Because Raleigh is a "fairly liberal" area, the girls don't have much trouble with white people before Jim Crow—they're even friendly with the elderly Confederate veterans who hang around the city center (4.11.1).
One time, a pair of missionaries from the North gives them each fancy a china doll. Bessie pulls what we like to call a "Bessie" and paints her doll to match her own skin color.
Their favorite white person is Miss Grace Moseley, a young teacher at St. Aug's who is a true believer in racial equality. She reads them Shakespeare almost every night.
Things get weird after Jim Crow because most of the family is light-skinned enough to pass as white. One time, a white man is incredibly friendly to Nanny and Sadie before reacting in utter shock when Henry shows up.
Sadie's coping strategy is to "play dumb," bypassing restrictions by ignoring them, more or less (4.11.15). She learned from the best: her father