Sitkoff suggests that both white and black Northerners were more willing to accept African Americans with "white" mannerisms in speech, attire, and behavior. White and black Southerners generally shared the dislike for African Americans who possessed this "white" behavior. The white Southerners preferred the black man who obediently surrendered his bus seat and did not question white supremacy. Black southerners also disapproved, and felt that the blacks with "white" mannerisms lacked pride.
In "Song of Solomon", Milkman's travels from his hometown in Michigan, the "industrialized North", to the place of his family roots, Pennsylvania and Virginia. While he is treated with respect by the natives of his hometown, Milkman finds that the inhabitants of the rural South are less courteous. Milkman's demeanor is unique from other black characters in the novel, and perhaps this is the reason for the variations of approval in his travels. Milkman serves as a substitute for the novel's absence of white characters. Although he is physically a black man, Milkman dresses, talks, and behaves like a white man. His fellow black Michigan town members treat him with respect, as a white man would have been treated. His white mannerisms are approved of by the Northerners. As Milkman travels south, he begins to experience a change in the way he is treated. The black townspeople in the South do not respect Milkman's fancy clothes and speech; instead, they take offense to his "white" mannerisms.