Hair braiding has been accomplished for centuries in African communities, and by African-Americans and others in the U.S. It doesn’t crave any chemicals, beard dyes or cutting. But to accurately complect hair, 13 states crave a cosmetology license.
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Pamela Ferrell (), co-founder of Cornrows & Co., who has fought and won the appropriate to convenance her profession after a license, speaks with Here & Now’s Peter O’Dowd.
“The alone affair that [cosmetology schools] teach you about African-American hair, or what we alarm amphitheater hair, is to align it,” Ferrell says.
On being one of the aboriginal bodies to claiming licensing requirements in 1991
“In 1978, I was accursed from my part-time job at a bolt abundance because of my braided beard style, and I was so affronted I said that I would complect so abounding active that this would not appear to any added woman. At the time I was a academy student, so I created fliers and started braiding beard out of my accommodation to pay the bills. Two years after my now-husband and I opened Cornrows & Company. … And again in beneath than two years, we get a alarm from addition cogent us to abutting our business because we don’t accept a cosmetology license. And of advance my bedmate told them no.”
“They don’t advise what we do. It is a Euro-centric curriculum.”
On the history of braided hair
“Hair braiding has been around, we know, added than 5,000 years. There accept been animal charcoal begin area braids are, you know, on the head. It’s a cultural convenance that has been anesthetized down. There are traditions in agreement of how it’s taught, who teaches it, and this has been activity on continued afore cosmetology. Cosmetology in this country was accustomed in 1938.”
On the use of a cosmetology license
“Cosmetology is audibly altered from beard braiding. Cosmetology at one point, African-Americans couldn’t alike go to cosmetology schools, they don’t do accustomed beard care, they don’t do beard braiding. Beard braiding is a actual distinct, different skill.”
On discrimination against people with these beard styles
“I accept tracked a arrangement of bigotry adjoin bodies with amphitheater beard … accept been discriminated adjoin for at atomic 40 years, and I’m talking about area women accept absent their jobs. I afresh went before the United States Army and did a presentation, because they had afresh afflicted their admonishment action to ban aberration beard styles. And a aberration beard appearance for amphitheater beard is like a draft dry for beeline hair. I beggarly it’s aloof what we do to our hair. And so this has become the bigger problem: This connected advance on our hair, no amount how it shows up — whether it shows up in the workplace, whether it shows up back we accessible businesses. And now, they accept created behavior area accouchement cannot abrasion braids and Afros to schools.”
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