Black Cindy Hayes (portrayed by Adrienne C. Moore), although just a filler character in season one, becomes a main proponent in the events of season two. While Cindy is one of the pack of black women who readily teams up with Janae Watson for charades and backs Vee when her support his needed, she is one of the more colorful characters–so colorful that we never know what she’ll do next.
Cindy was anxious as a child. Her father died when she was very young but not before he had the chance to instill a deep-seeded religious/moral guilt within his daughter. One flashback portrays a young Cindy who attempts to wait potentially as her father says grace before dinner. Before her father finishes, she sneaks some food, which he sees and stops his prayer to strictly discipline his daughter. Instilling the fear of God in her and cultivating a hatred for the uptight control of the unforgiving church, her father barks at her about eternal damnation and spiritual purification. Seeing as food always has been an important part of Cindy’s life (as we see when she steals Red’s corn in season three from the garden), this guilt trip, when associated with food, sets Cindy on a path that eventually sets her off when her faith is questioned in relation to the food she wishes to eat.
We learn in season two that Black Cindy was a rogue TSA agent; although she seemed to only be crazy in the respect that she took the security golf carts out for joy rides around the airport, we witness her stealing water bottles from kiosks and iPads and other electronics from passengers’ luggage. On top of her theft, she was often inappropriate with the attractive male passengers, subjecting them to a pat-down. We also know she has a past with drugs, given the fact that she stops by her friend, Martin’s, house on her way to bring her sister/daughter Monica for ice cream on her birthday (if you recall, she gifted the stolen iPad to Monica, which her mother found out about). When Martin says he thought she was in jail, Cindy claims: “I’m too slick for that shit.” Too slick, indeed.
When her mother confronts her about the stolen iPad, she also challenges Cindy to take care of her daughter when the inmate threatens to tell Monica the truth. Knowing she cannot take care of Monica, she shuts up. Monica may prefer Cindy because she is “cooler,” but even Cindy knows that Monica is safest in her mother’s care. The whiny and needy children at her job in TSA are enough to prove to her that her mother was right: she is not cut out to be a mother.
Cindy’s spunk and self-confidence, despite the fact that she wasn’t slick enough to escape imprisonment, persists in Litchfield Penitentiary. She doesn’t think twice about calling C.O. Eliqua Maxwell “sister” during the brawl between the Hispanic and the black women in the B-Dorm bathrooms during the plumbing crisis in season two. While Cindy believes that race alliances will allow her to move forward and up the prison hierarchical ladder, she discovers how terribly wrong she is at this moment when the C.O. does not respond well to Cindy’s attempt at camaraderie.
Once Vee begins her tobacco operation, Cindy barters the cigarettes for commissary items rather than stamps, as was instructed. Because of this “indiscretion,” Poussey is given a chance to get in on the cigarette business. While Cindy’s pride drives her to mock Vee (in the supply closet, which is Vee’s territory, nonetheless), she is quickly forced into line when Vee discovers Cindy badmouthing her behind her back.
In the long run, Cindy is one of the last women who are loyal to Vee as the operation begins to collapse. She is eventually put into the situation where she must “confess” that Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren was the one to slock Red, and we see just how terrible she feels in throwing Warren under the bus. Eventually, she and Watson recant her confession and reveal Vee’s sinister intentions to the administration.
At the start of season three, Cindy decidedly attempts to leave Vee‘s influence behind and often seems bitter when the woman is brought up in conversation, especially by Suzanne, who continues to harbor feelings of unrequited motherly love and hope that Vee will return for her. The Mother’s Day celebration at Litchfield agitates Cindy particularly, not only because Vee was a mother figure who reminded her that she is still a child who does not have full control over her life but because she is still angry at her own mother–and herself–for the way that her life and Monica’s have turned out. In attempt to overcome her inner strife, Cindy’s close friend, Janae Watson, compels her to begin working out so that she can feel good about herself. However, Cindy is not exactly thrilled about it:
“Man, I pluck my chin hairs. Ain’t that upkeep enough? I got to run, too?”
One self-improvement opportunity that Cindy does not pass up, however, is the possibility of working for the new, higher-paying job. The privatization of Litchfield for Cindy, unlike all other inmates, proves to be a positive experience. Cindy is one of the lucky few who is selected to work in the Whispers intimates production business, and this success is cause for celebration for both Cindy and Watson, who has also secured a job with Whispers. This new job provides Cindy with a sense of financial stability as well as a feeling of superiority over the other inmates who do not work or make less than she does. Moreover, the monetary benefits of this job additionally allow Cindy a means to better food and later to rediscover her own spirituality.
Once Cindy and the other women are tipped off to the trick of requesting Kosher meals in the cafeteria, Litchfield begins questioning the inmates in order to cut down on wasteful expenditure on women who are not Jewish and who still request these meals. In attempts to pass as Jewish, she begins paying commissary for the “Jew 411.” As she begins to learn more about the Jewish faith from another inmate, Sayna Malka Ginsberg, Cindy becomes more invested in converting to Judaism. While she initially began learning about this faith to secure herself delicious kosher meals, Cindy begins to feel a true sense of belonging as she learns more about the Jewish faith. Deciding upon the name “Tova,” which means “Good,” Cindy sincerely asks the Rabbi his help in converting officially to Judaisim. She is forced to ask him three times, dissolving into tears as she is forced to beg the rabbi over and over (who is initially disbelieving because of Litchfield’s scammers).
Cindy is eventually allowed to convert but on the condition that she goes for her Mikvah, which is a baptism of sorts where she will be asked to strip fully naked and be fully submerged in water. While this seems entirely impossible within the confines of Litchfield, the opening in the fence allows Cindy to run free, shed her clothes and her Christian faith, and join the world of Judaism.
In season 4, Cindy continues to enjoy her newfound Jewish faith after being mikvahed in the lake; however, her joy soon ends when she discovers her new Muslim roommate, Alison Abdullah, who insults her by calling her “not Jewish.” The beef escalates when Cindy blocks Abdullah from using the floor space, which belonged to the bottom bunk before the overcrowding.
Having plenty of funds from working for Whispers at $1/hour rate (whereas other inmates are paid $0.11/hour for other jobs), she has no problem buying herself tampons when medical runs out of their free supply. When Abdullah asks her for one, she wants an exorbitant payment ($5/piece). It is only when Taystee approaches Cindy with the news that they could be paid a ton of money for a photo of Judy King that Cindy considers trading her tampons. In exchange for Abdullah’s contraband cell phone, she hands over tampons, and this business exchange eventually allows them to develop a timid relationship, which is strengthened by their mutual bewilderment by the Church of Scientology.
When their first attempt at getting a photo of Judy King goes sour, Cindy and her friends attempt to brain storm new ways to get a high-quality photo of King that they can all profit from; however, the problem solves itself when Cindy finds herself being rapidly approached by Judy King for a big kiss for the camera.
Joe Caputo calls both Cindy and Judy King into his office to investigate into the photograph, but the two claim to be in love, a charade that they are forced to perpetuate, but one that brings them closer together as friends.
After Poussey‘s death, she and her friends make it known that they will riot until justice is served.