Why is the incident between Momma and the white girls a "defining" moment in Maya life?

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eraym567 | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

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Maya, at that point in her life, understood that there was a distinct difference being white and black but this judgement was held soley for affluent adults.  When Maya comes face to face with the powhitetrash girls taunting Momma Maya then realizes that being black puts them below children - poor, dirty children.