A Word on Words | NPT


The Other Black Girl |Zakiya Dalila Harris | NPT

"With everything happening, my hope is that people will understand the duress that Black people go through day by day trying to function and still do a good job and still be present….Those things take a toll on your social health, your mental health, and also they pass down generation to generation."

AIRED: June 17, 2021 | 0:02:30

(typewriter tapping)

(typewriter dinging)

(contemplative music)

- I'm Zakiya Dalila Harris

and this is "The Other Black Girl."

Nella Rogers, who was a young editorial assistant

who has been the only black person working there

for about two years or so,

So she was really excited when Hazel,

another young black woman who was from Harlem,

comes and starts working in the cubicle next to hers.

She thinks that they'll be able to kind of bond

over the microaggressions, bond over black hair,

be friends, have another person

that she doesn't code switch with.

She can just be herself, but a series of very strange things

start to happen in the office.

And Nella begins to wonder if Hazel is friend or foe.

- Can you talk about how you use hair

and haircare as a metaphor?

- I mean, hair was really important to me.

I experienced my own kind

of racial awakening when I was living in New York

for the first time,

cut my hair off at a Dominican barber shop

after being so tired of having relaxed hair.

Nella goes through a similar situation.

I just wanted to really explore

how hair can be a connection,

a connective tissue for black women

but also it can possibly break us apart as well.

- So is Hazel the villain in this story?

- I get that question a lot and no, she's not the villain.

Hazel has a very complicated view on things

but Hazel's complicated view comes from a larger,

wider problem that is systemic.

It goes beyond publishing and into this country itself.

So, I'm hoping that people will get Hazel,

still feel for Nella,

but just have a lot more empathy for both of them.

- For more of our conversation,

visit our website awordonwords.org and keep reading!

(typewriter dinging)

What is the most important takeaway?

- [Zakiya] My hope is that people will understand

just the duress that black people go through day by day,

trying to function

and still do a good job and still be present.

My hope is that people will see this

and think more about that

and also how we can make that not be the case, right?

Like how can we make not just publishing more diverse,

but how can we make media more diverse?

How can we make the educational system more diverse?


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