Out of mice and men. Chapter four.
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I believe Crooks did this to distance himself from slavery. His father was a property owner, he played with white children, and he was proud of his birthright.
Crooks leaned forward over the edge of the bunk. "I ain’t a southern Negro," he said. "I was born right here in California. My old man had a chicken ranch, ‘bout ten acres. The white kids come to play at our place, an’ sometimes I went to play with them, and some of them was pretty nice. My ol’ man didn’t like that. I never knew till long later why he didn’t like that. But I know now." He hesitated, and when he spoke again his voice was softer. "There wasn’t another colored family for miles around. And now there ain’t a colored man on this ranch an’ there’s jus’ one family in Soledad." He laughed. "If I say something, why it’s just a nigger sayin’ it."
Of Mice and Men