“Brownies” is a story by ZZ Packer, a young African American writer. It appears in Packer’s short story collection, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, which was published in 2003 to great acclaim. The story is about a Brownie troop of fourth-grade African American girls from suburban Atlanta, Georgia, who go to summer camp. At the camp, they encounter a troop of white girls and believe that one of the white girls addressed them with a racial insult. The African American girls resolve to beat up the white girls.
“Brownies” is a story about racism as it is experienced by young girls, but it has a twist. The African American girls discover that the situation is not as clear-cut as they had believed, and as they return home on the bus, Laurel, the African American girl who narrates the story, tells them of an incident in her family involving a white Mennonite family. As she tells the story, she comes to an unsettling realization about racism and the nature of human life.