They were Negroes and we were also Negroes. I just didn’t see Negroes hating each other so much.

This remark sums up Anne’s feelings in Chapter 4. “They” are Raymond’s family, especially his mother, Miss Pearl. As lighter-skinned Black people, they look down on Anne’s family members, who have darker skin. It is implied, though not actually stated, that they would prefer Raymond marry a woman with lighter skin. Before the civil rights movement, some lighter-skinned Black people aspired to a higher social status, though they were not given any special legal treatment. Lighter-skinned Black people were called by names (which are now recognized as offensive) such as “yellow,” “mulatto,” and “high yellow,” and their skin tones reflected the predominance of white ancestry. In some cases, a Black person’s appearance was indistinguishable from that of whites. In Coming of Age in Mississippi, the degree of intermixing among white and Black people helps establish the absurdity of racial distinctions. The fact that some Black people were making such distinctions despite sharing common mistreatment by whites underscores this, and also highlights the need for unity among Black people.

After her mother is so coldly treated by Raymond’s family, Anne becomes suspicious of lighter-skinned blacks. In fact, she almost does not go to Tougaloo College because she fears the students are mostly lighter-skinned and will look down on her. She eventually becomes so suspicious of the potential prejudice of lighter-skinned blacks that she is herself prejudiced, furthering the theme of the evil of prejudice.