The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has just announced that they will no longer search African American women’s hair at airport checkpoints.
The TSA made headlines for this practice after American singer, songwriter, model, and actress, Solange announced to the media that her hair was publicly searched by TSA officers, when she was traveling back in 2012.
Now, Neuroscientist, Malaika Singleton of Sacramento, CA and Novella Coleman have filed suit against the TSA, prompting their agreement to stop searching Sub Saharan African hair.
Singleton tells the blog Black Girl Long Hair that she was “on her way to an academic conference in London when she was accosted by TSA officers who declared the need to publicly screen her sisterlocks”.
She recalls, “I was going through the screening procedures like we all do, and after I stepped out of the full body scanner, the agent said, ‘OK, now I’m going to check your hair.”
BGLH notes that “The TSA agents pulled and squeezed Singleton’s hair on her way to the conference and again when she returned home. Singleton then proceeded to contact the American Civil Liberties Union only to learn that a complaint had been filed by Novella Coleman, one of three black lawyers working there who also wore sisterlocks.”
Coleman says this happened on two separate occasions. She asked the TSA officers why they were searching her hair of all things. They said that her hair was determined to have “abnormalities.”
The TSA responded to the lawsuit by e-mailing the ACLU, announcing that they will retrain their officers to no longer single out people with African hair.
“MB (Multicultural Branch) will also commit to conducting an onsite training at LAX, subject to coordination with TSA LAX leadership, during the 2015 calendar year. In addition, even though TSA does incorporate nondiscrimination principles into its regular training, MB will work with the TSA’s Office of Training and Workforce Engagement to make certain that current training related to nondiscrimination is clear and consistent for TSA’s workforce. Furthermore, in light of recent concerns, MB will diligently work with TSA secured airports and monitor them for consistent implementation of DHS and TSA policies. MB will specifically track hair pat- down complaints filed with MB from African-American females throughout the country to assess whether a discriminatory impact may be occurring at a specific TSA secured location.”
What do you think about the TSA? Have you ever been subjected to dehumanizing and humiliating searches like this?