The Transition to Microlocs and My Hair Journey in Phases

Phase I: The beginning of microlocs and the end of 2022

A collage of the beginning of my microlocs transition. From the afro blowout to the grid, then plaits/braids, cornrows, and the finished product. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt & Akua Montgomery
A collage of the beginning of my microlocs transition. From the afro blowout to the grid, then plaits/braids, cornrows, and the finished product. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt & Akua Montgomery

I have wanted to dive into microlocs for at least three years, however, my stylist does not specialize in this genre of haircare. She can and will care for natural hair or hair in its natural state, but she cannot install, treat, coil, loc, or twist hair.

And since this is a journey I no longer wanted to place on hold to continue to be loyal to my stylist, I mentioned not having anyone to install my locs to my cousin, Akua, and my cousin stormed in to rescue me.

Ending 2022 this way is the best gift I can give myself, considering the bullshit this year brought my way. Now, I will sound off loudly and proudly, and on my terms.

Microlocs are an offshoot of dreadlocks. As the name suggests, they are tinier and a good option for anyone who wants to achieve a dreadlock look but would prefer to cut out the bulk. Deciding to get microlocs is a journey, with phases for each stage of hair growth. — Emilie Branch

Micro means exactly what the prefix states: small (exceptionally small). One does not simply jump from permed and chemically enhanced hair directly to natural hair or locs — the path is usually one many women (and some men) fight with themselves about.

I spent three months growing my permed hair out at the roots. There were no haircuts, no trimming, and no flat-ironing or processing of my hair of any kind. I was preparing for the arduous task of caring for my hair differently — naturally.

The questions I have heard many people ask when transitioning to locs are: “Will this work for me?” “Am I truly ready for this transition?” “How will I treat my hair afterward?” and “Will the loctician I find be the best match for me and my hair?”

I have asked myself every question mentioned above. I have tortured myself over these questions and wondered every single time I leaned into the thought of locking my hair . . . can I endure this?

I can. I did. I will. The photo you see above is a collage of a few snapshots taken by both me and my cousin on the first two days of this journey.


Stepping into a new phase of haircare

On Saturday, December 10, 2022, I began the transition to microlocs. Not only will this be a special day for me, but it is also one that my cousin and I will share, as she is the person who used her creative skills to make this happen.

What we, as Black women, do with our hair can invigorate us and start an entire movement with others. Most of us can be incredibly versatile with our hair and launch our crowns into various new styles that speak to who we are before we open our mouths.

I spent 8 hours (with 2 breaks) at her house sitting stoically in one of her dining room chairs as she began the grid pattern for my locs. The grid pattern is key because once this is parted and designed; there is no changing it. I knew I wanted clean, fine boxes in rows for my grid pattern. Knowing this, my cousin followed suit.

Microlocs grid pattern. Photo Credit: Akua Montgomery and Tremaine L. Loadholt
Microlocs grid pattern. Photo Credit: Akua Montgomery and Tremaine L. Loadholt

We completed all sections of my hair except one side in the back, which we finished on Sunday, December 11, 2022. This session took 5 hours (with 1 break).

I sat patiently, yearning to see each phase as my cousin completed it. She took photos so that there would be memories of this process. After she braided my hair into sections and the pattern was done, we moved toward cornrowing my hair to protect it.

Since I have had permed/processed hair almost all my life, growing out a permanent, chemically enhanced state takes longer than one can imagine. With that being said, in some sections, my ends would not plait completely to the end or stay braided. So, my cousin cornrowed each section, leaving the back out, but rubberbanded them to protect the ends.

Starter microlocs cornrowed protective state. Photo Credit: Akua Montgomery and Tremaine L. Loadholt
Starter microlocs cornrowed protective state. Photo Credit: Akua Montgomery and Tremaine L. Loadholt

And with the entire process completed and positioned, it is now my job to leave my hair alone for the next 6 weeks (or possibly more) to allow it to loc and take on its own look.

This is the part that is causing so much anxiety within me. I am eager to get to the fully microlocked stage; to flaunt my hair and lean into the beauty it possesses in a natural state.

But this is a process. This is a journey. There are paths that must be followed, adhered to, walked accordingly, and I am here for all of this!

Get it in a protective hairstyle and do not! Do not! Do not touch it until it’s washed and re-twisted. — Miss Kay Cee


2022, you have tried to knock me down, but I won’t stay down

I refused to allow this year to defeat me. From the very beginning, it has been one form of grief to another and another and another, and toward the end of this year, Jernee’s health began failing. At 14 years of age, this is to be expected.

We are now dealing with the decline of her kidneys, and I am moving through this loss as best as I can — the loss of a healthy, young, and in mostly good health dog. That part of our lives together is leaving — nearly gone, but I refuse to allow 2022 to take away the joyous occasions waiting in the wings for us.

