Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Afro inspections in the age of terror…

Hey y’all, I managed to get through airport security without having TSA demand to search my Afro for whateverthefuck…


…and the fact that I took note of not having someone treat my hair like some exotic contraption in need of thorough public inspection got this bitch thinking.

Let’s jump right on in, shall we?

Last Monday my sister began a trip that was supposed to end in Boston.  At the airport she encountered a TSA agent who told her that they were going to have to inspect her Afro.

Pause…allow the incredible affront of that shit to marinate…continue.

Since my sister was traveling for business, she went to that calm detached place women of color know all too well…and endured a rubber glove wearing TSA agent searching through her Afro as if black women’s natural hair is some unmarked package left sitting unattended for over 15 minutes in the gate lounge. 

I found out about the Afro search via text, and I immediately felt concern over the humiliation, anger, and frustration my sister had just endured.

I also thought about a recent flight where a group of blue haired white women of a certain age went through security before me.  I remember them because they had huge hair…1980’s soap opera hair…hair teased to within an inch of its life and then sprayed as if hairspray is life support in a can. 

At the time, I thought their hair looked like cotton candy…and I enjoyed seeing them in their big hair clique as they teased and talked loud and easily moved through the security check. 

But now…after hearing about my sister’s treatment at the airport…I couldn’t stop wondering why the hell those women didn’t have some TSA agent dig into their hair. 

Hell, you could have hidden a small child in that shit!

I checked in on my sister but then became distracted by breaking news on Twitter. 

There had been an explosion in Boston…and then another.

My sister was en route to Boston, so I quickly sent her word of the breaking news and asked her to check with security in Chicago.  And it didn’t escape me that I was asking my sister to reach out to airport security as a resource less than an hour after they treated her like a freak.

C-Money’s flight was cancelled and she returned home to decompress from a tense day of travel coupled with knowing that some sort of terrorist incident was going down in a city we both called home during our college years.

It’s hard to see a place I spent years enjoying and exploring deal with violent death, bombs, and an armed lock down…just as it is hard to imagine the heartache of those who lost someone dear or the pain for those who struggle to recover.

I can’t even comprehend what it would be like to have my face and name go viral for some shit I didn’t do.

Now, tis true that having some asshole at airport security indulge in a public display of racial intolerance is a far cry from having major newspapers and a gaggle of wanna-be online investigators erroneously convict you via article and post of a horrific act of violence.

But I can’t help but think that these things feed into each other.  The notion that people of color are fair game for false accusations and humiliating scrutiny…the commonly held belief that all that this is okay and we shouldn’t complain if we didn’t do anything wrong…the big fucking lie that an apology washes it all away.

Several people were physically assaulted after the bombings…many others were threatened and taunted. 

I guess I should be glad that my sister wasn’t held under suspicion of flying to Boston while black…just like I’m pretty sure I’m expected to feel relief because I made it through security at the same damned airport without having someone demand a public fingering of my Afro.  Are they just inconsistent or does my sister have a more militant 'fro? 

Anyhoo, I’m stuck on angry disgusted that folk are physically inspecting black women’s hair or patching together bullshit to accuse innocent people of color of shit they didn’t do…while other briefly inspected folk are putting together motherfucking bombs.

Blink.

15 comments:

Rileysdtr said...

Perhaps C-Money's afro was so righteous the TSA agent had to pet it... sort of like needing to stroke the Tiger, regardless of the fangs.

Pamela Merritt said...

Tis a fierce Afro, but I do think she should have bitten.

liz said...

Heinous and racist.

They pat my hair down sometimes, but not every time. I have to get the full pat down because of the wheelchair. And I hate it. But worse than I hate it for me I hate how they pat down and how they treat frail elderly people.

NancyP said...

When will they start inspecting toupees for Semtex glued to the inner surface? That makes more sense than examining original head hair. Rude, racist, and capital D dumb.

Anonymous said...

So.... go ahead and explain Kevin Curtis to me, or Richard Jewell....or why the media was hoping that the bomber was a white, right-wing, Christian.

Pamela Merritt said...

So...go ahead and cuddle up to your false sense of oppression and ignore reality.

BTW...Richard Jewell is an interesting choice, since the actual criminal turned out to be...wait for it...a white Christian Identity homophobic racist right-wing terrorist.

Your mindset is sourced in denial, son.

Oh, and since when are Chechens not white?

Shoo fly...shoo...

Chy McBride said...

I have locs and if I have my hair any other way than hanging straight, my shit gets inspected. Even clipped away from my face in a bobby pin gives TSA pause. It's some bullshit.

Pamela Merritt said...

Anonymous...
You are as predictable as hell!

I won a bet that your tired ass would follow up that bs comment I deleted with that text book "You're scared to publish my comment!" mess. Because your trifling my local Planned Parenthood is getting a donation.

Thanks.

Oh and the benefit of being a professional activist is knowing who is worthy of debate versus who is trying to take over the discussion to derail change.

Doesn't comment moderation rock?!?

Jess said...

I had my locs patted by TSA for the first time ever a few months ago at SFO. It's ridiculous and I don't even have "big" hair. Also ridiculous because it is clearly not a TSA protocol seeing as I've spent a lot of time in airports in the last few 5 years and had locs or an afro the entire time. Blah

Mark L said...

As a person of Italian extraction, I've noticed that many debates around hair are similar to those in the black community- namely, whether to let it flow free ('fro free?) or clip it, snip it, and straighten it. I am firmly in favor of letting people wear their natural hair, whatever color they are. Stereotyping those with locks is some bullshit.

And as a disabled person... yeah, the pat-downs are offensive. But lately I'm so starved for ahem, attention of a certain kind, love in the oven, etc. that I remember hoping that my patting-down officer would at least be cute. Sigh. Good Lord.

Pamela Merritt said...

Mark L! You cracked me up...best angle on this mess yet!

SMS Gateway said...

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Research data said...

Its about the PR angle in part. What better way to reassure America, and to prove they are "on the job" than detaining and gratuitously frisking those negroes?

Tybie Fitzhugh said...

Thank you +Pamela Merritt for writing this post, and thanks to everyone who shared their experiences in the comments. This has been very informative for me. I was unaware of this problem and am glad to have my eyes a little more open now. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Someone pointed me to your blog to help understand perspectives.


This post struck me and made me smile. "hidden a small child" haha. I am male, but have long brown curly brown hair that I usually have held back with a hairband... and it's poofy like a big curly afro... and EVERY time the TSA pulls me out to pat it down. So annoying.

At least I'm not the only one.