This paper examines Toni Morrison’s politics of maternal violence and inter-civilizational contact in her novel Sula. Sula ends with a chapter entitled “1965”; I therefore take the entire story to be a rebuttal to the 1965 Moynihan Report and the normative sociology the Report represents: specifically the pathology the Report’s attaches to matriarchal families and its calls for cultural and behavioral normalization. I conclude by claiming that Sula’s figurative treatment of maternal violence and racial uplift—represented by fire and water—suggests a preference for a truly political relationship between black and white Americans over the increasingly moral, disciplinary, and bio-political relationship the Report epitomizes.