Last Reviewed on March 31, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1330
Ifemelu’s blog quickly gains a large readership. She connects with her readers and other bloggers and begins to build a large social network. She’s invited to speak at many events, covering topics of diversity and race. Ifemelu discovers that the “point of diversity workshops, or multicultural talks, was not to inspire any real change but to leave people feeling good about themselves” and knows that the people to whom she speaks are not the people who read her blog.
Ifemelu buys a condo in Roland Park. Her blog continues to grow and earn followers, and soon “she felt subsumed by her blog. She had become her blog.”
Because of the blog, Blaine, the man Ifemelu met eight years ago on the train, reenters her life. They both attend the meet and greet at the Blogging While Brown convention in Washington, DC, and Blaine tells Ifemelu that he loves her blog. Ifemelu thinks he doesn’t remember her, but when he asks about her “mall visits in Connecticut,” she bursts out laughing. Though he is in New Haven and she in Baltimore, they begin emailing and calling, eventually developing a romantic relationship. She spends a lot of time in New Haven and begins to feel that Blaine “was like a salutary tonic; with him, she could only inhabit a higher level of goodness.”
Blaine’s best friend, Araminta, warmly receives Ifemelu’s appearance in Blaine’s life. Araminta warns Ifemelu about Blaine’s sister, Shan, saying she is an “interesting character.”
Though Blaine invites Ifemelu to move in with him after a month of their dating, she waits until a year has passed to do so. She doesn’t like that her blog posts sound increasingly academic because of his suggestions, and he tells her she’s being “lazy” when she shies away from the responsibility of “cultural commentary.”
Blaine is a man firm in his convictions, and Ifemelu feels “fascinated by his sense of rightness.” When Blaine is with his academic, intellectual friends, Ifemelu says little and observes them looking “at the world with an impractical, luminous earnestness that moved her, but never convinced her.”
She tells her parents that she has moved in with Blaine, and they wonder why she is in a relationship with an “American Negro.” Her mother instantly begins imagining the wedding. When Ifemelu gets off the phone with them, she renames her blog Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black.
Blaine’s sister, Shan, is publishing her first book. When Blaine describes her, he says that she likes to host what she calls a “salon,” a gathering of intellectuals for conversation, and is “a really special person.”
Shan is the sort of person who makes everyone focus on her. When she first meets Ifemelu, she initially ignores her, speaking only to her brother, before sizing Ifemelu up and saying, “You’re very pretty,” then complimenting her blog. To Ifemelu, Shan has “the air of a person who was somehow chosen. The gods had placed a wand on her.” Blaine becomes a different person around her, agreeing with what she says even though Ifemelu is sure he would disagree if anyone else said such simple, sweeping statements. Ifemelu invites Shan to be a guest blogger when her book comes out.
Ifemelu writes a blog post titled “Obama Can Win Only If He Remains the Magic Negro.”
At a surprise birthday party thrown for Blaine’s friend Marcia, Ifemelu feels that she still doesn’t quite fit in with Blaine’s coterie. Blaine has been getting “defensive” when they talk about his friends. Together, they had recently attended a lecture given by his ex-girlfriend Paula, who is still in Blaine’s social circle.
Sitting down to eat at the party,...
(The entire section contains 1330 words.)
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