Rozelle Quinn is so fair-skinned that she can pass for white, yet everyone in her small Georgia town knows. Her ten children by different men are mostly light too. They sleep on the floor of her three-room shack and live in fear of her temper. Rozelle favours her lighter-skinned kids, but insists on their equal obedience. When it looks like darker-skinned, 13 year-old Tangy Mae can continue her education at a white school, it turns out her mother has other plans. She wants Tangy to help clean houses for white folk, and go with her to the farmhouse to earn extra money bedding men.