The Texas government's hair-raising attack on hair braiders

As messed up as it sounds, in the unending struggle for justice, there is such thing as a "positive negative." This occurs when you win a struggle that you never should've had to make.

As messed up as it sounds, in the unending struggle for justice, there is such thing as a “positive negative.” This occurs when you win a struggle that you never should’ve had to make.

A prime example is presented by the long saga of Isis Brantley. In 1997, the Dallas police force raided her school, which taught the cultural art of African-style hair braiding. It was a highly regarded school – Brantley had been braiding hair for years, even attracting music stars like Erykah Badu. But, state authorities barked, she was guilty of this horrific breach of the law: Braiding without a barbers license! So, she was arrested and – get this – hauled away in handcuffs.

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But Brantley wasn’t barbering, she was braiding, so her case led to a reform intended to make it easier for hair braiders to be licensed for their art. Victory, right? Not so fast. Texas State officials, who loudly profess that they despise regulatory overreach, proceeded to overreach. Braiding artists, they commanded, must convert their shops into fully-equipped barber colleges, requiring 10 or more workstations with hair washing sinks – even though braiding does not involve washing.

In 2013, still refusing to submit to this Big Brother authoritarianism, Brantley sued Gov. Rick “Small Government” Perry’s department of licensing. And now, 17 long years after the Texas State governments ridiculous, anti-hair braiding gendarmes raided Isis Brantley’s shop, locked her in handcuffs, and ran roughshod over her rights, she has found a measure of justice. A court has ruled that the state’s actions are unconstitutional – not to mention arbitrary and abusive, shameful and silly.

Right-wingers claim to hate Big Government intrusion – but where were they when their own government was intruding on Isis Brantley?

“Braiding business laws are tossed,” Austin American Statesman, January 8, 2015.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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