Based on a similar concept, a novel by Zakiya Dalila Harris titled The Other Black Girl became one of the best-selling novels in 2021. With its unique plot and the fast-moving pace of the book, it acclaimed several positive reviews from readers.
The novel did amazingly well, leading to the making of a series set to release on the streaming platform Hulu. The Other Black Girl was the debut novel of Zakiya and lightly touches on societal themes like racism and workplace culture. Readers felt the book dealt with some of the prime topics tactfully.
The novel has just enough suspense and observation to pique readers’ interest. The Other Black Girl is a novel that had the readers grasping and clutching their pearls. The book beautifully showcased some of the challenges a woman of color has to go through in the workplace.
Readers felt the protagonist’s epiphany almost destroyed the book, but the final twist saved the novel from being a complete disaster. The Other Black Girl’s central character is Nella Rogers, a 26-year-old lone black woman working at Wagner Books finding solace in Hazel’s friendship, another black woman.
As the two start to develop a bond between them, suspicious activities surround Nella, and she is left in the dust while Hazel climbs the ladder in the company. Nella finds it hard to believe that the one friend she gained in Hazel was behind everything she has been going through.
Zakiya is a pretty black woman, and behind the story of her debut novel lies some of her experiences at the workplace. Most women of color have dealt with racism and workplace politics when they start to work.
The Other Black Girl: Ending Explained
The novel’s prologue introduces the readers to an unnamed narrator in Manhattan in December of 1983, who is later revealed as Kendra Rae Phillips. Kendra is fleeing from New York City in terror of the unknown, but before she catches her train and the only way out of New York, she gives an interview criticizing the workplace politics and racism that plays an important role in Wagner Books.
Kendra served as the only black female editor working at Wagner Books, and she faced severe backlash from people after her interview was published. Kendra isn’t worried about the backlash she is facing due to the release of her interview, but she is terrified of the unknown person or people chasing her.
While Kendra waits anxiously for her train to leave New York City, she can’t help but scratch her burning scalp. As the readers move forward in the book, they are introduced to Nella Rogers, the lead protagonist and a 26-year-old only black woman working as an editorial assistant at Wagner Books.
Nella often tries to open up and talk about racial bias in the Diversity Town Halls of her company in hopes for some change to occur, but nothing changes, leaving Nella’s heart in shatters. Nella is surprised when the company hires Hazel, another black woman.
With time the two black women begin to form a bond and a beautiful friendship, but soon things go south, with Nella being left for the dust while Hazel climbs the ladder and becomes close to the white colleagues at the company.
As the two continue to talk, Nella vents to Hazel about Pins And Needles, a book she is editing, which features hints of a racist caricature of black women. On Hazel’s suggestion, Nella talks to the book’s author and her boss, which backfires on her. Nella’s boss is beyond pissed with her for raising her concerns about the novel.
This makes Nella realize that Hazel is setting her up for failure. The book’s second part opens with Diana Gordon’s novel Burning Heat release party in October of 1983. Meanwhile, Kendra is revealed to be rehearsing the lines of her speech she was going to say during the interview as she is tired of the micro-aggression going on in the office.
After a month from the press release of Diane’s book, she receives a call threatening to do something to Kendra. The book then returns to the present in 2018, with Nella’s life unraveling and getting out of control as her other black colleagues begin to favor Hazel.
Vera asks Hazel to take over Nella’s regular tasks leading the protagonist to believe her job is over. Meanwhile, Hazel ruins Nella’s credibility after she publicly defends Pins and Needles in a company marketing meeting. If this wasn’t enough, Nella soon begins to get threatening notes telling her to leave Wagner Books.
The threatening notes feed into Nella’s paranoia and anxiety, while the readers get introduced to another character Shani, a black woman whose career was destroyed by Hazel before she arrived at Wagner Books in the novel.
Shani is determined to take revenge on Hazel; thus, she joins an underground resistance group keeping track of Hazel and Other Black Girls. Well, it gets revealed that OBGs are a group of competitive women who infiltrate corporate workplaces to convert normal women of color into compliant yet materially successful selves.
Kendra makes a return to Manhattan after receiving a call from a broken Nella, and she joins the resistance group. The novel further reveals the struggle for power between The Other Black Girls group and the Resistance group.
During an event organized by Hazel at Curl Central, a natural hair cafe attended by Nella, Hazel announces a joint initiative with Richard Wagner, owner of Wagner Books, to create better hiring practices in the publishing house.
Nella burns with jealousy and decides to confront Hazel for her ways, who dismisses her concerns. Hazel offers Nella a jar of hair grease as a peace offering and invites her to a hair party that celebrates their natural hair.
Shani attends the event undercover and reports her observation to the resistance group. Kendra compares the ingredients of the jar and draws the connection between Smooth’d Out and the substance responsible for burning her scalp. Not wanting Nella to go through the same fate as hers, Shani contacts her, defying the rule of the Resistance group.
But the Resistance group intercepts Shani before she is able to meet Nella. In a twist, it gets revealed that Diane connects Richard, her lover, and Imani, her childhood friend, to develop a chemical to numb the prefrontal cortex, thus making women of color more compliant after she is frustrated by the bad publicity caused by Kendra’s interview.
The team of Richard, Diane, and Imani fails to use the formula on Kendra but is successful in hiring a network of employees named Lead Conditioners to convert black women.
Does Nella Survive The Conversion?
Nella attends Hazel’s party unaware of the scheme of Lead Conditioners in hopes of gathering dust about Hazel and her suspicious behavior. Nella discovers the folder containing the details of several black women, including herself.
The folder also has detailed notes about conversions, which led to a panicked Nella escaping the party successfully. The following day Nella realizes that Hazel has successfully converted their guest of honor. Nella, seeing no hope for escape from the ongoing cycle, finally consents to conversion, which leads to her becoming a Lead Conditioner like Hazel.
The novel ends with Nella arriving in Portland and setting her eyes on Shani in hopes of conversing with her. Rather than attempting to take down the system responsible for oppressing her, she gets ingrained in it, thus continuing the cycle of abuse and oppression.
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