restricted access Pure Black: Class, Color, and Intraracial Politics in Toni Morrison's Paradise

This essay explores black class privilege and associated questions of skin color and racial authenticity in Toni Morrison's 1997 novel, Paradise, written during a period fraught with intraracial ambivalence and confusion about what it means to be "black" in the post-Civil Rights era. In their obsession with biological racial purity, Morrison's "8-rock" characters corporealize racial authenticity, a concept that usually exists for African Americans as a cultural ideal. Paradise ultimately critiques the black nationalist desire for a "pure," and purely "authentic," form of African American identity, in the process highlighting the frequent suppression of the multiracial in authenticity discourse.