In the essay How It Feels to Be Colored Me, Zora Hurston demonstrates the love, compassion, and self-confidence that serves as her moral compass. These intrinsic values guide her in a direction that leaves the audience with the unspoken reality what the African American culture has been forced to confront. During her journey, Hurston depicts a strong creation of sense of self and brings awareness to the subject of race and its function in place. Nevertheless, Hurston demonstrates such unique composure and reminds her readers as to what it means to be a human being. We are all intrinsically valuable, and social categorization is simply a social construct of society.
Throughout, Hurston tackles the topic of racial progression and favors an opinion that wouldn’t be supported by her fellow African American’s during this period. She begins to express her love for her race, yet like Booker T. Washington, she doesn’t force blame on the white community for the struggles of slavery. What has happened in the past, is behind society. Yet, since its impossible to forget, why is it so hard for our communities to forgive? Still, Hurston depicts her gratitude for the voyage that she is so willing to embark upon. As she searches for her identity, I as the reader became susceptible to her logic, and understood it clearly. We begin to see some what of a revolutionary view from Hurston, in her idea that we as communities are the ones who separate and discriminate amongst ourselves. She continues by attributing these racial differences to our lack of open mindedness and the failure of society to learn from our history. Rather than embracing our differences we reject them, which leads to potentially lost individuals such as Hurston searching for their individuality.
Growing up in Eatonville, Zora never encountered the issue of wondering who she was, or what it felt like to be unalike. During her essay, she illustrates the occasional interactions that she’d have with the white community, and then the moment that she “became colored.” Originally her only interaction with those of another race was merely entertainment based. She describes how the passerby’s “liked to hear me ‘speak pieces’ and sing and wanted to see me dance the parse-me-la.” Nevertheless, Hurston didn’t feel as though she was putting on a show. She was merely being, Zora. This comfortability that she possessed shows how she didn’t identify her self as a colored girl. Still, is noticeable to her that there are differences, yet she has the tendency to overlook them.
It wasn’t until she moved, at the age of 13, that Hurston finally felt the heaviness that her skin tone burdened her with. But she wasn’t going to let this futile outside influence hinder the drive and determination that she had. Her adventurous personality left her looking forward, and never looking to the past. Hurston conveys how she doesn’t, “belong to the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal.” This largescale view on society shows how she isn’t running away from her African American distinctiveness, yet she’s hurrying towards it. This difference in opinion is somewhat intriguing for me to believe, primarily for the fact that she doesn’t feel victimized by her past. The horrid stories and memories that continuously fight to remain relevant seems to catalyze the resilience that she is so willing to portray. Hurston brings awareness to the subject that she mustn’t let the past dictate who she will become, rather use it to determine who she is.
Near the end of her essay, Hurston plays with an interesting image of equality that we haven’t really seen before in our previous writings. She uses a unique metaphor and describes herself as a colored bag mixed in with other bags, each of a different color. The bags that she is describing are serving as symbols for individuals of different races. She continues by expressing that if we dump these bags, they can be “refilled without altering the content of any greatly.” These contents that Hurston is describing are the memories, values, and characteristics that make us who we are. She distinctively plays with the idea that we are all created equally by the “Great Stuffer of Bags”, and it is time our communities accept this.
The use of such metaphors gives an attractive appeal to the audience by making them contemplate the reality of the subject. Rather than simply expressing her concern with the discrimination that surrounded her, Hurston gives a heartfelt story of her life. Where she succeeded to enforce the realization that she was not born black, yet it is who she became. The point that I feel is important to observe is how she didn’t view herself as colored until she was labeled that way. Throughout numerous generations, we have been forced to face the harsh reality that hate is undoubtedly present. Nevertheless as the years continue to pass, it is the duty of our civilization to crusade down the path of equality in hopes of discovering a universal solution.
I found it quite interesting the way that Hurston expressed her feelings throughout her essay. She is continuously exposing us to the strength of character that she possessed. IN addition, the way that she separates herself from the average African American during this time is astonishing. Hurston is undeniably showing the audience her willingness to blend humanity. Though she realizes discrimination exists, she refuses to comprehend why. Why is it that something so far in the past, is still so relevant in the present? This is the barrier that Hurston is chipping away at. Also, another topic I found attractive was the separation she establishes between other African Americans. Hurston believes that when it comes to something so recognizable yet minor as race, we must distinguish our character based on our own actions rather than those around us.
While reading Hurston’s concepts, I couldn’t help but notice how they relate to the content that we have discussed throughout this semester. We can take her essay and recognize the implication of equality, and everlasting battle that she fights to represent herself rather than the entire African American community. I also interpreted a tremendous amount of metaphors that was widely used in literature during this era. In addition, Hurston believed that black progress was inevitable. Therefore, the undemanding composure that she portrayed in her writing helped soften the tone of her essay rather than aggressively attack the issues that lie within society. Nevertheless, Hurston used an undemanding and tolerant tone that foreshadows the idea that society will eventually find their own identity. In her eyes our self-identification is inevitable, however we must resist the urge to bath in self-pity to find this independence.
Throughout this semester we have read and analyzed numerous literature works and have continuously seen a pattern. We have individuals who don’t let the idea of race dictate their lives, and those who revolve around the topic. However, I don’t feel as though we have seen anything such as Hurston’s work. I read her essay, I was inspired. Not specifically because of her philosophy, but how it still plays a role in our modern-day culture. To this day, race and its relevancy has still managed to stay alive. Nevertheless, could this be an antidote to our differences? With bringing away awareness and implementing the ideas discussed in this essay I believe we can accelerate the destruction of racial disparity. Hurston’s logic should be expressed on a wider scale in hopes of cleaning up the societal toxin that we call racism.