Report: TSA to Provide Sensitivity Training After Hair Pat Downs

Report: TSA to Provide Sensitivity Training After Hair Pat Downs

ACLU asked airport security to stop racially profiling locs.

Published March 28, 2015

The Transportation Security Administration is attempting to do right, after at least two Black women complained about being unfairly targeted by airport security for their locs. 

Malaika Singleton, a neuroscientist based in Sacramento, said she was on her way to London last year for an academic conference on dementia when a TSA agent at Los Angeles International Airport began pulling and squeezing her hair.

"I was going through the screening procedures like we all do, and after I stepped out of the full body scanner, the agent said, 'OK, now I'm going to check your hair,' " Singleton said, adding that the same thing happened at an airport in Minneapolis on her way home.

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Singleton contacted the American Civil Liberties Union, and it turned out that one of the lawyers there, Novella Coleman, had had the same experience and had already filed a complaint about the practice in 2012. 

"The first time, I was on a trip with colleagues, some other attorneys who were white and Latina," said Coleman.

"The woman said, 'I need to search your hair now,' and she just started grabbing my hair and squeezing it from top to bottom," Coleman said. Her white and Latina colleagues underwent no such searches, she said. When Coleman asked why she was being singled out, agents told her that all people with hair extensions or "abnormalities" in their hair were searched.

Coleman filed another complaint after being contacted by Singleton, and on Thursday the two women said that the agency had agreed to conduct anti-discrimination training sessions with its officers to avoid what they called racial profiling of hair.

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(Photo: Izabela Habur/Getty Images)

Written by Evelyn Diaz

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