How It Feels To Be Colored Me And Other Works By Zora Hurston

April 27, 2022 by Essay Writer

Zora Neal Hurston was an American author, Folklorist, and Anthropolist. Zora published fifty plays, essays, short stories, and four novels. She was born on January 7, 1891 in Notasulga, Alabama, as the child of Lucy Ann and John Hurston. She was raised in a household with seven other children being the fifth child. Her mother was a school teacher while her father was a Baptist preacher, carpenter, and tenant farmer. When Zora was three years old her family moved to Eatonville, Florida which was one of the first all-African American towns. Zora loved Eatonville because it was an all-African American town and everyone had the opportunity to do as they pleased. Zara was a very well educated African American woman. She attended several different colleges, Morgan College, Howard University, and Columbia University. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology. She always traveled the world to different placed such as Haiti and Jamaica. She got married twice, neither marriage lasted long she divorced in both marriages. She never had children as well.

In 1928 Zora Neal Hurston published the essay “How It Feels to Be Colored Me” that title itself makes people mind wonder what exactly Zora is elaborating on in the essay. When I first read the title I automatically thought Zora was going to discuss some issues she face being an African American woman. As I read more of the essay I revealed my thoughts of the essay was totally off track. The essay is very interesting and somewhat amazing. Now I will be exploring and going into full detail about the essay being about. Not only will I do that I will be examining three professional literary scholars/critics about the essay “How It Feels to Be Colored Me”.

During some researching I found an article titled “Sugar Cane and Sugar Beets: Two Tales of Burning Love” by Dennnis Cutchins. In this article Clutchins put writing up from an African American writer and strong advocate for equal rights by the name of Richard Wright said something about Hurtson’s novels. Richard Wright implied that Hurton’s novels “Carries no theme, no, message, no thought”. I totally disagree with him because Hurston writing to me seems like she like somethings from African American culture such as jazz, but she is embarrassed to be African American. The reason I got that idea is because in her essay she stated how when she was in a basement sitting next to a white person while jazz was being played. Zora stated these words “I dance wildly inside myself, I whoop; I shake my assegai above my head, I hurl it true to the mark yeeeooww”. I felt Zora wanted to get up and dance to the Jazz music like no one was watching her but because as she claim she was sitting next to a white person who was “Motionless” maybe she thought if she got up danced the way she was dancing in her head that person would judge her style of dancing. If she wanted to dance to the jazz music it should have never mind what the person next to her was doing she should have got up and worried about what she really wanted to do and that’s dance.

Finger-Snapping to Train-Dancing and Black Again: The Development of a Jazz style in African American Prose by Alan J. Rice was another journal I read through. In this journal Rice seems to be concluding Hurston is making fun of Caucasian culture and the stereotype Caucasians say about African American people. In her essay “How It Feels to Be Colored Me”. He feels that way because of the line in the essay that Hurston wrote “The orchestra grows rum and attacks the tonal veil with primitive fury, rending it, clawing it until it breaks through to the jungle beyond”…… “I am in the jungle and living in a jungle way”. That line meant “White people believed that whatever the manners, under every dark skin was a jungle”. (Hurston “Beloved” novel) To me that mean Caucasian people believe African American people acts like wild animals living in the jungle. I do not think Hurston was making fun of Caucasian stereotype because she should have never put herself in the situation that someone else labeled African Americans, especially because it was seen as a bad thing. People may argue that she was trying to show humor in her essay but to me everything is not funny. That’s like if I was born with no arms or legs and I made a statement saying “I feel like a snake in the jungle”. If that example I made was true about myself, I should never played with myself in that type of way for the simple fact I was not blessed with arms and legs and some people who are the same have low self-esteem issues about that situation.

The last article I reviewed is called Reaching Across Barriers by Evelyn C. White. In this article Evelyn discussed a book called “Hope and Dignity: Older Black Women of the South” by two white women by the names of Emily Herring Wilson and Susan Mullay. These two women focused on the works of Black Women in the south. Zara was featured in the book because she “Managed to love herself while in the grip of society’s wrenching teeth, in the face of all adversity”. (Stated in the book) I do not think Zora loved herself because why she would want to just label herself as an individual. She should have been proud to label herself as an African American writer because she was a woman which women did not get much respect and she was African American plus she was great at writing. She would also never feel slavery was the reason she got to where she was.

I really did not see Hurston trying to imply that she does not want her skin color to label who she really is when I read the essay. In fact I got the idea she should be proud of her skin color/race. I especially hated when she announced “Slavery is the price I paid for civilization” because that was a harsh price African Americans had to go through to receive civilization. No one should have to pay for civilization especially from force. Slaves did not as too come to America they was forced to America. Then Zora goes on stating “Slavery is 60 years in the past” which to mean seem like she is saying no one should care about slavery anymore because it is over with. Punishment that harsh people can never get over even if they did not actually go through slavery themselves, our ancestors did and we should still be upset that they did. That does not mean I’m saying be angry at every Caucasian person you run across, what I’m saying is be angry with the Caucasian people who still feel the need to though out Racial comments. I am not racist I have a great grandfather who is one-hundred percent Caucasian and a great grandmother who is African American and Caucasian. Slavery is just something I will never forget even though I was not in that position myself. I get customers at my job being racist to me all the time it does not make me angry to the point where I just want to kill that person. It makes me angry inside and I always think in the back of my mind why would that person get in my line for me to ring them out if they did not like me. Zora Neal Hurston essay was not exciting to me it was interesting because I would never think a African American person would say some of the things she said in the essay. I really like her short story “Sweat” better than this essay it had more meaning to it and it help readers understand that karma is real. People should do unto others as they want to be done unto themselves.


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