Rio councilwoman goes through embarrassing airport search in nation’s capital; had bra, body and hair checked as part of patdown procedure



Note from BW of Brazil: So should we consider this another episode of “traveling while black”? I’d say it qualifies! Suspicion of black people is a regular part of everyday occurrences all over Brazil. We’ve already seen incidents such as these, like when Brazil’s first black female filmmaker went through such treatment on a flight home from the airport in Porto Alegre in the southern region and, coincidentally, in another incident in the nation’s capital city, on a flight in which it seemed that some passengers were bothered by the presence of a group of black students. And now we have this incident in which a black woman’s hair is among her personal assets that are considered a threat. Just wondering…this isn’t the first time I’ve heard of a black woman having her hair searched by security or police. Has this ever happened to a white woman?

Brasília - aeroporto
The Juscelino Kubitschek Airport in Brasília was the site of an embarrassing search for Rio-based councilwoman Marielle Franco

PSOL councilwoman denounces racism at Brasília airport

By Daniel Cardozo of Jornal de Brasília with info from Revista Fórum

Marielle Franco took to Facebook to vent about the embarrassment she went through included inspection of her body and hair.

Councilwoman Marielle Franco of the PSOL party

Councilwoman Marielle Franco (PSOL-RJ) said she was the victim of an embarrassing search at Brasília airport. In a posting on her Facebook page on February 12th, she stated that the inspection was carried out not only on her hand luggage, but also on her body and hair.

A report of racism at Juscelino Kubitschek Airport gained visibility on social networks. Councilwoman Marielle Franco (PSOL), from the city of Rio de Janeiro, reported on Facebook an alleged excessive search when boarding a plane to return home. Marielle’s post had more than 300 shares and 3,000 curtidas (likes) until shortly after her report.

Marielle told Jornal de Brasília that she considered the search inappropriate. “I was not in the salão de beleza (beauty salon) doing (hair) hydration. Do I really need to have my hair touched? Is my hair a bomb?”, she criticized.

For the councilwoman, the attitude was another lamentable episode of racism. “Yes, meu black (my afro) bothers (people). My blackness bothers (people),” she wrote.

Despite this, Marielle Franco does not intend to file a lawsuit against those responsible for the procedure. The visibility around the case, for her, was the positive point. “Whoever searched me was working. She was a woman who carried out orders. I don’t think it was a personal matter, but we know very well that people are given often discriminatory guidelines. Many people reported similar situations after my posting,” she said.

Several comments encouraged the councilor and told of similar cases. “Whenever I travel outside of Brazil I go through some sort of reevaluation. The two times I went to the US, I had to answer everything I had already answered to get the visa. In Italy and Spain, I had to explain that I already had a stay and a return ticket and how many euros I was taking. The most humiliating thing is that every time I was accompanied by white people and they were not stopped,” said a follower.

Below is the councilwoman’s post.


“Airplane inspection procedure?

Random search? At the Brasília airport the “random” was confirmed as a rule. Another black woman is inspected. Yes, me! Including checking hand bags, pencil case and even the necessities. And, most embarrassing, my BODY. Including bra and bare feet, as I wore open sandals. But the topper was to come: even my hair was searched (even if it was loose, without a turban)! They touched my crown. But the hope lies in the solidarity of a woman from Bahia who, after being also searched and looking into my eyes, said: “May they not embarrass you anymore!” Yes, my afro bothers (people). My blackness bothers (people). Racism: it will not pass by!”

“Standard procedure”, says Inframerica

In a note, the concessionaire that runs the Brasília Airport, Inframerica, states that the National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) directs that random physical searches should be done on passengers, even without any sound warning from the metal detector or suspect object identified in the X-ray apparatus.

The aim would be a way to prevent “weapons, explosives, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear artifacts or prohibited substances and materials from being introduced in restricted areas of aerodrome safety”.

The supplementary instruction IS 107-001, from Anac, provides body inspections on the head, neck, arms, shoulders, back, waist and legs. “If even after this process it is not possible to ensure that a passenger is not taking any prohibited item to the aircraft and/or restricted areas, the agent must deny them access to the aircraft,” Inframerica said.

SourceRevista Fórum, Jornal de Brasília

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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