington Post recently published an article reporting that the TSA received several complaints about “uninvited hair fondling.” The TSA will now change its employee training so agents are culturally sensitive and non-discriminatory. (see: TSA Says It Will Stop Touching So Many Black Women’s Hair.)
While I know that this random checking of hair may continue, I hope that the number of discriminatory hair searches drops significantly so that Black women are not relegated to yet another security screening at the airport.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]