How It Feels to Be Colored Me Questions and Answers
by Zora Neale Hurston

How It Feels to Be Colored Me book cover
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From the beginning, Hurston startles us: "I remember the very day that I became colored." Why does Hurston insist that one becomes colored? What happened on that day to make her so?

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The shift that occurs for Hurston's younger self was not really felt until she was thirteen and sent to Jacksonville to attend school. She writes, as follows:

"I left Eatonville, the town of the oleanders, as Zora. When I disembarked from the river-boat at Jacksonville, she was no more...I was not Zora of Orange County any more, I was now a little colored girl. I found it out in certain ways. In my heart as well as in the mirror. I became a fast brown -- warranted not to rub nor run."

In Eatonville, a small, predominately black town where black people were marginal but known by the whites who passed through, she is left alone to be herself -- even though that sense of self concerns the black people around her. She makes a note of this when she recalls singing and dancing for whites in exchange for dimes. She recalls how the colored people "deplored any joyful tendencies in me, but I was their Zora nevertheless." She is an innocent, unaware of how her song-and-dance routines satisfy white...

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