Black Woman Has Hair Searched by TSA, Claims Racial Profiling

July 11, 2011  |  

By Alexis Garrett Stodghill

It seems as though almost everyday there is a new complaint about how the TSA has searched someone. An old lady might be personally invaded by their private area probings, or in another recent example, a little boy might be touched one two many times. Now African-Americans have something to complain about, as the demographic of persons the TSA has offended has expanded. A black woman complained on MSNBC recently that she was violated first by a full-body scan at Seattle’s Sea-Tec airport, and then taken aside to have her hair intimately examined. Don’t people know you should never touch a black woman’s hair? Apparently, the TSA does not.

Crossing that line and doing the unthinkable has this harassed flyer crying racism. Political site reports:

…Laura Adiele said that TSA agents notified her after she went through a full-body scanner at Seattle’s Sea-Tec Airport that her hair needed to be inspected. Adiele said she had no problem with being patted down, but she said the agents made the request to check her hair after she was scanned because she is black. […]

“I played the race card in this just because I looked around and didn’t see anyone else being searched in that way,” Adiele continued. “And at the end of it, I had an African-American flight attendant come up to me and say that she’s had this experience and that she’s seeing it more frequently and that she thought I should complain about it.”

The TSA responded in a statement that it is their policy to search anything that puffs out from the body. This situation is similar to the widely reported incident in which a sick, elderly woman had her diaper searched because it too was “poofy,” and thus suspicious. It seems that the TSA cannot take any chances no matter how unsightly the contents of the poof in question might be, or how harrowing it is for the customer to dissect it.

Having traveled to Israel and Egypt, where terrorism is a daily possibility, I have had my hair searched. In addition, both male and female safety agents are employed at each security check point, because every passenger is thoroughly patted down, including between the legs. Your mouth is checked, and any crevice of clothing that could conceal a weapon. You are also searched upon entry to the airport, and then again before entering the area where you wait to board the plane.

The travel safety procedures employed in these countries make our methods look like an open invitation to get bombed by comparison.

I can understand why Americans with our love of freedom and naive trust in human goodness find the TSA’s measures invasive. In reality, the agency is integrating just a few of the best practices used in other nations. We have a heightened fear of terrorism here, yet don’t want to take basic precautions to counter this threat. Which way do we want it, America?

It might be hard to imagine an old lady putting explosive gel in her diaper, or a little boy being used to transport a plastic bomb. A black woman sneaking a razor onto a plane in her weave might seem like a stereotype, but this is exactly how terrorists think. Because these things are technically possible, the TSA is working to prevent them from happening.

If we want the protection from terrorism that we intensely desire — hence the wars being fought in the Middle East to curb its sources — the least we can do as citizens is make it easy for the TSA to protect us on our own shores. The constant whining from barely inconvenienced citizens might make entertaining news, but it won’t be so funny if lax safety procedures lead to another 9/11.

Let’s fight the real enemy, not the guardians at our own gates.



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