Keeping it Real

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Author: Paula Chase

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For years, Marigold Johnson has tried to be her best friend Justice’s social interpreter. Justice hates their ritzy private school, where he and Marigold are two of the only Black students, but Marigold is happy to try and fit in with the expectations of their white, moneyed classmates — after all, her parents are the moguls who own Flexx Unlimited, a major hip-hop media company.

When Justice gets accepted into Style High, Flexx Unlimited's summer program designed to boost Black kids who are interested in careers in fashion design and styling, Marigold gets her parents to put her into the program too. She is interested in fashion, but she knows her spot was not earned like everyone else. And they know it too. Mari’s in for an rude awakening, leaving her questioning everything she knows about her family and background.

Keeping it Real is about the pressure to conform; how Black people are expected to erase their Blackness in white spaces, and the cost of that erasure when they re-engage with Black communities.