TSA officer grabbed Native American woman's braids, snapped them and said "Giddy up!"

I’m responding to questions asked of me.

I agreed with you for a second, but most of them are just people that need jobs.


Unfortunately in any organization there is a tremendous pressure to conform and very few have the intestinal fortitude to buck that. Most either go along or quit. When your whole schtick is to dehumanize the very folks you are “protecting,” the consequences are fairly predictable.


Okay then:

"Would you please put down the shovel and stop digging? "


Actual LOL here!


You and I are in agreement. The issue I have is that the employees aren’t trash, the organization and it’s practices are trash.


“Hey, I don’t agree with you so can you stop talking?”

That’s fine. I really have only repeated myself over and over anyway. I find no fault in understanding both sides of a situation before making a judgment call. As I’ve stated the TSA agent was inappropriate in her role but I would like more information before I slap the label “racist” on her. Some people are just…assholes.

I used a very crude analysis in the details of my post above to estimate the odds the TSA agent was behaving in a racist manner based on the evidence we have. To believe more evidence is necessary is to believe we don’t have enough evidence to rule out that this was a mere coincidence. But I don’t think you are actually thinking about what the odds of that are or what the threshold would be that would be sufficient evidence. I think if your own personal safety depended on your ability to determine who was an was not likely racist then you’d have a different calibration.

Overestimating the odds that something was not racist is a way to prop up racism.



Thanks. This is a great quote.


You know that’s not what I meant, and that this is not about agreement. The point is, this “discussion” shouldn’t be happening.

[takes bait]

What the TSA agent did to Ms Houska wasn’t only “inappropriate” but culturally insensitive. Asking whether it was or was not culturally insensitive or if Ms Houska was just being overly dramatic is not for us to discuss, especially for those of us who are not minorities and thus have never been subject to this sort of thing. It is not for those who are outside the group to determine what those inside the group consider insensitive.

Moreover, if the TSA agent did not know it was culturally insensitive, that’s on her. For example, let’s say I typically greet people with “how you monkeys doing?” It’s what I consider a fun, lighthearted greeting, hypothetically speaking. Would I greet a group of black people this way, and if I were challenged, would I simply say, “nuh uh, it’s not racist, I say that to everyone, you’re just sensitive”, completely ignoring the cultural implications of one action or word as experienced by one specific ethnic group? This TSA agent should have understood the meanings of her actions, in context, as well as the optics involved. In fact, any grown adult should.


I totally understand and agree with this point. We’re also talking about TSA employees. It’s a job that starts at $12 an hour. I can’t say with confidence that they’re hiring people with the best understanding of cultural and social taboos. That absolutely doesn’t make it OK though.

I would very much like to know how the TSA agent reacted when she found out she had truly offended someone. I know I won’t get that but it’s very telling. Was it an, “Oh, my god! I had no idea. I do it to everybody and I didn’t mean to hurt anyone. It will never happen again.” or was it a, “Well, that’s just who I am sweetie. Y’all don’t need to be so sensitive.” I’m all for people learning from their mistakes. I’m not all for people doubling down on their ignorance.

I just now read a longer article where they describe the TSA agent as continuing to laugh as Houska walked away after telling the agent that what she did was hurtful. I had missed that piece prior and this certainly sounds like we’re dealing with the second type of person that I’ve described above. I would think that a person with any self-awareness would be hanging their head in shame and apologizing profusely…or not even pulling hair in the first place.


I’m still not going to go after working class people for taking the jobs with the best pay and benefits in a particular area. Again, if your options are McDonalds or TSA… I think we can agree that the TSA sucks and not dump on working class people trying to make the best choices for their families.


Not meaning to dump on working class folks at TSA, but if you are a racist asshole, being working class is not an excuse. As I said, it takes remarkable guts to resist the pull of the institutional culture. Can be done, but hard to do. There are some who can, some who quit and some who succumb. I don’t know if it is a very progressive attitude, but I do think we need to be responsible for our actions, even in a setting like that.


Yes, I agree with that. This is not a defense of this woman or her actions (and if you can’t tell that from my comments in this thread by now…), it’s a defense of the thousands of people who are making hard choices on a daily basis and are being blamed for the rise of authoritarianism in our travel.

Maybe I just need to stop posting in this thread, since I’m not being listened to any way.


Oh, this thread has gone to hell, no doubt. Merely clarifying my own comment. More power to the men and women who work in a shitty job and maintain their humanity.


I’ll take one more whack at this, because it is an important point.

The intent of the TSA agent has absolutely fucking zero to do with whether this was a racist act.

We have no insight (nor will we ever) into her intent. We currently have no information on whether this was part of a pattern of behavior or an isolated incident. Those things have bearing on whether the TSA agent in question is a racist bigot (which is not what most people are asserting). Not on whether this specific incident was racist.

You seem to want to empathize with the TSA agent and see the incident through her eyes in order to judge whether the act itself involved racism. That is unnecessary. Doing something like that, publicly demeaning a minority person, is a racist act. Full stop. It was racist in fact. It caused harm. It propagated white supremacy. Even if the harm was accidental, it was done. And it was done by one person to another. It wasn’t force majeure. One can assign fault for an accident without intent.


See, that’s why you just mace him.



I think where I’m getting beaten up here is that I’m tying to understand and decouple a racist act from a racist person. As you and others have stated there are acts that aren’t intentional but still are an aggression, micro or otherwise. Agreed. No, ignorance isn’t a blanket protection but, honestly, we’re not all born or supported by families that teach those lessons. The hugely important thing is what the agent does now that she’s aware of the impact of her actions. If she was already aware of it, she can fuck off. If she was ignorant but learned the error of her ways, great. Hopefully, she’ll share that wisdom with others.

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