Is Our Kind of People Based on a True Story?

‘Our Kind of People’ is a thriller drama series set around a single mother and her attempts to break into the upper-crust Black community of her town. Angela, the series protagonist, uses her connections to market her hair care venture to Black women, only to then go down a path of dark family secrets that shake the entire community. The show features a multi-generational roster of characters and is set in a predominantly Black community where it explores the intricacies and struggles of the upper class while centering around an explosive secret.

Described as a thrilling exploration of race and class in America, the narrative is nuanced and goes deeper than most other explorations of Black high society on television. So, just how much of ‘Our Kind of People’ is based on a true story? We decided to dig in, and here’s everything we found out!

Is Our Kind of People Based on a True Story?

No, ‘Our Kind of People’ is not based on a true story. The show is written by Karin Gist and takes inspiration from Lawrence Otis Graham’s book ‘Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class.’ Although the show’s story is fictional, Graham’s book isn’t and is the result of 6 years of research by the author, who delved into the history of the African American elite.

The late New York Times bestselling author, in his book, delves into some of the most affluent Black families in the country, with separate chapters on the elite in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Nashville, and New Orleans. Gist’s television narrative uses the high society outlined in the book as its backdrop and then launches into the fictional story of the central character, Angela, as she tries to break into the Black high society in Martha’s Vineyard.

In an interview, Gist claimed to be driven to write the show because we now lived in a time where such stories could be told and that they needed to be told. The characters she has fleshed out for her narrative, portrayed as flawed and distinctly human, are driven by an aim to create a show centered around rounded Black characters that can convey the story of the Black experience in America.

Themes like family and identity form strong undercurrents of the show and are meant to inspire open conversation about these topics. Of course, the authenticity of her characters is also a result of Gist looking inwards and using her own life’s experiences, traumas, and relationships to inform them. The goal, she explained, is to form a narrative that is authentic and entertaining and reminds us all to come together because of our shared experiences.

The show’s setting, Martha’s Vineyard, is also a particularly authentic touch, and the island has a substantial history with Black communities. Initially gaining popularity because it was a haven, the town of Oak Bluffs in Massachusetts (where the show is set) was famously described by poet and activist Maya Angelou as “a safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”

‘Our Kind of People,’ therefore, retains the entertainment angle through its fictional thriller plot while also delving deep into the experiences of wealthy Black communities. It takes inspiration from a profoundly insightful historical book by an erudite author who is one of the country’s foremost spokesmen on race and class, and thus, retains a strong sense of authenticity in its backdrop.

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