A Journey for Racial Justice in One of the Good Ones

Inspired by the death of Trayvon Martin, One of the Good Ones tells the story of a young activist whose death in police custody makes national news. To honor her death, the activist’s two sisters go on a road trip following the Green Book guide for Black travelers.

 


 

Sisters Maika and Maritza Moulite reunite for their searing second novel

Inspired by the death of Trayvon Martin, One of the Good Ones tells the story of a young activist whose death in police custody makes national news. To honor her death, the activist’s two sisters go on a road trip following the Green Book guide for Black travelers. This soul-searching journey explores the lasting impact of racial prejudice, the power of sisterhood, and the true meaning of ally-ship.

What would you like YA readers to take away from the novel?

Maya Angelou has that famous quote about how people will forget what you said or did, but will remember how you made them feel. At the very least, we hope that One of the Good Ones will leave you feeling some hope and determination to seek justice.

You wrote this book before the murder of George Floyd. What was it like to finalize the edits during the historic summer of 2020?

It’s a nauseating feeling to know that Breonna Taylor and George Floyd were alive when we started writing One of the Good Ones, and now they are not. Too often, we see Black people brutalized by vigilantes or law enforcement and then you’re expected to go about your day as if everything is all right, when it’s far from it. We felt this most acutely each time we went to add new names of people who were murdered by the police in our author letter at the end of the book. 

Why was it important for you to include the impact of a church community on your characters?

While the protagonists in our stories lead entirely fictional lives, we were able to pull from our own experiences as a preacher’s kids who grew up in the church. We know firsthand that faith can be a source of strength and pride. It can help us make sense of the world we inhabit and even find our purpose. But sometimes, the community can perpetuate hateful beliefs that hurt the folks who sit in the pews and beyond. It’s tough to reconcile.

How does your collaborative process work?

We talk through what we want to happen and end up with pages and pages of an outline. Then we jump in to write whatever section we are especially drawn to. Once that’s done, we go back and read the other person’s work, making any adjustments we feel are necessary. The best (and worst) part about working with a sister is that she will never be afraid to tell you what she really thinks!

 Which 20th Century writer do you most admire and why?

We love Edwidge Danticat’s work and how thoughtful and wide ranging it is. In an industry where it is incredibly difficult to break out, Danticat’s work demands to be heard and celebrated. As Haitian-Americans, she showed us that it was okay to dream of becoming an author, and possible to be a successful one at that. 

How did Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop’s research on “windows” and “mirrors” influence your work?

We grew up reading many books that were windows and sliding glass doors. Sometimes we “saw” ourselves in a precocious girl who spoke her mind and liked to read books. But often, the mirror aspect of literature was not a part of our experiences because there were so few books about Black and Haitian girls. So, we write our stories especially for the little kids like us who deserve to have their stories told with joyful nuance too.

Maritza, you have worked for NBC News, CNN, and USA TODAY. What long-term impact do you think 2020 could have on American journalism?

Hopefully journalism will continue to have difficult conversations about how victims of police brutality are depicted in the media. And hopefully journalists as a whole will be unafraid to call out racism, sexism, and any other oppressive actions for what they are instead of using cautious euphemisms.

Maika, you’re a PhD student at Howard University’s Communication, Culture, and Media studies program. How has this impacted your work?

I’m learning so much about the ways that media plays a role in our daily lives, whether that be via television, movies, books, and more. I’m even more aware of how much representation truly matters and how lack of it impacts us all. I love that I’m able to fold these discoveries into my work as an author and present it in a way that’s entertaining but teaches too.

Click here to download the discussion guide to One of the Good Ones.

 

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