The TSA & The Fondling of Natural Hair Everywhere: Okay or Not?

December 8, 2011  |  

When I went home for Thanksgiving break last month, flying Southwest for the low-low, when I went through customs I thought I was fully prepared. I’ve held many folks up in my early flying days so now that I’m seasoned, I try and wear the bare minimum (but still be VERY covered) to get through the process faster: zip-up combat boots, exercise tights, a camisole, scarf, and a jacket. Jewelry was kept to a minimum, no belt, and on my head, I had my hair two-strand twisted and covered with a colorful cloth I obtained in Nigeria. Nothing too big or fancy, just the old Tupac way (tied in the front, but nicely). After I walked through the metal detector and was all clear with that, I was surprised when the TSA worker said, with a big smile on her face, “Bend your head down, please.”

What? Oh, okay…

So I did, and she quickly and softly touched around my head. While I had heard on the news about women who had their hair “checked” before flying and took it personally, I thought it was just a random occurrence that unfortunately happened to moi. But I could be wrong: it looks like it’s about to become the norm from TSA workers. I wasn’t really sure how I felt about the patting down of my hair, especially since my afro wasn’t even out, but I just assumed it had to do with the cloth on my hair…? Either way, I laughed about it and got on my plane to go home. It was kind of funny in a way–me hiding some ish in my hair…

But when I told my sisters and my mom, they didn’t find much humor in it. In fact, my older sister, coming from Houston, said they had patted her hair as well (an afro pulled into a large puff) and she wasn’t a fan of it. My other sister, whose hair is natural but usually pressed (shout out to the Egyptians), didn’t find it cool at all either that we were hair checked and had that, “I wish they would touch my hair!” look on her face. While they didn’t go into depth with why they were P’Od about it, other than the fact that it didn’t seem like it was something they were doing to EVERYONE, I was the only one in the kitchen on Thanksgiving saying, “I don’t know, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.” One of my co-workers, who wears locks and had her hair patted during her Thanksgiving travels agreed. But psych MY mind and make my booty shine, I guess we were wrong.

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