With Hair Pat-Downs, Complaints of Racial Bias
By JOE SHARKEY
TIMERY SHANTE NANCE is an African-American woman who has a thing about her hair. “I don’t use chemicals or straighteners,” she said. “It’s just my natural texture, and I wear it in a normal-looking puff.”
Now she wonders, as some other black women evidently do, whether the Transportation Security Administration also has a thing about their hair. Ms. Nance is the second black woman I’m aware of within a month who says she was racially profiled when a T.S.A. officer insisted on publicly patting down her hair after she had already gone though a full-body scan without setting off any alarm.
Ms. Nance was departing from the airport in San Antonio in late July. After she passed through the body scanner, she said, a female T.S.A. screener told her to stand facing her possessions. “You’re good to go, but first I have to pat your hair,” the officer told her, she said.
“I’m like, pat my hair? O.K., I guess,” Ms. Nance said.
But it wasn’t O.K. Ms. Nance, who had been visiting her husband at the Air Force base where he is stationed, was deeply embarrassed as other passengers stared at her, “as if I’d done something wrong.”
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… Read the rest here.