Here we are once again, about to perform our customary dance. I assume the position in the full-body scanner, which apparently is not thorough enough, so a female agent must then proceed to rummage through my hair in search of explosives. Other passengers sheepishly stare but this does not discourage her, although occasionally she may offer a quiet “sorry” as she pokes and probes. I simply smile while seething inside, because, well, I am a Black woman with kinky hair, which obviously means I have recently joined ISIS and I’m storing weapons in my mysterious crown of dark coils.
There are two body scanners. The one on the right is monitored by Kind Older Black Lady, and I know she will allow me to pass without being violated further because she understands The Struggle. Smiling White Dude on the left will definitely have my hair searched. Each time I fly I’m tempted to protest, but the TSA line is not the place to throw a tantrum and I have to catch this flight. So I’m going to low-key make my way over to Kind Older Black Lady.
Fuck. Outrageously Tall Chick is motioning for me to go left. I’ll pretend I don’t see her, even though she’s a fucking giant. Keep moving. Don’t look her in the eye. Why is she calling out to me? Yes, I’m aware that line is shorter, but I want Kind Older Black Lady. Let other people go then. Seriously? No, I’m not giving you an attitude. Christ, damn, Smiling White Dude it is. And what the hell was I thinking, wearing a BLACK LIVES MATTER shirt to the airport?
I’m going to encourage Elegant Woman in Hijab to cut in front of me. The TSA will be so focused on her they won’t bother with my bomb Afro. I remember flying out of Dulles Airport once and two unlucky, brown, bearded men caused the agents to lose their shit, so much so that I breezed through security with an eight-ounce bottle of leave-in conditioner. Of course I feel awful offering up poor Elegant Woman in Hijab, but I really, really do not want to be touched today. Does this make me a terrible person? Probably. Wait, where did Elegant Woman in Hijab go? Huh. She just strolled through fucking Pre-Check.
I see you, Smiling White Dude. I’m ready for our little dance. Wipe the dumb smirk off your face, you can’t possibly love your job that much. Good god, I’m already over this day and it’s only seven in the morning. I need a drink.
Bag on scanner belt. Shoes off. Here we go. Feet straddled on the mat. Arms above my head. I hope Smiling White Dude at least notices how toned my x-rayed ass looks. I’ve been working hard.
Outrageously Tall Chick instructs me to wait. She is going to fuck up my twist-out, I know it. This is why I prefer the more seasoned agents to perform the Afro treasure hunt. They idly go through the motions, and will do a couple of lazy pats on the head and send me on my way, hairstyle in tact. Outrageously Tall Chick, though, is fresh-faced and the young ones are the worst. Too eager and so methodical, they practically give you a full-on head massage.
What’s this? Outrageously Tall Chick has stepped aside. She is letting me go. Really? No invasive rubdown? And she gives up a friendly smile too. Wow.
Such a great start to this trip. I even upgraded to extra legroom. Let’s see, who is sitting next to me? Posh Matron. Friendly but not too talkative, smells nice – the perfect seatmate. Why is she staring at me though? Must be the shirt. I’ll keep my gaze out the window to avoid the awkwardness. But wait a minute. I just caught some movement out the corner of my eye. Is she… is she leaning closer to me? Oh, no. Is she reaching…? No, no, no. Oh my fucking god, her hand is in my hair.