Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 446
Heads of the Colored People by Nafissa Thompson-Spire is a collection of short stories. Each story has distinct characters. Below I’ve highlighted several of the well-developed characters in her stories:
Randolph. He is the narrator of the story “The Necessary Changes Have Been Made.” He is a middle aged professor of black literature. He struggles with social interactions around him and generally seems to look down on everyone else. He is especially disapproving of women and people of other races. He is easily frustrated by his coworkers.
Marjorie. She is the star of the story “Not Today, Marjorie.” Marjorie struggles with her mental health and is receiving care. However, she feels guilty about her past behaviors. Though she is in therapy, her behavior starts to spin out of control.
Dr Monica Willis, PhD and Dr. Lucinda Johnston, PsyD. These are the mothers of the only two Black children attending a mostly-white prep school. The mothers use their daughters to wage a war against one another. They send one another brutal letters through their daughters’ backpacks.
Fatima. Fatima appears in several stories. First, she is the daughter of Dr. Monica Willis. In the next story, "The Body’s Defense Against Itself,” she is an adult who is interested in learning yoga. However, she is thrown back into her childhood and remembers what it was like to be bullied by Dr. Lucinda’s daughter. She becomes self conscious and at the same time competitive with the only other black woman in the room. In the final story, Fatima is a young biracial teenager who attends an all-white prep school. She struggles to find her sense of self as the only person of color at the school. She meets Violet outside of school and gets introduced to black identity and culture. While figuring all this out, she dates a white boy. She quickly learns who her friends are.
Kim. She is featured in the story “This Todd.” She has an attraction and obsession with men who have had their legs amputated. She convinces many of these men to use wheelchairs so that she can take advantage of the handicap benefits.
Eldwin. He is in the story “A Conversation About Bread.” He is writing an assignment for his anthropology class and is criticized by Brian for “sounding white.”
Alma. She is in the final story, “Wash Clean the Bones.” She is a young single mother who is trying to make ends meet to provide for her young children. She sings at funerals as a side job. Here she witnesses the brutality of racism and violence. What she witnesses causes her to fear for her young black son’s life.