The Blue Grass Airport TSA Pulled Me Aside to Inspect and Massage My Hair and Now I Have Questions!

Me and my totally not-long-enough-to-be-smuggling-shit hair (Damon Young)
Me and my totally not-long-enough-to-be-smuggling-shit hair (Damon Young)

I’m writing this from Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Ky., waiting on a flight to Philadelphia that will take me back home to Pittsburgh. I came to Kentucky to visit the bell hooks Institute at Berea College for an event with bell hooks yesterday that I’m totally, definitely going to tell you all about soon. Right now, however, I’m sitting here slightly annoyed because my flight was delayed, but mostly just perplexed about what happened after I passed through security just now.


After walking through the body scanner, I was asked by a Transport Security Administration agent to wait. Actually, I wasn’t asked to wait. She just didn’t immediately make the “You’re good to go now” motion, so I stood there, shoeless, as she waited for something. As seconds passed, I began to go through a mental checklist.

“Did I take everything out of my pockets?” (Yes.) “Did I take my belt off?” (Yes.) “Did my daughter, as she’s wont to do, sneak a penny or a pocketknife or something last week in one of the pockets of the pants I’m wearing without telling me?” (No ... but that baby is a trickster!)


By now, a full minute had passed and still nothing from the TSA agent. Right when I was about to ask her what’s up, she spoke into her walkie-talkie, asked, “Is there a male available for assistance here?” and walked away. Of course, I shifted to full WTF? mode. And also WHAT THE FUCK DO THEY NEED TO DO TO ME THAT A “MALE” HAS TO BE AVAILABLE? mode.

Another 30 seconds passed. No one seemed to be moving with much urgency, so I relaxed a little until I saw a male TSA agent come from out of a room somewhere and apply latex gloves. Latex gloves! WHAT THE FUCK DO THEY NEED TO DO TO ME THAT A “MALE” WITH LATEX GLOVES HAS TO BE AVAILABLE?

I thought about the endoscopy I had performed on me last week and how the doctor said that I’m nearing the age when I should get annual colonoscopies and prostate exams, too. Did this TSA nigga talk to my doctor? By “nearing the age,” did he really mean “the next time you’re in Kentucky”? A sign outside a restaurant on the way to the airport advertised a special called the “Lexington Surprise.” Was I about to get the Lexington Surprise?!

I braced myself as he neared me. I finally spoke.

“What’s the problem?”

“Um, sir ... your hair ... um ... sir ... is large.”

He then reached up, gently patted his latex glove on the top of my head, rubbed and caressed my hair for five seconds like we were in the laziest Pantene commercial ever, stopped and said, “I’m sorry. You’re good.”


And now I have questions.

  1. The above photo was taken just now, which gives me (approximately) 2 inches of hair, which makes me wonder: What the fuck did they possibly think I was smuggling in my hair?
  2. Cigarillos?
  3. Beef jerky?
  4. The world’s tiniest bomb?
  5. Like, a bomb that, when it explodes, makes the same “Pew! Pew!” sound that Kevin Hart makes when he’s pretending to be a rapper?
  6. Tyrese? Holy shit—they probably thought I was smuggling Tyrese in my hair, didn’t they?
  7. Exotic juices and berries not allowed in the United States, since my hair is so luscious and healthy and sexy?
  8. Also, considering how intimate this hair touching was, should he at least have bought me a drink afterward?
  9. Do I look like a cheap date?
  10. I haven’t been on a date in years, so is this what dates are like now—a nigga with latex touches your hair while they refuse to make eye contact with you, and when they’re done, you can put your shoes back on?

I have more questions, but I’m going to stop right now and go find some fucking shampoo.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)



WOW?!? So 2 inches of hair is a problem? 😂😂 When are we going to start checking these white people with “messy buns” you can never tell what’s hiding in there. Time to start a petition to have those top messy bun things checked.