Did you know it was illegal in the late 90s to braid hair without a cosmetology license? Imagine your friend calling you up asking to get her hair braided. You agree, and now she is headed to your house with 7-10 packs of braiding hair, a comb and maybe some hair moisturizer. She gets there, and you direct her her to sit in the chair. You begin to style and section her hair into equal parts to lay down the braids. You start to converse with one another about the latest gossip, television shows, and fashion. All of a sudden two state inspectors, two plain cloths constables, and four more uniformed individuals barge in and haul you off to jail. Not for robbery, murder, or alluding to misconduct but for braiding hair without a license.
In 1997, that is what occurred when owner of a natural hair salon in Dallas Texas, Dana “Isis” Brantley was arrested for braiding hair without a cosmetology license in front of her salon and cliental. Her arrest made headline news. It took a lawsuit and nearly 20 years for justice to be served for African hair braiders, like Isis, in Texas to be able to braid hair and operate schools that teach the art of African hair braiding without government intrusion.
On June 8, 2015 Judge Sparks ruled that the state’s requirements was a violation of Ms. Brantley’s rights under the 14th Amendment. As a result, she could legally teach hair braiding without wasting money just to comply with an irrational regulation.
Before this law was passed if Isis wanted to continue teaching the art of African hair braiding, and braid out of her salon, according to Texas’ Barber Law and Regulations she would have to take 2,250 hours of course work to obtain her Barber License, pass four licensing exams, and rebuild her facility adding a minimum of ten Barber work stations, converting her facility to 2,000 square feet, and adding a minimum of five sinks. “I’m not a Barber, I don’t cut hair or faces why should I have to comply with these regulations,” said Isis.
The regulations that were set for Barbering, when applied to Isis’ profession, made operating outrageous. The excessive regulations were not necessary to braid or teach someone how to braid hair. For sanitation all you would have to be concerned about is cross contamination; i.e. the comb falls on the floor, you pick it up and wash it off. Hair braiders don’t work with chemicals, clippers, scissors, dyes or color agents. Anyone who understands the process of braiding hair would agree. It’s clear to me that the government had no idea of the concept of braiding hair. Placing Barbering Laws on a hair braider was an act of injustice by the government. “What I was fighting for was economic liberty, for anyone who [sought] an African hair braiding license and want[ed] to earn an honest living,” said Isis on her Youtube channel videos at Naturallyisis.
Thanks to Isis’ courageous act to challenge the government’s decision to regulate the art of hair braiding, hair braiders in the state of Texas can braid hair and conduct classes freely, and without strenuous licensing, hours of unnecessary course work, and station regulations.