Woman says TSA hair search amounts to racial profiling

An African-American woman is accusing the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) of racial profiling because her hair was searched at an airport security checkpoint. 

In an interview Friday on MSNBC, Laura Adiele said that TSA agents notified her after she went through a full-body scanner at Seattle’s Sea-Tec Airport that her hair needed to be inspected. Adiele said she had no problem with being patted down, but she said the agents made the request to check her hair after she was scanned because she is black. 

{mosads}”It’s already uncomfortable to be going through a naked body imaging,” she said on MSNBC’s “Jansing and Co.” show. “For me, my hair is my breaking point.”

“I played the race card in this just because I looked around and didn’t see anyone else being searched in that way,” Adiele continued. “And at the end of it, I had an African-American flight attendant come up to me and say that she’s had this experience and that she’s seeing it more frequently and that she thought I should complain about it.” 

Adiele said the TSA agents told her it was the agency’s policy to check anything that “poofs” from the body. 

TSA said that it screens all passengers “thoroughly,” which might sometimes mean their hair. 

“Additional screening may be required for clothing, headwear or hair where prohibiting items could be hidden,” the agency said in a statement provided to the network. “TSA has record of this passenger coming through the security checkpoint. We are happy to work with this passenger directly and address her complaints.”

However, Adiele said she did not see anything about hair in the guidelines posted on TSA’s website. 

“I’ve sent a complaint and I haven’t heard anything back,” she said. “The whole thing just seemed kind of fishy to me.”  


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