We have many more memories to make — she still has a good amount of energy. And with my hair in starter locs, graying to perfection, and altered to the state I have envisioned for it for years, I am more confident in myself. I believe this will help me deal with the changes in Jernee, with my career, and whatever else God will pitch my way.

The finished product the next morning, Monday, December 12, 2022. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt
The finished product the next morning, Monday, December 12, 2022. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

I decided not to let fear, loyalty, history, and complacency get the best of me toward the end of this year. And as time passes, I will continue to break out and break through some cruel happenings because . . . I am resilient, and I want so much for myself and for others, too.

Marking this event daily on my calendar as each day ends gives me so much joy. A smile crosses my face as I “X” out each day to signify another day’s end with starter locs that will eventually become microlocs.


The transition will probably not be a smooth one, but I am ready

This transition may not end up being all shits and giggles — laughs and happiness, but I am ready to endure it all. The gritty, the ugly stages, the OMG! what is my hair doing stages, and the OKAY! now, we’re getting somewhere stage.

I want to see what my hair can do. I also want to see what I will do as my hair sashays into a new phase.

Some people name their hair. I think this is a solid idea and can further build a connection between me and my hair as well . . . let’s be honest, we will both evolve during this process.

I will bring you along to share my story. This is the first installment of four articles devoted to my microlocs journey.

Ajá and I welcome you as we move from 2022 into the new year of 2023.

Originally published in An Injustice via Medium.

I Will Bring My Table if You Refuse To Let Me Sit at Yours

And I won’t ask for your permission

Photo by Clarke Sanders on Unsplash

The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman. — Malcolm X

I have learned, in these last five months after venturing into applying for writing positions (once again), that as a Black woman in America, this industry is crucial — a rigorous trail of dangerous terrain, and many of us will not pull away from it without broken ankles or worse — a broken spirit.

I have applied to countless organizations, entities, magazines, and journals. I have updated, tweaked, upgraded, and enhanced my résumé hundreds of times. I have submitted examples of my writing, samples of copy as per requests, and details of my experience and longevity within the industry. Yet, I stand before you, jobless in the field I have dreamed of making my full-time career choice.

I want to tell you that this is my first time with these results, but it is not. And I know I am not the only one. The older I become, the harder it is to gain traction in the world of creative arts — particularly literary content, and every time I find the strength to give it one more go at it, I get the wind knocked completely out of my sails.

So, what is different this time around? I know what I can offer. I am aware of my potential. I am not afraid of a challenge or hard work. I can pursue intense and controversial topics, interview big names relative to various subjects, and do all of this in a way that will connect the reader and bring them back continually.

However, I have gotten several proverbial doors slammed in my face because I do not fit the model the company seeks; I am not interested in writing solely for marketing purposes. I refuse to write about or attach my name to something I do not believe in or advocate for, and the list goes on.

The tables they have designed for those seeking to eat among their peers have no more room. Or is it simply what they lead us to believe?


Why are we almost always at the bottom regarding pay in most job markets?

I work full-time in healthcare. I am a central scheduling specialist for radiology. To make it plain, I schedule radiology scans and interventional radiology/invasive procedures for our patients. The job is not one for the weary or faint of heart.

I commend my love of words and for people regarding my ability to build rapport, remain empathetic, and ensure a timely and effective scheduling process for our patients.

I will be honest. The pay is not what I would envision for the tasks and overall processes we have to endure, but I love my job.

Am I stressed out on some days? Sure. Do I wish it would get better for me and my co-workers? I do. Would I want to do this job with any other group of people? No, I would not.

The people I share these tasks with are exceptional and we are a rainbow of glorious individuals who show up daily to do what we do best; give patients a remarkable radiology scheduling experience.

Healthcare has been the backbone and most convenient way to keep me afloat, while writing always held its own on the sidelines. I have never gained enough to fully sustain and live comfortably from writing.

You may be saying to yourself, “Why do you think this should change?” I have always felt my heart speaks more when I am writing. My mind is at ease — anxiety is curbed significantly.

And the monetary comparisons are laughable. I can earn more by editing and publishing, and submitting commissioned articles in one month (whenever applicable) than I can in healthcare scheduling.

When I step back and look at the overall differences in pay gaps and wages for White men, Black men, White women, and Black women, I am left speechless.

In an article by Michelle Holder entitled, Addressing the ‘double gap’ faced by Black women in the U.S. economy, the author states:

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics detailed this double gap in June 2020, releasing data on average weekly and annual salaries broken out by race and gender:

White Men: $1,115 weekly, $58,000 annually
Black Men: $828 weekly, $43,000 annually
White Women: $929 weekly, $48,300 annually
Black Women: $779 weekly, $40,500 annually

This is wage inequality by race and gender in a nutshell. — Michelle Holder, November 30, 2021

We, Black women, are at the bottom. The average salary for a healthcare scheduling specialist position in North Carolina is $16.19 per hour as of August 22, 2022, according to Zippia.

