What does the essay "How It Feels to Be Colored Me" says about belonging to communities and feeling excluded from them?

In "How It Feels to Be Colored Me" by Zora Neale Hurston, the author clarifies that she never felt excluded from any of the communities she has been a part of during her life. In the community of Eatonville, everyone knew her and she had no concept of race. In the community of Jacksonville she learned that she was colored, but she never allowed herself to feel different. As a citizen of the United States, she revels in her freedom.

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The essay "How It Feels to Be Colored Me" by Zora Neale Hurston begins in the small African American community of Eatonville, Florida. For the author, until she was 13 years old and had to go to the city of Jacksonville, this community was her world. Everyone in this community was Black; Hurston writes that "it is exclusively a colored town." As a result, she had no concept of race. This community accepted her as she was, as "everybody's Zora."

All this changed when she left the community of Eatonville for the larger more impersonal community of Jacksonville. Hurston expresses the contrast by explaining that she was no longer just Zora. Instead, she was regarded as a "little colored girl." By the outside city community she was judged not by her personality, but by the color of her skin. She emphasizes, though, that she did not allow this change to negatively affect her.

From these reminiscences, Hurston goes on to explain how she feels about being a member of a still larger community: a citizen of the United States. In her opinion, although she may be the granddaughter of slaves, she is now a free woman and has a right to all of the advantages of any other citizen. She is still reminded of the color differences in society when she finds herself surrounded by white people or when a white person accompanies her to a Black venue, but on other occasions she declares that "I have no race, I am me." She writes:

I have no separate feeling about being an American citizen and colored. I am merely a fragment of the Great Soul that surges within the boundaries.

We see, then, that in this essay Hurston contrasts communities of various sizes as she steps out from her small town to a big city to being a citizen of the United States. She never feels excluded, but always feels a part of each of these communities.

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