In Charles W. Chestnutt's story, the protagonist is Mr. Ryder, whose real name we later learn is Sam Taylor --a black man who is able to pass as white.
We learn early in the story that he belongs to a community of light-skinned black people called the Blue Vein Society. Chestnutt describes it as the following:
The original Blue Veins were a little society of colored persons organized in a certain Northern city shortly after the war. Its purpose was to establish and maintain correct social standards among a people whose social condition presented almost inherited room for improvement.
Though it is not directly stated, that "social condition" is lighter skin, which indicates (phenotypically, anyway) an abundance of European ancestry. White supremacy allowed the Blue Veins to think themselves better than other black people because of their presumed proximity to whiteness. Hence, their assumption that their "social condition" (light skin) "presented almost inherited room for improvement" (i.e.,...
(The entire section contains 578 words.)