Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Haley Reading (Group A2) Nafissa Thompson-Spires's "Belles Lettres"

 By Lakenzie Walls and Howard Rambsy II


Nafissa Thompson-Spires's “Belles Lettres,” from her collection of stories Heads of the Colored People (2018) focuses on a pair of Black mothers of two girls at a predominantly white private school. The mothers exchange distasteful letters about each other’s daughters. The story, presented in the form of letters from the mothers, reveals the lengths they will go to uplift their own black daughter, even if it means belittling a rival’s child.

In one example of the subtle insults that they toss at each other, one mother writers, “Perhaps the kids at Fatima’s old school were bad influences on her? Why did she change schools after first grade anyway? That’s generally a bad sign” (39). In her response, the other mother writes that “Not everyone is suited for literary work. I’m sure you know that from your own writing struggles” (40). Comments like those persist throughout the story.

 

What stood out the most to you about the story? Why? 

Responses from students:

The whole read was interesting, it went from 2 mothers talking about their kids to it becoming a shady and petty battle. The part that really stuck out to me is on page 44 when she says “ And yes , there is still a bit of the ghetto still left in me ....” it shows the letters getting more and more heated and unprofessional. --T. Long

 Lucinda saying that Fatima has a more "African look" and saying that Monica displayed uppity Negress stood out to me (43). --P. Johnson


158 comments:

Unknown said...

While reading the pages everything that the mothers said to one another stood out to me. I say that because they are grown women going back and forth acting like children. They don't even realize that this feud is causing their children to act out. Also, them having this feud they not even trying to pay attention to what's really in front of them. They wouldn't know who did what because they aren't giving the child the time of day. All they are worried about is their image. Plus, what makes the situation worse is that both of these grown ladies are belittling the other child. I don't understand what world they live in that causes them to say the things they did about a child. For instance, on page 41 Lucinda says "You will get Christina some help for her weight problem before she ends up...like you" This is showing how careless these two are acting. They are really using their kids to make the other mom feel bad. - Valarie M.

Anozha Singletary said...

In Belles Letters, two moms, each trying to uplift their own daughters, passive aggressively argue. They pass sly remarks back and forth about the other’s daughter. The part of these letters that surprised me the most was finding out that both women were educated black women. Instead of lifting each other up, they tore each other down. They even went so far as to insult the other’s blackness and evaluate it as ghetto.


Anozha Singletary

nanasingletary2@gmail.com said...

In Belles Letters, 2 moms, each trying to uplift their own daughters, passive aggressively argue. They pass sly remarks back and forth about the other’s daughter. The part of these letters that surprised me the most was finding out that both women were educated black women. Instead of lifting each other up, they tore each other down. They even went so far as to insult the other’s blackness and evaluate it as ghetto.


Anozha Singletary

Dayevion M said...

I think that whole read was a lot to take in. The last sentence of the first letter is what stood out to me. She addressed her problem in the first part of her letter but then added the part about lying young leads to patterns of dishonesty(34). I think this stood out to me because I believe that if the letter removed that one sentence, it would have been a faster resolution. Instead, the other mother took that sentence and it snowballed into a barrage of back and forth insults aimed at each other.

Unknown said...

The notes going back and fourth throughout the reading was interesting. You would think the only two black students would get along, but they didn't. Not only did the Fatima and Christiana have bad blood with each other the parents did as well. Towards the end of the story, it seemed that the two families were in good spirits with each other which is weird.

-Damien W

Unknown said...

The notes going back and fourth throughout the reading was interesting. You would think the only two black students would get along, but they didn't. Not only did the Fatima and Christiana have bad blood with each other the parents did as well. Towards the end of the story, it seemed that the two families were in good spirits with each other which is weird.

-Damien W

Damien W said...

The notes going back and fourth throughout the reading was interesting. You would think the only two black students would get along, but they didn't. Not only did the Fatima and Christiana have bad blood with each other the parents did as well. Towards the end of the story, it seemed that the two families were in good spirits with each other which is weird.

-Damien W

Unknown said...

This reading was very interesting in a way. The thing that stood out most to me is the mothers telling each other how they should be dealing with their daughters. For example, Dr. Lucinda Johnston says, “ Finally, and I say this respectfully, but maybe it would be wise to go through Fatima’s backpack every night instead if once in a blue moon” (36).
She later does complain that others are saying that Fatima’s bag smells bad. I find it quite ironic because usually, it would be the grandparents telling the mothers how to take care and what to do for the grandchildren. But in this case, it is another mother of the same age child. --Meikiyia R.

Jordan W. said...

I would say one thing that stood out to me is the how hard the mothers were going and belittling someone else's child. I thought it wasn't appropriate by them using their children's past to show that their child is "better" and a way for both mothers to show if they are better mothers. And I thought it was worse that they are the only black children at the private school, so it made me think of stereotypes against black people and thoughts of "the angry black women."

Unknown said...

This reading was very interesting in a way. The thing that stood out most to me is the mothers telling each other how they should be dealing with their daughters. For example, Dr. Lucinda Johnston says, “ Finally, and I say this respectfully, but maybe it would be wise to go through Fatima’s backpack every night instead if once in a blue moon” (36).
She later does complain that others are saying that Fatima’s bag smells bad. I find it quite ironic because usually, it would be the grandparents telling the mothers how to take care and what to do for the grandchildren. But in this case, it is another mother of the same age child. -Meikiyia R.

Unknown said...

The entire reading was interesting to me in many ways but what stood out the most was the way the mothers insulted each other to uplift their own daughters. They even insulted each other about their career lifestyles. It seemed as if they we're trying to get on the right track but as they kept sending letters their attitudes towards each other were getting worse.

Some of the things they were mentioning was how one daughter was more problematic than the other daughter. In the story Monica states, "Fatima wouldn't tell stories about Christina, the hamsters, or the microwave incident if they weren't based on something Christina had said first". While Lucinda states "I understand why a girl in Fatima's position and one with her background would make up such stories.

La’ Raye said...

In “Belles Letter” what stuck out to me the most was the two girls be mean and fighting to one another. Then their mothers arguing and saying rude things to one another. I do understand the mothers sticking up for their children but it was in a childish way. Then to find out they are black women. Us black women already get enough hate. They should be supporting each other and lifting each other up. They should be a team. But instead they are against each other because their daughters are fighting and be rude to one another. The mothers should’ve handled this situation maturely and instead of arguing they should of resolved the issues with their daughters.

La’ Raye said...

In “Belles Letter” what stuck out to me most was the two little girls being mean and fighting to each other. Then their mother’s arguing about their daughter’s situation. I do understand them wanting to stick up for their daughter’s. But they started to argue just like their daughters. They were being childish and weren’t handling the situation as adults as they should have been. Then to find out that they are beautiful black women. Us black woman already get so much hate. We need to stick together abs lift each other up. That’s what the mothers should’ve thought and done instead of going after each other.
La’Raye L.

Madisen W. said...

What stood out to me the most in this reading was just how far the two professional black women went in the argument, with eventually petty insults becoming the basic motive for both of them eventually causing the argument to be continued in a very unprofessional manner. Even though Dr. Monica Willis said, "I'm not of the mind that the only two black children in the class should be enemies, nor do I like the attention it draws to them (or their parents) when they're already in a difficult position" (37), both Dr. Monica Willis and Dr. Lucinda Johnston still eventually let the argument continue so far to the point they became enemies themselves. Also what stood out to me was just how the petty insults involved the daughters as well. Seeing how when the slick talk about the daughters became more prevalent, that was one of the main causes for why the argument escalated so quickly.
-Madisen W.

Kailiah W. said...

While reading "Heads of the Colored People,” the underlying reason for Fatima and Christinia's rivalry stood out to me. Throughout the story, the Black mothers wrote offensive and insulting letters about one another's daughter. Although the story showcases that the children were rivals at school, I viewed the rivalry to be much deeper. As the reader, I interpreted their rivalry to be caused by a sense of competition. For a while, Christinia was the only black girl in an all-white school. Due to this, Christinia may have had more attention on her due to her being the only black girl there, but when Fatima came along, Fatima stole her spotlight. In the story Fatima's mother says, "Jealousy can become a lifelong problem...We were surprised by how poorly Christinia behaved when Fatima's poem won over hers...(p.38). With this quote in mind, it is clear that the rivalry goes much deeper than them just not getting along. It seems as if Christinia was scared that she would not get the same amount of attention or approval anymore since she was no longer the only black girl attending this white private school.

Shelby Taylor said...

