The Question and Answer section for Black Boy is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
The woman really did not treat Richard well or with any respect. She thinks Richard is incapable of making good decisions because of his race. She thinks that Richard wanting to be a writer is funny and she laughs in his face.
Richard excels at his studies, burning through volumes of books and outside reading. He is put from fifth to sixth grade in two weeks. Granny's reaction to Richard's intelligence is to see him as odd and more peculiar than she ever did before.
Richard sells newspapers because he has no money for lunch. He is unaware of the newspaper's anti-Negro propaganda.