Nationwide — TSA, the nation’s Transportation Security Administration, has agreed to stop searching through the hair of African American women who wear all natural hairstyles. The agency said, “TSA has reached an informal agreement with the ACLU to enhance officer training. Racial profiling is not tolerated by TSA. Not only is racial profiling prohibited under DHS and agency policy, but it is also an ineffective security tactic.”
The issue became big earlier this year after two black women, Malaika Singleton and Novella Coleman, filed complaints about having their hair arbitrarily searched at airports. Both women were reportedly wearing their natural hairstyles when they were stopped and searched in the airport.
Coleman, whose hair was styled in dreadlocks, said that that TSA workers “singled her out” several years ago and searched her hair three times. On one occasion she asked why her hair was being checked, and she was told that agents search hair that has “abnormalities.”
Singleton also had a similar experience when she was stopped, and the TSA searched through her hair, and en route back, her hair was searched again during a layover.
Singleton comments, “The first time I was shocked. I just did not expect that. I felt violated.” She said that she was never given a reason for why her sister locks were singled out and searched.
Such claims that TSA agents discriminate against black women are not new. Solange Knowles, for example, the sister of Beyonce Knowles, also said that she was profiled back in 2012.
Recently, in response to the complaints, TSA has launched an internal Disability and Multicultural Division, which is responsible for ensuring that their security screening policies, procedures, and practices comply with all applicable civil liberties and civil rights laws.
For more details about this division, visit www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/civil-rights-travelers