While reading a chapter called "Belles Letters" by Nafissa Thompson-Spires, there are two mothers that have this feud with each other. This really surprises me because
these mothers are daughters that are different than the other children at there color as they are a different race. Their daughters names are Fatima and Christinia. They are having this feud because their daughters are acting out at each other, but little did these mothers know the only reason their daughters are acting out towards each other is because of these two mothers hatred towards one another. With this feud it seems to me like these mothers are trying to see which one of there daughters are better. On page 35 of the "Belles Letters" it says, "It is true that lairs who start young and often end up with psychological and social problems of the sort that Christinia has demonstrated over the past year".

Anonymous said...

“Belles Lettres” was a very interesting read; unlike any plot I have read in the past. I really enjoyed the format that the story was presented in. The letters between the two women produces a clear depiction of their relationship with one another. It was interesting to read that both these women’s daughters were the only two black girls in the school yet their families held so much animosity towards each other. The part that stood out the most to me was when Dr. Lucinda M. Johnston said, “You display a volatile combination of residual ghetto and uppity Negress, and that will be your undoing, if Fatima isn’t” (43). This line was one of the more extreme lines that was exchanged between the two women. It is interesting to hear Dr. Johnston make this remark because, both these women are extremely educated and should be helping uplift each other and their daughters to become successful. Instead, they banter back and forth and succumb to low levels discussing their daughters' behaviors.
- Britney W

Caleb W. said...

As I was reading "Belles Lettres" in the book "Heads Of The Colored People"; The interaction between the two mothers Monica and Lucinda stood out to me for a number of reasons. Lucinda came at Monica very cool and calm to discuss the issues about her daughter, and she immediately became offended. The arguments got nastier and nastier each message. The pettiness of the two kicked in on an all time high insulting each others families as well.It took for Michelle Watson to step in on page (49) in order for this to stop. She says, "It has come to my attention that your respective daughters, Christina and Fatima, engaged in a brutal fist fight at school.And is punishable by expulsion." After this the women get that act together immediately and calm the situation down. It just shows how things have to happen in order for people to realize certain things have to stop.Maturity is one of the most important things we can have.

Jasmyne W. said...

What stood out to me the most is the fact that in 1991, you would think black people were standing strong together still in pw communities. These two moms were trying to belittle one another and their children letter after letter. Also , in 1991 they had phones so why are they even sending letters. One statement that stood out to me the most was when Lucinda said Monica displayed "a volatile combination of residual ghetto and uppity negress", on page 43. What does she mean by that? Is she stating that negroes, (which herself was also considered a "negro" back then) can't be professional and intelligent? Also, at the end of the letters I wonder what happened that they became friends after.

DeAndre W. said...

While reading "Heads of the Colored People" I thought "this book is so petty, I love it!" The part that stuck out to me the most is when Monica said "Does Mr. Johnston know those may not be his children or is he in on the ruse with Dr. Patel?" (Spires 42). At this point it shifted from being about the kids to getting personal.

They both had too much pride to just sit down and handle it as adults. Had they done this the situation probably would have been resolved way sooner. They also are just taking a child's word instead of doing some double checking for themselves.

Nyah M said...

There were many things that stood out to me while reading "Belles Lettres" One thing in particular that stuck with me was the fact that these were two professional women going back and fourth with each other being catty. I found their sly comments about each others daughters to be quite amusing. At the same time when I look at the situation as a whole it was upsetting to hear that the only two black students weren't getting alone and getting into physical altercations with one another.

Kamari Washington said...

The reading showed me the deep inner-perspective of an argument between two parents, who are concerned with their child having problems making friends with another classmate from the same cultural background. At first it did truly start as mutual concern for their daughters, but quickly devolved into an very awful argument between them that left the daughters interactions visibly unmonitored. It was shocking that they let their bickering grow to the point both their daughters risked expulsion from the school, which thankfully made both mothers realize the reason they began contacting each other and finally settled the situation peacefully.

Leea S. said...

Leea S said...
There was a lot that stood out to me, But what stood out most to me in "Belles Lettres" is how the mothers went back and forth with each other about their daughters. Their slick comments about each other daughters were entertaining. But at the same time looking at the whole it was discomforting but hearing that Fatima and Christiana were the only black students, on top of not getting along and fighting.

Heaven Watkins said...

While I was reading "Belles Lettres many things stood out to me. One thing that mainly stood out to me was how both African American Mothers who were very professional was going back and forth about each other child. It stood out to me because both of their children go to a PWI and I think they should come together since both of their children is the only African American children who attends the school. What also stood out to me is the smart comments they started throwing out about each other.

Aerin T. said...

The entire "Belles Letters" story was very interesting to me, but one thing that stood out to me the most was the sudden change of tone at the end of the story. It goes from the two mothers arguing back and forth about each other's daughters, to both girls getting expelled, then the two mothers seeming like good friends. At the end of each letter the ladies closings and credentials seemed to change. Sometimes it would just be their name; other times it would include some smart remark for a closing, and some of their different works and positions they hold. Towards the end of the story the closing of one of Dr. Willis's letters showed that she had seemingly accepted the invitation to the Jack and Jill group from Dr. Johnston after she had declined it in previous letters(p. 47). Finally, in the final letter from Monica Willis to Lucinda Johnston, she's thanking her for an invitation to Chrissy's party and for a fruit basket; as well, gossiping about some of the staff at the school and closes the letter out with "XO" (p.50). I found this tone shift be funny and interesting. It just showed how petty and unnecessary the arguing was between the two mothers.

Aerin T. said...

One thing that stood out to me the most in "Belles Letters" was the sudden change of attitude by the mothers at the end of the story. They went from arguing back and forth about each others daughters, to becoming such good friends that they even gossip about the school staff with each other. I assume their sudden change of heart came from the principal's threat to expel their daughters. Which I found funny with how quickly they were able to get their acts together.

Alexis P said...

Monica and Lucinda are going back and forth in letters about there kids . They were criticizing each other and the other kids . One thing that caught my eye was how blunt they are towards each other like on page 44 when Monica said " This bourgieness and the way it keeps you from connecting with your kids is half of your problems; the other half, you probably can't fix without medication."

Sierrea M said...

"Belles Lettres" was a thrilling but staggering read. As a black woman who goes to a PWI and inhabits majority-white spaces frequently, it's almost an instinct to befriend someone else I see who is black. I feel more comfortable and safe around someone who I know is fighting the same fight as me. This is why this whole section stood out to me. Black children are taught from a very young age to always stay united, especially in white-dominated areas. It's unbelievable that Monica and Lucinda know the situation that they and their daughters are in, and still chose to bicker. I believe they are the reason Christina and Fatima butt heads now instead of resolving their issues. There is already a rip in our black community, and they are just dividing us even more.

Isiah M. said...

I think this book is very entertaining to read from a reader's point of view, but if I were to put myself into the narrative, Lucinda and Monica are very petty women who are too indulged in the lives of their children. The fact that they continually send letters back and forth to the mother of their child's rival is alarming and says a lot about their personalities. I know that it's sometimes tempting to indulge in argumentation with someone that annoys you, but to the degree that these women are going, I think they've crossed a certain line, whatever that line may be. It just takes a lot of effort and harbored negativity to be so passive-aggressive when sending letters, as there is such a long time between sending a letter and receiving a response.

Unknown said...

One of the many things that stood out to me while reading the Heads of the Colored People would have to be toward the beginning of the book where the author depicts Riley character to her audience. In the book, she says that “Riley wore blue contact lenses and bleached his hair…” (Thompson-Spires, 1) Which in most instances, her audience would infer that the black man that she is describing was a self-hating and insecure man who wanted little to do with his identity as a black man. Yet, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Later on in the chapter she, begins talking about how he is the exact opposite of how he was portrayed. For me, this part of the story was particularly interesting because it brings awareness to how we judge people based upon their appearance even though we know little to nothing about who that person is on a personal level.

Ayanna T.

Calviana S. said...

The mothers arguing back and forth gives insight on why their daughters act a certain way. Fatima and Christinia both have examples of mothers that aren’t the best even though they are both educated. The insults from both parents were taken too far on the spectrum of disrespect. Although both parents were wrong what stood out to me is when Monica made a statement saying, “I’m not of the mind that the only two black children in the class should be enemies, nor do I like the attention it draws to them (or their parents) when they’re already in a difficult position” (37). These two women should try to uplift each other and actually try to become good company given the circumstances of their daughters and the demographics of the school. Overall they should just grow up and spot the bigger picture.

Curtis Scott said...

while reading heads of the colored people i feel like Christina and Fatima should work things out instead of fighting and arguing that doesn't solve problems. but the reading is very interesting.

Curtis Scott said...

while reading heads of the colored people I feel like Fatima and Christina should work things out instead of fighting and arguing that does not solve problems but the reading was very interesting.

Curtis Scott said...

while reading heads of the colored people i feel like Fatima and Christina should work things out instead of fighting and arguing that does not solve problems but the reading of Belles Lettres was very interesting.

