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Excerpt from The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

The Other Black Girl

by Zakiya Dalila Harris
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  • First Published:
  • Jun 1, 2021
  • Paperback:
  • Jun 2022
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The footsteps were only inches away now. Nella realized she'd be able to get a good glimpse at the newcomer if she slid over to the far right of her cube, so she did exactly that, pretending to leaf through the manuscript Vera was waiting on while keeping one eye trained on the strip of hallway that led to Maisy's office. Almost instantly, Maisy and her prospective dreadlocked assistant made their way into her periphery, and the full picture came into view.

The girl had a wide, symmetrical face, and two almond-colored eyes perfectly spaced between a Lena Horne nose and a generous forehead. Her skin was a shade or two darker than Nella's chestnut complexion, falling somewhere between hickory and umber. And her locs—every one as thick as a bubble-tea straw and longer than her arms—started out as a deep brown, then turned honey-blonde as they continued past her ears. She'd gathered a bunch and piled them on top of her head in a bun; the locs that hadn't made it hung loosely around the nape of her neck.

And then there was the girl's pantsuit: a smart-looking ensemble composed of a single-button marigold jacket and a matching pair of oversized slacks that hit a couple of inches above the ankle. Below that, a pair of red patent leather high-heeled ankle boots that Nella would have broken her neck just trying to get into.

It was all very Erykah-meets-Issa, another detail Nella was filing away for Malaika, when she heard Maisy ask the girl to explain what "ACP" meant. And it was a good thing she had, because Nella hadn't known, either.

"Oh, sorry—that's Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard," the girl said, "but that's kind of a mouthful."

"Oh! Of course. A mouthful indeed. Harlem is such a great neighborhood. Its history is just so rich. Wagner held an event at the Schomburg earlier this year—February I think it was—for one of our authors. It was very well received."

Nella fought back a snort. Maisy hadn't attended this aforementioned event; what's more, Nella was willing to bet her middle name that the Museum of Natural History was as far north as Maisy had ever traveled in Manhattan. Maisy was a kind enough woman—she made bathroom small talk as well as the next senior-level employee— but she was fairly limited in her sense of what "the city" entailed. Just the mention of Williamsburg, despite its Apple Store, Whole Foods, and devastating selection of designer boutiques, caused Maisy to recoil as though someone had just asked to see the inside of her vagina. Surely this dreadlocked girl could sense that Maisy had no true sense of Harlem's "culture."

Nella wished she could see the look on the Black girl's face, but they'd already started to enter Maisy's office, so she had to settle for a chuckle in its place. It was subtle, but in the milliseconds that passed before Maisy shut her door, Nella was able to detect amusement at the end of that chuckle—an exasperated kind of amusement that asked, without asking, You don't spend time with Black people often, do you?

Nella crossed her fingers. The girl probably didn't need it, but she wished her luck, anyway.

Excerpted from The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris. Copyright © 2021 by Zakiya Dalila Harris. Excerpted by permission of Atria Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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