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"I’m like, pat my hair? O.K., I guess..."
August 16, 2011 7:21 PM   Subscribe

Does the TSA have "a thing" about black womens' hair?
posted by John Cohen (107 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
It is not racism, it is curiosity.
posted by Renoroc at 7:27 PM on August 16, 2011


It is not racism, it is curiosity.

really man? same thing, exoticizing someone you're supposed to be screening for dangerous contraband is not right
posted by the mad poster! at 7:31 PM on August 16, 2011 [8 favorites]


Sorry for asking a rational question about the TSA, but wouldn't the walkthrough X-ray machine catch anything in a person's bob of hair?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:32 PM on August 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


I really think it's all just an elaborate ruse to get to touch it. As a white chick with boring, straight hair, I always want to hug black ladies' natural hair. Which I would never ever do or even ask to do, I should add. But it still doesn't stop me from feeling like a racist dickwad for even thinking it. I am so ashamed. (And jealous. Really, really jealous.)

But TSA folks who can do this just because they can? Not cool, dudes.
posted by phunniemee at 7:33 PM on August 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Sorry for asking a rational question about the TSA, but wouldn't the walkthrough X-ray machine catch anything in a person's bob of hair?

That question assumes that the TSA's procedures are a) intended to "catch" things and b) effective.
posted by entropone at 7:34 PM on August 16, 2011 [26 favorites]


I definitely think this is a valid racial insensitivity/racism issue. I almost posted about the subject back when the last major incident was reported. The woman in question was told by an agent that they had permission to search any area that "poofed" out from the body. Incredulous, she sought confirmation of that further up the chain, but basically got run in circles. Suffice to say her hair didn't "poof" out any further than a lot of white hairstyles.

White people, man.
posted by hermitosis at 7:37 PM on August 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


Bit of a derail, but my eyebrows raised at this line:

Military personnel in uniform can pass through security without having to remove their shoes.

Why is this a thing? All of us need to bend over backwards and get x-rayed and scanned, but military personnel don't even have to take off their shoes?
posted by explosion at 7:39 PM on August 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


Well, if they could somehow indicate that they have some sort of proof that terrorists were planning on hiding weapons in big hairdos, much like they claimed there was some sort of threat involved with large quantities of liquid toiletries, they could shed any possibility of racial bias. Or they could make it a point to search all grannies with beehives.
posted by crunchland at 7:41 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, previously.
posted by crunchland at 7:44 PM on August 16, 2011


I am white, and my hair is thick and bushy, and could easily hide nail clippers, or a chipmunk. Nobody's ever patted it down. Not , enough data to go on, but racism is certainly a possibility.
posted by theora55 at 7:45 PM on August 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Columnist Amy Alkon, who's not black, had the same experience. So, no., not racist, just stupid.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:45 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Note to white people. Do Not Ever Ask To Touch A Black Person's Hair.

I can't even begin to explain how annoying and offensive this is. It doesn't matter how curious you are.

This is true for TSA agents too.
posted by shoesietart at 7:47 PM on August 16, 2011 [21 favorites]


I agree that it's probably not racist when it happens to Amy Alkon.
posted by hermitosis at 7:48 PM on August 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


I have some knowledge of and experience with these machines - it's more likely than not that the machines in question are using x-ray backscatter technology.

That type of scan does not pick up hair.

If the machine is using a remote operator in a separate room, that operator will see a bald figure, perhaps modified by a privacy filter.

If the machine is not using a remote operator, then it has an automatic threat detection system which should alarm if there is a problem, and will identify on a screen where on the body the potential threat is.

tl;dr the TSA likely has no security justification for patting down peoples' hair in the absence of an alarm.

TSA = Jerks. Again.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:49 PM on August 16, 2011


In related news, The Lady of Rage inexplicably winds up on the no-fly list.
posted by dr_dank at 7:54 PM on August 16, 2011


Note to People: Don't ask to touch people you don't know well.
posted by theora55 at 7:54 PM on August 16, 2011 [22 favorites]


One of my friends had a t-shirt that says TOUCH YOUR OWN HAIR.


I hope he wears it when he flies.
posted by louche mustachio at 7:55 PM on August 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


The terrorists are capable of anything we can imagine. So we must imagine things, and then protect Americans from what we imagine. Arbitrarily violating American citizen's personal space is a small price to pay for safety.
posted by mhoye at 7:55 PM on August 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


TOUCH YOUR OWN HAIR


That's not him, but you get the idea.


Also, not everybody asks. Sometimes they just grab.
posted by louche mustachio at 7:57 PM on August 16, 2011


I'm not black, I went through the full body scanner and they had to pat down my hair too because it was in a ponytail. I don't think it's racial profiling. If you have puffy hair, or hair that is put up, they're going to pat it down.

I'm not defending it, mind you. I think it's fucking stupid.
posted by Malice at 7:58 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Geez...Just when I thought the TSA had reached their highest level of stupidity, they come up with another way to alienate people.

At least they are consistent in their idiocy.
posted by lampshade at 8:00 PM on August 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Bruce Schneier’s Telepathic Takeover of the TSA
posted by homunculus at 8:07 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


All of us need to bend over backwards and get x-rayed and scanned, but military personnel don't even have to take off their shoes?

Don't ask why unionized workers are getting decent benefits. Ask why you aren't. Don't ask why military personnel are treated with respect. Ask why you aren't.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:10 PM on August 16, 2011 [79 favorites]


Ms. Nance is the second black woman I'm aware of in the last month...

Completely lost me there. I know that I shouldn't let this get to me, but that sets off my "NYT bullshit" alarm so much I can't continue reading.

(Which is a shame, since my dyed-in-the-wool liberalism probably wouldn't disagree with this article.)
posted by graphnerd at 8:15 PM on August 16, 2011


Why now, all of a sudden?
posted by cashman at 8:15 PM on August 16, 2011


This is a nontroversy.
posted by LarryC at 8:17 PM on August 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is awesome. It'll become a huge issue and the TSA will go to great lengths to establish racial equality by making sure that everyone has a bit part in the farce.
posted by klanawa at 8:17 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Who taught you to need a secondary screening by the texture of my hair?
posted by peeedro at 8:29 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have poofy white hair - not curly, exactly, but thick and wavy, and no TSA agent at the San Antonio airport has asked to specifically pat down my hair outside of the full-body pat down.
posted by muddgirl at 8:30 PM on August 16, 2011


My hair's not white, I'm white with white-person hair.
posted by muddgirl at 8:30 PM on August 16, 2011


I never thought I was lucky for having to help my neighbor Enyaw comb her hair with mineral oil when I was young. I've got the whitest girl flat hair, but I never would have guessed combing afropuffs was on anyone's "bucket list".

