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When we first visited the issue of Transportation Security Administration invading the privacy of one its passengers earlier this summer with our story on Laura Adiele, there was a wide range of strong opinions and intense emotions that surrounded the commotion around patting down big hair.

For us natural hair girls with lots of poof, body, shape, volume – whatever you choose to call it – we know that while we may find pride or liberation in celebrating our natural textures, the way we wear our hair has sometimes been a source of contention and confusion for others.

Earlier this month, there was an occurrence of a woman of color getting her natural hair searched, which also caused her a great deal of frustration, discomfort and anger. Courtney-Rose Harris recounts her own tale of what she found to be a dangerous and discriminatory act performed in the name of protection and security at the Denver International Airport.

Protection over Privacy

Last week, Dallas hairstylist Isis Brantley was halted during a trip through the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta due to the size of her natural hair. Brantley's hair, which is a big, beautiful afro, became a source of humiliation rather than pride which it usually is for her.

After leaving the designated security area, she was approached by two TSA agents on her way to board her flight and asked she had had her hair searched before leaving the area. When she told them she hadn't, the agents proceeded to give her hair an inspection that included a pat down and feeling Brantley's scalp on the spot instead of taking her to a private area where personal screenings take place.

Consistently Inconsistent Stories

According to the accounts by both Adiele and Harris, neither of the women saw other passengers getting their coifs searched by TSA agents, and although Brantley has been traveling for over two decades as a professional hairstylist, her incident last week was the first time she had ever experienced anything like her intrusive hair search.

Regarding Brantley's nightmare experience at the airport, the TSA released an unapologetic statement that indifferently asserted that, “TSA's screening procedures are designed to ensure the security of the traveling public,” and that, “Additional screening may be required for clothing, headwear or hair where prohibited items could be hidden. This passenger left the checkpoint prior to the completion of the screening process. She was offered but refused private screening."

The Complicated Truth

These stories, which fuse together our inquiries on privacy, personal space, personal style and skin color, compel many to wonder if these incidents are racially motivated or just unfortunate instances of circumstance. On comments left on the report released by NBCDFW, there are a range of opinions about what a person who chooses to wear their hair naturally should expect, as well as evaluations on why they think the TSA has become strangely stringent on checking heads full of hair. Unfortunately, no one has the answer.

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Final Thoughts

What would you do if your hair had to be searched, and do you think this is truly an issue of protection?

 

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