T.S.A Hair Pat Down Angers Black Woman

T.S.A Hair Pat Down Angers Black Woman

Is natural hair dangerous? See why latest security requirement gets a major side-eye.

Published August 17, 2011

Not only does the T.S.A. (transportation security administration) want a full scan of your goodies to ensure you’re not trying to take weapons aboard your flight, they also now want to search your coveted ‘fro. At least, this was the case for Timery Shante Nance. According to NY Times writer Joe Sharkey, “Ms. Nance is the second Black woman I’m aware of within a month who says she was racially profiled when a T.S.A. officer insisted on publicly patting down her hair after she had already gone through a full-body scan without setting off any alarm.”

Nance, quite confused, complied with the weird request, but wasn’t happy about it. Especially considering that white women with ponytails or bushy hair were waved through with no issues. “Is it just African-American women with natural hair who get the hair search?” she asked. The female screener said no, “but if you have certain kinds of ponytail or bun, you have to get your hair patted,” Nance, 30, told the NY Times. She later filed an online complaint and heard nothing back from the agency.

On June 30, a young African-American woman Laura Adiele had a similar experience at a screener at Seattle's Tacoma airport. Security insisted on patting down her hair, which was also natural and curly, even though the body scan had not set off an alarm. Adiele said in various interviews that she thought the search had been racially motivated.

The recent curiosity and sensitivity surrounding natural hair makes stories like these rather touchy. A few women with naturals recently revealed to CNN’s Lisa Resper how uncomfortable it is when fascination leads to a stranger’s hands mingling with your scalp. Hair is personal, cultural and most of all, emotional.

What do you think? Racial profiling or standard procedure? Sound off in our comments!

(Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Written by Kimberly Walker


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