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Messy Black Characters & The White Readers Who Won’t Let Them Live

I could immediately sense the thinly veiled bias beneath their reviews.

Middle-aged white women, based on their profile pictures, professional career women maybe, expressed how they could deeply connect with my character Muna – an eighteen year old Black refugee from Somalia.

As for the other two lead Black characters in my debut novel In Every Mirror She’s Black, Nigerian Kemi and African-American Brittany-Rae, professional career women, the reviewers had a lot of choice words. They considered Kemi and Brittany ‘weak’ and ‘entitled’ for wanting more for their lives, never giving them space to make mistakes on their journeys towards self-actualisation.

These characters were never afforded the privilege to simply be “unlikable” characters. In essence, some readers were not allowing those two women in particular to be fully human, with all their messiness and questionable decisions.