African-style, natural hair braiders in Tennessee are facing major harassment and fines for practicing their craft without a specialty license. Braiders are being fined anywhere from $1,000 to $11,000 merely for operating without a government permission slip. Some have been told that they must shut their doors, leaving them with the tough choice of continuing to operate without a license and face more fines, or not being able to feed their families. For most braiders, this license is out of reach due to the cost, language barriers, and most importantly because they know of only one school in the entire state that offers the training.
In 2016, Tennessee passed the “Right to Earn a Living Act,” which calls for a review of the state’s entry regulations to ensure that these regulations serve legitimate purposes and are not just intended to create barriers to entry. Tennessee’s hair braiding regulations are rumored to be a priority in this review. In the meantime, the Institute for Justice is working with braiders across the state to spread awareness about this issue.
Take action: sign our petition and tell the Tennessee cosmetology board to stop shutting down hair braiding shops!