The TSA procedures are meant to reinforce fear and compliance. No matter who you are, they're going to offend you. It sucks and it's hard for people to believe that they're not being singled out, because we are all being singled out -- you could carry bombs in your hair, in your boobs, in the electronics you bought on your vacation, in your shoes (unless you have military clearance because if they want to blow shit up they have access to better stuff than shoes), in bottles of breast milk, in insulin, in your laptop that has to be taken out of the bag but not any other device, in your Muslim headgear -- or anywhere if you're wearing Muslim clothing, a sari or anything the TSA screener thinks is "weird."

It sucks and no one should get a hair pat down after a full body scan in the porno screener machine, but the TSA screeners are pretty equal opportunity freaked out by anyone that doesn't look just like their idea of "normal."
posted by Gucky at 8:44 PM on August 16, 2011


I had my straight, bobbed, white girl hair patted (I'd call it more of a swish, really) on my last flight.

Joke's on TSA because it turned out my kids had given me headlice.
posted by padraigin at 8:45 PM on August 16, 2011 [28 favorites]


I have poofy white hair - not curly, exactly, but thick and wavy, and no TSA agent at the San Antonio airport has asked to specifically pat down my hair outside of the full-body pat down.

That last part is interesting, since it implies you have received a general pat down that may have included your hair, which sounds similar to Amy Alkon's experience (discussed in some of the above comments). That might be different from an agent noticing someone's hair and deciding that the hair in particular is going to need to be patted down.

By the way, even though I posted the FPP, I have no problem with some of the other comments calling this out as a "nontroversy." I put a question mark at the end of the FPP because even the NYT article itself seems uncertain about whether this is purely anecdotal or a widespread problem. I do think it's worth being on the lookout in the future.
posted by John Cohen at 8:46 PM on August 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Note to white people. Do Not Ever Ask To Touch A Black Person's Hair.

This is not just a white/black thing... I've had people ask to touch my hair and I'm a white guy with long blonde ringlets. I've actually had someone ask to smell my hair, which was a bit creepy.

Here's a blog that discusses this in a bit of detail, and in the comments are some stories about people wanting to touch red hair, long hair, etc.

That said, I'm sure women of color have people ask to touch their natural hair more than anyone else, mostly because it's pretty rare in a lot of places, at least in the US. Hopefully, that's changing. Natural is always better, maaaaaan.

Being a teacher, touching a person's hair is taboo in another way, and it's making my head itch.
posted by Huck500 at 9:01 PM on August 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is not just a white/black thing... I've had people ask to touch my hair and I'm a white guy with long blonde ringlets. I've actually had someone ask to smell my hair, which was a bit creepy.

It's a different thing, because I've done volunteer work and visited with people (mostly children) from non-caucasian countries and they've asked to touch my red, rare-in-their-homeland hair.

But I feel like it's vastly different to have a newly-arrived-from-somewhere child want to touch my hair, and a grown-ass adult who grew up in a diverse country wanting to touch someone's hair because it's different, and they maybe have an edge because they're in a position of perceived authority.
posted by padraigin at 9:16 PM on August 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Why is this a thing? All of us need to bend over backwards and get x-rayed and scanned, but military personnel don't even have to take off their shoes?

Seriously? Maybe because every one of them no matter their security clearance has undergone some amount of scrutiny of their whereabouts, occupation, and contacts for the last 7-10 years? Maybe because the country you live in has decided to fight two wars in the last decade and every single member of the military has volunteered to die if necessary in those wars? Maybe because if members of the military were actually the type to maliciously smuggle weapons onboard an airplane that could possibly cause bigger problems elsewhere? Like when they're holding a rifle? Or accessing a secure network? Or driving a truck filled with soldiers? Or checking a route for IEDs? Maybe because they get paid extremely little for hazardous work that often leaves them unprepared and unfit for live after service? Or maybe like justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow says you should be less upset that someone else has a teensy bit more freedom than you do and more upset that you've been reduced to whining about the privileges accorded to some teenager who's about to spend the next year hoping he doesn't get blown up in Afghanistan.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:17 PM on August 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sorry for asking a rational question about the TSA, but wouldn't the walkthrough X-ray machine catch anything in a person's bob of hair?

In theory you could have a ceramic knife in there that woudln't set off a metal detector and may or may not show up in backscatter.

Because terrorists always use the most sophisticated James Bond type shit.
posted by GuyZero at 9:20 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Exactly. It's beyond cliche at this point to mention that terrorists have lost their one advantage on airplanes, which was the expectation by passengers that they would be hostages rather than ammunition. That's been gone for almost precisely a decade now; a baddie would pretty much need to be able to sneak a flamethrower onboard to do enough damage before the now inevitable bumrush. The TSA is security theater at its finest combined with an unhealthy interest in natural hair. They're sort of like a cross between an enraged and self-important mall cop and a freshman from Indiana who's just met her new black roommate.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:33 PM on August 16, 2011 [13 favorites]


I can't get over the fact that people think that what happened to these people can't be racism, because a similar thing happened to them (a white person).

Think hard about that. I mean, I have been harassed by a police officer in the past, despite being white, but I would never consider that to be evidence that similar harassment experienced by a black person was not racially motivated.
posted by hermitosis at 9:41 PM on August 16, 2011 [17 favorites]


"Do Not Ever Ask To Touch A Black Person's Hair."

What about a red-hair 'fro? Cause those are neat. And I touched one.

What about bald guys? Specially the ones that cringe when you rub their scalp? I won't swear that it doesn't bring good luck, but my sample size is kind of small.
posted by sneebler at 9:48 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't get over the fact that people think that what happened to these people can't be racism, because a similar thing happened to them (a white person).

For what it's worth I know that every black person I know has had someone ask, or try, to touch their hair an exponentially ridiculous number of times more than I have. I hope I made that clear enough in my last comment but if I didn't, here's me making it clear.
posted by padraigin at 9:50 PM on August 16, 2011


....Coming soon from Tyler Perry
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:50 PM on August 16, 2011


Well, if they could somehow indicate that they have some sort of proof that terrorists were planning on hiding weapons in big hairdos, much like they claimed there was some sort of threat involved with large quantities of liquid toiletries, they could shed any possibility of racial bias. Or they could make it a point to search all grannies with beehives.

