How It Feels To Be Colored Me By Zora Neale Hurston

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In her essay "How it Feels to Be Colored Me", Zora Neale Hurston offers the reader an inspiring and positive stance on how she views America's brutal past of racism. She describes herself not even realizing she was colored until she had turned thirteen years old (1). She was born innocent like every other child as we can see when she says "During this period, white people differed from colored to me only in that they rode through town and never lived here." (2). With the use of vivid metaphors and colloquial language she expresses her project as showing the reader that it is possible to overcome the highly negative psychological effects of racism. Knowing the circumstances she was born into as a black female, and knowing the circumstances she lived through to write this essay in 1928, is astonishing. Similarly, in a letter to his nephew "My Dungeon Shook", James Baldwin describes, with more brutally honest language, the crippling effects of racism within our country. His diction within the letter like "defeated," "survived," and "destroyed" show his emotional stance on the significance of racism within our society(1,2). This letter is intended to present tips of surviving racism to his 15 year old nephew, but by adding the last paragraph it does much more than that. This letter was written on the 100 year anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and Baldwin writes "You know, and I know, that the country is celebrating one hundred years of freedom one hundred years too soon," which, although I am white and do not feel the pain first hand, causes a distressing feeling for me knowing racism is still widely evident in our country (4). The difference between the projects of these two writers is that Hurston focuses on describing how she is able to transcend racism as an individual, while Baldwin describes that transcending racism must be done within society as a whole. A key metaphor that shows Hurston's mindset is her writing "No, I do not weep at the world--I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife" (2). She writes that she is "not tragically colored" and does not "belong to the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal and whose feelings are
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