In 2003, African American author, ZZ Packer wrote, “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere” which illustrates a series of short stories and “Brownies” is one of those highly praised reads. Throughout the story, the aspect of prejudice and racism remain evident. The author illustrates the story about racism and humanity through Laurel’s eyes, who is just a fourth grader.
The story takes place near the southern suburbs of Atlanta Georgia, at Camp Crescendo. Group of six young girls in the camp, who are African American girls work on a plan to take revenge on the white girls belonging to 909 troop. The Brownie group girls wrongly believe that the white group girls have uttered some offensive remarks against them, and they plan to take revenge. The punishment includes beating up the girls and putting spider legs in their sleeping bags. However, the story takes a complete turn when the Brownie group girls come to realize that that the White troop consisted of girls who are “delayed learners” and have a medical condition named “Echolalia” (3).
Packer has vividly portrayed racism and many negative aspects of the society through his characters. Arnetta, who is one of the major characters of the story, is depicted as racially intolerant child because of the way she is brought up. She uses abusive language and has a very harsh tone, in author’s words, “Her tone had an upholstered confidence that was both regal and vulgar at once” (8). Arnetta’s meanness and hatred towards the white troop are obvious the way she talks about the white girls, “they smell like Chihuahuas, wet Chihuahuas” (2). Hence, she plays the part of the mean girl who is seen to bully nearly everyone. Moreover, she deliberately provokes her fellows to take revenge on the white troop, which describe the loss of innocence inside her. Packer, through his characters explores how people view themselves as victims end up being a victimizer.
Packer has done an excellent job explaining the details and knotting the story together and especially the way he gave each of his characters a unique individuality. In addition, the author gave a wonderful account of Camp Crescendo. The two groups are differentiated as one being Caucasian and the other being African American.
The themes of racial segregation and prejudice are apparent throughout the story, because the troops are either white or black, and mixing of the two groups never happens. The black girls belonging to the Brownie troop are raised in an ethnically separated atmosphere and are not permitted to...