Sunday, September 25, 2011

Natural is not Considered Cool Enough at the Airport: Another Black Woman Insulted by TSA

Recently, a woman was required, at the airport, to have her natural do checked for explosives by TSA.  She expressed that she was humiliated by this event and understandably so.  You will find her story at the following link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/21/isis-brantley-dallas-woma_n_973787.html

Ms. Isis Brantley, pictured to the right, is a hairdresser and a big part of her work is serving as an advocate for natural hair. Here is another link where she shares her story http://www.flyertalk.com/the-gate/blog/7175-a-hair-raising-experience-at-an-airport-security-checkpoint-2.html

This is not the first time that N.I.C.E. has shared such a story as this happened to another Black woman recently (See story here: http://naturaliscoolenough.blogspot.com/2011/07/sa-pat-down-of-natural-hair-really.html).  What is the rationale for even remotely considering that a Black woman would have explosives in her hair?  There is no precedent for this mode of thinking in any way shape or form.  It appears that viewing naturally beautiful hair as potentially dangerous in the airport (considering the possibility that something dangerous may be "hidden in it") falls into the notion that if a Black woman's hair is not "relaxed" then it may cause others not to be relaxed.  If this is the case, every person wearing a bun, long curly hair and any other style that is voluminous should also have their hair checked for explosives which would be equally ridiculous.  I am waiting to hear the story of a non-Black woman with curly full hair who is stopped at the airport by TSA because of the possibility of explosives in her hair.
     Furthermore, as explained in my forthcoming book,  Cultural Competency for the Health Professions, to be released in 2012,  What Ms. Isis Brantley experienced is a form of Microagression entitled a Microinsult.
“A Microinuslt is characterized by communications that convey rudeness and insensitivity and demean a person’s racial heritage or identity” (see source below*). The term "micro" does not minimize the humiliation as it is indeed a major problem.
     To that end sisters, do not be dismayed.  Continue to wear your natural hair freely and proudly.  Do not feel demeaned by those around you who do not understand the beauty of your natural hair and can't relax in its presence.  Wear it proudly and with confidence knowing that it is a crown of beauty that exemplifies your connection to your ancestral heritage.  Ms. Isis Brantley expressed her dismay loud and clear and demanded an apology which presumably she received from a TSA Supervisor.  Hopefully, her experience sent a resounding message that no matter where we are and what we are doing, Natural is Cool Enough and that's N.I.C.E.   Ms. Isis Brantley, N.I.C.E. offers a salute to your natural hair!  

*Sue, D.W., Capodilupo, C.M., Torino, G.C., Bucceri, J.M., Holder, A.M.B., Nadal, K.L., & Esquilin, M. (2007). Racial microaggressions in everyday life: Implications for clinical practice. American Psychologist, 62(4), 271-286.

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