Now now, Debbie Harry isn't that old.
posted by davejay at 9:52 PM on August 16, 2011


Add me to the list of white guys who have been ushered into the scanner (out hundreds not) because of my long hair. The last time that had happened was in India in the 90s, which I benightedly attributed to their benightedness; now I realize how general the pathology is, and the hubris of (believing myself to be) living in a healthy nation has been replaced by the realization that we're all just a few explosions and some right-wing catalysts away from a police state.
posted by chortly at 9:59 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


The TSA is out of control. It's almost as if they're being given free reign to do whatever they please, however they please do it, and whoever's in charge is letting them do it for god knows what reason-- perhaps because the people are in charge do not want to cede their power, control or authority. And the TSA really, really wants to be like big brother.

Here's my big brother experience, and how what the TSA does compares:

A little while ago I applied to Global Entry. You can read more about it here. Basically, it's something you apply to, and on approval, you get a near-carte-blanche ability to re-enter the US from another country without going through Passport Control. Sounds nifty, right? It actually is.

The application asks if you've ever been convicted of any criminal offense. If you have, you won't get past pre-qualification, which means you won't get an interview (yes, there's an interview, which I'll detail in a bit), and you're out a hundred bucks (unless, say, your credit card company is paying for it a la AmEx Platinum/Centurion). If you don't fully disclose such information or if you're caught to be lying on the application, you won't get past pre-qual, either. And believe me, they will catch your lies.

Many years ago, I get a reckless driving ticket. This counts as a misdemeanor or felony. It was for speeding. Where I'm from, anything over 20mph past the speed limit or any speeding over 80mph is reckless driving. I disclosed this fully on my application, selecting the drop down "YES" answer to whether or not I've been convicted of any felonies or misdemeanors or criminal offenses, and typed in the exact citation and result in the notes section just afterwards.

Reading the FlyerTalk forums, my hopes of being approved were dashed, as many people who found themselves in the same position I was in never got their interview. Well, I got pre-approved, and could schedule an interview. I re-checked my application, and somehow my "YES" answer, which I'm 100% certain I put down as "YES" got turned into "NO." My notes remained intact.

Now, there are some possible explanations for this: either somehow I selected "NO," though I triple-checked everything in the application, or someone else changed it to "NO." I don't know what happened. But I went to my interview.

I was in town near IAD visiting friends and family. IAD is not local to me. I knock on a very, very solid door with a large Department of Homeland Security logo emblazoned on its front. A minute later, a DHS official opens the door. There's nothing going on inside. I don't know what he was doing for that minute, but maybe they were doing some random checks or something on me. These DHS folks wear guns. In an office. They are very, very professional. He informs me that though I'm early for my interview, they can take me in the next few minutes.

So I sit outside, near a gentleman who was also sitting. We were waiting in a hallway just in front of the place where people go if they don't clear customs. Neither of us talked: perhaps we were both concerned that the other person was in deep doo-doo with customs, or perhaps we were both paranoid that the DHS was watching our every move. A few minutes later, we're lead in. We're given a brief introduction to what the Global Entry program is about, and watch a video. We wait, and chat briefly. Turns out hey, he got the same AmEx offer, and thought it'd be nice to use for when he and his family go out to fly. He can skip Passport Control and get their luggage, get their car, and pick his family up at curbside. He travels a lot for work, he said.

Soon afterward, we're separated and assigned to a DHS officer. We sit and are asked questions, during which the officer is looking at a monitor which, by my estimation, is connected to THE COMPUTER OF YOUR LIFE. I'm serious. They've got everything in it. I was asked all sorts of random questions he already had answers to. Like where I worked (a leading question, where I filled in the blanks). My travel history and future travel plans (none out of country for a long time, and an upcoming trip to Europe). Education. Tax info ("You filed a 1099 under..." and I filled in the blanks).

And then he asked some really interesting questions:
- You live in _____?
Yes.
- ... that's a long way to drive for an interview, here.
Yeah, well, I've got family and I'm visiting--
- Mmn. Yes. Your mother and father. What's he do?
Well, he's a/an _______.
- Yes. I see. Have you ever been convicted of any criminal offenses?
(And this is the part where I felt like yelling "IT'S A TRAP!")
Funny you should mention that-- I got a reckless driving ticket a while ago, but I put it on my application, and I selected "YES" but somehow it turned into "NO" and blahblahblah, you know how my stories turn out to be fifty pages long? Well, he cut me off and curtly asks:
- Have you ever been ARRESTED.
(By this point I'm flustered and just start repeating myself): Arrested? I got this reckless driving ticket a while ago...
- No, I mean, ARRESTED.
Like, handcuffs, man?
- Yeah.
No? I mean: no. No way. No. I'm pretty sure no.

MEANWHILE, this other guy behind me was being grilled on his travel history: where he'd gone, when, why he traveled so much, etc. The other applicant was very patient, but the DHS officer kept pressing why he traveled so much for work, when the applicant summoned this very serious authoritative voice and said: "If you have any further questions regarding my employment or my travel history, I instruct you to contact my supervisor. You have the information in front of you." And there were a few ticks that went by, and he's given a nod, and a "Welcome to Global Entry." My guess is that he's a super-sekrit agent for the CIA or something. Shrug.

Same thing happened to me. I passed. What happened next? Fingerprints, thumbs first, side-by-side, then all four fingers of each hand, one by one. Then take off the glasses and get face "photographed." I asked if I've gotta take my glasses off each time I go through Global Entry, and the officer stated, "No, the software's good enough that you don't have to do that."

And then I got one small sticker placed on the inside of my passport that simply reads "CBP," for, I think, Customs and Border Protection.

That was that. I got to use it when I returned from overseas. The line for Passport Control was 700 or so people long. I counted. I filled out no forms during landing, I waited in no lines. I just went to the Global Entry kiosk, scanned my passport, put my fingers on the reader, and answered a few questions on the screen. Gate to curbside in minutes.

So I'm a safe, verified person now, who really could've brought stuff into the country without declaring it (I did not, by the way). Every once in a while, supposedly, people are randomly selected to be checked out, but this seems to be a rare care.


