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.
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