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Jem gives Scout quite an education with his explanation of "colored" and "mixed children" and their differences in Chapter 16 of To Kill a Mockingbird. The discussion arises when the children observe Dolphus Raymond sitting with a group of Negroes in the town square on the day of the Tom Robinson trial. The conversation soon turns to Raymond's children, fathered with his black mistress. When Scout asks her brother, "what's a mixed child?", Jem explains:
"Half white, half colored."
When she asks how you can tell the difference, he tells her that
"You can't sometimes... you just hafta know who they are."
Scout next asks, "Well how do you know we ain't Negroes?" Jem's Uncle Jack has already answered this question for Jem, telling him that
"... as far as he can trace back the Finches we ain't..."
And what makes a person "colored"?
"... around here once you have a drop of Negro blood, that makes you all black."
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