“Braiders aren’t barbers and braiding instructors should not be forced to build barber schools and take classes from barbers” said Attorney Arif Panju of the Institute for Justice. The organization is representing Isis Brantley, a natural African hairbraider, instructor and owner of the Institute of Ancestral Braiding in Dallas, Texas.
I just want to make an honest living,” said Isis at a news conference in her salon.
Her lawyers filed suit in U.S. District Court in Austin against the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, charging it violated her due process rights under the 14th Amendment.
Texas will not permit Isis to teach hairbraiding for a living unless she spends 750 hours in barber school, passes four exams that do not teach braiding, and spends thousands of dollars on tuition and a fully-equipped barber college she doesn’t need. Tellingly, Texas will waive all these regulations if Isis goes to work for an existing barber school and teaches hairbraiding for them.
“The 14th Amendment at its core protects economic liberties,” said Arif Panju. “You cannot put restrictions that are so unreasonable and unconstitutional.”
Licensing regulations like the ones preventing Brantley from teaching her trade often needlessly lock low-income and minorities out of professions, Panju and others say.
Isis said the lawsuit underscores how black hair is rooted in history, politics and cultural pride.