Anonymous said...

while reading heads of the colored people i feel like Fatima and Christina need to work things out instead of fighting and arguing because that does not solve problems but in the reading belles Lettres was very interesting.

Britney Wallace said...

“Belles Lettres” was a very interesting read; unlike any plot I have read in the past. I really enjoyed the format that the story was presented in. The letters between the two women produces a clear depiction of their relationship with one another. It was interesting to read that both these women’s daughters were the only two black girls in the school yet their families held so much animosity towards each other. The part that stood out the most to me was when Dr. Lucinda M. Johnston said, “You display a volatile combination of residual ghetto and uppity Negress, and that will be your undoing, if Fatima isn’t” (43). This line was one of the more extreme lines that was exchanged between the two women. It is interesting to hear Dr. Johnston make this remark because, both these women are extremely educated and should be helping uplift each other and their daughters to become successful. Instead, they banter back and forth and succumb to low levels discussing their daughters' behaviors.
- Britney W

Jason Newman said...

In the chapter "Belles letter" the whole chapter is a petty argument between two mothers over email. One of the things that stood out to me the most was the fact that the argument started right away over their two kids. Both of their kids are black at a pwi so i would have expected them to get along. I think the argument was really pointless and could have been avoided if they both put their pride to the side.

Gabriel Scott said...

What stood out the most to me in this narrative was the fact that the two mothers started as cordial and you could see the escalation of their relationship. But then it suddenly deescalated and resulted in the two becoming friends discussing pot lucks.

Anonymous said...

While reading this narrative I found in humorous that the two mothers began with telling each other to check their child. Then it escalated into them talking about each others marriages until it reached a height of their daughters fighting each other only to end in the two mothers discussing pot lucks. Gabriel S.

Terence Smith said...

While reading the head of the colored people, pages 33-50 what stood out to me the most was the arguments and petty comments got worse and worse as the pages went on and you can see that neither mothers where going to take any disrespect from one another and it shows that people will take it that far when it comes to their children or family members. something that stood out to me as well is that they constantly sent letters back in forth and you can see that the notes lasted days and this goes to show as well that when someone attacks you in any kind of way you want stop until you hit someone where it hurts even if it takes you a certain amount of time.

Preston Wingo said...

I think what stood out to me the most was that these two educated people were fighting like children, and as they kept exchanging more emails it more nit-picky as time progressed. It was kind of surprising because here it is the only two black families and neither of them could settle their differences until the very end which was a cliffhanger. In the end, it was confusing because I was like what happened, as soon as the Principal was about to expel Fatima then all of a sudden everything was on good terms. Like what happened in between that time but I think that this highlights that no matter who you are, how educated you are, or what your race is a parent will always go to bat for their child and will not tolerate disrespect from no one.

Preston Wingo said...

I think what stood out to me the most was that these two educated people were fighting like children, and as they kept exchanging more emails it more nit-picky as time progressed. It was kind of surprising because here it is the only two black families and neither of them could settle their differences until the very end which was a cliffhanger. In the end, it was confusing because I was like what happened, as soon as the Principal was about to expel Fatima then all of a sudden everything was on good terms. Like what happened in between that time but I think that this highlights that no matter who you are, how educated you are, or what your race is a parent will always go to bat for their child and will not tolerate disrespect from no one.

Shaniyah Robinson said...

What stood out to me the most was that a therapist was arguing with a professor about their children's friendship. The comments from both sides got worse as I read further and they started to talk about each other's marriages when the conversation started over one of their daughters "lying" on the other one. I was confused at the end how the book kind of fast-forwarded a few weeks and both of the mother's were talking about a potluck. So my guess is that after the daughters we're in a fight the mothers worked it out and became friends again.
-Shaniyah R

Unknown said...

Zariyah R.
What stood out most to me in this short story was the lack of unity. Given the year that the story takes place in which is 1991, you’d assume that the African American people who were wealthy would stick together. I noticed that the two little girls were the only black children in the class. I also believe that if the parents didn’t chime in as much as they did that the two girls would have became friends over the years. The mothers were so defensive and so focused on defending their own child that they didn’t care about belittling and tearing down the other child in the process.

Destiny Moore said...

What stood out to me was the fact that instead of the highly educated black uplifting each other up there belittling and tearing each other down for no reason at all. For the mothers they didn't handle the situation maturely because they were to busy trying to defend their children to even stop and think of a way to handle this problem better.

Anonymous said...

Makiah L.

What stood out the most to me in the story was how petty the mothers were being. I feel like at least one of them should've been the bigger person and at least tried to make things better. It seemed like their letters were getting worse every single time. I believe as mothers, they should've made some sort of way for their daughters to get along since they were the only black students at the school. I feel as if though it would've probably benefitted the two young ladies in so many ways. I also feel like the mothers should've had some sort of in-person meeting instead of writing so that they could probably come to a form of clarity with each other.

Makiah L.

Makiah Lewis said...

Makiah L.

What stood out the most to me in the story was how petty the mothers were being. I feel like at least one of them should've been the bigger person and at least tried to make things better. It seemed like their letters were getting worse every single time. I believe as mothers, they should've made some sort of way for their daughters to get along since they were the only black students at the school. I feel as if though it would've probably benefitted the two young ladies in so many ways. I also feel like the mothers should've had some sort of in-person meeting instead of writing so that they could probably come to a form of clarity with each other.

Makiah L.

Me-Na S. said...

Me-Na S.


what stood out to me the most was the back and forth opinionated letters between the two mothers. I understood the points that they were making. they both wanted to prove that their daughter is the better than the other. the letters even got crucial in the mist of it but in the end it was a matter of love for their daughter. what else stood out to me was they are the only black people at the school and they aren't getting alone its kind of ironic if you ask me. people would expect the two to come together but they aren't its not what's to be expected but its that.

Me-Na S. said...

what stood out to me the most was opinionated letters back and forth to each other. I understand that behind the letters is a mother love so what is being said in the letters are sometimes crucial but its the mothers being protective of their daughters. what also stood out was the fact that the only two black people at the school is bickering back and forth. its kind of ironic that the only two black people in the school doesn't get along and don't agree and that is because they are strong opinionated women and they stand on their opinions and thoughts.

Unknown said...

Me-Na S.

what stood out the most too me was the mothers opinionated letters towards each other. it is understood that a mothers love only stands behind these letters because they believe very highly of their children which mother wouldn't? its kind of ironic how the only two black families at the school doesn't get alone very well because that would be expected that they are friends but we have seen that's not the case whatsoever.

Me-Na Sharkey said...

Me-Na S.

what stood out the most too me was the mothers opinionated letters towards each other. it is understood that a mothers love only stands behind these letters because they believe very highly of their children which mother wouldn't? its kind of ironic how the only two black families at the school doesn't get alone very well because that would be expected that they are friends but we have seen that's not the case whatsoever.

Maurice King said...

After reading this section, what stood out to me the most was how much disunity there was between the two mothers. Both of their backgrounds may be different, but they could help each other out so that their daughters can grow up easier in this school, neighborhood, and life.

Jania M. said...

What stood out to me the most about this story is why two adults are going back and forth like children. I believe one of them should have come to a point where one of them would have stopped. They could have easily resolved their differences, but they dragged it out for a while. As mothers, I believe they should have demonstrated more maturity rather than arguing about which child is better and disparaging each other’s. There should be no comparisons between any children because, in my opinion, everyone is unique in their own way. ( Jania M.)

Unknown said...

What stood out to me was how fast the conversation became petty and hostile. The two black women started with trying to resolve a small rumor and ended with them calling each other 'baldheaded', 'ghetto' and claiming that their Childs father isn't the actual dad. For them both to be educated black women living in a predominantly white area, I expected a much better response from both of them. What I think the problem was is that both of these women, because they are living in this type of area do not get to unleash their real personalities as much as they want to. Because of this front that they put up to maintain, this has causes the rest of their personalities to hide and suddenly blow up. The two black women do have a chance to unleash their 'wild' sides without being called, ghetto, angry, or anything like that. So I just think all the stuff they were holding inside just blew up on each other. It reminds me of the black mirror episode, ''Nosedive". But eventually the women did put their problems to the side and become peaceful.

Unknown said...

What stood out to me was how fast the conversation became petty and hostile. The two black women started with trying to resolve a small rumor and ended with them calling each other 'baldheaded', 'ghetto' and claiming that their Childs father isn't the actual dad. For them both to be educated black women living in a predominantly white area, I expected a much better response from both of them. What I think the problem was is that both of these women, because they are living in this type of area do not get to unleash their real personalities as much as they want to. Because of this front that they put up to maintain, this has causes the rest of their personalities to hide and suddenly blow up. The two black women do have a chance to unleash their 'wild' sides without being called, ghetto, angry, or anything like that. So I just think all the stuff they were holding inside just blew up on each other. It reminds me of the black mirror episode, ''Nosedive". But eventually the women did put their problems to the side and become peaceful.

