Langston Hughes satirizes America's obsession with so-called “racial purity” in his stories featuring Jesse B. Semple to shed light upon internalized racism and white American attempts to erase US histories that complicate the standardized black-white color line. In his poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” (1920), the speaker challenges a singular view of the many Black histories that exist through the metaphor of rivers. In his Simple stories, Hughes's character Jesse B. Semple reflects on American Blackness and blood stereotypes that impact racial identity formation and community building. By invoking the “Indian grandmother” and royal African ancestor tropes, Hughes complicates those compartmentalized identities and US histories implied via the American blood idiom to denote associations with enslavement that bolster notions of intraracial difference and white supremacist ideology. Hughes's Simple stories culminate his trajectory in establishing African American pride in African ancestry and an anticolonial rejection of racial purity as a legal and social principle that contributes to monolithic conceptions of American Blackness.

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