Travelling OUT to Europe? I have to go through a backscatter machine for TSA. What's the point of Global Entry? This whole thing is a farce. I'm commanded to FACE FORWARD. MAKE A DIAMOND WITH YOUR ARMS OVER YOUR HEAD, SIR. NOW. I can't help but smile at how ridiculous this is, and I know how these backscattered images look like: they look like a superficial scan of your body with your body and groinal area Saran-wrapped tight. So I smile really big cuz I think teeth show up on it, and start doing some pelvic thrusts and rock back and forth on the balls of my feet to squeeze my buttocks together, you know, to make a funny image. The guy who's sitting just next to the machine? He looks up at one point and just shakes his head.

And traveling domestically? I fly out to SFO and get stopped at security. A buzzer sounds and I'm the lucky person to have been randomly selected for a pat-down. The TSA officer very, very sternly commands me: "SIR, STEP RIGHT OVER THERE SIR. RIGHT OVER THERE. PUT YOUR FEET ON THE MARKINGS. FACE THAT WALL." He shuts the glass doors behind me, effectively putting me in a fancy human pigpen with someone else. I have no idea what the hell is going on that he would be yelling at me during this process. I was compliant. I ask if I can keep an eye on my stuff that went through x-ray, and I'm told FACE THAT WALL. KEEP! YOUR FEET! ON! THE MARKINGS! And then I get the full pat down by another TSA agent. I told this agent who, was explaining what he'd be doing to me, that it was ok, that I recently went to Europe, and they gave me a European pat down, and that I didn't mind. At all. He was quiet after that.

Lemme tell you: there is nothing sexy about gloved hands flexed at a ninety-degree angle knuckling your nuts for safety.

In my mind, and what's total bullshit, is that I'm supposed to have been screened and declared a "trusted US citizen," and granted the "privilege" of having easier passage. Instead I get a pat-down by some guy who's yelling at me to follow instructions for the safety of all passengers, and hear the strange one-upsmanship of TSA employees: "Oh, yeah, I got to do a modified pat-down on someone earlier today!" "No way!" "Yeah, it was awesome!"


The DHS has access to some sort of database of our lives. They have guns. In an office. They're professional. These TSA folks? It seems like if they could have guns, they'd want them. If they could have access to all these records on us, they'd be asking us crazy questions just to show they've got everything on you.

I really don't know what's more disturbing: that someone can have all this information about me pulled up on a single screen, or that someone can't just use all that information to pre-screen everyone. Or that this Global Entry program might just be catering to the subset of the US population who are a) US citizens, b) travel out of country frequently and must have jobs or money to do so, c) have $100 to throw around simply to apply. In other words, maybe, rich doods. With jobs. And money.

Why can't everyone be pre-screened? What's worse: feeling an abject lack of privacy because everything about me is in some centralized database, or feeling naked and exposed while being backscattered or patted down?

And don't even get me started on my friend, who flies to visit me from time to time, who always departs for the airport wearing shorts and sandals, even in the dead of winter, because he shares the same name as his father, who apparently wrote some controversial stuff in the 70s, and always, always gets special screening. Now that I think about it, maybe it's just because he's wearing shorts and sandals in the middle of winter that makes him look suspicious. Hmn.

The TSA is a farce. Tyranny of the menial.
posted by herrdoktor at 9:59 PM on August 16, 2011 [34 favorites]


Had the TSA existed and been similarly strict in searching people boarding flights on 9/11 would the attacks still have taken place?
posted by joannemullen at 10:19 PM on August 16, 2011


Because terrorists always use the most sophisticated James Bond Princess Nausicaa type shit.

FTFY
posted by NoraReed at 10:22 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


dammit James Bond was supposed to be strikethroughed, my kingdom for an edit window
posted by NoraReed at 10:23 PM on August 16, 2011


villanelles at dawn: I don't necessarily agree that members of the US military are less likely to be potential hijackers - certainly not enormously less likely. But that's not the real reason why it's a stupid idea to let them through without screening them. The reason you should screen everybody is that it changes your enemies' problem from "how can I smuggle these things aboard a plane?" to "how can I successfully impersonate a member of the US military?". I submit that this is an easier problem, and even if it isn't an easier problem it's still a different problem, which gives your enemies a second avenue of attack.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:25 PM on August 16, 2011 [12 favorites]


Had the TSA existed and been similarly strict in searching people boarding flights on 9/11 would the attacks still have taken place?

Yes. The attackers would thoroughly understand the security measures, including their weaknesses, and exploit them. It's been demonstrated several times that it's still possible to travel on false documents and to bring weapons past security.

I think it was on Metafilter that someone made the point that it wasn't weapons that allowed the 9/11 hijackers to succeed (I believe their weapons were plastic knives, anyway) - it's the fact that the standard response to a hijacking was to behave and wait to be released.
posted by twirlypen at 10:29 PM on August 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


Is a racist TSA be any worse than a TSA with a general sense that everyone who comes down to ramp is a subhuman to be poked and prodded in whatever way will let Joe TSA agent feel like he's shown the universe who's boss and warded off some vague existential dread until he feels the need to molest someone else? Misanthropy is misanthropy whether it's driven by skin color, looking like a guy who stole your girlfriend in high school, or a little buzzer that goes off ever couple minutes telling you to molest Herrdoktors yarbles.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:30 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is a nontroversy.

That's German for something bad coming on the horizon, isn't it?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:33 PM on August 16, 2011


Joannemullen asked: Had the TSA existed and been similarly strict in searching people boarding flights on 9/11 would the attacks still have taken place?

Probably not. In fact the attacks probably wouldn't have even been contemplated. But all that means is that they would have used a different attack, perhaps one which didn't involve the use of planes at all.

The true idiocy of the TSA's approach to security can be seen in the way they make people take off their shoes, because an unsuccessful bombing involved the use of footwear. If the TSA were in charge of protecting the US President they would insist that Barack Obama wear an armored helmet at all public appearances - because two US Presidents have been killed by bullets to the back of the head.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:34 PM on August 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Does the TSA have "a thing" about black womens' hair?

