To Whom It May Concern,
After reviewing the practical examination for natural hair practitioners I am concerned that the Board has only focused on braiding hair with or without extensions. In August 2009, after personally revising House Bill 291 to include natural hair braiding as an entity of natural hair styling, I presented each Board Member with a proposal that included substantial information detailing the types of styling techniques used by natural hair practitioners. In addition, I offered to serve as a consultant to the Board and to the Curriculum Committee. My offer to assist would have ensured that the appropriate information be included, further, that braiding would not be the main focus of the new license.
Unfortunately, it appears that the information was overlooked because the only aspect of natural hair care that has been considered is hair braiding. Natural hair specialists and hair braiders are required to comply, yet we do not have a voice. As I explained in the proposal, hair braiding alone cannot constitute natural hair styling, especially when the client has relaxed hair. It is no longer natural hair styling, it is simply hair braiding. This erroneous omission is detrimental for clients who do not receive braiding services. None my 100 + natural hair clients wear braids, sew-ons, bonds, or other extensions.
The idea behind licensing natural hair practitioners is that consumers of ALL natural hair styling will be protected. By excluding those practitioners who do not offer braiding with extensions and bonding you have essentially locked out a true segment of natural hair styling. What has been presented to the public is basically a hair braiding exam, geared only toward braiding, bonding and extensions. There has been no information included in the testing material about Afros, twists, or dreadlocks–the main natural hair styles. For example, no requirements about how to properly de-tangle an Afro, how to appropriately size locs, how to maintain locs, illustrations of twists, and so forth. Therefore, a person studying the true art of natural hair styling will come to the testing center and test as a hair braider. That is truly unfortunate. African American hairstyling is about more than chemically treated hair and hair extensions. Not every African American woman desires those services. There are plenty of African Americans who truly prefer natural hair, no braids or extensions. Looking at the core services to be tested on: invisible/overhand braid, visible/underhand braid, sew-on method, bonded method, and extension to visible/invisible braid, it is obvious that several techniques have been omitted.
I realize that this area is new and unchartered territory for NC, but it would behoove the Board to re-evaluate the natural hair specialist examination and ensure that it has covered each aspect of natural hair care prior to licensing individuals as “natural hair specialists”. It appears that there is a lack of interest and understanding about what natural hair care truly includes. This is precisely why it is so important to make room on the Curriculum Committee and on the Board for a qualified natural hair practitioner who can walk the Board through the inclusion and who can address areas that are apparently misunderstood.