In a rare opportunity, I had the “pleasure” of watching the news last night (if you count being bombarded with reports of arson and murder as pleasurable) and to my surprise, Isis Brantley was on 11 Alive News! I immediately perked up. I am a fan of her products, and have featured them on M.O.M in the past.
To my horror, she was narrating how after going through the security checkpoint in Atlanta, a TSA came frantically chasing down after her on the escalator and demanded to know if someone had checked her hair. She was on the platform about to take the train to her terminal and answered ‘no’. She kept moving. The agent then said that they would have to touch her hair and check for “explosives”. She refused – after all, she had already gone through screening. The agent then informed her that if she refused, she would not be permitted to board her flight. She reluctantly succumbed, and after long moments of enduring the agent aggressively plying through her tresses, she begged them to cease with their inane search for explosives in her hair.
“Find any explosives yet? Can you please stop! This is humiliating and embarrassing!”
After finding no explosives (gasp!) they released her and allowed her to go on her way.
To my disgust, Ms. Brantley went on to describe how she was forced to endure this in the presence of the peering eyes of public at the WORLD’S BUSIEST airport: Hartsfiled-Jackson International. The TSA of course denies this, alleging instead that they offered Ms. Brantley the opportunity to do this extra screening in private and she ‘refused’. What bull. I don’t believe a word of it. The TSA does not have a reputation for treating the flying public with a modicum of anything remotely resembling respect.
In recent months I have seen an increase in the number of combative blogs about the natural hair versus relaxed as proponents for either side verbally duke it out. Initially, I was one of them, until I came to the realization that it’s just hair for goodness sake’s! You can buy it or grow it, but in the end it doesn’t define who you are…or at least it shouldn’t.
Back to the point:
The last time I checked, Black women with afros weren’t blowing up the World Trade Center or setting off car bombs in Yemen. Despite the depictions of such images in the Blacksploitation films of the 70s, it’s actually impossible to hide explosives and/or weapons in our natural hair. The roots just aren’t that strong. However, you realistically have a better chance of hiding them in the tracks of a sewn-in weave…the less terrorist-y and more mainstream hairstyle. Ironic, isn’t it?
I cannot imagine how Isis Brantley must have felt at that moment and the moments after the event. I myself would have been pissed enough to cry, and then possibly piss ALL OVER the TSA agent in my angst. It’s hard enough being Black in America, and apparently it’s only going to get harder if you choose to wear chemical-free tresses. It’s hard enough to get a job with natural hair, but now we curly chicks can’t even fly without harassment? As I did more reading online, I found that Black women with natural hair are increasingly having that hair checked for weapons in airports all over the nation. Incredible – just incredible!
But, there is a positive side to all this! At least I (and lucky you) now know how to style my hair before I fly. I’ve preemptively added a ‘fro to the list of items no longer permitted on America’s airlines – along with toothpaste and mouth wash.
Good job America! So much for judging people on the contents of their character…we’re now a nation that judges people on the (phantom) contents of their hair.