"How It Feels To Be Colored Me" (1928) is an essay by Zora Neale Hurston published in World Tomorrow as a "white publication sympathetic to Harlem Renaissance writers," reflecting her experiences as an African-American woman in America in the early twentieth century. The essay was first collected in Her Own Life: A Woman's View of Her Times, which was published in 1973 by Harper & Row.
In this piece, Hurston uses her own life to discuss issues such as prejudice, segregation, and racism. She also explores different aspects of being black in American society including slavery, civil rights, and poverty. This essay would later become one of the chapters of her book, Dust Tracks on a Road.
Hurston was born in Florida in 1891. She grew up in Eatonville, a suburb of Orlando. In 1912, when she was 16 years old, her family moved to Baltimore where she lived until she went to college. There, she studied literature and anthropology at Howard University before moving back home to work as a social worker. In 1925, she was hired by the Museum of Natural History in New York City where she worked for three years. In 1928, Hurston published her first book, Tell My Horse: Being a Diary of Things As They Are Noted Down Here in South Carolina, which became a success. In 1930, she wrote another book called Mules and Men which discussed similar topics as her first book.
Zora Neale Hurston's "How It Feels to Be Colored Me" is a widely anthologized descriptive essay in which she examines the discovery of her identity and self-pride. Hurston uses vivid terminology, imagery, and metaphorical language to take the reader on this voyage, according to description rules. She begins with a disclaimer: "There was once a time when I didn't know I was black." This fact came as a surprise to Hurston since she was born into a family who identified themselves as white. She also knew that most blacks were treated badly by the police and had little chance for education or employment opportunities.
Hurston's father was an alcoholic who physically abused her mother. When Hurston was nine years old, her family moved to Florida where they hoped to find work as cotton pickers. However, no farms wanted to hire black people and so they ended up living in an all-black community. Here, Hurston began to learn about black history from her grandmother and others and realized that she wasn't really part of the white world. She also learned how other blacks felt about themselves and their situation.
In school, Hurston was bullied because of her skin color and the abuse she suffered at home. To protect herself, she kept these things secret from everyone except for one friend who believed in her. Eventually, she decided to leave school and start working so she could earn money to move out of this community.
Hurston's motivation for writing "How It Feels to Be Colored Like Me" is to express her satisfaction in being black. She rejects the notion, advanced by many of her black acquaintances during the 1920s Harlem Renaissance, that segregation and racial discrimination hurt the black soul and needed to be addressed. Instead, she believes that blacks have nothing to complain about because they are already blessed with all the things that white people take for granted. Thus, Hurston wants to show other blacks that it is possible to lead a happy life as a black person.
In addition to rejecting racism as a problem, Hurston also rejects other forms of prejudice such as sexism and elitism. In fact, she even states this fact in the opening paragraph of her essay: "There is no word to describe the feeling of being colored like me." By doing so, she is trying to eliminate the idea that only certain types of people can experience racism and allow anyone to relate to her story.
Finally, Hurston writes "How It Feels to Be Colored Me" to offer advice to young blacks on how to deal with racism. She tells them not to worry about what others think of them and their family, but rather focus on achieving their goals in life. Additionally, she urges them not to let racism keep them from enjoying themselves since life should be lived to the fullest.
Expert Answers: Zora Neale Hurston's "How It Feels to Be Colored Me" provides a wonderful look into the author's distinctiveness. The first statement establishes her individualism: 'I am colored, yet I give nothing in the way of mitigating circumstances...' She is aware of who she is. Hurston also notes that being black has its advantages, such as not having to worry about white people liking you or not.
The opening line also implies that she is familiar with other types of people. Since blacks were rarely given writing instruments at this time, many authors used what tools were available to them. Hurston was probably well acquainted with slaves who had been to school with whites; therefore, she uses this phrase to show that she is no different than anyone else.
She feels colored because she is treated differently by society. This could be due to her skin color, but it may also be because she is black. Either way, she understands that she needs to act differently from other people in order to fit in.
Hurston's unique perspective on life comes through in her work. The first sentence of "How It Feels to Be Colored Me" does exactly that- it gives readers insight into how it feels to be her. Even though this story was written over 70 years ago, it still applies today. Many people feel like outsiders because they are black or Hispanic, but Hurston makes us understand that everyone feels this way sometimes.