The natural hair explosion was alive and well on Chicago’s West Side last Saturday at the Sankofa Cultural Arts and Business Center, 5820 W. Chicago Ave.

The facility hosted its quarterly “Lovin’ My Hair” expo. A panel of
natural hair experts offered tips and advice for maintaining natural
hair. More than 60 women, and a few men, gathered to share their “hair journey” stories. Others came to inquire about affordable ways to have stylish and healthy hair without the use of relaxers, wigs, and weaves. Many attendees had already begun the natural hair journey. For some, it’s an expression of pride. For others, it’s part of a healthier lifestyle. Some talked about the joys and challenges they have faced since embarking on their new path.

Some attendees expressed concerns about whether it’s appropriate to show up for a job interview sporting an afro hairstyle or locks. They worry that their hair will be a distraction from their skills. “It’s a new day,” explained Octavia Hooks, a master loctician who was among the panel. “No longer are we bound by the images which the media portray as beautiful.” 

Chris-Tia Donaldson, author of Thank God I’m Natural, shared a very personal story. The Harvard Law School graduate recalled how she obtained a job at a prestigious Chicago law firm. She says she wore long, straight wigs to work in an effort to fit in. “I knew it wasn’t me, and it showed in my work. On the outside, I was not the confident, secure attorney that I knew I could be.” Her managers told Chris-Tia that she had no future with their firm. At her next job, Chris-Tia says she wore her natural hair and uncovered the skill and talent which had been hidden. Today, she continues to excel in the field of proprietary law, in addition to being an author and entrepreneur.