While the novel is written about black people in the South, it is not primarily a book about racism. Nanny is the first character to mention the notion of slavery. "Ah was born back due in slavery so it wasn't for me to fulfil my dreams of whut a woman oughta be and to do. Dat's one of de hold-backs of slavery."  The novel, while mentioning the issue of racism between the white and black communities, depicts the treatment of minorities within the black community. Starks is compared to as the master of the plantation due to his huge house in the centre of the town. "The rest of town looked like servants' quarters surrounding the 'big house'.  Starks becomes a figure of authority in the town due to his access to money and his determination to create the first black town. However his plans of creating a town in which blacks can live as equals creates a hierarchy between the townsfolk. "Us talks about de white man keepin' us down! Shucks! He don't have tuh. Us keeps our own selves down."  The divide between the black community is not only seen in Eatonville. When Janie marries Tea Cake and moves to the Everglades she becomes friendly with a woman named Mrs. Turner. Mrs. Turner compliments Janie on her light skin and her Caucasian features. She disagrees with Janie's marriage to Tea Cake, since he is darker skinned with more African features. Mrs. Turner tries to get Janie to leave Tea Cake and marry her brother, Mr. Turner. This results in Tea Cake's jealousy and distrust of Mrs. and Mr. Turner.
The 1930s and early 1940s marked the peak of Hurston's literary career. She completed graduate work at Columbia, published four novels and an autobiography, and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. She traveled to the Caribbean where she became intrigued by the practice of voodoo and she began to incorporate supernatural elements into her novels and stories. Although her work received increasing acclaim from the white literati of New York, Zora often felt under attack by members of the Black Arts Movement. She termed these detractors as members of the "niggerati" for being close-minded in their criticism of her racial politics.