Textual Analysis Of How It Feels To Be Colored Me By Zora Neale Hurston

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

In the article “How it Feels to be Colored me”, Zora Neale Hurston argues that the real reason that make African American live in a negative way is not their color or their ethnicity, instead, there is something wrong in the way they deal with certain racial discrimination and sometimes they stick on the history of their race and feel guilty of their race and always think themselves as an freed but inferior ethnicity. She writes that when she is at her age of thirteen, she does not feel discriminated because she lives in an all-black community in Eatonville, Florida. All the whites there are those who pass through the town. However, she starts to be conscious of her color when she moves to another mixed-races place in Jacksonville, but that do not make her feel inferior to the whites or lose her pursuit of self-esteem. The moments that make herself feel she is different with whites are when her race make her out-stand under some particular circumstances such as her exciting reaction to the music at jazz club compared to her white friend who is “sitting motionless in his seat, smoking calmly” and when she was reminded that “she is the granddaughter of slaves”. She ends up the writing by saying that people with different races are bags with different colors. Although the colors of the bags are different, but what is inside of the bags is similar and the contents inside the bags are more important than their appearance.

In the whole article, Hurston supports her argument by telling her own experience. She never considers herself as one of the “sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal and whose feelings are all but about it.” She does not believe that her race naturally gave her race some kind of curse or seal which makes her race be dirty or inferior when she was born. Also, she heavily relies on her own thoughts toward the truth of some issues instead of listening to others’ bias. She does not care about what others are saying about her race. She suggests that all the races are equal and that slavery is sixty years in the past” and the involuntary servitude of black people is the cost that her ancestors pay for the civilization. Hurston describes her experience as an adventure to pursue glory for her race. She believes that in the eyes of American whites, what she does will essentially represents the image of all the African-Americans. Through her behavior, she “shall get twice as much praise or twice as much blame.” Although it is unfair for the African American because they are not considered as individuals, Hurston is ready to represent her group as a confident and ambitious “little colored girl.”

She also writes that under some circumstances, like staying in a large group of whites in her college, she actually feels colored. In the article, she describes herself among thousands of whites as “a dark rock” in the river but still remain herself. Through this example, she emphasizes that the different between the white and black is enforced when one individual stays in a group which made up by a great deal of people of other races. However, she does not feel “tragically colored” because she considers herself as a African American who is trying to reinforce the equality between two races and fight for the glory of her race with an image of solidity among all those whites. Hurston tells a story about bringing one of her white friends to the black jazz club. As the band plays, she feels like returning to a primitive tribe and her emotion is inspired by the rhythm of the music, which makes her want to “slaughter something–give pain, give death to what.” When she looks at her white friend, she is surprised that he is sitting on his seat emotionless and smoking calmly and seemed not be influenced by the music at all. Through this experience, she realizes that there are some differences on both ethnicities, but she thinks that these differences could not become the reason that makes black people subordinate to the whites, instead, these differences will become her talents that help herself to stay in the white community.

Hurston does not want to be restricted by her race. She is always confidence and claims herself as a woman with no race. When she is strolling on the Seventh Avenue in Harlem City. She feels like she is “as snooty as the lions in front of the Forty-Second Street Library”. When she undergoes racial discrimination from others, she never feels angry or astonished. She is always indifferent to those prejudice from racists because their opinions do nothing with her own business.

In the end, she describes herself as a “brown bag” among all the bags with other colors. Each one of the bags contains “a jumble of small things priceless and worthless.” Here Hurston used metaphor to refer her understanding of different colors of people by mentioning the different colors of bags. The colors of the bags correspond with the skin color and the outward appearance of people, and the different miscellany represent each person’s ideology, personality, and their talents. All these different kinds of things inside the bags are wonderful and fascinated, but all of these are under the surface of the bags and they cannot be easily found through one’s appearance. However, a person’s race cannot make him or her great, it is what inside that person makes him or her precious and important to others.


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