In her parents’ living room in the affluent and largely white Oceanside neighborhood of San Francisco, CNN is playing the 2017 Republican Obamacare repeal debate while Shani Jones’s mother serves coconut cake and ginger tea. Bright green, yellow, and orange walls glow—Shani picked these colors to freshen the house the family has called home for close to forty years.
Martin Jones—Dr. Jones now—left his hometown of New Orleans at the tail end of the Great Migration, headed north and west looking for relief from the segregation of the American South. In Trenchtown, Jamaica, Mrs. Jones, née Victoria McKenzie, had always had pen pals. She found them in magazines, and wrote regularly—to Cuba, to Singapore, and, well, to New Orleans. But the pen pal in New Orleans was the only one who came to visit.