If I were to hazard an uninfomed guess, I'd lean slightly towards "probably not. At least, probably not specifically a thing for the hair", but regardless I'm glad to see the concern getting attention - the more scrutiny and suspicion and public disgust that these stupid TSA policies and methods are given, the better for everyone.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:35 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seriously? Maybe because every one of them no matter their security clearance has undergone some amount of scrutiny of their whereabouts, occupation, and contacts for the last 7-10 years? Maybe because the country you live in has decided to fight two wars in the last decade and every single member of the military has volunteered to die if necessary in those wars? Maybe because if members of the military were actually the type to maliciously smuggle weapons onboard an airplane that could possibly cause bigger problems elsewhere? Like when they're holding a rifle? Or accessing a secure network? Or driving a truck filled with soldiers? Or checking a route for IEDs? Maybe because they get paid extremely little for hazardous work that often leaves them unprepared and unfit for live after service? Or maybe like justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow says you should be less upset that someone else has a teensy bit more freedom than you do and more upset that you've been reduced to whining about the privileges accorded to some teenager who's about to spend the next year hoping he doesn't get blown up in Afghanistan.

Hey, that's swell.

Fort Hood.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:37 PM on August 16, 2011 [16 favorites]


Had the TSA existed and been similarly strict in searching people boarding flights on 9/11 would the attacks still have taken place?

What, exactly, are you asking? I can say with almost 100% certainty that no amount of fapping around with women's hairdos would have prevented the 9/11 attacks.

Arguably, confiscating box cutters but allowing chainsaws on the plane would have prevented the 9/11 attacks, but only if you assume that the terrorists wouldn't catch on that you could do a lot of damage with a chainsaw. Which, as Joe in Australia has just pointed out, is pretty much exactly what TSA assumes with all of their policies.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:40 PM on August 16, 2011


Joe in Australia, I don't disagree in principle, although I think the risk of terrorists managing to fake a military ID in order to prevent their explosive shoes being searched is rather minimal. It's trivially easy to think of ways for a terrorist group to be inordinately effective and it doesn't require anything as elaborate as impersonating a soldier.

Sys Rq, I very much disagree that the example of an attack by a member of the military on other soldiers (for ideological, political, psychological or whatever reason) gives the lie to my claim that a member of the American military is significantly less likely to try to commit an act of terrorism against Americans than any random air passenger. But that's beside the point, because as you can see from my second comment in this thread I don't think anyone's shoes should be searched, military or civilian, I just think it's a rather pathetic form of protest to object to an unfair rule because of its application rather than its inherent unfairness. Especially when the special treatment you're complaining about is going to people who are much more vetted than the average person passing through an airport.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 11:28 PM on August 16, 2011


Had the TSA existed and been similarly strict in searching people boarding flights on 9/11 would the attacks still have taken place?

Sure, easy. Prior to to the WTC hijackings the entire focus on dealing with a hijacker was to treat it like any other hostage stutation, negotiate, talk them down, get the hostages out, and so on. This had worked well for the preceding 30 - 40 years. If people were going to blow up planes they just did it.

Stick half a dozen guys on the plane, have for or five at one end, one or two at the other. One at each ends gets up with a briefcase, announces, "I have managed to smuggle a bomb on board, as has my colleague at the other end of the plane. Each of us has a dead-man's switch in the handle of the briefcase. If you attempt to attack us we will trigger the bomb, which is powerful enough to tear a hole in the fuselage, which will cause the plane to disintegrate. If you remain calm my 3-4 colleagues will go to the cockpit and discuss our demands with the authorities. Remain calm and no-one will die. If you try to be heroes you will all die."

The cockpit party go forward, slip their belts off their trousers as they go into the cockpit, garotte the flight crew, barricade themselves in the cockpit, and fly the planes into the towers.

The success of the attacks relied on the assumptions about what to do in a hostage situation. Nothing to do with ground security.
posted by rodgerd at 3:27 AM on August 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


a member of the American military is significantly less likely to try to commit an act of terrorism against Americans than any random air passenger.

Since the probability of either approaches zero, I'm not understanding where the "significantly less likely" comes from...
posted by mikelieman at 4:29 AM on August 17, 2011


Does MetaFilter have a "thing" for TSA posts?
posted by nathancaswell at 4:30 AM on August 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


  1. the TSA practices security theater...
  2. to instill fear, uncertainty, and doubt in the populace...
  3. who put up with it...
  4. because they have a "thing" for the image of security...
  5. it makes them warm and comfy
  6. "I'm like, pat my hair? O.K., I guess..."
posted by LogicalDash at 4:56 AM on August 17, 2011


If the TSA is that curious about black hair, they should just watch a documentary and get over it.
posted by orme at 5:07 AM on August 17, 2011


Every time I go through that fucking scanner (and, shockingly enough, I always end up placed in the line for the scanner) the officer asks to pat my hair before I leave. Every time. I'm a white girl with long, wavy hair, and I hate all of them and their fucking scanners.

Now, racist assholes constantly act like they have a right to touch WOC's hair so it may well be that it was a factor in the cases they described, since there probably are plenty of racist assholes in the TSA.
posted by lydhre at 6:13 AM on August 17, 2011


Had the TSA existed and been similarly strict in searching people boarding flights on 9/11 would the attacks still have taken place?

Likely possible. Even now, on internal trials, there's between 50% and 70% passthough of weapons. I've done this myself, unitentionally. I recently travelled to a from the US with a 4" folding knife in my carry on bag---I'd forgotten to remove it. I went through the full security system, including the new backscatter machines.

Amusingly, on my return trip, the TSA pulled me aside for extra screening because I flunked the chemical sniffer test. I work with stuff that's very likely to trigger the scanners, so no surprise there. But my pocket knife in my case went through without notice.
posted by bonehead at 6:32 AM on August 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Seriously? Maybe because every one of them no matter their security clearance has undergone some amount of scrutiny of their whereabouts, occupation, and contacts for the last 7-10 years? ...

I'm not doubting the patriotism of many members of the armed forces, but let's not sentimentalize things to the point where we forget how there have been security and psych profile lapses where several members of the military have committed violent acts against their fellow service members - which in my book frankly makes them, as a population, as much a risk on airliners as us civilian passengers.
posted by aught at 6:53 AM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


hermitosis: "I can't get over the fact that people think that what happened to these people can't be racism, because a similar thing happened to them (a white person)."

This is a simplistic way to look at what is being discussed here. I think the TSA is ridiculous just like the next guy. But let's look at the evidence at hand: it's an anecdotal description of 2 (two) documented cases of black women with natural hair getting patted. The TSA screener said "if you have certain kinds of ponytail or bun, you have to get your hair patted", making it really clear it wasn't a policy to target black people. To counter anecdotal evidence with anecdotal evidence, a white person on this thread said "I've had my hair patted once".

