Why does Amanda tell Jeffrey that he ''can't even be here" in Maniac Magee?

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Jeffrey first meets Amanda in East End. The town of Two Mills is "pretty much divided...the East End (is) blacks, the West End (is) whites." Because Jeffrey is white, Amanda comments that he "can't even be (there)." Although Amanda herself is not at all a bigot, she has grown up in a segregated environment, and makes the observation just as a matter of fact.

When Jeffrey runs into Amanda, he is fascinated by the big bag of books she carries around. He begs to borrow one, promising to return it to her at her house. When he asks Amanda what her address is, she tells him, but also says, "But you can't come there. You can't even be here." Amanda, who has not often seen white people on the black side of town, is at first a little suspicious at seeing Jeffrey, a white boy and a stranger. Her natural friendliness quickly trumps the unexamined conventions of her environment, however, and she stops to talk to him, treating him as just another kid. Amanda's mother exhibits the same sense of tolerance and "color-blindness," and does not hesitate to offer Jeffrey a home with the Beale family.

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