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I text back my aunt who has been the last to bring up the miracle of Prince Harry’s black fiancée.I tell her that Markle should be regarded as a mixed-race woman from the Valley.For as long as I can remember, she has been grabbed at the arm by strangers while entering a room and almost immediately asked to identify her race. For a long time, it felt as though I was her only good black friend.When we talk on the phone these days, it still seems to be the case: She excuses every white transgression that I try to highlight.Their black friends would praise their hair for being silkier than theirs, call them funny even when their jokes were indulgent, and make room for them at the table even if it was full.At a family gathering, my fully black cousin hung onto my shoulder and said, “I wish I had hair like her.” She was referring to my mixed cousin.
On my basketball team, we would sometimes take bus trips to schools that were in towns like the one in Los Angeles where Markle grew up and which she has described as “a neighborhood that was leafy and affordable.
Quite literally, blackness has historically been viewed as a stain; once touched, it would change the identity and the perceived worth of the entire person.
America’s early-20th-century “one-drop rule” not only prohibited interracial cohabitation, but also defined anyone with “Negro blood” of any amount as black.
They held signs asking for the lights to be kept on in their school building for after-school programs.
I look back at my desk where there is a full glass of water which I will drink from and refill, drink from and refill, until I have had plenty.