If we go further into it, for my state alone, we share the bottom rungs with Hispanic women and Hispanic men, with women of color making up about 35% in North Carolina.

If the current trends continue, working women in North Carolina will not see equal pay until 2060! — NC Council for Women and Youth Involvement

Where is the fairness in the statement above? Will there ever be pay equity for women, more specifically, Black women?


I have to be a sounding board for others and bring my table when there are no more seats left

Although I have not gotten my seat at the table of writing, I am making moves in order to bring my own table and invite others to sit with me too. I am unafraid to be vulnerable and authentic. I share my experiences. I let people into the parts of my world where I feel a connection will take place.

“When one door closes, another one opens.” In my case, I can say, “When hundreds of doors are closed before you, build your own, then knock it down.”

I have this unstoppable quality marked into my making, and I cannot see myself “taking a knee” because I am being forced to.

Women writers outnumber men writers in the United States of America. However, we are still paid $0.96 to their $1.00.

Writer Demographics and Statistics in the USA
  • There are over 46,256 writers currently employed in the United States.
  • 53.8% of all writers are women, while 46.2% are men.
  • The average age of an employed writer is 41 years old.
  • The most common ethnicity of writers is White (78.9%), followed by Hispanic or Latino (7.4%) and Black or African American (6.0%).
  • The majority of writers are located in New York, NY, and Los Angeles, CA.
  • Writers are most in-demand in New York, NY.
  • Writers are paid an average annual salary of $66,143.

The above stats have been derived from Zippia and are the most recent analysis for Writer demographics by gender, location, and race.


I will not ask for your permission. I don’t need it.

Many writers come and go. I have broken bread with editors, authors, poets, and content creators. I converse with struggling journalists, Black women in Tech, and Black women freelance writers. The “game” was not designed for us to be on top.

No one will say this out loud — this information is the “quiet part” about which we should not speak. It is a thing someone continually forces us to move through, and when we arrive, they mount another obstacle for us to maneuver.

There are countless Black women in various job markets who can stand in front of you and say they have had to pivot to entrepreneurship because no one else would hire them. They are carving out spaces for themselves because countless doors have been closed in their face. They are currently pulling themselves up into the spotlight and bringing a few of their colleagues along because they know what the struggle entails.

I am at the age now where I fervently believe that it is high time for me to construct my table, sit it alongside the path of others, and help catapult Black women writers to where they want to be.

And I will not ask for anyone’s permission — not anymore. I don’t need it.


Originally published in An Injustice Mag via Medium on September 07, 2022.

When 3 Black Women Meet Country Music

You get Chapel Hart and it’s Black Joy

Photo Credit: Alexis Carter, Courtesy of Sounds Like Nashville

I am not a fan of America’s Got Talent. I do not watch the show, but I have a very close friend who shares videos of performances with me she believes I’ll love. She is always right. Thanks, Alexainie!

The following performance, which aired on July 19, 2022, led me to view the video not just once, but multiple times. The pure joy that shot through my body while watching these beautiful young ladies give their gift to the hosts and to the crowd is unmatched.

AGT, Chapel Hart, Group Golden Buzzer

This had definitely been a Black Joy moment for me. And my heart was so full and happy — I nearly burst at the seams. To watch these young ladies live out their dream on stage, and tear the house down, too?! There are no words for it — it’s indescribable.

*Black Joy is …
Black Joy possesses a range that is boundless and is not easily defined.

The most accurate definition is:
Black Joy is anything that inspires, supports, and uplifts Black culture.

I can click on the video day-in and day-out and get the same results: a teary-eyed, moved, and emotionally charged Black woman who is incredibly excited and ecstatic for each of them. They knew what they wanted to do — they pursued it, and here they are — living out their dream, despite the hardships and closed doors in their paths.


Exploring the avenues that led to Chapel Hart

Naturally, I wanted to learn more about Chapel Hart, this all-Black woman’s group that leaned toward Country music instead of R&B, Neo-Soul, the Blues, Gospel, etc. All three ladies have amazing voices, but the frontwoman, Danica, belts out notes from the depths of her soul, and when you listen to her, one cannot help but be moved.

The trio is two sisters, Devynn and Danica Hart, and their first cousin, Trea Swindle. They hail from a small town outside of Poplarville, Mississippi, called Hart’s Chapel. According to the group, they are only 3 of 108 grandchildren. Their grandmother had 17 children, and they populated their small town.

Growing up in a family where music had always been present, it seems only fitting they would succumb to music as passionately as they have. Listening to them, I can hear the determination, the pursuit of their dreams, and their backgrounds too.