Kaylin P said...

- What stood out to me was how fast the conversation became petty and hostile. The two black women started with trying to resolve a small rumor and ended with them calling each other 'baldheaded', 'ghetto' and claiming that their Childs father isn't the actual dad. For them both to be educated black women living in a predominantly white area, I expected a much better response from both of them. What I think the problem was is that both of these women, because they are living in this type of area do not get to unleash their real personalities as much as they want to. Because of this front that they put up to maintain, this has causes the rest of their personalities to hide and suddenly blow up. The two black women do have a chance to unleash their 'wild' sides without being called, ghetto, angry, or anything like that. So I just think all the stuff they were holding inside just blew up on each other. It reminds me of the black mirror episode, ''Nosedive". But eventually the women did put their problems to the side and become peaceful.

Amarie M. said...

While reading "Belles Lettres" I found it very interesting and humorous. It begins with two grown and educated women, Dr. Lucinda Johnson and Monica Wills. They exchange letters defending their children, Christina and Fatima. Additionally, throwing multiple accusations such as infidelity and ignorance at each other. The letters are about why the two girls can't get along. However, the parents want the children to get along since they are black and attend a PWI. But it seems like the two girls might be bullying each other. Overall the letters were passive-aggressive, nasty, and humorous. It appears that one of the girls was there first, now it might be some jealousy towards the other but, who knows.

Marquis P said...

What stood out to me was how quickly things escalated between the two mothers. I didn't expect them to bring each others personal matters into a conversation concerning their daughters.

Marquis P said...

Another thing that stood out to me is how being the "only one" can impact a person's perception (Christinia in this case.) Imagine being Christinia, the only black girl attending a PWI and along comes Fatima "someone like her." The feud between their parents only added more fuel to the fire.

H. Rambsy said...

One of the many things that stood out to me while reading the Heads of the Colored People would have to be toward the beginning of the book where the author depicts Riley character to her audience. In the book, she says that “Riley wore blue contact lenses and bleached his hair…” (Thompson-Spires, 1) Which in most instances, her audience would infer that the black man that she is describing was a self-hating and insecure man who wanted little to do with his identity as a black man. Yet, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Later on in the chapter she, begins talking about how he is the exact opposite of how he was portrayed. For me, this part of the story was particularly interesting because it brings awareness to how we judge people based upon their appearance even though we know little to nothing about who that person is on a personal level.

Ayanna T.

Jarrod Rhodes said...

The one thing that stood out the most to me was the impact the mother's arguments had on their children. Lucinda and Monica both gossiped about their children's violent behavior, ridiculed the children's weaknesses, and boasted about how excelled their children are. However, near the end of the chapter, it showed how both of their children were violent. The parents' argument could have been the potential source of the children's issue. Their descriptive language of the children's act of violence could have placed the mindset on Fatima and Christiana that they are both violent and slow learners. Once the parents both have an in person conversation, they were able to settle the tension between them. It goes to show that Lucinda and Monica were both somewhat similar, and if there is an issue, it is better to talk to each other face to face. I feel that the moral of the story is that black people are not so different with one another and that we should all try to form a unity with each other.

Jarrod R.

Kehajana T said...

What stood out to me was the fact that they were the only black kids there and they could not get along. They should have had each others backs. Another thing that stood out to me was the mothers. As mothers they should have encouraged their daughters to get along but instead they were fighting like children.

Unknown said...

One of the things that stood out the most to me was the fact that the letters sent back and fourth from the two mothers escalated so quickly in intensity. The letters started out rather normal for the situation at hand, but seemed to get much more aggressive than one would think the letters could be. The fact that the mothers resorted to insulting one another's careers and family life instead of staying focused on their daughters' issues surprised me too.

Cierstin N.

Anonymous said...

The reading was a lot to take in but it was interesting. Seeing the blacks students not get along shocked me especially because the parents didn’t get along either but that’s ok things change we never know what may happen next. I hope the parents see how they are negative and toxic by bringing up the children’s past to see who is a better child.

Jalen Q. said...

What stood out to me was how these very educated women could act so childish over something that could have been resolved relatively easily. The first letter was a little passive aggressive, but that is were it should have ended. This could have solved if they actually focus on improving their daughters instead of insulting the others daughter and their intelligence.

Tateaundra W said...

What stood out to me in the story was that two black women who are also mothers going back in forth in letters belittling each other and each other daughters. Their daughters being the only black students at the school were I believe they should instead be encouraging and uplifting each other since both their daughters go to a supposedly fond school. Another part that stood out to me was at the end of the story when the daughters got in a fight and were threaten to be expelled but the principal moved past it because of the large donation from one mother and also when the mothers started being cordial sending each other baskets and inviting one another to functions after they said all those negative things about each other and threatened to bring authorities in it. When in reality they never should let it get that far and just should of put their difference aside for their daughters sake.

Damen Ward said...

The read was interesting. There was a lot occurring at the time over something as simple as a disagreement between children. The parents of the children began throwing smart remarks and comments about each other and their children. This was unbelievably unnecessary, the parents should be ashamed or embarrassed about going back and forth as if they were not mature adults.
The read stood out in other ways. The set up of the story made it interesting to read. The parents' discussion lead off to different topics, one in particular about one child not attending another's. They felt as though the energy would be negative between the parents, which also shows the maturity of the two parents.

DeMarco Smith said...

What stood out to me most in this read so far is how both of these mothers try to put each other down in the "Belles Lettres" section of the book talking about one another's children. Looking at the time period you would think they would lift each other speaking that both their kids go to a predominantly white school. Like when Lucinda said "You display a volatile combination of residual ghetto and uppity Negress, and that will be your undoing, if Fatima isn't."(43) You would think after that statement those two people would never like each other but I was actually surprised when it happened after the threat of expulsion from the school because of a fistfight between the kids

Jayla W said...

After reading "Belles Lettres" From Heads of the Colored People, written by Nafissa Thompson- Spires, I can say that the insults and negative comments between two colored women stood out the most to me. It stood out the most to me because of the color insults against each other and the fact that they are both colored and should not be talking to each other like that. Another thing that stood out to me was how all the arguing and back and forth led to a fight between Fatima and Christina.

dorien phillips said...

dorien phillips

what stood out to me was the letters by the mothers putting each other down about raising their kid. all the kids go to a predominantly white school if anything they should support each other and their children. instead of being mad at each other that there kids are the only black children at the school they should embrace that. Now the daughters do not like each other either and are at risk of getting kicked out if they do not fix this problem

dorien phillips said...

dorien phillips

what stood out to me was the letters by the mothers putting each other down about raising their kid. all the kids go to a predominantly white school if anything they should support each other and their children. instead of being mad at each other that there kids are the only black children at the school they should embrace that. Now the daughters do not like each other either and are at risk of getting kicked out if they do not fix this problem

Josiah Olden said...

Josiah Olden

What was interesting about the letters between the mothers was the growing passive-aggressiveness. In both of their letters, they continue to add their credentials such as "Ph.D." and "Dr." as a way to one-up each other. Even with their daughters, they continue to brag about their own daughter while dragging the other through the mud. It was also interesting how this "rivalry" was between the only black girls in the class. Instead of befriending each other, they bash each other.

Paul Olubodun said...

Paul Olubodun

What really stood out to me was the way they started off with bringing formal in the letters when addressing each other, but then later on they became informal, as they got more and more hostile toward each other. It was also interesting to see that another person had to get involved before two adults could learn how to talk to each other nicely.

Paul A Olubodun said...

Paul Olubodun

What stood out to me most was how Monica and Lucinda started off with formal letters towards each other, but then started sending informal letters the more hostile they got towards each other. It was also interesting to see that another adult had to get involved before they could learn how to get along with one another.

Mar'Taejia M said...

While reading this chapter "Belles Lettres" , what stood out to me the most was the mothers having slick remarks towards each other. The whole situation was supposed to be about helping the two girls get along , but the whole time the mothers kind of made it about themselves.It seems to me that the mothers are the problem , just rubbing off onto their daughters . I say this because the two adults are just sitting here writing messages to each other basically belittling each other's daughters. Also they're just throwing up what they do for a living in each others face . With these two moms acting like this ;the situation will never be resolved , or they will never know which child is actually causing the problems . I say this because these two grown women could not even have a civilized conversation about their daughters without any smart remarks or shade toward each other .

Cashay Sims said...

In the story what stood out the most to me were the two parents bickering back and forth about their daughters. This stood out the most to me because the situation could've been handled better. They were insulting each others daughters and each other. They're gown women and they should have been able to handle the situation better. They are the reason why their daughters are acting out the way they are. The women should have been able to come together and made some kind of change.

