Is Natural Hair A Security Risk?

*sigh* We’ve heard about women getting their afros frisked in the name of national security.  It happened in Atlanta.  It happened in Seattle.  Honestly after hearing these stories I have made sure never to wear a fro, twist- or braid-out when flying.  I normally wear 2ST or braids either tucked under a cute knit cap or pinned in a cute up-do.

Before flying home on my recent vacay I braided down my hair.

But after reading the following story are any natural texture styles “safe” from scrutiny or attracting suspicion?

A woman was caught trying to smuggle 1.5 kilograms of cocaine in her dreadlocks on a flight to Bangkok, it was reported today. South African Nobanda Nolubabalo, 23, was arrested and held in Thailand’s capital yesterday after customs officers allegedly noticed a suspicious white substance in her hair.  Officials later carried out a search and discovered she had allegedly matted the Class A drug into her dreadlocks before boarding a flight from Brazil.

Yarn Locs pulled into a big bun. It does look like I could be hiding something in there

*double sigh* If you watch the video you will see that the women hid long tubular packages of drugs within her yarn locs.  Say what? Yes.  I was just wearing this style in my hair and actually was on the fence on whether or not to take them down before I had to travel out of town.  If I had not taken them down on Sunday I would have surely taken them down today after reading that article.

Granted the above story happened in Thailand not in the United States, but the fro smooshings happened on domestic flights here within the contiguous 48.  Maybe I am just being paranoid.  They say if you have not done something wrong then you have nothing to worry about.  I used to think that too.  That was until I was pulled over just a few miles from my home by the police repeatedly due to racial profiling.  Each time I was asked to show my license, registration and proof of insurance.  Questioned about where I was going and where I was coming from.  I was never cited nor warned, simply just harassed.  And while I was not harmed or abused in anyway it hurt to think that something like this could happen in my “good neighborhood” where I have lived for 7+ years.  I felt embarrassed, violated and unwelcome.  I can only imagine what the women felt like being singled-out and publicly groped in the name of national security.

On my trip this weekend I am not sure how I will wear my hair.  I thought about applying gloppy handfuls of KCCC before leaving and making the agent who searches me run their fingers through the ooze, but I don’t want to waste the product or have to wear a showercap publicly to contain the juices.  Or maybe wear a matted, tangled fro that would “bite back” during a search, but then I would just look plain crazy.  So while I pack my bags according to government regulations and prepare myself for my upcoming  trip, the fact that I have to also select a hairstyle that will not draw undo attention from TSA just doesn’t feel right.

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6 thoughts on “Is Natural Hair A Security Risk?

  1. No I dont think any natural style is safe from scrutiny or attracting suspicion especially since the cocaine smuggling incident happened. I know Cassadie of the the Natural Selection Blog said that the airport searched her urban twist which was done by the Damn Salon. And the crazy thing about it is, her whole head is not even twisted she got part of her head shaved, so I dont know I guess when I go to the airport I need to get ready….smh

  2. I think the scrutiny is real but also ridiculous, especially given that they don’t feel the need to search white women with big hair. That old school Dolly Parton kind of do’ takes a whole lotta hair spray, and anything that stiff could hold something.

    I wonder if the woman who holds the world record for a big-A fro has ever gotten her hair frisked?

    If you really want to annoy the agent with KCCC glop but still try to look cute before the search, I suggest a gele, or traditional African wrap. You can glop up, put the shower cap on, then wrap the cloth over the cap in a very pretty design. (I’ve done this in the summer while deep conditioning on the go. Condition, cap, wrap, run errands in the heat and humidity, home, and rinse. I look elegant and no one is the wiser.) I would almost guarantee they’ll search you because they’ll probably think the wrap–or an ethnic woman wearing a wrap–looks suspicious. You can remove both the wrap and shower cap in one swoop, and … surprise! Lots of fun stuff for the agent to run her hands through! (Hee hee)

    • Mariam you are such a fabulous writer and I get a little star struck whenever you comment :) back on topic I love your ideas I was over here giggling. Aevin said that she rarely wears her fro out, normally opting for a twisted style. I think it is absolutely racially motivated as you said this does not happen to caucasian women.

  3. My natural tresses daughter and me in SLs had our hair patted at the Pensacola, Florida airport and we were the only two women of color going through security. Nobody else had their hair patted.

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