“Black” does not translate into “What white people do not do.”) It meant a shared way of speaking, a verbal and nonverbal language which gave me a kind of comfort.

I am not black in the way that my father was black. There is no reason why my son should be black in the way that I am black.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Many Black Americas

* * *

Haley Barbour and memories of the civil rights era:

That’s when he brought up Bailey.

He said she was “a very nice girl” who “happened to be an African-American, and, God bless her, she let me copy her notes the whole time. And since I was not prone to go to class every day, I considered it a great — it was a great thing, it was just — there was nothing to it. If she remembers it, I would be surprised. She was just another student. I was the student next to her.”

Bailey, reached by phone, reacted to Barbour’s story with surprise that bordered on confusion.

“I don’t remember him at all, no, because during that time that certainly wasn’t a pleasant experience for me,” she said. “My interactions with white people were very, very limited. Very, very few reached out at all.”