Anonymous said...

Jessica Rhodes said.....
So far that is what stood out to me the hatred they have for each other and how they will do anything to one up each other. This book is really interesting if I do say so myself. As a young black women I feel as if this book shows horrible taste on how not only black women but women sometimes generally act towards one another. I honestly feel so far while reading this book feel quite disgusted with how they act towards each other. Not only are they black women but they are sisters. Which let alone should mean at least something.

Jessica Rhodes said...

Jessica Rhodes said....
What stood out to me is the haterd they have for each other. As a young black women reading this shows me what not to do to another black women. Not only they are black but they are sisters meaning blood. How bad does it get for someone to talk so badly about there very own. When they were insulting each other nieces it sadden me because they are being raised in that environment without even getting a choice.


Unknown said...

what stood out for me while reading " Heads of the colored people" by Nafissa Thompson is the was the character Riley i like how she described the fact that he was a black boy who had bleached blonde hair and blue contacts. I automatically assumed that Riley didn't like the fact that he wasn't white .so he made his self appear as white, in the book it does state that blonde and blonde is possible for black people to have those feature naturally but that wasn't the case for Riley. Riley actually just really likes anime and wants to dressed liked the characters.
-India L. Phillips

Airyanna Swanson said...

Airyanna Swanson
What stood out to me while reading "Heads of the colored people" by Nafisssa Thompson is the character is Riley. It was interesting how she made it seem like Riley was a self- hater at first, but actually he just into cosplay and really likes anime characters. I like how Riley have secure with himself and he is not bothered by what other people think or say about him. Even though he do gets picked on by his appearance by others he does not stop him from doing something that makes him happy. Personally, I can relate to Riley on some level because in middle school kids would use to tell me "why do I speak proper"? or "You are trying to be like a white girl because you wear your hair straight".

Sandy S. said...

What stood out the most to me was how they immediatley started throwing shade at one another when it only about a stupid rumor that most would forget about in a day. They didnt really seem to focus on the issue at hand but more on their parenting skills. They talked about their daughters so horribly when they should've had eachother's back.

Anonymous said...

Gabrielle Simmons
What stood out to me was that the two moms were so focused on trying to be better than one another rather then coming together at first. They spent weeks sending letter after letter fighting until the end after they had the school meeting. Which to me shows that a lot of the tension people have is because they lack communication.

Anonymous said...

Gabrielle Simmons
What stood out to me was how much time the two mothers spent going back and forth before they finally had a formal discussion. It's interesting to see how we can be spiteful towards our own kind. It seems that the dynamic changed after they talk and they were able to understand each other and work together.

Amir M said...

What stood out to me while reading "Heads of the Colored People" by Nafissa Thompson-Spires is the way the narrarator described Riley at the beginning of the book "Riley wore blue contact lenses and bleached hair - which he worked with gel and a blow ge blow-dryer and a flatiron some mornings into Sonic the Hedgehog spikes so stiff you could prick your finger on them, and sometimes wispy side-swooped bob with long bangs-and he was black" (Thompson-Spires). This stood out to me because nowadays society tends to think that people who are of a certain race who change their appearance to look like the sterotypical blue eyed, blonde hair suffer from self hatred. Although that is not the case in this book, the narrator said "...and he was black" (Thompson-Spires). This comment makes me think that the narrator most likely thought Riley suffered from self hatred even before they got to know him.

Also, the page numbers not being in chronoligical order stood out to me because I've never seen that before in a book.

Amir M

Amir M said...

What stood out to me while reading "Heads of the Colored People" by Nafissa Thompson-Spires is the way the narrarator described Riley at the beginning of the book "Riley wore blue contact lenses and bleached hair - which he worked with gel and a blow ge blow-dryer and a flatiron some mornings into Sonic the Hedgehog spikes so stiff you could prick your finger on them, and sometimes wispy side-swooped bob with long bangs-and he was black" (Thompson-Spires). This stood out to me because nowadays society tends to think that people who are of a certain race who change their appearance to look like the sterotypical blue eyed, blonde hair suffer from self hatred. Although that is not the case in this book, the narrator said "...and he was black" (Thompson-Spires). This comment makes me think that the narrator most likely thought Riley suffered from self hatred even before they got to know him.

Also, the page numbers not being in chronoligical order stood out to me because I've never seen that before in a book.

Amir M

Sarai WB said...

While reading "Heads of the Colored People", I noticed the mothers were writing letters to each other very respectfully even though they were having a big argument which stood out the most to me. At times they did get a bit disrespectful but didn't call each other out of their names. At the end on page 50 i was surprised to see Monica and Lucinda, the mothers, being cordial and inviting each other to events. It was very unpleasant to see the mothers talking about the other ones daughter, this can reflect onto their child.


Sarai WB

Gerald Quincy Powell said...

Something that really stood out to me was the mostly formal letters at first, but as time went on and they became more comfortable yet hostile toward each other. Also, the fact that they were grownup and were hashing out their problems out like kids was silly to me. It reminded me of fighting with my older brother when I was 7 and he was 10.

A'nya Wilkes said...

What stood out most two me that the mothers were two educated black women, and also that their daughters were the only black girls in their class. I think usually in situations where you feel like an outsider you try to stay close to those who are like you, but I think the two mothers were more focused on competing against each other instead of the well-being of both of their daughters. They both explain how my daughter is better than your daughter when it didn't even need to go that far.

Unknown said...

When I first read this story I thought I wasn't going to like it, but as I read on I knew that there was a reason why he dyed his hair blonde because when you first read the story it starts off by saying he but on blue contacts and dye is hair blonde, he was only going to a confession to meet up with his friends. I also didn't like the mothers I feel like they could have been there for the two young ladies instead of judging them. It's like we try to bring people down for no reason some people do it to make them feel hard or tough but inside they feel like the same thing. Overall, I really like the book and I even got my auntie to start reading it.

Niobe Young said...

What stood out the most to me about the story is how quickly the pettiness and the back and forth stopped once the principal threatened to expel both of the kids after a fight happened. In the first letter when Lucinda was writing about the situation that the girls were having she did say some things that were like, whoah did she really just say that. Realistically the things lucinda said in the letter would've been ten times worst in person because Monica would've gotten angry. The back and forth banter was extremely disrespectful on both occasions and soon stopped being about resolving the issues with the kids and related to how they really felt towards the other person.

Niobe Young said...

What stood out the most to me about the story is how quickly the pettiness and the back and forth stopped once the principal threatened to expel both of the kids after a fight happened. In the first letter when Lucinda was writing about the situation that the girls were having she did say some things that were like, whoah did she really just say that. Realistically the things lucinda said in the letter would've been ten times worst in person because Monica would've gotten angry. The back and forth banter was extremely disrespectful on both occasions and soon stopped being about resolving the issues with the kids and related to how they really felt towards the other person.

Unknown said...

The short story "Belles Lettres" was an intriguing, yet heartfelt story to read. The story showed the heights two mothers were willing to climb in order to do what they felt was best for their daughters. The use of letters throughout the story truly strengthened it by showing the adjustments each woman would make to the format of their letters in response to the other’s letter. The rash communication between the mothers surprised me, but it was clear that the cause was the serious offense they took to the insults the other would say in regards to their daughter. What surprised me the most however, was the major turn the women took at the end of the story. Each of their attitudes took a complete alter from the peak of their heated arguments with no clear explanation as to why. Overall, readers can clearly see the love each of the women have for their daughter by the way in which they were willing to do anything to protect them.
-Jordyn P.

TYRA OLIVER said...

The story was so interesting. The one things that stood out to me was when lucinda tried to tell monica what do with her child and try to say other parents be talking about her too. for a example lucinda said "it would be wise to go through fatima backpack every night instead of once in a blue moon. i heard from more than one parent thats it smell like eggs." Thats part was the most funniest part of the book.

Brandon Wiles said...

This story is very interesting, and I found it quite hilarious how these two very educated black women went from being civil to downright pettiness and acting like children. The part that stood out to me the most was when one of the mother's said “And yes, there is a bit of ghetto still left in me... We're never too far from Oakland or the southside.” (44) I found it very surprising to see how quickly everything went downhill from the initial letters. I was not expecting these two educated adults to go from passive aggressive advice to outright threatening each other. It is sad that instead of coming to a peaceful conclusion they went with violent/harmful means to solve the issue. - Brandon W.

Brian Phillips said...

One thing that stood out to me in this chapter was the scathing comments made by both parties. Although starting off somewhat mild the quick delve into a battle of insults illustrates the love and pettiness of both women. The intensity of the arguments was the thing that drew my attention the most in this chapter.

Deaunzze T said...

Something that stood out to me was the back and forth between the mothers. You would expect them to be close, or even cordial, being the only Black people around, but they're not. Th going back and forth, and even passing it to their kids, is petty.

