How It Feels to Be Colored Me by Zora Neale Hurston

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Zora Neale Hurston’s essay, How It Feels To Be Colored Me, is a personal reflection on her life as a colored woman. She describes growing up in the all-colored town of Eatonville, Florida, where the whites were only passing through. Despite this, Zora enjoyed talking and performing for them and did not see them as different from herself. She describes herself as everybody’s Zora and felt like she belonged to everyone in the town. Zora then talks about leaving Eatonville and becoming just another colored girl in Jacksonville. However, she embraces her skin color and does not see it as a disadvantage. Zora uses a metaphor of paper bags filled with different contents to describe how everyone is different but still one. The essay is inspiring and appeals to emotion and character, making the reader feel what Zora feels about her life and experiences. The thesis of the essay is that she is colored, but that’s not all she is.

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“How It Feels To Be Colored Me” is a piece by Zora Neale Hurston that explores her personal perspective on her identity as a person of color. In the writing, Zora reflects on her experiences living in Eatonville, Florida, an all-Black town where white people were only occasional visitors. While others in the town ignored these passing individuals, Zora found pleasure in interacting with them and entertaining them. She believed that skin color did not separate or define people; she saw everyone as equal.

Zora perceives herself as the “everyone’s Zora”, and feels a sense of belonging to all; the blacks, whites, and every part of the town. When she turned thirteen, she had to leave Eatonville for Jacksonville. She no longer belonged to her town, but was just another colored girl. However, she doesn’t see herself as “tragically colored”. She embraces her skin color and doesn’t view it as a disadvantage or a reminder of her ancestors’ slavery. Zora then metaphorically compares life to a group of paper bags of different colors filled with various contents. In this analogy, she sees herself as a brown paper bag among the others.

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If the contents of the bags were emptied and refilled, not much would change. The author concludes by suggesting that perhaps the “Great Stuffer of Bags” intentionally made the bags and their contents that way. I believe this metaphor refers to God. I thoroughly enjoyed this essay. The author’s descriptive writing painted a vivid picture in my mind, allowing me to visualize every scene she described on her life journey. Her enthusiasm for embracing her life and her unique skin color was truly inspiring.

Living in the world by taking what some may consider a disadvantage in life and turning it into a benefit is a great way to live. The metaphor of bags filled with miscellaneous contents is also enjoyable. Though everyone is different, when put together and mixed, we become one. The thesis of the essay can be found in its very first sentence: “I am colored but I offer nothing in the way of extenuating circumstances except the fact that I am the only Negro in the United States whose grandfather on the mother’s side was not an Indian chief.” These first four words set the essay’s tone, emphasizing that being colored is just one aspect of the author’s identity. The essay aligns with the readings from “Everything’s an Argument” as it appeals to emotion and character. It may not be an argument itself, but it still appeals to emotions or pathos by evoking the author’s feelings about her life and colored experiences. Additionally, the essay establishes a connection to character or ethos by describing the author and allowing the reader to identify with her through descriptive writing.

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How It Feels to Be Colored Me by Zora Neale Hurston. (2017, Jan 22). Retrieved from

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