identities

A New Bill Wants To Deregulate The Natural Hair Industry And It Poses A Huge Threat To Black Curls

Finding a salon that caters to natural hair is a hard business. As anyone with natural hair knows, few stylists of the industry have been trained to work with natural strands. The right stylist means that you can rest easy in the salon chair knowing that your hair will be styled and treated in a way that will prevent any serious damage to your strands. A good beautician means no breakage, no heat damage, and no hair loss.

A new bill coming out of Tennesse poses a threat not only to the stylists who have worked for their natural hair training but the clients who embrace and love their natural hair.

House Bill 1809 is a new piece of legislation pushing to deregulate the natural hair industry.

The bill, which is being sponsored by Senator Mark Norris, is making its way through Tennessee’s general assembly and proposes to put an end to the regulations that monitor the natural hair industry. One aspect of the bill will work to remove restrictions that require natural hair stylists to adhere to the sanitation or safety rules created by the State Cosmetology Board. The other will no longer require hairstylists to obtain a professional license that guarantees that they are certified to care for natural hair.  Should the bill pass it will go into effect on January 1, 2019.

Beauticians and hair instructors are hitting back at the bill because of the threat it poses.

For many of the natural hair stylists, barbers and instructors living in Memphis, the bill raises concerns regarding the value and meaning behind their licenses. Certified natural hair professionals are required to invest in the continued education of their specialty. Their licensing ensures the health and safety of clients and ensures the minimum competency of a hairstylist.

Once that goes out the window, any stylist will be able to pass themselves off as an expert natural hair stylist. Meaning clients could sustain all types of serious damage to their hair including severe hair loss. As one hairstylist explained to LocalMemphis.com, one of the most severe effects of the bill could be traction alopecia. “I I see people who are operating out of their home, or unlicensed, or uneducated, and I see the result of [traction] Alopecia, the result of all types of damage,” Tamika Turner, who is the owner of Tennessee’s First Natural Hair School, told LocalMemphis.com.

The bill sends the message that Black hair is not important.

The lowering of health and code standards when it comes to Black health and hair care is, of course, nothing new. Most of the hair companies that exist today live by the old beauty standards that never catered to or, truthfully, cared about Black hair. These companies don’t market to us and when they do, they primarily push treatments (i.e. relaxers) that strip us of our curls.

In an interview with TeenVogue, celebrity hairstylist Kendall Dorsey explained that “Deregulating natural hair is really saying that natural hair isn’t important,” she said. “The regulation is there to protect us as the professionals. We need to work on the proper education or the appropriate license for hair braiding, which is not included in cosmetology classes.”

This new bill’s proposal highlights that despite the fact that we’re in a time where natural hair is being celebrated, the health and care of the Black community is still low priority for government officials. It is essential that we are given the right resources that will allow us to keep our hair safe.


Read: This Latina Beauty Blogger Turns Her Wheelchair Into Her Biggest Fashion Statement

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The Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Education Fired An Educator For Speaking Positively About Black Hair

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The Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Education Fired An Educator For Speaking Positively About Black Hair

On Tuesday, the Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Education released a campaign video directed at youth that shattered harmful attitudes surrounding “pelo bueno, pelo malo” — the idea that thin, straight hair is beautiful and afro-textured coils aren’t.

“In the Ministry of Education, no little girl, little boy or grown adult should be discriminated because of their physical appearance. We are committed to guaranteeing the equality in identity,” Marianela Pinales, then director of Gender Equality and Development at the Ministry of Education on the island, said in the video, as young Black and brown boys and girls send similar messages about loving their hair as it is.

The 52-second PSA is long-overdue in the Dominican Republic, one of many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that has held tightly to the white supremacist belief that skin and hair texture that aligns closer to European standards of beauty are both more attractive and deserving of better treatment than those with hues and locks that are darker and thicker.

For that, many on the island and diaspora celebrated the video, including Edith Febles, a respected journalist and natural hair advocate, who aired it on her show, La cosa como es. However, just after the video debut, Febles said Pinales was discharged.

While the Ministry of Education said that Pinales was fired because she missed several recent events — a claim the educator denies — and not because of the video, which some have considered controversial, many find the timing around her termination questionable.

