Brian, Irene’s husband, has dark skin, which gives him a different perspective on racism from that of his wife. His presence in the book underscores the indistinct privilege Irene’s light skin affords her. While Irene feels pride in and responsibility toward her race, she has the option to pass as white when doing so makes her life more convenient or pleasant. Brian does not have that option, which gives him a more pragmatic view of the realities of being Black in the United States. Brian would like to leave the United States for Brazil, where people of color have more societal power, but Irene rejects the idea of giving up on the U.S. Similarly, Brian believes it is important for their boys to understand the dangerous realities of racism. While Irene conflates Bellew using a racial slur in front of her with his calling her that name, Brian points out the distinction: Bellew didn’t use that slur against her, because he did not know she was Black. In contrast, Brian and the darker of their two sons, Junior, face the reality of living full-time as Black, since they cannot pass. Irene can have a certain detachment from racism that Brian cannot, in the same way that she can uplift their race by selling tickets for rich people to attend a dance and take pride in her husband’s status as a doctor, while Brian contends with the dirty and smelly realities of tending to sick people in a poorly funded hospital. While Irene’s selective perspective on race provides the opportunity for her to live a relatively comfortable life, Brian’s more expansive worldview leaves him dissatisfied and restless.