According to Hurston in How It Feels to Be Colored Me, how important is race to a person's identity?
In Hurston's story, she attributes the importance of race, or its lack of importance, to context.
She opens the story cheekily:
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 my mother's side was not an Indian chief.
Here, she is poking fun at a common tendency in African-American communities, even up to present day, to claim Native American ancestry. Arguably, the desire to do this may stem from the desire to attribute one's color to something else, something that is not blackness. By saying that she is "the only Negro in the United States" who does not claim this ancestry, she is embraces black identity. In just this one paragraph, Hurston is juxtaposing her embrace of blackness against the tendency to distance oneself from it.
She goes on: "I remember the very day that I became colored." Her childhood in Eatonville, a black Florida village, was blithely "race-free." When your...
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