TSA Agent Under Fire After Saying ‘Giddyup’ While Pulling On Native American Woman’s Braids
By Parker Diakite
TSA has apologized to a woman who accused an agent of pulling her braids and saying “giddyup.”
Tarry Houska was traveling through the Minneapolis, Minnesota airport when the incident took place during a security screening.
Housa, a prominent activist and lawyer, was returning from a climate march in Washington DC. She told her Twitter followers that a TSA agent was checking her braids for weapons as she headed home to Bemidji in northern Minnesota.
Instead of conducting a standard check, Housa said, “she pulled them behind my shoulders, laughed & said ‘giddyup!’ as she snapped my braids like reins.”
Going through @TSA at @mspairport, the agent said she needed to pat down my braids. She pulled them behind my shoulders, laughed & said “giddyup!” as she snapped my braids like reins.— tara houska (@zhaabowekwe) January 13, 2020
My hair is part of my spirit. I am a Native woman. I am angry, humiliated. Your “fun” hurt.
As a member of the Ojibwe Tribe, Housa added, “My hair is part of my spirit. I am a Native woman. I am angry, humiliated. Your ‘fun’ hurt.”
“When I informed the middle-aged blonde woman who had casually used her authority to dehumanize and disrespect me, she said, ‘well it was just in fun, I’m sorry. Your hair is lovely,'” said Housa. “That is NOT an apology and it is NOT okay.”
TSA said in a statement, “TSA holds its employees to the highest standards of professional conduct and any type of improper behavior is taken seriously.”
Cliff Van Leuven, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Minnesota, spoke with Houska and apologized for the agent’s actions and “insensitive” comment, according to CNN.
And while Housa does not want the woman to be fired for the incident, she tweeted that she was pleased with the outcome.
“Good resolution from a bad situation. We need more education & empathy for one another,” she said.