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

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How do you respond to the conception of race with which Hurston ends her essay "How It Feels to Be Colored Me"?

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Zora Neale Hurston's 1928 essay, "How It Feels to be Colored Me," ends with an image of various different colored bags propped against a wall. If you were to pour out the contents of the bags, you would find in each one a similar "jumble of small things priceless and worthless." The point is clear. It is the same one that Dr. Martin Luther King was to make decades later: the color of a person's skin tells you nothing about the content of his of her character.

In the 1920s or, for that matter, the 1960s, this straightforward approach to racial equality was the standard anti-racist position. Now, however, many people who consider themselves anti-racist would take issue with Hurston's view. They would argue that to disregard race entirely after centuries of inequality and oppression is itself a racist attitude. A white person who has profited from generations of colonialism, slave labor, and segregation and is now in a privileged position ought not to claim equality with a black person who...

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