How Old Was The Youngest Girl On 16 And Pregnant The African American Connection to the Black Dahlia

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The African American Connection to the Black Dahlia

Race, skin color, with all its complex layers of discord and entanglement is embedded in the social fabric of America. For more than two centuries we have struggled between accepting it without scruples and condemning its inhumanity. We used it for profit; blamed him for our misfortunes; they killed each other for the right to enslave and passed their prejudices from generation to generation. It is so ingrained in our ethos that race has become synonymous with the word “America.” Even now, at the dawn of the twenty-first century, we cannot shake off our racial bonds.

This true story of One Day She’ll Darken is not about America as we see it from abroad, but about America from the inside—from the inside of a child who saw things differently.

It begins in the early 1950s in San Francisco, before Fauna Hodel was even born. The 16-year-old daughter of a prominent white California family became pregnant and insisted the father was “a Negro.” Outraged by their daughter’s insolence and the stigma associated with having a mixed-race child in their midst, the family quickly arranged for the child to be adopted by someone so far removed from their social footprints that even the shadows disappeared.

Jimmie Lee Stokes, a simple black maid working in a Nevada casino, and her common-law husband Chris Greenwade reluctantly agree to be the beneficiaries of this new life because “all arrangements have been made.” They quickly travel to San Francisco to pick up the baby from the hospital and discover that the unwanted mulatto is pink and white with blue eyes – not what they expected as the offspring of an African-American father and a Caucasian mother. Yet the birth certificate clearly states that the father is “black”.

Chris convinces Jimmie to accept this “angel from God”. However, she is soon filled with resentment and overwhelmed by the challenges of raising a white child in her black community. Jimmie begins to drink heavily and her husband quickly leaves her. Alone, poor and black, she is forced to do tricks to provide for her child. A black woman and her white child spend the next twenty years battling extreme poverty, alcoholism, sexual abuse, pregnancy, marriage, and death, all bound and knotted by ruthless prejudice.

The only world Fauna knew growing up was one she didn’t belong in. She was a white-skinned girl in a black world, and only her birth certificate confirmed her authenticity. Racism from both sides controlled her life, but not her spirit. Her only salvation was to find the truth about her mixed race from the lone person who knew for sure – her biological mother Tamar – the woman of her dreams.

Fauna set out to uncover the story that created this bizarre life and why it was betrayed. Her search ends abruptly with a phone call from Tamar, who informs Fauna that her real father was not “black” at all. Fauna, who has spent her life defending her African American roots, is traumatized. Her life was a lie and now she needs to know why.

Her journey takes her from the sewage of Rena to the island of Oahu, where she finally meets Tamar, who explains her decision to have her first child raised by blacks. “In my little world, I believed that black people were made of much better stuff than the white people I knew. I was ashamed to be white.”

Fauna, not satisfied with such a simple answer, probes further. Tamar uncovers the secrets of her rich, powerful and darkly mysterious family, and a story so incredible that Fauna’s story pales in comparison. She discovers that her grandfather was involved in a sensational incest trial that may have resulted in her own birth and the murder and mutilation of many young women, including the now infamous case of The Black Dahlia.

Meanwhile, Jimmie’s health is failing; she won’t let Fauna go – neither her real mother nor Fauna’s new husband. Fauna, forced to choose, returns to Jimmie. In the last hours before the old woman dies, they both discover that the knots that bound them grew from their hearts and could not be undone by ignorance, prejudice or hatred.

One Day She’ll Darken is a story about conquering bigotry with unconditional love – love that is limitless, love that is color blind.

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