Exempting natural hair braiders from licensing provides a way out of poverty

The Rhode Island Black Business Association (RI-BBA)has come out in strong support of Representative Anastasia WilliamsHouse Bill 5436 which would exempt natural hair braiders from cosmetology licensing requirements.

“Educational requirements for many jobs has over the past several decades increased significantly,” writes RI-BBA president Lisa Ranglin, “And the number of permanently unemployed and underemployed workers has also increased significantly.  As occupations evolve thousands of workers have been left behind – especially those with limited skills and education.

“Hair braiding is an art practiced by many who can’t afford to pay for any kind of training.  For some, natural hair braiding is a life changer, entrepreneurial, an entry into self-employment – a way out of poverty and welfare dependency.  Hundreds of women use the income from natural hair braiding to house their families and feed and clothe their kids.”

In a statement, issued at the bill’s introduction in February, Representative Williams noted that “There are many natural hair braiders in the state who are struggling with the overburdening regulations and licensing fees in order to make a living from their craft. Without the presence of possibly toxic chemicals in the braiding process, there is no need to take more money out of the pockets of these hardworking women and men who work with hair in a natural and safe way.

“For centuries, natural hair braiding has been a common practice for African and African American women.  Hair braiding skills and techniques come naturally.  Natural hair braiding is an art form, limited only by the braider’s creativity and does not require any kind of formal training.   Forcing natural hair braiders to meet the same licensing requirements as cosmetologists is a clear injustice.”

Educational requirements for many jobs has over the past several decades increased significantly.  And the number of permanently unemployed and underemployed workers has also increased significantly.  As occupations evolve thousands of workers have been left behind – especially those with limited skills and education.

Hair braiding is an art practiced by many who can’t afford to pay for any kind of training. “Forcing natural hair braiders to get a cosmetology license or certification is overkill.  Adding the requirement of paying tuition to attend a licensed school, completing 1500 training hours and passing the state’s cosmetology board exams just places another road block to self-sufficiency for these women engaged in the simple task of braiding natural hair.  The time and the cost just isn’t feasible or even possible for most.”

The Rhode Island Black Business Association is hoping for support for House Bill 5436, that allows natural hair braiders to work without requiring them to obtain the occupational license that is required of cosmeticians and hairdressers.

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About Steve Ahlquist 44 Articles
Steve Ahlquist is an award-winning journalist, writer, artist and founding member of the Humanists of Rhode Island, a non-profit group dedicated to reason, compassion, optimism, courage and action. The views expressed are his own and not necessarily those of any organization of which he is a member. His photos and video are usable under the Creative Commons license. Free to share with credit. "We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” - Elie Weisel “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu "There comes a time when neutrality and laying low become dishonorable. If you’re not in revolt, you’re in cahoots. When this period and your name are mentioned, decades hence, your grandkids will look away in shame." - David Brooks

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