The Transportation Security Administration — the pat-down unit at the airport — is going to stop searching black women’s hair for no reason.
Many women have complained that their hair is searched even after they have passed the full-body scan, while white women are sent on their way, New York Magazine says.
In 2011, Timery Shante Nance was one of many black women pulled aside after being cleared by a full-body scan. She described watching white women with curly hair and bushy ponytails waltz through security as a TSA screener insisted on “patting” her hair, which was worn in a style she described as a “normal looking puff.”
Other travelers stared at her and the experience was deeply embarrassing; a complaint she lodged to the TSA garnered no response. After repeatedly being singled out, Novella Coleman, who happens to be a staff lawyer with the ACLU of Southern California, filed an official complaint in 2012. TSA did not make any policy changes.
A year later, Solange took to Twitter after Florida TSA agents searched her Afro. “My hair is not a storage drawer,” she tweeted. MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry has also been vocal about the “full on fingers through the braids, scalp tickling treatment” she’s received at the hands of the TSA.
In an open letter to John Pistole, who was then head of the TSA, she wrote, “if your $170,000 machine can see under my clothes, but can’t figure out I’m not hiding a bomb in my braids, maybe it’s time to recalibrate the machine.”