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Tennessee Fines Dozens of Natural Hairstylists Nearly $100k For Unlicensed Hair Braiders

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In black culture, hair braiding is historical. It has always been a traditional part of our upbringing, especially in the black household. We use hair braiding as not only a way to protect and grow our natural hair, but also as a form of creativity.

“I never did any other job but hair braiding my whole life,” says licensed hairstylist Fatou Diouf. “I cannot recall a time when I did not know how.”

Fatou Diouf is a natural hairstylist who has been fined $16,000 by the state of Tennessee for employing unlicensed hair braiders. According to Forbes, after examining meeting minutes and disciplinary actions for the Tennessee Board of Cosmetology and Barber Examiners, the Institute for Justice identified dozens of braiders and over 30 natural hair shops, who were fined almost $100,000 since 2009 for simply braiding without a government license, none of which were triggered by any health or sanitation violations.

The board would generally issue a $1,000 “civil penalty” for every instance of “performing natural hair care services for clients without a license”.

Fatou has joined the Institute for Justice and the Beacon Center to testify in favor of bill HB 1809 and SB 2233, which would rule out the need for a state license for natural hair stylists.

Currently in the state of Tennessee, braiders must complete at least 300 hours of coursework, which is only offered by 3 schools and can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 for tuition.


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