About this Blog

The title of this blog, "I'm About to do My Thing," was inspired by Jill Scott's introduction to her poem "The Thickness" from her live album Experience: Jill Scott 826+. In this intro, she warns that the content to follow is "real" and proceeds to deliver a beautiful message about self-esteem in young black girls, what can influence and damage that self-esteem, and the entire village's responsibility--"it takes a village"--to elevate its children.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Explosives in the Curls? An Airport Security Story

In our post-9/11 world, I think most of us can agree that a few airport inconveniences (e.g., long security lines, taking off shoes, under-3 oz. carry-on liquids, and occasional pat-downs) are worth it to ensure our protection. I did not expect the following, however, during a recent security scan at ATL's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

After sending my carry-on items through the scanner and preparing to walk through the metal detector, I was told that I needed to be patted down because I had on a baggy sweatshirt. Cool, that makes sense, I thought. The TSA officer then told me that she needed to check my hair. Er? Is this chick really about to put her hands in my hair? OK. Here we go...She then proceeded to briefly fish around in my hair--for a razor? A bomb?
This was a first for me. I've never heard of hair being checked before (except for my homie's recently patted-down headwrap. She was none too thrilled about that). Granted, my hair is "big"; I get that. But are we really suspecting that folks are hiding WMD in their hair now? Well, after some recently foiled terrorist plots, the amped-up security is widespread.
Sandra Oh, of ABC's Grey's Anatomy

This Reuters story reports that travelers and pilots alike are very unhappy with the increasingly "personal" pat-downs. One father had a hard time trying to explain to his 8-year-old son that it was appropriate for a TSA officer to "check his genital area," after having taught the child that only his parents and a doctor could touch that area. (I wasn't too comfortable with the boob-area treatment I got, either.) As for pilots, some feel downright uneasy about the extra-touchy pat-downs.

Is hair one of those "personal" areas? I don't know. It was definitely surprising, and I'm certainly not used to having total strangers put their hands in my hair. I also had to wonder what the criteria are for search-worthy hair. Does it have to stand more up and out than down? Who decides hair that's not "big enough" to be checked and hair that is? What if I had hair like Sandra Oh's, full and thick--but long? Whose hair is getting searched, and whose is clearly not a threat? I'm all for increased security to keep us safe, but I have to wonder if some lines aren't being crossed in the process. The jury's still out on this one, at least for me.


  1. I'm driving EVERYWHERE. This is some bull...

  2. Your life is way more interesting than mine

  3. You would have thought you were going to visit someone in jail. That's the only place that I know of that you might get your hair check for razors, but that's about it. Pretty soon we're all gonna have to just walk through in our underwear.

    HCASC Middle Schooler

  4. I had to go through one of those full body scanners at the airport last weekend, so I sort of know how you feel. At least I didn't have someone groping me physically, but it is pretty weird to know that someone behind a screen somewhere is basically looking at you naked. I'm all about extra security measures, but surely they could do something less invasive. And shouldn't they have one of those metal-detecting wands that is strong enough to pick up razors instead of having to grope through your hair?

    On a (humorous) side note, in one of the travel narratives I'm using in my dissertation, the woman describes hiding her and her husband's watches in her hair so they aren't discovered by pirates. The sound of the watches ticking drives her crazy (not literally). At the time I thought the idea was pretty ridiculous, but apparently some TSA peeps must have read that and thought, hey, it happened in the eighteenth century, so obviously people today must do the same thing!

  5. Yes, guys, all this feels weird and seems overboard. BUT wouldn't you rather be ALIVE than dead because you shut your mouth, stopped whining for 5 seconds to make sure it was safe. Terrorists are not concerned about our safety in any way, shape,or form. Get that thru your heads. A little pat down is better than being snuffed out in the next couple of hours. Americans have become such whiners!!!!!!

  6. These ridiculous security measures don't actually make us any safer; they only promote the illusion of safety. The TSA randomly harasses people so that they will do exactly what you have done, which is build up a mythology around TSA that they are thorough to the point of being ridiculous. America is no safer because some TSA reprobate fished around in you hair. Grrr.

  7. I seriously doubt groping an 8-yr-old's genitals made any of us safer. It may have, however, given the boy some issues he may have to deal with later in life. Whiny or not, people should not be made to feel like criminals when they are traveling.

  8. I really appreciate the last two posts. That's all I'm going to say about that. :-)

    Folks, I don't know what they might have been expecting to find in my hair. I only speculated about the razor! Lacy, the 8th-century reference is crazy! Lol.