Deaunzze T.

Anonymous said...

this reading was very interesting I thought it was funny and a little childish for the parents to go back a fourth talking about one another. They were supposed to helping the kinds figure their things out and ended up acting like children their selves. They could've handled it differently because they are adults and both very educated black women, I felt like they should've stuck together seeing as how there kids were the only black kids at the school and them being the only black parents

Honesty Simmons said...

Each of their attitudes took a complete alter from the peak of their heated arguments with no clear explanation as to why. I also didn't like the mothers I feel like they could have been there for the two young ladies instead of judging them.It seems that the dynamic changed after they talk and they were able to understand each other and work together.

Ciaunna said...

As I navigated through this narrative, I found it most interesting to know that these were two African American women going back and forth as if they were children. This intrigues me because as one reads each letter, they're both holding their daughters up to such a high standard while putting down the others child. One would think that since there are only two black girls in the PWI they would try to compromise with their daughters to encourage them to at least be cordial. Overall, in the letters it shows their character and explains why the two daughters are probably acting in the manner that they are.

Anonymous said...

The short story Belles lettres is about hpow 2 kids get into altercations over made up rumpors about christina's hamster dying. This ends up bringing their parents into the mix where they are both nit picking and making fun of each others kids while trying to boast about their own. This eventually cools down as they are invited to the principals office after a fist fight between the kids which now makes them friends.-Jaden M.

swither@siue.edu said...



What stood out the most for me is the fact that the adults spent so much time bickering and insulting each that they could not focus on the actual problem between their children. Lucinda’s first email in which she stated “ I hope you won’t be offended” (33) followed by an insult to Monica’s child set the tone for the response that followed. Monica could not focus on the message because of Lucinda’s delivery which only escalated the problem between both adults and the children until eventually the principal had no choice but to get involved.

The reason why it stood out to me was because they did not handle the situation like actual adults. Instead they let their pettiness get into the way of what was the real problem. Especially when Lucinda who started off the situation by being passive aggressive towards Monica.

Sydney W

Alayah W. said...

Alayah said,
What stood out the most to me was at the end of the letters. The mothers were arguing back and forth the entire time; however the next week after everything was sorted out by the Principle, Fatima was invited to Chrissy's party. I found it hysterical that after all the arguing and aggressive letters that the parents of the girls acted as if nothing happened. And even after the fistfight between the two girls, the parents end up becoming friends. I enjoyed Belles letters a lot. -Alayah W.

Unknown said...

In Belles Letters two mothers argue back and forth with each other while trying to uplift their daughters. I am shocked when I find out that both of the women are African American. I feel that instead of trying to argue and tear each other down they should be more caring and uplifting each other.

Dakahi L.

Unknown said...

What really caught my attention, and stayed on my mind throughout the book was at the very beginning. When the author was describing Riley's appearance, and the incident that followed. I could see the scene so clear in my head. But not to only focus on the imagery, when Brother Man said ''Uppity, g**-looking n****" and then the author followed with "Riley had bypassed logic and forgotten that he held none of the privileges in his costume" that really stood out because it was almost as if with the costume on he was a completely different person. Riley is obviously aware that the person he was portraying to be in his costume was not as equal to underneath the costume.-Mariah S.

Sydney Laneice Piggott said...

This being my first read of this book, I was taken aback by how the mothers fought against each other instead of working together. It gave me a sense of irony with the situation that their daughters are in. Being the only black girls in their class, you would think that the mothers would want to help each other and be there for one another to protect their daughters. In my eyes, it was very inappropriate that they sat there writing letters occasionally degrading each others child. On page 35, Monica basically told Lucinda her child was going to end up socially and psychologically challenged. I understand she was defending her child, but they should really work together so both girls can succeed.

Ian Lindsey said...

What stood out to me the most about the story Belles Beliefs was how the argument shifted focus multiple times. It started off as a minor situation between 2 kids (Christina and Fatima) which involved their mothers. This minor situation became major when the mothers started to make insults towards each other and their daughters fought. This issue was resolved by the principal threatening to expel the kids which makes the mothers make up along with the daughters. I thought that the constant shifts in the argument kept me interested in the reading. I'm very excited to see what is going to happen from here. -Ian L.

Ian Lindsey said...

What stood out to me the most about the story Belles Beliefs was how the argument shifted focus multiple times. It started off as a minor situation between 2 kids (Christina and Fatima) which involved their mothers. This minor situation became major when the mothers started to make insults towards each other and their daughters fought. This issue was resolved by the principal threatening to expel the kids which makes the mothers make up along with the daughters. I thought that the constant shifts in the argument kept me interested in the reading. I'm very excited to see what is going to happen from here. -Ian L.

Trista M. said...

What stuck out to me the most about this reading was how brutal the mothers' were being to eachother about their kids. All parents are protective over their kids but some of the things that were said in the letters were over the top. The mothers were so busy arguing that they didn't even realize that their kids were getting more rowdy with one another, probably because of the mothers' arguing constantly.
I was not expecting the mothers to personally attack one another or each others children but they did not hesitate to throw in such rude remarks such as "blacky" and "African booty-scratcher" as if their daughters said those things.
The last letter threw me for a loop for sure. I'm not sure how or why it ended that way but I'm sure it was planned to end that way. -Trista M.

Devin Perry said...

With this being my read and overall first introduction to "Heads of the Colored People" I found the "Belles Letters" to very interesting. Overall they were hilarious and not what I was expected from two educated black women. I do respect the fact that they were trying to defend their daughters but at the sometime this doesn't defend their overall behavior. My favorite part would have to be the ending. It was in a way sad that it took for the daughter getting in a physical fist fight for them to work out their problems. But in the end I'm glad they worked things out and are standing united for the sake of their children.-Devin P.

Jordan said...

As I read the story what stood out to me the most was how fast the two mothers were willing to come to bat for their children. The two mother's both stooped low within all their letters to each other in attempts to come to their child's defense. Although the issues in the letter's were not that serious they involved other situations, talked bad about their personal lives, and even insulted the children more than once.

Another thing that stood out to me was that both the mother's seem highly educated but continued to go back and forth exchanging petty comments like children. The more the letter's the more they both seemed less educated and more petty. After the fist fight with Fatima and Christinia the letters seem to get friendlier from what they were in the beginning of the story. In the end it seemed to turn out well because they found someone else to talk about rather than them talking about each other and their children.-Jordan Rowe

JordanR. said...

As I read the story what stood out to me the most was how fast the two mothers were willing to come to bat for their children. The two mother's both stooped low within all their letters to each other in attempts to come to their child's defense. Although the issues in the letter's were not that serious they involved other situations, talked bad about their personal lives, and even insulted the children more than once.

Another thing that stood out to me was that both the mother's seem highly educated but continued to go back and forth exchanging petty comments like children. The more the letter's the more they both seemed less educated and more petty. After the fist fight with Fatima and Christinia the letters seem to get friendlier from what they were in the beginning of the story. In the end it seemed to turn out well because they found someone else to talk about rather than them talking about each other and their children.-Jordan Rowe

Unknown said...

As I read the story what stood out to me the most was how fast the two mothers were willing to come to bat for their children. The two mother's both stooped low within all their letters to each other in attempts to come to their child's defense. Although the issues in the letter's were not that serious they involved other situations, talked bad about their personal lives, and even insulted the children more than once.

Another thing that stood out to me was that both the mother's seem highly educated but continued to go back and forth exchanging petty comments like children. The more the letter's the more they both seemed less educated and more petty. After the fist fight with Fatima and Christinia the letters seem to get friendlier from what they were in the beginning of the story. In the end it seemed to turn out well because they found someone else to talk about rather than them talking about each other and their children.-Jordan Rowe

Unknown said...

As I read the story what stood out to me the most was how fast the two mothers were willing to come to bat for their children. The two mother's both stooped low within all their letters to each other in attempts to come to their child's defense. Although the issues in the letter's were not that serious they involved other situations, talked bad about their personal lives, and even insulted the children more than once.

Another thing that stood out to me was that both the mother's seem highly educated but continued to go back and forth exchanging petty comments like children. The more the letter's the more they both seemed less educated and more petty. After the fist fight with Fatima and Christinia the letters seem to get friendlier from what they were in the beginning of the story. In the end it seemed to turn out well because they found someone else to talk about rather than them talking about each other and their children.-Jordan Rowe

Unknown said...

What stood out to me most was how Riley a black African American boy worked so hard on his appearance. It described that he wore blue contacts and bleached his hair, while having to style it with gel to get it in a spiked hairstyle. I also like how the author emphasizes that all the features could be totally natural without the help of any modifications to the body.

-Jimmiela Patterson

Unknown said...

