I am thrilled that Isis Brantley won her lawsuit and is now able to braid hair without unnecessary government regulation. I find it deeply troubling that the state of Texas would bring suit against a woman who is doing what Black women have done for centuries: braid the hair of other women in the community. Are ancient cultural practices protected from government regulations? Hairbraiders are entrepreneurs and Black women have long used hairbraiding as a path for economic gain, perhaps when they were unable to or chose not to obtain employment in the larger economy. Since money is involved, must these practices be controlled by the government? That is a troubling thought.
According to the Institute for Justice website (www.ij.org/case/txbraiding/), the state of Texas began regulating hair braiders in 2007; and, in a seemingly unwise move, subsumed hairbraiding licenses under the state’s barbering regulation. This decision would have forced Ms. Brantley to install barber chairs, almost double the size of her business and install sinks (ironically, in Texas hair braiders cannot offer services that need sinks). Additionally, Ms. Brantley would have had to invest up to 750 hours learning to be a barber instructor, and passing exams related to barbering. Seriously?! What’s next? Are we going to force the women who bake and sell cakes for the church to become licensed caterers?
Thanks goodness Ms. Brantley pursued justice. Not only did the court rule the barbering requirements as unconstitutional for hairbraiding schools (January 2015) but, the legislature fully deregulated natural hairbraiding in Texas (June 2015).
Ms. Brantley, I salute you. You are a trailblazer for natural hair and for justice.
Sources that discuss Ms. Brantley’s experience: