I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings Chapter 25
Momma is a secretive woman, who embodies the proverb, "If you ask a Negro where he's been, he'll tell you where he's going." Chapter 25, pg. 189 So when Momma tells Maya and Bailey she is taking them to California, Maya knows better than to ask why. Momma tells them that she herself is getting old, Willie is crippled, and they should be with their parents anyway. None of these seems to be the real reason they are going. Maya thinks it is because of something that happened to Bailey.
One day, Bailey had come into the house, looking shocked beyond speech. Finally, he asked Willie what black people had ever done to white people to make whites hate them so much. Willie had no answer. Bailey said that he saw a dead black man. He had been fished out of a pond, and all the black people stayed away from the body, but a white man approached and kicked the body over onto its stomach, grinning. Bailey asked again why white people hate blacks, and Willie said "They don't really hate us. They don't know us. How can they hate us? They mostly scared." Chapter 25, pg. 192 The white man then forced Bailey to help lift the dead man into a calaboose full of black prisoners. They protest that they couldn't be bad enough to have to share their cell with a dead man, but they laugh as they say this. Bailey didn't see what could possibly be funny. Though neither Momma nor Willie said much in response to this story, Maya is sure that it is the real reason she and Bailey have to go to California. Maya will go ahead with Momma, and Bailey will follow in a month, when they have the money to send him. They will go to their father in Los Angeles first. Maya feels bad: she will miss her friend Louise, and Bailey, and she feels sorry for Willie. Still, now that she has books, she feels stronger and more confident.