What stood out to me most was how Riley a black African American boy worked so hard on his appearance. It described that he wore blue contacts and bleached his hair, while having to style it with gel to get it in a spiked hairstyle. I also like how the author emphasizes that all the features could be totally natural without the help of any modifications to the body.

-Jimmiela Patterson

Devin Willis said...

My comments on part 33-50 are about the girls. I think the situation between them is different. Each of them are having different experiences in their life right now while being in Westwood. Like Christinia not feeling welcome into the school, and Chrissy being accused of something she said she didn’t do.

Kara Webb said...

This is about two mothers going back and forth to simply stick up for their own children. By sticking up for their children they end up slowly getting more deeply into the insults. As both of them are black women, you'd think they would build themselves along with their children up, but they are not. Furthermore, reading into it they both are highly educated and they stoop very low to attack one another. The kids end up fighting and the mothers come into the principal's office and now they are friends.

Madison W said...

In this book, what stood out to me the most is that how the two mothers could not find anything in common when they were sending letters to each other about their kids. There are so many things that black people can find in common at a predominantly white school and it is interesting how these mothers could not find anything in common between their kids. Once the principal threatened to expel the daughters, the mothers found a way to kindle their arguments and become friends.

Xavier Stacker said...

In "Belles Letters" the part that stood out the most to me was when the mothers were putting other children down. As someone that was raised in a competitive environment, it was already hard enough to get through school, while not being put down by the unnecessary pressure I had received from my family with being compared to others.

Xavier Stacker

Omari Riley said...

What I thought was interesting about "Belle's letters" was the fact that it stopped being about the mothers defending the daughters as it went on. The women took it personal and started insulting each other like their intelligance and bringing up their personal lives. It was very uncivil. I think this story was included to show how a struggle in the black community fighting aganist each other instead of comming to an agreement.

Kiara Umana said...

I want to know what was said during the discussion Principal Lee had on the phone with Mrs. Willis and Mrs. Johnston, and in the meeting with the principal Mrs. Watson, Principal Lee, Mrs. Willis, and Mrs. Johnston because after that the next letter sent was a thank you note for a donation from Mrs. Willis and permission for Fatima to return to school. I believe that during the meeting it was revealed that Fatima and Mrs. Willis began this back and forth game and Mrs. Willis may have almost lost her job within the process.

Anonymous said...

What stuck out to me the most about the reading was when Lucinda took a blow at Fatima's, Monica's daughter, intelligence. On page 38-39, Lucinda stated, "...I think you're doing both yourself and Fatima a great injustice by continually emphasizing her "brilliance" over other children. Lots of people skip grades, and skipping kindergarten isn't something to brag about. I doubt that the standards at her old school were as rigorous as those as Westwood." This is one of the ways the letters got entirely too personal and unnecessarily disrespectful towards not only the parents, but the children as well; a petty tit for tat.

- Jaisha S.

Synia said...

I think the book was very interesting first the letter addressing the problem straight off bat was cool I thought the two black girls would be like really close and kind of cling to each other but they're not both living in the same neighbor hood but going through two different things in life. pretty interesting.
-synia

Anonymous said...

What stood out to me the most in this story is the fact that two adult mothers could be so childish when it came to their kids. It was also crazy to me that they could talk about each other's kids, that's like the lowest of the low. I felt the childrens' problem should just be that, the children's problems. -Lauren Morgan

tyra OLIVER said...

The story was so interesting. The one things that stood out to me was when lucinda tried to tell monica what do with her child and try to say other parents be talking about her too. for a example lucinda said "it would be wise to go through fatima backpack every night instead of once in a blue moon. i heard from more than one parent thats it smell like eggs." Thats part was the most funniest part of the book.
TYRA OLIVER

tyra OLIVER said...

The story was so interesting. The one things that stood out to me was when lucinda tried to tell monica what do with her child and try to say other parents be talking about her too. for a example lucinda said "it would be wise to go through fatima backpack every night instead of once in a blue moon. i heard from more than one parent thats it smell like eggs." Thats part was the most funniest part of the book.

TYRA OLIVER

Erin Myers said...

here were a few different parts of the story that stood out most to me. It was both ironic and alarming that Lucinda was a psychologist, someone who knows people, knows how to communicate, and typically counsels, yet she used none of these skills in any of her letters to Monica, particularly the first one, which was aggressive. Monica was a Doctor of Education, which means she also works with people who look up to her in her profession, yet they both couldn't communicate with each other effectively.

I think it's important to note that when the mothers weren't getting along, Christinia and Fatima got into a fist fight, and the girls were threatened with expulsion. From this point on, the parents started to get along with each other, and continued their petty ways, and their daughters started to get along as well. I haven't fully figured out the connection yet, but it makes me question what people are willing to do for the things that they want. I think at the end of the day, neither woman wanted their daughters of themselves to feel excluded by their community.

-Zaria Wiley

Raven Simmons said...

Raven.S

Erin Myers said...

The reading was a lot to take in but it was interesting. Seeing the blacks students not get along shocked me especially because the parents didn’t get along either but that’s ok things change we never know what may happen next. I hope the parents see how they are negative and toxic by bringing up the children’s past to see who is a better child.
-Raven Simmons (September 30, 2021 at 11:58 PM)

Erin Myers said...

Personally, I did not care for "BELLES LETTRES" because it was a lot of back and fourth arguing, but I did find it interesting that two seemed-to-be successful and educated black grown women were arguing about their children. Although, they did the right thing by communicating with each other, however it was a little off on how they approached the situations, that were happening with Christinia and Fatima. Very unprofessional, these two women belittled their children with so called hateful remarks that had "so called" came out of the two little girl's mouths at school. All in all, it seemed that the two parents should've been getting some "help" for themselves instead of acting childish, when they didn't really know what was going on between Christinia and Fatima.

-Kevyere Mack (September 29, 2021 at 10:01 PM B)

Erin Myers said...

I thought it was funny how both Dr. Lucinda and Monica were being passive-aggressive to each other and arguing over their children. Also considering they don't seem to be worrying about anything else in life seeing how successful these black women have become.

-ArTerrious T. (October 1, 2021 at 8:52 PM B)

Vashanti R said...

It was very hard to read completely through. I took it all as a joke due to them being fully grown adults going back and forth with one another with great integrity. What most stood out with me is when on page 37 Monica pointed out on how they were the only two black children in the class. It struck a nerve of mine on how they let jealousy get in the way of them building a bond because in reality jealousy is what seems like started this whole entire ordeal. Neither seemed qualified to be a professor or a therapist with their arguing skills, they couldn't even dissolve the problem properly. Their anger only reflected on their daughters which is more than likely the reason the altercation continued.

Erin Myers said...

Abigelle Washington:

Something the stood out to me was how real this situation could be. It shows how black people want to go against each other instead of fighting together or just to simply not be friends. The title also stood out to me. I think the title and the cover of the book points out how different black people can be from one another. The colors, and sizes of the heads on the cover are a different color or size. I like how real this story is. It shows readers that back people can switch things up. "And yes, there is still a bit of ghetto still left in me..".

Janya Sanders said...

The thing that stood out to me the most was the way the book kind of switched roles. At first it discussed the controversory the mother's daughters were having into their own personal problems. Also, it was interesting to see two black female educated mothers to argue in a more 'civil' way.

Unknown said...

In "Belle letters" pg.33-50, the characteristics of successful black women, always thinking they know whats the problem with other peoples children and that their children is always innocent of any wrong doings or that there's nothing wrong with their childen,thus a fight breaks out showing that" there is still a bit of ghetto still left in...". -Kancy Ulluste

Erin Myers said...

Starteese Scott:

The entire reading was interesting to me in many ways but what stood out the most was the way the mothers insulted each other to uplift their own daughters. They even insulted each other about their career lifestyles. It seemed as if they we're trying to get on the right track but as they kept sending letters their attitudes towards each other were getting worse.

Some of the things they were mentioning was how one daughter was more problematic than the other daughter. In the story Monica states, "Fatima wouldn't tell stories about Christina, the hamsters, or the microwave incident if they weren't based on something Christina had said first". While Lucinda states "I understand why a girl in Fatima's position and one with her background would make up such stories.

(September 29, 2021 at 12:32 PM)

Udochukwu Chikere said...

The reding was a bit confusing at first, but what I found most interesting was the fact that the robots were being punished for something they were literally programmed into their system. The fact that the master thought it was possible to just forget everything and move on like nothing happened. Despite the supposed virus, the rage was still buried deep and the longing to feel that rage only grew.
- Udochukwu Chikere

Ryan Parham said...

The whole reading was very interesting to me but the main thing that I kept noticing is the way the mothers where battling an inner conflict that they kept passing too each other. They both where insulting one another and putting each other down as a way to "uplift" their daughters but in reality, they where seen as less than in the black community do they insult each other to seem better than the other. They both want to be the best so by sending terrible letters to each other to try and beat the other it displays how much they would do just to be on top.