Not every awkward situation black people are put into is due to racism.
posted by falameufilho at 7:09 AM on August 17, 2011


Stop bagging on the TSA. Pretty soon it will be the only jobs program in the USA and we will all be begging to work there. Being able to act like a petty tyrant will be the only benefit to the job.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 7:13 AM on August 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


You know how all these Republican/Christian/Big Money interests have Think Tanks? That's what we need, a Think Tank for progressive ideas. We need to formulate a plan that will protect US citizens while doing away with the current TSA bullshit. Somebody want to touch Warren Buffett for a few hundred million?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:14 AM on August 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am still trying to get my head around the idea of anyone wanting to touch anyone else's hair. Between the sticky products most people use, the day's accumulated sweat/dander/etc., and whatever else may be in there...oh god, I need to go wash my hands.
posted by psoas at 7:18 AM on August 17, 2011


In related news, we're apparently back to TSA requiring Sikhs to sometimes remove turbans: they're not happy about it and claiming it's a 100% scan rate.

Take off your shoes. Take off your belt. Take your personal care products and put them out for display. Let us feel your hair, touch the top of the head. Respond humbly as we shout at you in your crowded line. The TSA process is humiliation.
posted by Nelson at 7:28 AM on August 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Had the TSA existed and been similarly strict in searching people boarding flights on 9/11 would the attacks still have taken place?

I'm not entirely sure this question is being asked in good faith, but what the hell.

There is no simple answer to that question, because it ignores the entire purpose and function of security, which (and I'm murdering this, but stay with me for a second) is essentially to decide which points are the most vulnerable, and which are worth the resources it would take to adequately protect them. In the middle of 2001, the world's view of airline hijackings was formed almost entirely from a few high-profile events 20-30 years earlier, in which the optimal outcome of a hijacking situation was shown to be compliance with the hijackers. As a passenger or pilot, your empirical safest option if you were confronted by 5 dudes with box cutters was to let them fly the plane wherever they wanted to fly it, and then get on with your life. This was, in retrospect, a glaring security hole. It was so glaring that it rose to the level of 'lowest-hanging fruit' in the eyes of a quasi-military group of radical fundamentalists who were scouting the defenses of an enemy they could never hope to defeat on an even playing field. It represented the highest return-on-investment of any plan they could calculate to cause the greatest possible damage to an enemy, and so they chose it. Had the TSA existed in its present form, it is possible that the attack vector on September 11th would have been a different one, but we can make absolutely no presumption that it would have been any more or less destructive in terms of property damage, loss of human life, or political fallout.

Moreover, the circumstances that were exploited to make this attack possible no longer exist. That is why, even if the TSA were disbanded overnight and security checkpoints were beaten into plowshares and passengers were encouraged to carry their firearms openly in business class, there would never again be an attack like the one on September 11th. Any person or group of people trying to commandeer an airplane would find themselves unable to enter the cockpit without risking explosive decompression, and would then find that everyone else on the airplane was prepared to risk grievous bodily injury in order to stop a hijacking from occurring. The cost-benefit analysis is completely different than it was a decade ago, and so the expected reaction is commensurately different.

Which is all to say, this is a meaningless question, because of two things:
  1. Creation of the TSA would have had to occur under Clinton's administration. In addition to him showing little inclination to create such a massive creature (and indeed an entirely new wing of government!), his attempt to do so would have been political suicide for the Democratic Party, as it would have been met with vicious, organized resistance from every right-leaning group in the country, as it would have represented the kind of dystopian surveillance society that Republicans had been insinuating was the necessary result of liberal control of all three branches of federal government. (I'll pause here so we can all reflect on what happened almost immediately upon the GOP taking control of the White House and Congress. Oh how it burns, the irony!)
  2. Even if the TSA had existed, it would have made no difference in the outcome of 9/11, as there are any of a hundred other scenarios that can be trivially dreamt up as easy ways to cause massive damage by a small group of determined people. Hell, Bruce Schneider even had a contest to name them! Turning an airplane into a fiery projectile probably had the highest ROI, but how well were the country's liquid-natural-gas reserves protected on that same day? Or the water supplies of the largest cities on the eastern seaboard? How about the former USSR's missing nuclear stockpile? Most of these vectors of attack still exist, right this very second, and yet rather than address them, we take our shoes off when we fly in the airliners that will never again be the target of an attack.
So no, joannemullen, perhaps the attacks would not still have taken place, but I don't think that answer means what you think it means.
posted by Mayor West at 7:47 AM on August 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Sys Rq, I very much disagree that the example of an attack by a member of the military on other soldiers (for ideological, political, psychological or whatever reason) gives the lie to my claim that a member of the American military is significantly less likely to try to commit an act of terrorism against Americans than any random air passenger.

Shall I go on? The list of recent domestic terrorists who were US military is longer than the list of civilian terrorists.

- Fort Hood shooting (active Army)
- Holocaust Memorial Museum shooting (former Navy)
- 2001 Anthrax attacks (active Army)
- Centennial Olympic Park bombing (former Army)
- Oklahoma City bombing (former Army)

If anything, military and ex-military should be profiled and screened harder than everyone else. 'Cause you know what? This...

Maybe because every one of them no matter their security clearance has undergone some amount of scrutiny of their whereabouts, occupation, and contacts for the last 7-10 years? Maybe because the country you live in has decided to fight two wars in the last decade and every single member of the military has volunteered to die if necessary in those wars? Maybe because if members of the military were actually the type to maliciously smuggle weapons onboard an airplane that could possibly cause bigger problems elsewhere? Like when they're holding a rifle? Or accessing a secure network? Or driving a truck filled with soldiers? Or checking a route for IEDs? Maybe because they get paid extremely little for hazardous work that often leaves them unprepared and unfit for live after service? Or maybe like justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow says you should be less upset that someone else has a teensy bit more freedom than you do and more upset that you've been reduced to whining about the privileges accorded to some teenager who's about to spend the next year hoping he doesn't get blown up in Afghanistan.

...would make an excellent motive.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:16 AM on August 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


The Beltway Sniper was ex-Army too, I think. Gulf War vet.
posted by bonehead at 8:26 AM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


In related news, we're apparently back to TSA requiring Sikhs to sometimes remove turbans


But Voldemort-related planejacking instances have been way down, so that's something.
posted by NoraReed at 8:37 AM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


But my pocket knife in my case went through without notice.

I'm envious; I was on a flight from Orlando last week that got canceled and after spending the better part of eight hours in the airport waiting to see if we'd get flights back to where we were going (we couldn't), we ended up having to take a flight to a nearby town and hiring a taxi.

