In the movie Foxy Brown, Pam Grier (who is the most important African-American actress since movies were shot in color) pulls a gun from her afro. In another movie, she laces it with razor blades to cut up anybody who tries to pull her hair. These scenes are empowering moments for the "natural" hairstyle. Grier is taking back the much-maligned look for black women, and making it cool, sexy and useful.
Unfortunately, the people in charge of protecting us from terrorism didn't seem to understand it was a damn movie. Foxy Brown must be part of the TSA training program, given how they behave. The TSA has a long and well-documented record of targeting black women with natural hair for pat downs that border on creepy scalp massages. If it can happen to Solange, then it can happen to all of us. The ACLU has had to sue them over this discriminatory behavior.
I swear, I think your average white person knows more about quantum mechanics than the physics of black people's hair. For the record, you cannot smuggle a loaded gun in a 'fro. A loaded Beretta (for instance) weighs about 2.5 pounds. THAT'S MORE THAN A SQUIRREL. Human hair cannot "secure" a gun in place. You'd need some kind of head holster for that, and if such a device existed, a white woman with a perm would be just as able to conceal a firearm up there. The red-headed Annie AND the black Annie could do it.
In terms of stabbing weapons, I'm a dude who rocks an afro from time to time, and I can definitely conceal a pen up in it. Maybe lightweight scissors if I keep my head straight and maintain good balance. But, here's the other thing, my hair might be different from my white friends, but it's not composed of LEAD, okay? My hair cannot flummox Superman... or a TSA scanning device. And really, any sudden movement (as happens a lot when in an airport) would dislodge the item.
If you think natural hair poses a serious security threat to American air-travel, you are at best dumb, and at worst, dumb and racist.
According to The Cut, the TSA is finally going to stop this racially divisive practice.
After pressure from the ACLU, the TSA has finally agreed to retrain security officers. Per the agreement, the agency will provide trainings across the country with an emphasis on hair pat-downs of black female travelers. TSA has also agreed to specifically track hair pat-down complaints filed by black women at all airports they oversee to determine whether discriminatory practices are still occurring.
Maybe Pam Grier can make a TSA training video. She could stick various things in her hair, shake, and show them which items fall out. Then black women could go back to going about their day without having their hair molested by idiots.
Elie Mystal is the editor at large of Above the Law. This post originally appeared on Above the Law Redline.