The Veil, And Double Consciousness

1154 Words Mar 5th, 2015 5 Pages
Tesla Teed
The Americas
Professor Barbara Morris
29 February 2015
Zora Neale Hurston, the Veil, and Double Consciousness
“How It Feels to Be Colored Me” is an essay written in 1928 by Zora Neale Hurston, one of the most prominent writers of the Harlem Renaissance. Her essay replies to and attempts to deconstruct two concepts from an equally prominent Harlem Renaissance writer’s novel, W.E.B. DuBois’s The Souls of Black Folk. These concepts are “the veil” and “double consciousness”. Even though she does recognize the existence of the veil and double consciousness, Zora claims that she doesn’t feel a “warring of two souls” between her blackness and Americanness, and instead, she expresses her refusal to be defined by any single aspect of her identity, and asserts her individualism as being more salient than any racial or national ties.
The notion of becoming conscious of race is presented early in the essay, as Hurston recounts her childhood in Florida. Hurston describes growing up in Eatonville, Florida, an “exclusively… colored town”, save for white tourists. She depicts reveling in the spotlight of her front porch, telling jokes, greeting people, and entertaining. She perceived almost no difference between herself and the white travelers except that “they rode through the town and never lived there”. However, upon leaving Eatonville and moving to Jacksonville, Hurston’s race becomes the fundamental aspect of her perceived identity:
When I disembarked from the riverboat at…
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