Kiswana Browne, aka Melanie Browne, grew up in Linden Hills, an affluent neighborhood not far from Brewster Place. Kiswana grew up in a middle-class family and encountered a personality conflict during her years at college. Kiswana is light-skinned with smooth hair and she feels this is not the true nature of African-Americanism. Attempting to connect with her Afro roots, she changes her name and moves into Brewster Place, a pre-dominantly African American community suffering from poverty.
Kiswana intentions are noble. She is under the illusion she can overcome the racial prejudices which have forced many of the residents into the community through vocal opposition and encouragement to the residents. Being so young and naïve she is not aware of the struggles each member has truly undergone. Although she achieves some success with Cora Lee, her ultimately failure results from not understanding the people around her because she has not faced the same opposition. Kiswana's struggle is summed up in her relationship with her mother. Kiswana blames her for hiding her heritage, but after a confrontation she learns they share many of the same outrages and struggles. This underscores Kiswana's bold, but naïve view of the world.