African woman faces prison… for braiding hair!


WASHINGTON, D.C.–The African National Women's Organization (ANWO) supports Aicheria Bells challenge to the illegitimate sanctions of the state of Iowa. 


Aicheria is one of the two African hair braiders that are fighting Iowas requirement that says African hair braiders must be certified cosmetologists in order to braid hair. 


Aicheria currently faces up to one year in prison and a $10,000 fine if she continues to braid hair professionally without completing 2100 hours of cosmetology coursework which, by the way, does not teach African hair braiding and costs up to $20,000.   


Aicherias suit pushes the state of Iowa to deregulate African hair braiding because braiding does not fit into the cosmetology category.


More than that, we believe that the government does not have the right to regulate a traditional African practice for its own monetary gain. 


ANWO recognizes that these legal regulations on licensing is also an attack on African peoples right to economic self-determination. 


African women have been the custodians of the braiding art form for thousands of years.


We have been instrumental in ensuring its preservation wherever African people were dispersed and have used this African cultural expression as a way to generate income which sustains ourselves and our families.


Now states throughout the U.S. are weaving in restrictions that remove a form of economic development for African people and penalize us with incarceration.


600 years of African economic exploitation


This attack on African hair braiding is a continuation of 600 years of economic exploitation of African labor.


Aicheria attended the African Peoples Socialist Party (APSP) Plenary in St. Petersburg, FL, on Jan 9 and 10, 2016, because the event presented her with the opportunity to learn more about the deeper call for African liberation.


She participated in panel discussions, asked questions and took in the lectures which showed the work the Party does to achieve African Liberation. 


The vision of African unity through organized collaboration won Aicheria to join the APSP.


Although Aicherias case in Iowa is highlighted here, there is a bigger struggle that spreads to the overall authority of the illegitimate settler.


If we allow this government to regulate something that is practiced in millions of African households throughout the U.S. and beyond, then we allow more of our inherent freedoms to be taken away. 


That is why all across the country, African hair braiders are fighting against colonial licensing requirements that divest mostly poor and working class African women of their money.


These licensing restrictions create a crisis that could push African womenwho may not have any other skillsto welfare, sex work, or other exploitative jobs.


By upholding these requirements the government is saying that welfarea dependency on the Stateis a more acceptable economic position for poor and working class African women than creating our own economic opportunities based on our skills.


ANWO opposes that position and will work with Aicheria, and other African hair braiders to build an organized resistance to these colonial policies that directly target African people.


The call for solidarity and support


While this is mainly a U.S. issue, we call for solidarity actions and statements from around the world in defense of this struggle.


We also call on support from African barbers and cosmetologists, who are also divested of resources to pay for classes that don't teach the care of African hair.


In the time of black lives matterchatter, we say that black power matters!


We demand the end of State regulation of African hair braiding in the U.S.

We demand reparations to African people who have, by force of hand, paid for cosmetology schools and licenses which were unnecessary to do their work.


The money that we give to cosmetology schools contribute to their wealth and economically depresses African hair braiders.


This is the definition of parasitic capitalism.


In the coming weeks we'll be organizing for public actions to put pressure on the U.S. government to remove regulations for African hair braiders. 


ANWO is calling on everyone who is interested to join the organizing work and help plan actions in your state and throughout the country.


Contact us immediately through email, or by phone at 240-326-3959 to join the work.

Black Power Matters!

Organize for Economic Self-Determination!
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