Ever since they were younger, sisters Maika and Maritza Moulite dreamed of being authors. Now they are living their dreams and bringing more Black female representation into Young Adult literature.
The Moulite sisters recently published their second novel “One of the Good Ones,” a story that addresses police brutality and race relations in America.
The story centers around Keziah Leah “Kezi” Smith, a young YouTuber activist, who died in police custody after attending a social justice rally. Her sisters, Jemima Genesis “Genny” and Keren-Happuch “Happi,” honor her legacy by going on a road trip directed by their heirloom copy of “The Negro Motorist Green Book.”
The Moulite sisters started writing the novel in 2018 and were working on “One of the Good Ones,” when Breonna Taylor and George Floyd were killed by police officers.
“To see some of the things that we were writing about manifests in real life, it’s totally mind boggling,” Maika said. “I remember when all of the developments are happening around the Breonna Taylor case, I was obsessively checking every second of it.”
They chose the title “One of the Good Ones” to bring to light how media tries to justify the fate of victims of police violence by searching for a criminal history and portraying them negatively. Kezi is a high-achieving student and student body president, a Black person the media would perceive as a “good one.”
Maika and Maritza aim to challenge the notion that only a Black victim having what is considered a straight-and-narrow lifestyle is worthy to be mourned.
“When young Black girls are in school, they are punished at higher rates than their white or non-Black counterparts,” Maika said. “If you’re a young Black girl, you’re not quite a girl in people’s eyes because they see your Blackness.”
The novel brings Black history to the forefront by making “The Negro Motorist Green Book” a focal point. The book was a travel guide created by Victor H. Green that was published annually; it was a directory of Black-owned businesses that travelers can patronize to avoid racial harassment.
Through their research of “The Negro Motorist Green Book,” the Moulite sisters created a three-part podcast to expand on different topics around the periodical.
Allyship is another topic in the story as Kezi is a closeted lesbian, never telling this to her parents nor her sister Happi. This causes Happi to reflect on ways she could have spoken up for her late sister.
“We have so many different identities within ourselves,” Maritza said. “A lot of times we focus on the parts that are most palatable to the people that are around us, and we wanted to push ourselves in that way of how we can be better allies to other people too.”
Through their passion for history, the Moulite sisters show the level of progress America has made towards racial equality through the lenses of their characters who are from the past and present day.
“We have a few scenes that are basically a direct juxtaposition, a mirroring of what happened in the 1930s, 40’s, 50’s and what happens in the modern day,” Maika said. “It also shows that although we’ve made a ton of progress, there’s still much more work to be done.”