Rep. Williams’ bill that exempts natural hair braiders from cosmetology license passed by the House
STATE HOUSE – Rep. Anastasia P. Williams’ (D-Dist. 9, Providence) legislation (2019-H 5677) that would exempt natural hair braiders from the state’s requirement for hairdressers and cosmeticians to be licensed with the state passed the House of Representatives tonight.
“Over the years as I have introduced this bill, there has been a long and steady stream of misinformation relating to this bill that has downplayed the cultural and economic significance that natural hair braiding has to different communities in our state. Natural hair braiders not only see their craft as a proud demonstration of their culture, but also as a means to advance their economic well-being for themselves and their families. To continue to subject these hardworking and creative braiders to oppressive regulations and fees is to deny them the opportunity to pursue the American Dream while passing down the rich traditions and culture that we have celebrated over generations,” said Representative Williams.
According to the legislation, natural hair braiding is a service of twisting, wrapping, weaving, extending, locking, or braiding hair by hand. Natural hair braiding may include the use of natural or synthetic hair extensions, natural or synthetic hair and fibers, decorative beads, and other hair accessories. The use of topical agents such as conditioners, gels, moisturizers, oils, pomades, and shampoos in conjunction with hair braiding can also be used.
Natural hair braiding does not include the application of dyes, reactive chemicals, or other preparations to alter the color of the hair or to straighten, curl, or alter the structure of the hair; or the use of chemical hair joining agents such as synthetic tape, keratin bonds, or fusion bonds.
“Without the presence of toxic chemicals in the braiding process, there is no need to take any money out of the pockets of these hardworking women and men who work with hair in a natural and safe way,” said Representative Williams.
"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,” added Representative Williams.
“The state does not require licenses to produce art, yet, that is in effect what is occurring now with natural hair braiders. It should be telling to all those that would attempt to stifle our state’s natural hair braiders that this legislation has garnered a wide-range of support, including the support of the political spectrum from the Right to the Left. All natural hair braiders should be able to practice their art form, continue with their cultural practices, promote or share their heritage without undue burdens to provide for themselves and their families,” concluded Representative Williams.
The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.
For more information, contact:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903