Your mother is so black…
that, due also in part to her very adequate grades in high school, she was awarded a $4,500 academic scholarship from the United Negro College Fund. She accepted the scholarship uneasily, but nevertheless used the money to enroll in an accounting program at a modest state school an hour upstate. She never revealed the exact details of the scholarship to her parents, mainly because your mother isn’t black. In fact, she’s white and is of European descent. No one in your family is black or has even married a black person, yet still your mother is as dark as they come.
For years after your mother’s birth your grandfather believed that your grandmother cheated on him, which unintentionally grew into a deep-seated hatred of all black people and a simmering resentment of your mother, convinced as he was that she was not his child. However, despite his faults, he was a decent man and stayed married to your grandmother and raised your mother, believing all the while that she was not his but obliged by his faith to see that she was cared for. He did, however, move into the spare bedroom at the back of the house, not speaking much to his wife when he would come home from the factory in the evenings, choosing instead to retreat to the back porch where he smoked cigarettes and stared into the encroaching darkness, praying to God for understanding and trying to find some significance in his life.
In the mid-1970s, your mother long since graduated with a degree in accounting and working as an entry-level clerk in the Macy’s head office, DNA testing took its first few tentative steps into the world. Your grandmother, hoping to finally vindicate herself and your mother in the eyes of her husband, spent an outrageous sum of money that she could scarcely afford on her typist’s wages to pay for a test. Despite your grandfathers insistence to her that the test was unnecessary, he felt in his heart that its results would only prove to the world what a decent man he had been all along, a decent man cuckolded by a lying wife.
Three weeks after both he and your mother submitted to a blood test, the results were read to them by a young doctor in a small laboratory office, where the furniture was mismatched and the carpet badly wanted replacing. The results stated conclusively that your mother was your grandfather’s daughter, and the doctor calmly went on to explain how an excess of melanin or a recessive gene or two may have been responsible for her dark pigmentation. Your grandfather felt wash over him a wave of shame at the years he’d needlessly spent in anger and resentment, and apologized to your grandmother and mother so sincerely that they instantly forgave him all those years of pain and silence. Together the three of them left the laboratory and drove home with tears running down their cheeks, glistening in the late autumn sun.
But despite your mother’s decidedly non-black ethnicity, she has an unquenchable thirst for purple drink and malt liquor. Explain that, scientists.