Zora Neale Hurston’s, How it Feels to be Colored Me

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"How it Feels to be Colored Me" was written in 1928. Zora, growing up in an all-black town, began to take note of the differences between blacks and whites at about the age of thirteen. The only white people she was exposed to were those passing through her town of Eatonville, Florida, many times going to or coming from Orlando. The primary focus of "How it Feels to be Colored Me" is the relationship and differences between blacks and whites.

In the early stages of Zora's life, which are expressed in the beginning of "How it Feels to be Colored Me," black and whites had little difference in her eyes. She didn't even seems to differentiate between the two until her early teens. She says, "I remember the very day I became colored." Before this time, she cites the only difference being that "[white people] rode through town and never lived there." During this part of her work, Zora is showing her childhood view that whites and blacks are no different from one another. This view changes as a result of her being sent to a school in Jacksonville. Now being outside her town of Eatonville, she began to experience what it was like to be colored.

"But I am not tragically colored," she says. Zora makes it a point to show how she is not ashamed to be colored. At this point she seems to attack whites who continue to point out that she is the granddaughter of slaves by saying that blacks are moving forward. "The terrible struggle that made me an American out of a potential slave said 'on the line!' The reconstruction said 'Get ready!'; and the generation before said 'Go!'" Blacks have the opportunity to advance, and they should make the most of it. "I am off to a flying start and I must not halt in the stretch to look behind and weep." She refuses to stay bound by the memory of slavery and by the fact that she is black.

"I feel most colored when I am thrown against a sharp white background." This same feeling is also related to a white person being set against the background of colored people. Unlike her childhood views, she now sees a difference between whites and blacks. This is explained by the reaction of each to a jazz orchestra at a Harlem night club.

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