illustrated portrait of African American author Zora Neale Hurston

How It Feels to Be Colored Me

by Zora Neale Hurston
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What is the only reason why white people would pass through her town?

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"How It Feels to be Coloured Me" is an essay by the African American writer Zora Neale Hurston about it feels to be "colored" sixty years after emancipation.

In the first part of the essay, Hurston talks about her upbringing in an "exclusively colored town," in Eatonville, Florida. The only white people she said she met during that time were the white people going back and forth from Orlando. As a girl, she learned to differentiate between what she interestingly calls the "native" white people and the "Northern tourist." The natives rode horses through town, while the tourists, obviously a lot richer, drove automobiles.

She states that people, including herself, would go out onto their porches to watch the Northern tourists go past. The northerners were generally friendly and would sometimes wave back to Zora. Some of the traveling entertainers would even give Zora money if she danced for them. The northerners seemed to make enough of an impression on her to convince her to leave Florida for New York City.

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