How Oppression Shows Its Face In The Business Of Hair Braiding
When I watched the video below, it reminded me of when I was a little girl. In the summer, people sat on their front porches. One of the pastimes that girls did was braid hair. It ranged from hanging braided styles to corn rows.
Back then before hair relaxers, I suspect that almost any Black woman or girl will tell us that after their hair was washed, it was braided, in small portions, to allow it to dry and not tangle. After it dried, it could be combed out into another braided style, or straightened with a “straightening comb.”
In 1979, the movie “10” was released, and suddenly Caucasians who were unfamiliar with African cultur, thought that Bo Derek’s cornrows was an original style. At least a year before Bo Derek appeared on screen with cornrows, Linda Greene appeared as “Peaches” of the duo, Peaches and Herb, with decorated cornrows.
Hair braiding has been practiced for centuries in African communities, and by African-Americans. It doesn’t require any chemicals, hair dyes or cutting.
Along with American Blacks, some sisters from Africa came to America and started home businesses cornrowing. They also braid with extensions. Depending on the style, (and if the customer brought their own “ponytails” with them to use for extensions), the price could range anywhere from $50 to a $150.00 dollars – at least, in my neck of the woods. It’s a style that lasts 2 to 3 months, depending on how fast the customer’s hair grows.
Now, there are 13 states that have laws forbidding the braiding of hair for money without a cosmetology license. There are hefty fines if anyone is caught charging money for braiding hair without a cosmetology license.
The Institute for Justice has been fighting cases brought against hair braiders. They give a very good reason for why the legal barrier to charge for braiding hair makes no sense whatsoever. Hair braiding predates our U.S. Constitution. It rests squarely within the Constitution’s fundamental protections of individuals’ right to earn an honest living.
“Braiding laws vary dramatically across the country. In 13 states, natural hair braiders are forced to become licensed as either cosmetologists or hairstylists. Yet few of these states actually teach natural hair braiding styles. Instead, braiders have to learn cosmetology practices they have no intent on using in their career, like giving manicures or bleaching hair. Complying with these regulations is an ordeal, with licenses requiring up to 2,000 hours of training and costing upwards of $20,000 in tuition fees at cosmetology schools.”
Atlanta Black Star reports that since 2009, the Tennessee Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners has levied almost $100,000 in fines against dozens of braiders and 30 natural hair salons across the state.
It’s truly amazing that the moment Blacks find a way to use their culture and talents to legally earn money, that some states find a way to regulate the service that effectively puts them out of business.
Here’s attorney David Allen explaining two cases against hair braiders.