Untangling African Hairbraiders from Utah's Cosmetology Regime

Uploaded by InstituteForJustice on 25.04.2011

-My name is Jestina Clayton. "Jestina" means justice in Sierra Leone.
I came to the US about eleven years ago to flee a civil war.
I'd like to braid hair at home
because I have two young children
and a third on the way, and I can make some money for groceries and other things that we
might need as a family.
I can't braid right now because the Utah Cosmetology Board told me that it is illegal
to do so without a cosmetology license,
even though that if I go to a school to
get the license, they won't teach me hair-braiding.
-Traditional African hair-braiding is the braiding, twisting or locking of hair
without the use of chemicals.
These natural styles originated centuries ago in Africa, and have endured as a distinct
and popular form of hairstyling primarily done by and for persons of African descent.
-African braiding does not threaten anybody's health
or safety.
With African hair-braiding you don't cut hair, you don't use chemicals, you don't use any
other tools that would alter the natural state of a person's hair.
So if I braided somebody's hair and they decided that they don't want it
at the end of the braiding session, they can remove that braid and their natural hair remains the same.
-Utah requires people like Jestina to get an expensive and useless cosmetology license
in order to braid hair for money,
even though they can braid all they want for free. That license requires at least two thousand
hours of classroom instruction. That's forty hours a week for fifty weeks.
That is more class hours than it takes to be an armed security guard,
mortgage loan originator, real estate sales agent, EMT, and lawyer combined.
And not one of those two thousand hours teaches African hair-braiding.
-When I found out that Utah required a cosmetology license to braid hair,
I contacted the cosmetology board and I was invited to speak at the board meeting,
and then they told me at the meeting that I needed to contact my legislator
to see if they can change the rules.
I did that, but so far I haven't had
anybody to help me.
-When the government imposes unreasonable regulations,
as it's done here,
courts need to step in to protect the right to earn an honest living.
No one should have to hire a lawyer or a lobbyist just to braid hair. -I'm a mother of eleven
seven adopted from Ethiopia. There is an unmet demand in Utah for corn rowing and hair-braiding.
There's a lot of us adoptive moms
that try and really can't
do that service for our children and because it's a temporary service it's hard for us to try and pay
or go the distance for the salon services. So I think there's a lot of
people here in Utah that can do that service without a cosmetology license where they
can earn a little extra money and provide a service for us adoptive moms at a lower cost. -The Institute for
Justice has challenged the application of cosmetology laws to natural hair-braiders in seven states
in our twenty-year history,
including our very first case back in 1991.
To date, we haven't lost a hair-briading case yet.
IJ has filed a lawsuit in Utah to protect Jestina's right to earn an honest living.
Both the Federal and Utah constitutions protect every individual's right to earn an honest living
in their chosen occupation free from arbitrary and irrational government regulations.