On Being Young-a Woman-and Colored


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Marita Bonner starts her short essay by describing the joys and innocence of youth. She depicts the carefree fancies of a cheerful and intelligent child. She compares the feelings of such abandonment and gaiety to that of a kitten in a field of catnip. Where the future is opened to endless opportunities and filled with all the dream and promises that only a youth can know. There are so many things in the world to see, learn, and experience that your mind in split into many directions of interest. This is a memorable time in life filled with bliss and lack of hardships.

Then the story slowly slides into a time of testing all you've learned with `acid testing', moment to see if what you learned is truly somehow connected and a part of you. Where you realize that "All your life you have heard of the debt you owe `Your People' because you have managed to have the things they have not largely had." In other words, for a colored person, your life was quite blessed in a time filled with the ignorance of racism. While you lived a splendid life, others who are colored suffered great hardships just for the color of their skin. Since you were lucky, you should give something back to the colored community so that others may be afforded a life such as yours.

At this point of the story it is reflective of a teenager. A teenager is at a time in life where boundaries and knowledge is merely a challenging thing to test and in some instances hurdled. Where even though you may realize the responsibilities and resources you have, there is still a longing for the more sunny feelings of youth.

Marita then speaks of how you feel more like a `prodigal' if you have never lived among your own. That you feel like a phenominum because you were not raised among other people of your color. If I may be as so bold to assume to compare the feeling to that of what Phillis Wheatley must have felt.

Then a description of the education of one's heritage and the culture becomes somewhat overwhelming. The culture and passion of the people are so great she describes it almost like an ocean current that is warm and strong that flows within the people and seems to just pull you in.

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Such an experience is mixed with a multitude of negative things that one is not only overwhelmed but has a distinct moment of being dragged down, tangled up, and unable to free one's self. There is now a reality where the character of a person is not established by intelligence, skills, or morals, but on hatred and bias beliefs for having colored skin. Marita depicts a life where " Milling around like live fish in a basket. Those at the bottom crushed into a sort of stupid apathy by the weight of those on top. Those on top leaping, leaping; leaping to scale the sides; to get out. These sentences is that of someone who has


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