License to Braid | Letters | Chicago Reader

License to Braid 

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I really enjoyed the September 1 article "The Politics of Braids." I am an African-American with natural hair, and there are very few licensed stylists that I would trust to even wash and style my hair. The concerns for natural hair are very different, and most black stylists do not deal well with truly kinky hair. (With the exception of my gem of a stylist, Anthony!) They'd rather straighten it and be done. I agree that the natural hair-care industry should be separate from the traditional cosmetology industry. Personally, I have been braiding hair since I was ten years old, and by the time I was 16 my knowledge of what to do with naturally kinky hair had far surpassed every licensed stylist I had ever gone to, then and now.

I don't necessarily agree that the industry does not need to be regulated at all. Perhaps there should be standards. Some braiders, both African and African-American, are more concerned with style than the actual health of the hair--I learned that the hard way. But I believe very strongly that natural hair care should not be regulated in the same way that those who cut, color, perm, or relax hair are regulated. I suggest that natural hair care, including braids and locks, twists, etc, should have its own certification process for those who have no wish to relax hair, and the experts in the area--who are probably not licensed right now--should have a say in what experience and credentials are sufficient. Because no schools here teach this subject sufficiently, a degree from a reputable school in Africa should certainly fit the bill!

For those of us who would like to follow Taalib-Din Uqdah's progress in Chicago, how can we stay informed? Does he have a blog or a Web site?


Oak Park

Tasneem Paghdiwala replies:

Anyone interested in learning more about Uqdah and the American Hairbraiders and Natural Haircare Association can visit the "politics of hair" section of his Web site, (though it doesn't seem to be updated regularly).

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