How we cite our quotes:
Among the topics that southern white men did not like to discuss with Negroes were the following: American white women; the Ku Klux Klan; France, and how Negro soldiers fared while there; Frenchwomen; Jack Johnson; the entire northern part of the United States; the Civil War; Abraham Lincoln; U. S. Grant; General Sherman; Catholics; the Pope; Jews; the Republican party; slavery; social equality; Communism; Socialism; the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution; or any topic calling for positive knowledge or manly self-assertion on the part of the Negro. The most accepted topics were sex and religion. (1.12.114)
This is the single funniest part of the whole book. Imagine this as standup comedy, and you’ll get it. The not-so-funny part is that it’s not a joke.
I looked about to see if there were signs saying: FOR WHITE--FOR COLORED. I saw none. Black people and white people moved about, each seemingly intent upon his private mission. There was no racial fear. Indeed, each person acted as though no one existed but himself. (2.15.3)
When Richard goes to the North, it is like he has entered a parallel universe where racism and segregation don’t exist. We’d personally like to escape to a universe where work is replaced with waterslides, but that’s probably not going to happen any time soon.
It was not until I had left the delicatessen job that I saw how grossly I had misread the motives and attitudes of Mr. Hoffman and his wife. I had not yet learned anything that would have helped me to thread my way through these perplexing racial relations. (2.15.33)
Richard is super suspicious of everyone, especially white people, and you can’t really blame him. He sure doesn’t blame himself.