TSA Agent Grabbed A Native American Woman’s Braids And Said “Giddy Up.”

January 20, 2020  |  

Young Native American woman in rural business district

Source: Tony Anderson / Getty

Black women know a thing or two about hair discrimination when it comes to the transportation security administration, better known as TSA. IF we don’t wear our hair straight, there’s a good chance that you’ll get some type of pat down inspection.

But apparently, Black girls aren’t the only ones who have to deal with discrimination with this government agency.

We all know travel for people of Middle Eastern ancestry has not been smooth since 9-11. And according to a recent story out of Minnesota, Native American women put up with some sh*t too.

According to NBC News, a TSA agent, grabbed the braids of a Native woman and yelled “giddy up” during a security check at the Minnesota-St. Paul International Airport.

Tara Houska tweeted that the TSA agent told her they needed to pat down her braids. Houska said when she stood next to the agent, she, “pulled them behind my shoulders, laughed & said ‘giddyup!’ as she snapped my braids like reins.”

Houska immediately spoke up for herself.

“When I informed the middle-aged blonde woman who had casually used her authority to dehumanize and disrespect me, she said ‘Well it was just in fun, I’m sorry. Your hair is lovely.’ <— that is NOT an apology and it is NOT okay, Houska added. “My hair is part of my spirit. I am a Native woman. I am angry, humiliated. Your ‘fun’ hurt.”

Cliff Van Leuven, the TSA’s federal security director in Minnesota confirmed that the incident did occur, exactly as Houska described. He reached out to her to apologize. He said the conversation with Houska was pleasant and she shared that she didn’t want the employee disciplined. Instead, Van Leuven said, “she is hoping we’ll take the chance to continue to educate our staff about the many Native American Tribes/Bands in our state and region to better understand their culture.”

The TSA agent picked the wrong one. Houska is the cofounder of Not Your Mascots, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting the stereotypical representations of Native Americans in athletic teams.

Houska thanked the TSA for being responsive and professional after they learned of the incident.

She wrote on Twitter, “My braids are not reins, I should be treated with dignity, as should everyone else. Good resolution from a bad situation. We need more education and empathy for one another.”

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