The next time a TSA agent asks me to stop for one more second to check my hair after I’ve gone through the metal detector, or those new X-ray-like machines, I will think of Kiana Howell and Makeeba Graham. Who are these ladies? They are the tag-team duo who had the bright idea to smuggle cocaine all the way from Guyana to New York City in their, get this, hair weaves.
Yes, the Smoking Gun reports that early Sunday morning the duo was stopped in customs when an agent noticed “an unusual bulge beneath the defendant’s hair weave” during a routine pat down. Kiana was asked to remove the weave and responded with a ridiculous excuse that she couldn’t because she had a package with unknown contents sewn into it. Umm ding, ding, ding wrong answer. At this point, “Howell’s weave was subsequently dismantled at a medical facility, where agents removed a rounded package wrapped with clear plastic. Inside was nearly a kilo of cocaine.” Her road dog Makeeba suffered a similar fate after she told agents she couldn’t remove her “unusually high and bulky hair style” because it was sewn to her natural hair. Her weave was only “partially dismantled” but inside, the TSA found more than a kilo. Damn, damn, damn Makeba.
Anyone who frequently travels knows that the 9/11 terrorist attacks completely sucked the life out of flying. From increased ticket prices due to people’s fear over flying, to baggage fees to make up for those losses, to the increasingly invasive security measures, which now include hair patdowns – mostly for women of color—half the time flying just isn’t worth the hassle. But curse hair weave killing Thelma and Louise 2.0 for making us all look like cocaine smuggling enemies of the U.S. of A anytime we roll through the airport rocking a natural fro, 18-inch yaki, or even me and my Chinese bun as my friends like to call my daily ‘updo.
I personally still haven’t lived down my 2003 TSA hairtastrophe. I was flying from Detroit to Atlanta with my dad to stay with him for a week after graduating high school, and in my 18-year-old mind I needed to have the fresh silky-silky wrap game going on when I finally stepped off my flight into the ATL. So naturally, I thought the solution to preserving my sexay was to rock my Velcro hair wrap with a stocking cap and a hat over it – you know totally disregarding the fact that naturally the TSA would assume I had something to hide under my cap. Well, I was alerted to the err of my ways when I went through the metal detector successfully, so I thought, until that one fateful agent was like “mam, remove your cap please.” I’ll never forget the look on my dad’s face as he struggled to hold back laughter at his child standing in the security line looking in a wave cap, looking more like a negro on the street corner. And because I went through the detector the wrong way, that suddenly made my scan obsolete and I was subject to the full-blown, possible terrorist, hands between the crotch, in the middle of the security area in a wave cap pat down. If it’s not clear in my tone, I’ve gone ahead and sweated my edges out in the airport ever since. Having my hair game on point just isn’t worth the embarrassment.
Thankfully, I haven’t had too many hair pat downs since then, except for the occasional bun check. But as we know from the news reports all throughout the year, plenty of black women from Gabrielle Union to Keke next door have had the unfortunate pleasure of having those sticky blue gloves stroke their locks (while simultaneously hoping the next agent doesn’t throw out that 4.0z lotion they have tucked away in their purse). So on that note, I’d just like to say thank you to kilo-toting Kiana and Makeeba for likely making black women’s experience in the airport that much more difficult going forward. Just say no to smuggling cocaine in those sew-ins ladies. The Department of Homeland Security, not to mention local law enforcement, will dismantle your ‘do, and more importantly your livelihood.
Have you ever had a crazy hair patdown situation at the airport?
*Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.
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