The Texas Government's Hair-raising Attack on Hair Braiders

Jim Hightower Author, Commentator, America’s Number One Populist

The Texas Government's Hair-raising Attack on Hair Braiders

As messed up as it sounds, in the unending struggle for justice, there is such thing as a "positive negative." This occurs when you win a struggle that you never should've had to make.

A prime example is presented by the long saga of Isis Brantley. In 1997, the Dallas police force raided her school, which taught the cultural art of African-style hair braiding. It was a highly regarded school – Brantley had been braiding hair for years, even attracting music stars like Erykah Badu. But, state authorities barked, she was guilty of this horrific breach of the law: Braiding without a barbers license! So, she was arrested and – get this – hauled away in handcuffs.

But Brantley wasn't barbering, she was braiding, so her case led to a reform intended to make it easier for hair braiders to be licensed for their art. Victory, right? Not so fast. Texas State officials, who loudly profess that they despise regulatory overreach, proceeded to overreach. Braiding artists, they commanded, must convert their shops into fully-equipped barber colleges, requiring 10 or more workstations with hair washing sinks – even though braiding does not involve washing.

In 2013, still refusing to submit to this Big Brother authoritarianism, Brantley sued Gov. Rick "Small Government" Perry's department of licensing. And now, 17 long years after the Texas State governments ridiculous, anti-hair braiding gendarmes raided Isis Brantley's shop, locked her in handcuffs, and ran roughshod over her rights, she has found a measure of justice. A court has ruled that the state's actions are unconstitutional – not to mention arbitrary and abusive, shameful and silly.

Right-wingers claim to hate Big Government intrusion – but where were they when their own government was intruding on Isis Brantley?

National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow, Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be – consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks. Twice elected Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Hightower believes that the true political spectrum is not right to left but top to bottom, and he has become a leading national voice for the 80 percent of the public who no longer find themselves within shouting distance of the Washington and Wall Street powers at the top. He publishes a populist political newsletter, “The Hightower Lowdown.” He is a New York Times best-selling author, and has written seven books including, Thieves In High Places: They’ve Stolen Our Country And It’s Time To Take It Back; If the Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates; and There’s Nothing In the Middle Of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos. His newspaper column is distributed nationally by Creators Syndicate.