“The timing is very *very* suspicious to say the least,” Amanda Alcántara, the digital media editor at Futuro Media Group, wrote in an article for Latino Rebels.  “Much like the roots of anti-blackness in the country itself, the people in power seem to stop at no cost to maintain white supremacy. This confirms that even as consciousness grows, the problem is systemic.”

On social media, many others have shared similar sentiments.

The campaign, however, is reaching audiences in and outside of the Dominican Republic, where it has the power to challenge beauty ideals and young people’s relationships with their hair.

Read: 6 Afro-Latinas Open Up About What Headwraps Mean To Them

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10 Empowering Songs By Afro-Latinas About Loving Yourself

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10 Empowering Songs By Afro-Latinas About Loving Yourself

It’s Black History Month, a time to uplift and celebrate the historic events and people of African descent who have contributed to culture, achieved excellence and sparked social and political change. But it’s also a moment for reflection, of honestly evaluating how much — and how little — has changed for the African diaspora throughout the US, Latin America and beyond.

Confronting the everyday violence, discrimination, disadvantages and inequality Black individuals have and continue to endure, while necessary, could be enraging and upsetting, and makes self-care practices all the more necessary.

This year, whether you’re celebrating the beauty, resilience and magia of blackness with a Black History Month party or well-deserved care day, music can always add to the occasion. Here, a mix of Spanish and English songs by Afro-Latinas and for Black women that unapologetically declare self-love and engage in self-worship to add to any Black joy playlist for the month of February and all the days that follow it.

1. Celebrate being a daughter of “La Diaspora” with Nitty Scott.

When the Afro-Boricua rapper dropped Creature in 2017, she gifted Black women, particularly Black Latinx femmes, with a full project that saw, understood and exalted their existence. None of the bangers on the LP did this as intentionally as the song and short film “La Diaspora.”

2. Make your voice and joy heard with Christina Milian’s “Say I”

When the cubana teamed with Young Jeezy to drop this 2009 bop, she encouraged women to “do what you want to do. Don’t let nobody tell you what you’re supposed to do.” And that’s some pretty liberating ishh.

3. Some might call you “CRZY,” but Kehlani wants you to embrace the term.

Confidently dancing to the beat of your own drum, especially as a woman of color, is neither expected nor welcomed, largely because it makes it more difficult for white supremacy to thrive. With “CRZY,” the part-Mexican R&B songstress encourages femmes to embrace and reclaim the slights people throw at you for being a radiant, go-getting mami.

4. And Calma Carmona’s “I Got Life” shows that there is so much to be joyous about.

In her Spanglish rendition of Nina Simone’s “I Ain’t Got No … I Got Life,” the Puerto Rican soul singer declares all the beauty she has, from her voice, to her hair, to her smile to her life, in a world that told her she has nothing.

5. Something else you have: “Tumbao.”

In la reina de salsa’s multi-generational hit “La Negra Tiene Tumbao,” the late cubana Celia Cruz reminds Black women of that unfading, indescribable, swing and swag that Black women carry with them in every space they occupy.

6. Prefer an English joint? Cardi B will also remind you how “Bad” you are.

With “She Bad,” featuring YG, the Dominican-Trinidadian rapper engages in self-worship and encourages other Black women to feel themselves and own their sexuality without apprehension or apologies.

7. ‘Cause Like Maluca told you, you’re “la mami del block.”

In the Dominican singer-rapper’s mega bop “El Tigeraso,” Maluca makes the indisputable claim that Afro-Latinas have it all: “tengo fly, tengo party, tengo una sabrosura.”

8. And like Farina says, not everyone is deserving of your greatness.

In “la nena fina’s” urbano-pop jam “Mucho Pa’ Ti,” the colombiana raps what everyone knows: She, and you, are too much — too poppin’, too powerful, too radiant — for the unworthy.

9. Now that you’re reminded of who you are, enter every space like Melii walked into the club in her music video for “Icey.”

With sparkly, high-heeled white boots, a laced v-neck bodysuit, some tiny red shades and confidence that entraps you, dominicana-cubana Melii knows her value — as a woman and an artist — and watching or listening to how self-assured she is will undoubtedly rub off on you.

10. ‘Cause at the end of the day, you’re a “Million Dollar Girl” like Trina.

Like the Dominican-Bahamian rapper, alongside Keri Hilson and Diddy, told you in 2010: “Baby if I want it, I got it / ‘Cause I’ll be gettin’ some more / ‘Cause I’m a million dollar girl, for sure.”

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