he Kardashian Klan are used to hairstyles that break the internet – Kim’s platinum blonde dye job threatened to overshadow the whole of Paris fashion week in March. So, when Kylie Jenner, Kim’s younger sister, posted an Instagram selfie on Sunday featuring a new hairstyle, a noisy reaction was to be expected. But Jenner might not have bargained for accusations of cultural appropriation. These came from 17-year-old Hunger Games actor Amandla Stenberg, who posted a comment that read: “When u appropriate black features and culture but fail to use ur position of power to help black Americans by directing attention towards ur wigs instead of police brutality or racism #whitegirlsdoitbetter”. By Jenner’s next selfie, the braids were gone. Inspired by celebrities including FKA twigs and Zoe Kravitz, braids like Jenner’s are gaining popularity across ethnicities. They have been a festival favourite this year, with the back-from-the-forehead cornrow particularly popular. I’m white, and I had my hair braided for the Guardian earlier this year by Keash, a braiding service set up by school friends Taiba Akhuetie, 25, and Jessy Linton, 24. Akhuetie, whose mother is Nigerian, said she liked the idea of these styles going across races and ethnicities, despite some negative comments from black people. While she is frustrated that braiding might be seen as a trend, rather than something here to stay, she says: “If other people want to appropriate the style, I think that’s a good thing.” She compares white women braiding their hair to the now-commonplace fashion for black women to wear weaves to give the effect of straight, caucasian hair. “Now no one thinks about that,” she says. “Hair is political, definitely, but I hope we get to a point when there’s no segregation.” Stenberg, who posted a video about cultural appropriation of hairstyles on YouTube earlier this year entitled Don’t Cash Crop On My Cornrows, might have her work cut out campaigning against other non-black women having their hair braided. Kenya Hunt of Elle UK, who regularly writes about black beauty, praises Stenberg as a “really bright young voice”, but says: “I think when it comes to conversations about race and cultural appropriation, we need to pick our battles. We’re seeing people burn down black churches in America right now, people killing young black women and men because of the colour of their skin. Kylie Jenner’s cornrows that she wore for hours? That doesn’t strike me as the battle we need to have.”

Braiding hair in Madison and Milwaukee WI

By PG Veer | Watchdog Arena “Unlicensed” hair braiding is not a crime anymore in Texas. Before the end of the legislative session, Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 2717, which now exempts people practicing this ancient technique from occupational licensing altogether. This is a victory for Isis Brantley, who has been fighting for her God-given right to make an honest living for 25 years. She has been braiding hair for over 30 years and teaching mostly women to help them gain new skills and start earning a living. Unfortunately, she got arrested in 1997 after several undercover agents “caught her” braiding hair without a cosmetology license. In order to acquire a license she would have needed to get over 1,500 hours of training – over four years, without any classes in hair braiding whatsoever. Emergency medical technicians require a little more than a month. From that day on, she became a passionate fighter for “free” hair braiding. She got a partial victory in 2007 when the government enacted HB 2106, which freed her and other hair braiders from cosmetology licenses. Instead, it required them to get 35 hours of classes to get their license. But it wasn’t the end of it; since hair braiding was now put under barbering statutes, it had to satisfy the profession’s teaching requirements. In other words, in order to teach other people hair braiding, Brantley had to “become a licensed barber instructor and convert her hair braiding school into a 2,000 square foot barber college.” All that to teach a technique that has nothing to do with barbering. Indeed, there is no hair cutting, shaving, shampooing or use of any chemicals involved. It merely requires very agile fingers to express a tradition that’s over thousands of years old. While Brantley and Texas hair braiders won, there is still much to do for their fellow braiders elsewhere. The Institute for Justice, a civil liberties law firm defending economic liberty who filed a federal lawsuit against Texas on behalf of Brantley, published a report showing that 10 states and the District of Columbia have separate but burdensome licenses for hair braiders. According to the report, hair braiders need between 100 and 600 hours of classes before being able to “legally work.” And for 24 states, hair braiders are considered regular hair stylists, which mandates between 1,000 and 2,100 hours of classes – almost none of which have to do with their craft – before being allowed to twist people’s hair. Needless to say, that these regulations benefit no one but established salons, who prefer a burdensome barriers to entry for would-be competitors. Hopefully Isis Brantley’s victory will be one of many against occupational licensing. Its “public protection” facade has also been shown with other trades such as teeth whitening. This article was written by a contributor of Watchdog Arena, Franklin Center’s network of writers, bloggers, and citizen journalists. hair Braiding regulations in WI (Madison, Milwaukee)