White Lawmaker Seeks to Remove Regulations on African-American Hair Braiding
Feb 13, 2017 05:57 AM EST
A white lawmaker in Indianapolis has taken up the cause of African-America woman concerning the regulation of hair braiding across the country. He has proposed a bill that would remove natural hair braiding from the cosmetologist licensing requirement.
Timothy Wesco, a white conservative Republican lawmaker from Elkhart, proposed House Bill 1243 earlier this year. This past week, the bill passed through the Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee and is aiming for a full House vote. According to AZ Central, 20 states have ceased regulating the practice, and bills are pending in New Hampshire, Missouri, and New Jersey.
When House Bill 2011 passed into law in 1997, hair braiders were required to complete cosmetology school in order to be licensed to practice under Indiana law. The regulation placed a contravention over businesses that braid hair without schooling.
As a result, many African-American business owners suffered financially when the Indiana General Assembly started regulating hair-braiding salons in 1997, according to the Indy Star. One of them were Nicole Barnes-Thomas, who lost her job and apartment. "It was devastating to say the least," said Barnes-Thomas, who saw Indiana's regulation on hair braiding, of the African-American tradition as being culturally insensitive and economically devastating.
Nadia E. Brown, a political science professor at the Purdue University is hoping that the bill will not only facilitate hair braiding businesses, but also the needs of communities of colour. Brown supported Wesco's bill, saying that the bill may very well indicate that the next generation of Hoosier lawmakers will take into consideration the needs of their constituents, especially pertaining regulations that deem unfit for the people. "By 2050, this nation will be a minority-majority voting bloc, after all," she said.
Meanwhile, Wesco said that the change would create economic opportunities for potential business owners among the African-Americans. He reasserted that the hair braiding regulation is most definitely a burden to potential small-business owners and this is a perfect example of bill that the country doesn't need.