Free «How It Feels to be Colored Me» Essay
Zora Neale Hurston puts forward a striking and yet a thought provoking piece of writing where she delivers her character as a colored person in a whole new and different way. Where normally being colored means either an African American, Asian and the likes, for Hurston, being colored means being full of life and intriguing emotions. There are reasons that can be associated with Hurston’s positive attitude, some which relate to her childhood and upbringing and some to the kind of person she is, as depicted through her writing.
Hurston’s attitude is what inspires all. While others may live in inferiority of having been born in the lower end of the society, Hurston disregards her origin as anything less than precious. For her, her origin gives her the energy and the spark. She finds her company to be most wholesome for others and expects others to feel the same about her. She enjoys the different characteristic attributes that others (whites) have to offer in person, and she expects to be given the chance to be discovered the same way. She enjoys watching people who are different from herself ever since her childhood and discovers how each person is unique in his or her own way. For her racial differences mean nothing. But as much as she aspires for this fact, she is still confined to fall under the stereotypical assumptions about her. Being accused of having an inferior background, she wonders how the whites are superior, only to find out that her color bestows her with emotions and feelings that no white has or enjoys. Having known that, she is highly esteemed with herself and is contended. Never does she feel depressed of who she is, which was the case with many African Americans for a large number of years owing to the oppressions at the hands of the Native Americans (Baym, 2007).
Why is Hurston so different? One reason could be that she has had a contended and wholesome childhood growing up in a town where she was appreciated for who she was. A person’s childhood plays a vital role in the contentment that resides within during adulthood. Although, having to move to a new town may have disturbed her, but she chose to take it as an adventure and continue to discover new people and understand herself and her worth better in the new environment. It is this very contentment and personal stability that allows a person to set aside emotions of inferiority and complex, move ahead in life and engage in adventures that it offers. And for such contentment, childhood and upbringing plays a vital role. It could be assumed that her parents never lived in inferiority or never allowed her to develop any such complex during her early years of personality development. Easy as it seems to acknowledge this assumption, it may have been very difficult to not pass on the inferiority to the offspring, but they did manage to do a wonderful job with her.
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With her inferiority free upbringing, Hurston only grew up to be fine judge of people and things around her. Through her way of writing a lot can be said about how she perceives the world around her and how her emotions play a part in her observations and judgments (Porter, 1992, p.35). As child she used to wave at the tourists and generously welcome them to her state, where her fellow Oleanders would not attempt to do so (Hurston & Wall, 1995). This depicts her strength to welcome all that is life has in store for her and she did so very fondly, bravely and without any regrets. By the time one finishes reading her thoughts, there is only a feeling of judgment left within to realize and acknowledge as to how colored one is too, in terms of emotions and adventurous attributes like those of Hurston. Having that power to provoke thought makes Hurston personally a remarkable person and a remarkable writer at that.
Hurston’s How it Feels to be Colored Me is not just a plain piece of writing by a black author, it is a writing that gives a whole new meaning to the word ‘colored’. Hurston, through her expressions and life anecdotes brings out the beauty hidden in the word that has for years divided people and restrained them from noticing how wonderful it is to be colored.