Fluidity of Racial Identity

“Becky had one Negro son. Who gave it to her?… She wouldn’t tell. Common, God-forsaken, insane white shameless wench, said the white folks’ mouths… Poor Catholic poor white crazy woman, said the black folks’ mouths. White folks and black folks built her a cabin, feed her and her growing baby, prayed secretly to God who’d put His cross upon her and cast her out.”

Toomer, Jean, Cane, pp. 8

This passage speaks to racial identity. Even though Becky is a white woman, because she conceived a child with a black man, she and her child are ostracized and alienated from white and black societies. This is particularly interesting considering that Toomer was of European and African American ancestry, and was able to pass as a white man.