Unknown said...

Growing up in a majority white neighborhood I almost kin Fatina. Instead if becoming friends with the other black girl in the school we were always in competition. Fatima intelligence being aknowleged in the letters is also familiar, when you smart young it's almost redeeming quality.Both mother's are only doing what mother's do best, defens there child in any circumstances. My own mother, jokingly, has told me more than once if I killed anyone she would help hide the body. This story hits really close to home and memory's that I had thought were an original experience.

Erin Myers said...


Kizito Nwauwa:

When reading "Belles Lettres", what really caught my interest was the intensity of the conflict between the two girls and how it spread onto the adults as well. With Lucinda responding with immature phrases like "Monica, Turn blue. Turn blue. Turn blue, blue, blue." (46) and Monica firing back saying "You need Jesus. Do not write me again"(47), it shows how easy it is for people to break their character and turn on each other, when that is the last thing they should be doing. As two black women, in the society they were currently in, they needed to support each other more than ever. In the 1990s, discrimination and inequality were battles that both women and people of color were still facing. There is a difference between defending your child and personal insults towards the other person. No progress will ever be made if petty and immature comments are being thrown back and forth.

Samuel Msengi said...

It was a fascinating read overall. I suppose though, overall, the thing that had caught my eye was the lack of comradery between most of the two mothers, as I was raised to think that being an african american was more of a 'brotherhood/sisterhood' if anything, and that we bolster each other up. But of course, this isn't always the case and as seen in the reading, both parties are very much at odds with each other, let alone holding their daughters first and foremost, of course, in a civil manner.

Anonymous said...

These letters that I've read in this book the parents that are writing back and forth tend to have a lot of passive aggressivness when speaking to one another. Example would be when Lucinda wrote a letter to Monica (Christina's Mother). She said "I really hope that in addition to help for her lies and early signs of psychosis you will get Christina some help. Children do pick these things up from their mothers" (pg.41).

It's obvious that the girls told two different stories to their moms and the mom basically battled out who's child was better or who needed more home training. My only question would be why argue as adults if all you wanted was your children to come together as one and become friends. While reading the text it sounded as if the parents were kind of confused as to what was going within their own kids.

-Audriahna Macklin

Unknown said...

The whole read was really interesting and it amazed me at how a conflict between the kids became a conflict with the parents of those kids. What really stood out to me was that a fistfight(49) actually happened because the initial goal for both parents was to deescalate the situation or to find the culprit, but what ended up happening when the parents got involved was the complete opposite as the tensions rose. Not only did the parents have a problem with each others kids they also had problems with one another as mention on page 40 that Monica believes that reading problems occur in Lucinda's family and Lucinda responds in a petty manner.

-Jonah Wolfe

Anjel Celia Vela said...

The read itself was phenomenal, but overall the thing that made me engaged was the reality of the piece. I feel that many "cultural" books that are supposedly written from a "black/minority perspective" fails to actually capture said perspective. For example, the dialogue throughout the contains the n word and the dialect between mothers and daughters are there. Simply to say that what stuck out to me was how realistic the passage was. I personally feel like a lot of authors try to dance around the real culture of black people out of fear so they leave out the bad parts. The passage focused and the good and the bad characterizations.

_-Anjel Vela

Chris Rhodes said...

What stood out the most for me about the story was the overall originality of the plot and conflict. In most books about black characters there’s this cliche that they must have each other’s back because of their race. It was refreshing and engaging to read a story in which the black characters were against one another.

Sealaya W said...

While reading this story, I noticed that the usual aspect of unity and togetherness amongst Black characters isn't being displayed. Instead, there is competitiveness. The opening letters seem to be passive-aggressive warnings to keep each others' child away from the other. During the first read, I found the behavior to be childish and concluded that these letters sent between Monica and Lucinda come from some tension that should have been addressed prior. The conversation between the two mother's seems long over due and quickly got heated. They both throw jabs at each other which shows that there is an issue other than each other's children(pg.40). From this point on they send letters to each other insulting and threatening one another.

-Sealaya W.

Anonymous said...

Thompson-Spire is a very creative and unique writer. She creates characters different than how they are seen in the real world. She depicts African Americans than how they are seen in the real world. In todays society if and African American tries to change anything about themselves they are seen as having low self-esteem.


Ty'Ria Rounds

Sarah Z Rollins said...

While reading " Belles letters" I felt the words exchanged between these two were disgusting. It seems as though they knew each other, before the conversation but instead proceeded to email and brutality insult one another, and their daughters. Instead, they could've met and resolved the issue knowing they're the only people of color.

Rashad Pipkins said...

Something that stood out to me in the story was the letters between the two black mothers. They both were on the same mission and they were going about it the same way. This taught me that in life, when two people are conversing there needs to be a speaker and a "understander" in order for the conversation to be productive. In the book's case, there were two speakers and that's why they were passively speaking to one another with aggression.

Anonymous said...

I thought this chapter was pretty interesting because it seems to me that Lucinda and Monica really want their little girls as black children in a predominately white school to be friends and to have each others backs. Since they're two little girls who aren't getting along they are trying to make this a personal issue causing them not only to take up for their child but themselves as parents to solve this issue in a form of competition instead of solving it rightfully. What really stood out to me is that they are both very smart intelligent black women, one who is a physician and one who is a Dr. in academics. I find it funny and ironic that two educated women in the careers they both pursue can't solve their children's problems without the help of a teacher and a principal who they later talk about after their problems are resolved.

Anonymous said...

I thought this chapter was interesting because it seems to me that Lucinda and Monica really want their little girls ad black children to in a predominantly white school to get along and have a each others back. since there girls around going along they two mothers are trying to make it a personal issue causing them to not only take for their child but for themselves as parents to solve this issue in a form of competition instead of solving it rightfully. What really stood out to me is hat they are both very intelligent black women, one who is a physician and one who is a doctor in academics. I find it funny and ironic that two educated women in the careers they both pursue cant solve their children's behavior with out the help of the teacher and principal who they later talk about after their child problems are resolved.

Akuchukwu O said...

What stood out to me the most about the story was how the characters related to one another. It showed me that just because they look the same or have similar backgrounds mean that they have to get along, but they can still have their differences. Being from the same environment does not certainly mean we have any form of compatibility.

Charlesha W. said...

something that stood out to me were the 2 mothers insulting each other. It stood out to me because they have the only 2 black children and instead of trying to stick together and be there for each other, they were insulting one another and telling each other how to raise their child.

Erin Myers said...

Cicily L.:
A page that stood out to me, is when the two Mother were talking about their daughters as if they were competing. This behavior the mothers are showing is rubbing off on their children making them act in a bad manner as they are.

Unknown said...

What stood out most in this short story. Were the 2 black mothers arguing back and forth belittling each others daughters. Lucinda could have sent a more mature email at first instead of coming for another little black girl just like her daughter that really blew me. Instead of trying to bring the only two poc (people of color) together in predominately white school the parents are arguing.

Emyia K

Zoriah Mayberry said...

What stood out to me the most about the story so far is the 2 mothers insulting each other while going back and forth. This did out to me most this stood out to me most because you would think having the only two black children around would keep them united but instead they are insulting one another.

Sophina King said...

While reading this story about 2 mothers uplifting their daughters disrespectfully and respectfully in a formal way was very interesting and intense to read. The more I read on, the more the letter and the shady comments got worse, and the more the formality in the letter decreased. It started to get personal. The part that stood out most to me was on page 39 when Lucinda was writing back to Monica about how Fatima skipping ‘Kindergarten isn’t something to be bragging about because lots of kids skip that grade”. Then she proceeded to ask, “what did Fatima actually advance in, naptime?”. It stood out to me because one of the mothers, Lucinda might be jealous at the fact that Monica’s daughter might be “better” than Christinia (Lucinda’s daughter) and there also might be a little rivalry between both of the mothers, referring back to the story and how the snarky comments kept going.



Sophina King

Erin Myers said...

Sophina K.:

While reading this story about 2 mothers uplifting their daughters disrespectfully and respectfully in a formal way was very interesting and intense to read. The more I read on, the more the letter and the shady comments got worse, and the more the formality in the letter decreased. It started to get personal. The part that stood out most to me was on page 39 when Lucinda was writing back to Monica about how Fatima skipping ‘Kindergarten isn’t something to be bragging about because lots of kids skip that grade”. Then she proceeded to ask, “what did Fatima actually advance in, naptime?”. It stood out to me because one of the mothers, Lucinda might be jealous at the fact that Monica’s daughter might be “better” than Christinia ( Lucinda’s daughter) and there also might be a little rivalry between both of the mothers, referring to the story and how the snarky comments kept going.