My third piece of holiday reading was The Ways of White Folks, a collection of short stories by American poet and author Langston Hughes (thank you to Tonnie for this). It was a sobering read. Through a series of vignettes set in the 1920s and 30s, Langston Hughes dispassionately illustrates the sort of racism suffered by black Americans, both in terms of the attitudes of whites towards them (particularly in the south) but also their living and working conditions. However, Langston Hughes is also sardonically critical of those blacks who managed, through luck, intelligence and diligence, to make it out of the misery, only to try and ‘out-white the whites’. Langston Hughes’s preferred character in the collection is clearly Bert Lewis/Norwood, the protagonist of ‘Father and Son’. The bastard offspring of a fiercely proud white plantation colonel and a compassionate black housekeeper, he refuses to know his place and ultimately shoots himself to cheat a lynch party.