Wednesday, August 17, 2011

a natural pat down

Going natural is perhaps one of the best decisions I have ever made for my hair. I love the texture and feel of it and enjoy experimenting with new styles. What I don’t love is people touching my hair without permission. I also wouldn’t be too keen on having it touched by the Transportation Security Administration. I came across an article on the New York Times website about a woman, Timery Nance, who said a T.S.A. officer patted down her hair even though she already went through the body scan.

According to the article:
She asked the screener why her hair was searched while others, including white women with ponytails or bushy hair, were simply waved through. “Is it just African-American women with natural hair who get the hair search?” she asked.
The screener said no, “but if you have certain kinds of ponytail or bun, you have to get your hair patted,” said Ms. Nance, who is 30.

The writer of the article also mentioned a second pat down incident:
On June 30, a young African-American woman, Laura Adiele, said that a screener at the Seattle-Tacoma airport insisted on patting down her hair, which was also natural and curly, even though the body scan had not set off an alarm. Ms. Adiele said in various interviews that she thought the search had been racially motivated.
The T.S.A. denies that. “All passengers are thoroughly screened coming through the screening checkpoint,” said Kristin Lee, a spokeswoman. “Additional screening may be required for clothing, headgear or hair where prohibited items may be hidden,” she said.

Safety is always important when flying, and I understand T.S.A. has a job to do, but I’m not quite sure how I would respond to a request for a hair pat down. Half the time my flights are extra early, so I’m already grumpy. Also I don’t wear a true afro very often, but you might catch my hair in a twist-out. However, with either style my hair is not that big or bushy to hide anything in it (other than a Bobby pin). Any screener would calmly get told no if they tried to pat down my hair. I can picture the headlines now: Florida woman arrested for refusing airport screening. On second thought, I’m even less a fan of ending up in the slammer with Big Shirley. So pat away T.S.A. Just know there will be a chronicle about it later.

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