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Black woman’s braided hair targeted by racist TSA agents

Photo credit: Matthias G. Ziegler /

Photo credit: Matthias G. Ziegler /

Illinois resident Karen Scruggs was attempting to “fly while Black” last Saturday. Unfortunately, Scruggs was in for a bumpy ride through security at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. According to WGN, when she attempted to pass through security, Transportation Security Administration personnel stopped her and began fingering her thickly-braided natural hair.

Per Scruggs, after touching her braids, a female agent then removed her testing glove and put it through an explosive detector. When the detector went off, Scruggs was escorted to a private room where she was questioned extensively and even searched multiple times by an agent who touched her thighs.

After all of the chaos, no weapons or explosives were found, Scruggs’ captors apologized and offered to escort her to her flight, which was delayed.

Scruggs believes she was racially profiled. She claimed to have been treated poorly by agents who told her to shut up.

Sources say Scruggs will likely sue the TSA. She claims this isn’t the first time she’s been targeted, as she is often selected for searches.

While racial profiling is prohibited by both the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security, Scruggs is not alone in her claim. Many minorities, particularly women of color, often find themselves subjected to searches with little explanation. Due to mounting complaints, last spring officials at the TSA reached an agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union stating they would stop subjecting Black women with natural hair to extra screenings. In a statement, ACLU of Northern California staff attorney Novella Coleman said, “The humiliating experience of countless Black women who are routinely targeted for hair pat-downs because their hair is ‘different’ is not only wrong, but also a great misuse of TSA agents’ time and resources.”

What do you think? Was Scruggs likely a victim of racial profiling because of her hairstyle? Has this happened to you before? Sound off in the comments section below.

1 Comment

  1. Sol Rothstein on April 1, 2016 at 11:08 am

    A better argument/process — would be to ask them to do the same to WHITE WOMEN…Then you could just simply sit back and watch things change over night.

    Black FOLKS have got to start thinking deeper! Everything isn’t so BLACK AND WHITE.