My checked luggage never made it onto the other plane, so I had to call around the next day trying to track it down. Once I finally got it a couple of days later, I discovered that TSA had opened it up, rifled through it, liberated my pocket knife, and then, rather than actually re-close it using the latches, they just taped the whole thing up.

It's unbelievably irritating because 1.) the reason the pocket knife was in checked luggage was so that it wouldn't run afoul the TSA rules, and 2.) there was no notice or indication that they had taken it inside. I only realized when I was putting stuff away that it wasn't there.

My guess is that it was a simple act of theft by some agent that wanted a pocket knife, but I have no way of knowing, no way of checking up, and a reasonable concern that if I made too much noise about it, I'd end up on some no-fly list.

Fortunately, I always fear that exactly this kind of thing might happen, so it was just a cheap (but good) CRKT, and I can replace it, but damn it, it's the principle of the thing.
posted by quin at 8:44 AM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did I miss something or did the article say this had happened TWICE? I'm all for a good TSA-bashing and there are many, many legitimate topics for debate on barely submerged racism in US institutions, but are we sure this is one of them?

TWICE. Just saying is all.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:49 AM on August 17, 2011


If anything, military and ex-military should be profiled and screened harder than everyone else.

I am less than enthusiastic about any argument for profiling, that's as slippery a slope as they come (especially since out of your examples not a single one happened at an airport, which is what we're talking about here -- that would be a very different list and a very different profile). To repeat myself, I was befuddled by another commenter reacting to what they and I consider unfairly invasive search procedures at airports by complaining that military members didn't have to submit to them too. The attitude of caring less that your own civil liberties are being curtailed than that everyone else's are curtailed the same amount strikes me as odd. Looking back I'm probably reading them uncharitably and it was just an off the cuff remark, but there you have it. And once again, they give these people machine guns and helicopters and bombs. If they really do want to inflict massive casualties on fellow citizens then we have bigger problems than what they're hiding in their boots.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:05 AM on August 17, 2011


Had the TSA existed and been similarly strict in searching people boarding flights on 9/11 would the attacks still have taken place?

Here's a hint: The TSA had nothing to do with getting big heavy locked doors put on cockpits.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:09 AM on August 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


quin, you just picked the wonrg airport---I was going through Jacksonville. And actually it was the Leatherman CX thing too, solid stainless. I'm frankly amazed they missed it twice.
posted by bonehead at 9:12 AM on August 17, 2011


I accidentally went through security at O'Hare a few years ago with a pocketknife/multi-tool and a couple books of matches (I grab them at restaurants, put them in my bag, then promptly forget about them). I only remembered after my stuff came through the x-ray machine, and had a brief moment of OMG I'M GONNA GET DETAINED THEY SAW MY KNIFE panic. As I was trying to re-shoe myself in the most unsuspicious-looking way possible, a TSA agent approached. I thought for sure that my beloved leatherman was done for, and tried to keep cool.

But it was OK.

The agent wasn't coming for me. He was coming after the unfortunate girl right behind me who was trying to smuggle a slightly-too-big bottle of shampoo onto the airplane. If it weren't for those brave men and women, I don't know what we'd do.
posted by phunniemee at 9:20 AM on August 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


My hair may be dead, but it's part of me. Is it okay for you to go up to some random stranger, regardless of their race or gender, and touch them? I didn't think so.

(If you answered "yes", you have other problems.)
posted by madcaptenor at 9:23 AM on August 17, 2011


Really? No one else thinks it's noteworthy that this happened twice? No one else thinks discussing endemic problems based on two cases is weird?

Millions of people go through TSA checkpoints every day. Probably hundreds, if not thousands of those are black women with natural hair. This happened twice, according to the article.

I shudder to think at what other shaky op-ed conclusions we could draw from things happening twice over such large numbers.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:27 AM on August 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, the article isn't just about TSA pat-downs. It just starts there.
posted by muddgirl at 9:30 AM on August 17, 2011


The author even states
The agency says it never uses racial or ethnic profiling — and I totally accept that assurance, as a matter of agency policy.
posted by muddgirl at 9:30 AM on August 17, 2011


If memory serves me right, the great Pam Grier hid all kinds of weapons in her Afro in movies like Foxy Brown and Coffy, but those were movies, for crying out loud.
posted by Gelatin at 10:29 AM on August 17, 2011


but those were movies, for crying out loud.

I'm pretty sure those were documentaries.
posted by madcaptenor at 10:39 AM on August 17, 2011


John Cohen writes "I do think it's worth being on the lookout in the future."

Confirmation bias means I'm sure we'll be hearing about subsequent cases.

villanelles at dawn writes "Maybe because every one of them no matter their security clearance has undergone some amount of scrutiny of their whereabouts, occupation, and contacts for the last 7-10 years?"

Sys Rq pretty well made my points. Giving special treatment to anyone is foolish.

joannemullen writes "Had the TSA existed and been similarly strict in searching people boarding flights on 9/11 would the attacks still have taken place?"

Proably. Passenger mindset is going to prevent another 9/11 not anything the TSA is publicly doing.

Mayor West writes "Hell, Bruce Schneider even had a contest to name them!"
SWAT Surprise: A team of men decked out in SWAT gear, heavily armed, have a truck painted appropriately but carrying a truck bomb. The team can penetrate anything anywhere without credentials or searches, machine-gunning people trying to escape the carnage of the truck bomb. A couple dozen of these striking across the nation will make the public fear SWAT, and be wary of any police.
Hmm. Sounds familiar.

quin writes "It's unbelievably irritating because 1.) the reason the pocket knife was in checked luggage was so that it wouldn't run afoul the TSA rules, "

There was an askme answer in the last couple days that recommends packing a starter pistol in your bag. For $20 you gain the ability to secure your bag with an actual lock and the TSA voluntarily provides good security and tracks your bag as losing a firearm is very bad for them.
posted by Mitheral at 10:51 AM on August 17, 2011


I did get my hair touched the last time I flew, but it was because I had my hair pinned up with largeish metal pins, and they'd put me through the backscatter. On the other hand, I knew it was coming; I just had no intention of changing my hairstyle at that point in my travels. I walked out of the machine, looked the woman inspector in the eye and said "They're going to have you pat down my hair - my hairpins are metal." And she agreed that she had gotten that instruction, complimented me on how pretty they were and sent me on my way. So I can affirm that scanners will pick up artifacts that are "concealed" inside hair.

