Do Unto Others
Kristin Hunter Lattany
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Zena (short for Zenobia) Lawson honors all things African--art, culture, history. So when fortune hands her a twenty-year-old Nigerian girl in need of temporary housing, of course Zena and her husband Lucius jump at the chance to help. To Zena, Ifa Olongo is an exotic beauty with enough haughtiness and grace for three royal families. Not to mention the daughter she never had. But as Zena's best friend Vy keeps reminding her, Ifa is no girl--she's a young woman with dangerous curves that any man would just love to skid his tires across.
But Zena, a former glamour queen herself, has problems distinguishing between glitter and real gold. For Ifa's name means life--and she'll acquire it . . . by any means necessary.
The ever-widening gap between Africans and African-Americans--and the strong but precarious link that bridges it . . . The unexpected peril of romanticizing our roots--and the foreigners who represent them . . . The importance of taking care of others--without sacrificing oneself . . . Kristin Hunter Lattany weaves these elements into a novel crackling with wit, intelligence, and mischief, and takes political correctness and Afrocentricity and turns them upside down.
“Want to try it?” During the week Charlie is an undertaker, with all the seriousness that goes along with it, including a black suit, but on weekends he blossoms and becomes a total cowboy, with a red neckerchief, big white felt hat, chaps, boots, and spurs. Sometimes I think the main reason these guys go in for riding is the chance to wear the getup. “No, thank you,” Ifa says through chattering teeth. “I am too cold. I will watch.” Lucius says riding would warm us up, and I know he is
that will startle people. I want you to see how soft and appealing this shade is on you.” I have a stock of wigs I keep on hand for just such occasions, and I pull out a medium brown one that matches the customer’s skin. “Permit me,” I say, and adjust it on her head. “Now imagine yourself going out in the daytime for lunch, or in the evening to a club, or on vacation.” I do not mention work or the need to be conservative there. Practically all of my patrons work, but they do not want to be
my friend another long hug. She feels good, but she feels different, too. I step back and give her a good long look. “You’re gaining weight,” I inform her. That is when she drops the ton of bricks on me. “That’s because I’m pregnant,” she says. I shriek and yell and holler questions for about five minutes. “How long? Why didn’t you tell me? When did you find out? When are you due?” I am jumping up and down like a jackrabbit on a trampoline. She gives me a sheepish smile. “I’ve known for
at my neckline and a spritz of Boucheron behind my ears. Then, remembering something Monica said to Laura at the meeting, I rummage through my jewelry box. I do not have time for a thorough inventory, but I see immediately that my gold snake bracelet with the emerald eyes is missing. There is no time to talk to Ifa about this, only time to hear the men lavish compliments on her when she descends the stairs in my garnet dress, with matching fingertips and lipstick that looks suspiciously like
wish she hadn’t.” “You couldn’t stop her if you tried. Told you it isn’t your fault. It’s that rotten boy of ours who upset her. He’s up to something. He’s always up to something. People coming round day and night. Kids. Junkies. Hoodlums. Foreigners. The phone ringing all the time. Funny deep voices on the phone with foreign accents. Police cruising by all night. Last night there was a drug riot on our block. ’Bout thirty kids, all wild and crazy and stoned out of their minds. They kept