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TSA Search Dallas Woman's Afro on ATL Train Platform

TSA Searches Hairstylist's Afro on Atlanta Train Platform

Dallas hairstylist Isis Brantley was shocked when TSA agents came up to her on the platform of the interterminal train at the Atlanta airport and told her they needed to check her Afro for drugs and explosives. TSA hair checks aren't unheard of, but they are invasive, and this is certainly the first case we've heard of a search so far from security. The TSA claims that Ms. Brantley simply walked off before her security screening was over, and that they offered to take her to a private area for the pat down, but Brantley disputes both those claims.

If you've ever been to the Atlanta airport, you know that the terminal trains aren't really anywhere close to security, and it seems truly odd that TSA agents would have let someone who wasn't done with her screening wander halfway through the airport before they thought to catch up with her. Ms. Brantley says it isn't the search she objected to, it was the public humiliation. Do you think it's reasonable for TSA agents to check people's hair (especially outside a checkpoint), and would you feel violated if this happened to you?

Image Source: Thinkstock
MiamiAndi MiamiAndi 6 years
I am thoroughly confused as to why they felt the need to search her on the platform of the train, away from the security checkpoints. That seems to be unnecessary and questionable. Would that leave her subject to another search when she arrived at her gate? That said, I don't think hair searches are that uncommon, unfortunately. I am of Indian ancestry with long hair (about waist-length) that I wear mostly straight, and sometimes in loose waves. My hair is searched probably 60% of the time that I travel, although this occurs primarily at one airport. The TSA agents always call this a "random search" but I have yet to see another passenger subject to the same search. I am brown-skinned, and I hate that I feel obligated to clarify this, but I am not middle-eastern, nor am I Muslim (which would presumably make me more likely to searches). I am a Canadian-born citizen of Caribbean origin. It doesn't always upset me, but there are times where I feel such a search makes other passengers think I am a threat. I understand that greater security is commendable, but there is a fine line between reasonable searches and activities that are merely a result of bored, cranky, or power-hungry TSA agents.
mcvvcm mcvvcm 6 years
I have been asked to have an "afro patdown" and though I didn't make a fuss, I was a bit embarrassed not to mention the fact that my perfectly coifed BAA (big ass or bad ass afro) - I was having a fabulous hair day, was slightly messed up. I did find it interesting that most of the people (mostly white, if that even matters) who saw me subjected to this, were highly annoyed and upset in my favor. In the end, I got more positive attention than anything, which did help to lessen my fleeting feelings of self-consciousness. The experience taught me some things: 1) When flying, only bring out "Hollywood (that is what I call my hair)" on special occasions. 2) There are a lot of people out in the world who love a good 'fro :) 3) Always keep my hair styling potion stuff very, very close. While I'm making light of MY experience, I don't understand the need to check one's afro for...Explosives? Drugs? A pot of Gold? Jimmy Hoffa? My hair is not Pandora's Box.
Annie-Tomlin Annie-Tomlin 6 years
I think it's pretty insensitive. @futurebird, I think you make a good point about the whole "uppity" thing — so much of the TSA experience feels related to people exerting power over others. And when a Black woman wearing an Afro talks about her experience, boy are some people ready to jump on her. Overall, I don't like flying now because every time, I see someone being treated like a criminal (and have been given the pat-down, which feels violating) just as part of the usual process. My father, when he was still alive, was yelled at by a TSA screener because he wasn't "fast enough" at removing his belt at the security line — keep in mind, this was a 77-year-old man with Parkinson's. Is this really the most logical way to protect people? I appreciate screeners who do their jobs well, but as @tardan says, I don't see a reason to inspect someone's hair if they weren't acting shifty.
TarDan731 TarDan731 6 years
Actually, this isn't the first time this has happened. There have been a few incidents reported where an African-American woman has been asked to have her hair searched ( I know some people are saying it's all about safety and people should just deal with it, but having someone put their hands all through your hair, especially to check for weapons, can be embarrassing and, for some, invasive. If you have someone pass through a body scanner, I don't see why you would need to "search" their hair unless they were acting in a very suspicious manner.
GummiBears GummiBears 6 years
I would have been cuffed so fast because that is a quick ticket to getting popped in the face or groin region. Some of these TSA agents are just beside themselves at times.
Jessiebanana Jessiebanana 6 years
Wow EricaJane...I love your assumption that she was hysterical about the incident. The trains are far enough away IMO that the experience could be very embarrassing and bordering on harassing depending on the attitude of the person doing the check.
futurebird futurebird 6 years
Let's not forget that she agreed to the search. It sounds like the TSA was rude about the whole matter. This isn't about wicked things hidden in Afro's it's about commun human courtesy and respect. I doubt we'll see as vocal an outcry about what this woman went through as there was about the nice "wholesome" midwestern lady who had her breast milk confiscated. She'll be told to "suck it up" and "stop being so loud" to "calm down" essentially don't be so ... uppity. The saddest thing about this is it isn't making anyone any safer. Security theatre. It's a waste of time and money, there are even Republicans who agree! (Rep. John Mica) (I also want to add... I'm so envious! I would love to have an afro so big that they had to search it! ^-^ She mush have an amazing ~coiffeur~)
EricaJane EricaJane 6 years
the trains are extremely close to security. i'm in the atl airport all of the time, the trains are down an escalator, just beyond security. imo, if you don't have anything to hide, and they're not touching your genitals, then cooperate. this person needs to calm down.
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