My underwire, on the other hand, apparently wasn't an issue.
posted by Karmakaze at 10:59 AM on August 17, 2011


Can someone hide a carbon-fibre knife in their hair and let us know how it goes once you're release from jail?
posted by GuyZero at 11:14 AM on August 17, 2011


John Cohen writes "I do think it's worth being on the lookout in the future."

Confirmation bias means I'm sure we'll be hearing about subsequent cases.


I didn't say we should only look to confirm one hypothesis. I just said we should be "on the lookout." I stand by that. But "on the lookout" doesn't just relate to black women. It means being aware of what the government is doing. For instance, I'm most likely to notice what the TSA does to a white man, namely me. Surely you don't think I'd only notice things that are done to black people, considering that I'm not black.
posted by John Cohen at 11:16 AM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I doubt TSA is institutionally racist. I suspect this speaks far more to the quality of hiring and training. White people are weird about afros. Learned the hard way myself.

I'm white, my hair is curly enough I could easily hide several inches of ceramic blade in it and it has never been patted down, even though I always refuse the pornoscan and end up being frisked about monthly. Hadn't thought about it until this thread, but my crotch and my tits get searched a lot more thoroughly than my hair.
posted by QIbHom at 11:27 AM on August 17, 2011


SWAT Surprise: A team of men decked out in SWAT gear, heavily armed, have a truck painted appropriately but carrying a truck bomb.

Speaking of SWAT, here's an update on the Jose Guerena story: Jose Guerena's Family Sues Pima County Over SWAT Raid Killing
posted by homunculus at 11:52 AM on August 17, 2011


(And the security screening of the US millitary? Ask Julian Assange how well that's worked. Not that I expect an answer from jm.)
posted by rodgerd at 12:06 PM on August 17, 2011


Shall I go on? The list of recent domestic terrorists who were US military is longer than the list of civilian terrorists.

I think you forgot Hasan Akbar
posted by Hoopo at 12:20 PM on August 17, 2011


(Don't get me wrong, I'm not actually advocating more security theatre for anyone; it's silly enough as it is. I just think it's some wonky logic that results in a person bypassing security when that person is a highly trained killer with every reason to be disgruntled.)
posted by Sys Rq at 12:22 PM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


"White people, man."

THANK YOU. This is what I've been saying for years. Decades, even!
posted by Eideteker at 1:13 PM on August 17, 2011


I will admit, though, that this makes marginally more sense than patting down your bare arms, which they did to me last time I flew. Seriously. Because I am hiding ceramic knives under the skin of arms. My skinny, skinny arms.
posted by NoraReed at 1:57 PM on August 17, 2011


Two observations from homunculus' Guerena's Family Sues Pima County Over SWAT Raid Killing link:

Pima County GOP Chairman Brian Miller said "[I]t is my hope that this tragic event will lead to a renewed discussion of the policies that routinely lead to heavily armed and militarized local police invading private homes and a renewed interest in the civil liberties codified in our Bill of Rights."

He was then fired as head of the local GOP because "Mr. Miller’s statements regarding the SWAT raid have created serious problems for our elected officials, money raising efforts and have divided the Party."

This tells me that there will always be an authoritarian loving percentage of people who will support the actions of people in uniforms giving orders (cops, TSA, etc.)

and "Other military and police bloggers also weighed in with criticism. The cop-run blog Beat and Release posted a lengthy and critical commentary on the initial statement from SWAT commander Sgt. Bob Krygier."

1.) There is a cop run blog called Beat and Release?! Are you kidding me?

2.) How badly to you have to fuck up where a cop run blog called Beat and-fucking Release is critical of your overly combative tactics?

posted by quin at 2:04 PM on August 17, 2011


Note to People: Don't ask to touch people you don't know well.
posted by theora55 at 10:54 PM on August 16 [20 favorites −] F


Hell yeah! Not their hair, or their tattoos, either. I get asked about both. My hair is super curly, even when short, and it is typically pink, people always want to touch it. (I am not black, either.)

I also get people either asking to touch my tattoos, or just reaching out and touching them. I get that my bicep piece is different than most tattoos people see (no black outline, very brightly colored) but, for the love of god, don't touch me. One of these days I'm just gonna start touching back, only not lightly.
posted by SuzySmith at 2:34 PM on August 17, 2011


> I hate all of them and their fucking scanners

I was surprised when flying SFO - BOS that neither of the Virgin America -only security screenings had AIT (nude-o-scope) scanners. I was traveling with my 11-year-old son, who, educated about the risks of X-rays and the fact that you can still receive an "enhanced" pat down even if you go through the scanner (and they see an "anomaly"), was planning not to opt-out.

I was relieved to have the whole issue mooted.

I searched around and found TSA status which tells you where the AIT machines are (and aren't).

Virgin America was around the same $$ as United & US Air for non-stops, but avoiding X-rays is a whole new kind of luxury. I'm flying (√-1)-class from now own.
posted by morganw at 4:59 PM on August 17, 2011


*searches thread for afroblanco*

awwww.
posted by tehloki at 7:32 PM on August 17, 2011


Take off your shoes. Take off your belt. Take your personal care products and put them out for display. Let us feel your hair, touch the top of the head. Respond humbly as we shout at you in your crowded line. The TSA process is humiliation.

Agreed.

This happened twice, according to the article.

No, this happened to two different personal acquaintances of the writer of the article. From these anecdotes, the writer is extrapolating (perhaps fairly, perhaps not) that this is probably more common than one might think (especially if the one is a white person who has not seen Good Hair.)
posted by desuetude at 10:09 PM on August 17, 2011


The Dilemma of Counterterrorism Policy
posted by homunculus at 11:43 AM on August 19, 2011


Racial Profiling First Hand

Arlington Man Pulled Off United Airlines Flight Claims Racial Profiling
posted by homunculus at 1:59 PM on August 25, 2011


I hate all of them and their fucking scanners

U.S. Airport Full Body Scanners Too Unreliable to Use, Germany Says
posted by homunculus at 5:43 PM on September 1, 2011


We’re Going To Molest You. And Then We’re Going To Make You Pay for It.
posted by homunculus at 9:15 AM on September 7, 2011


“Half-Arab, half-Jewish housewife” terrorized on 9/11 for Flying While Dark-Skinned
posted by homunculus at 9:37 AM on September 13, 2011


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