New Jersey Fights for Fairness of Natural Hair Braiders
It has been an uphill battle for natural hair braiders for the past six months as they have worked with lawmakers to pass a bill which would exempt them from cosmetology licensing laws. Natural hair braiders specialize in braiding simply with their hands and a comb, and have recently been required to attend 1,200 hours of cosmetology school to obtain a license that would cost them well around $17,000. The issue, however, is that in none of the 1,200-hour curriculum is hair braiding covered. In May, a natural hair braider from Gloucester Township urged lawmakers to pass a bill which would eliminate training and save the braiders major bucks.
Big news for these hair braiders came about last week when Gov. Phil Murphy, signed a bill on Thursday, October 18th which drastically reduced the amount of training expected of natural hair braiders to work legally in New Jersey. The list of states that no longer requires braiders to obtain a license is fortunately growing, and this bill will add New Jersey to the list. Rather than the 1,200 hour, $17,000 program, braiders now only will be required to complete 50 hours of training that includes sanitation, decontamination, and infection control to ensure health and safety. This law takes into consideration that since many natural hair braiders are women from Africa and the Caribbean, passing a written board exam and producing a GED or high school diploma that is required for licensing can be tough. The law also proposed adding two new members to the state Board of Cosmetology and Hairstyling which would bring the board from 11 to 13 members. The two additions must be experts in hair braiding.