There is a distinguished tone and a three-part harmony that makes up their unique sound. It’s safe to say they are breaking down doors and stripping away barriers. They are clearly making history, and isn’t it about time?

Chapel Hart, I Will Follow, ©2021

I am not a fan of country music — not really. I like some country music singers, but I can count them on one hand. Chapel Hart entered my world at the right time. I needed something to stir me — lift me from some dark spaces — keep me on my highest points for more than two days in a row. I think I may have found what I had been seeking in their soulful voices.


Catching the eye of Dolly Parton and some other legends

If you took the time to watch the Golden Buzzer video courtesy of America’s Got Talent, you know the ladies are big fans of Dolly Parton. They even say jokingly (but maybe not?) “Dolly Parton for President” in the clip as well.

With their spin on “Jolene,” their original song “You Can Have Him, Jolene (which is #1 on iTunes for Country music),” attracted the ears and eyes of … you guessed it, Dolly Parton.

©July 22, 2022, Graeme O’Neil

And it did not end there. Loretta Lynn chimed in and wondered (out loud) what the group could do with one of her songs. And it just keeps getting better for Chapel Hart, as Darius Rucker announced they will be on his new album, too.

When you have been given shout-outs and acknowledgments from some of the heaviest hitters in the genre of music you have fought to be a part of for so long, the feeling has got to be an unbelievable one. I imagine Chapel Hart constantly pinching themselves to make sure they’re awake.

If the above doesn’t send your heart soaring for this group, maybe the following will:

In 2021, Chapel Hart was inducted into CMT’s Next Women of Country, the institution that has been known to help up and coming female country artists such as Kelsea Ballerini, Ashley McBride, & Gabby Barrett… to name a few. This Mississippi trio’s music has reached fans around the globe earning them the title of “International Group of the Year” as well as “International Song of the Year” for the single “You Can Have Him Jolene” in Scotland. — Chapel Hart, Bio

I said I would follow them from the first moment I watched their performance video on America’s Got Talent that catapulted them into the spotlight (where they belong), and I have been.

Their story is an intriguing one, and it gives me hope for various twists and modifications to the expected traditional sound of country music.


We needed a high point, and here it is

After everything we have been through over the past few years, Black people needed a high point — a marked moment of excellence and joy. Here it is.

Chapel Hart may be a country music group, but you can hear Funk, Gospel, Rock & Roll, and Pop. They even put their stamp on the Star-Spangled Banner in 2019 for an Orlando Magic basketball game.

Prior to learning about them, I had said to myself, “How much more bad news can we take? How much more is there?” When all your nation has subjected you to is bad news that leaves a sour taste in your mouth, a little good news is welcome.

I may turn on the TV tomorrow and find another Black man or Person of Color dead by a senseless act of violence committed by someone of authority, children slain within the very walls that were once deemed safe, a baby or pet left in a hot car for ten to thirty minutes while their parent or the owner simply “forgot about them” in the backseat, and the list goes on.

But today, at this very moment, I will leave tomorrow where it is and embrace the excellence that is Chapel Hart.

The group skipped down their very own yellow brick road, locked hands with country music, and created Black Joy.

And it is such a beautiful thing.


Originally published in An Injustice Mag via Medium on Tuesday, August 02, 2022.

sworn in

6.30.22, a memorable day
for decades to come
as history was fine-tuned
when it added you

can justice be revived
will we see it have
lasting breaths breathed
into it

representation still needs
our focus, but it feels
right to watch you
don the robes of
the highest court in
our system

it feels right to
witness a woman
of your stature finally
receive her flowers while
she’s still living

it is “right as rain”
and cleansing waters
rush over me–elation
is an understatement

Universe, Do Your Worst

I promise — I can take it.

Photo by Ernesto D. via Reshot

The workers come. They drill into the concrete in front of my building. I hear them cut through the ground. A drill here, some digging there. They disturb the dog.

She wakes up from a sound sleep, eager to locate the demons responsible for the momentary interruption.

As they carve into the ground below us, I think about you. Are you entertained? Did I make a good first impression? Was I too much — too little? Is my personality what you thought it’d be?

I didn’t have to think about things like this two years ago. The pandemic has me this way. I tell my therapist I am forever changed. She agrees. She says I’m not the only one. I know I’m not.

Universe, do your worst. I promise I can take it. It’s a statement I thought should be on a t-shirt. I’m still here. After all the damage — all the calculated drama — all the premeditated bullshit, I’m still here.

You speak of wanting children — a life with someone who holds his crotch every thirty minutes. I know this isn’t me. I feign not hearing you. I change the subject. We talk about beating the odds as black women, instead.

The workers tag the concrete. A yellow sign issues caution. The newness of their act intrigues me. A small leaf pokes through the wet-work. What does it mean?

The dog falls back to sleep.


Originally published in CRY Magazine via Medium.