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TSA Scanners May Be Discriminating Against You

TSA Scanners May Be Discriminating Against You
Jennifer Billock

In case you thought discrimination was just a man-made construct, you should think again—new reports show that the Transportation Security Administration’s body scanners at airports are more likely to give a false alarm for African American and overweight passengers going through the security lines.

Have you heard of a hair pat-down? It’s something many Black women have to endure on a regular basis, thanks to mechanical discrimination by the Transportation Security Administration’s full-body scanners at airports. The scanners frequently show false alarms when Black women go through them, requiring an agent to run their hands through the passenger’s hair.

“It happens with my natural Afro, when I have braids or two-strand twists. Regardless,” Dorian Wanzer told ProPublica. “At this point in my life I have come to expect it, but that doesn’t make it any less invasive and frustrating.”

Black women have been complaining about these invasive searches for years, and reports of hair pat-downs are continuing to rise.

“With black females, the scanner alarms more because they have thicker hair; many times they have braids or dreadlocks,” an anonymous TSA officer in Texas told ProPublica. “Maybe, down the line, they will be redesigning the technology, so it can tell apart what’s a real threat and what is not. But, for now, we officers have to do what the machine can’t.”

The same false alarms trigger when passengers are wearing turbans and wigs, or when they’re overweight. Passengers with a normal Body Mass Index tend to get stopped substantially less than passengers who are classified as obese, Business Insider reported.


[Image Source: Shutterstock]

View Comments (11)


  1. jgcii

    April 24, 2019 at 4:26 am

    This is total BS. Just more whining from the 13 – hell not even 13 the 7

  2. PepeBorja

    April 24, 2019 at 4:28 am

    If I could get my hair back I would be happy to endure these invasive patdowns.

  3. dixildy1

    April 24, 2019 at 6:49 am

    It’s not just Black ladies that the TSA harass, it’s ALL women who go through the scanners. I try to dress as light as possible, but because I have a large chest they just HAVE TO FEEL MY BREST even though I go through the scanner.

  4. KRSW

    April 24, 2019 at 7:03 am

    My mother’s dealt with this quite frequently… and she’s white, in her 70s.

  5. strickerj

    April 24, 2019 at 8:05 am

    Bit of a sensational headline, eh? I’m not sure I’d call a technical limitation of the scanners “discrimination”.

  6. sunshineaz

    April 24, 2019 at 8:59 am

    My husband has to deal with this because of his socks every time. His shoes never make it even in the precheck lane so those are off already. He has to pull his socks down and slacks up to his knee so the man checking him can see bare skin. Fabric density of clothing items together. I wore a dress one time and had to be patted down so now I wear slacks.

  7. MrGood

    April 24, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    Oh look, PC culture entering FT as well. All colors, shapes & sizes get “harassed” by TSA on a regular basis, myself included. People are just looking to sue.

  8. snidely

    April 24, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    Has any terrorist been stopped/caught by all this?

  9. gking1

    April 24, 2019 at 3:32 pm

    I’m scanned often – white and retired.

  10. ozpete

    April 24, 2019 at 5:44 pm

    I get pulled over every time. As a tall white older aged white male, it happens because I theorise that I won’t complain or give them a hard time, wheras my wife has never been checked

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