Anne’s explanation for the differing circumstances of white men and black men in Centreville taking their respective mistresses is rooted in racism. In her essay, Anne writes that “the Negroes were never allowed to forget that the white man was master” (Browne, 2003). This oppressive power dynamic meant that most black individuals did not believe they had any right or agency to even entertain the idea of a relationship with a white person. Additionally, Anne mentions that she believed this same mindset impacted how whites viewed relationships with non-white people. She recalls hearing one woman explain it as follows: “White folks are so superior they can take up with anyone they like; but us colored people has got to watch our steps” (Browne, 2003).
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