What does Hurston say about identity in "How It Feels to Be Colored Me"? How does she use the term "colored" and for what purpose?

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teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "How It Feels to Be Colored Me," Hurston uses the term "colored" to refer to an aspect of her identity as a person of color.  But she uses the term to signify the moments in which she is made to feel different from others, particularly different from white people.  At the beginning of the essay, Hurston says that she did not identify as a person of color while she lived in Eatonville because most of the other people who lived there were also of color, and even the local whites did not make her feel negatively different.  She was "everybody's Zora."  However, when she moved to Jacksonville at the age of 13, she begin to experience racism and discrimination, and suddenly her identity became that of a person of color.  Later in the essay, Hurston says that there is a part of her that has no race--that is the essential part of her and the part that is her truest identity.  However, she says that she cannot dwell in this identity exclusively given the state of race relations in America.

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How It Feels to Be Colored Me

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