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

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What is Zora Neale Hurston's view on slavery as she relays in How it Feels to Be Colored Me?

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Lynn Ramsson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Hurston acknowledges slavery and the trials of her slave ancestors, but she does not carry any kind of social or emotional burden related to the history of slavery. In fact, she seems determined to refuse to carry this burden, as her tone in this essay is almost humorous and definitely insistent. She maintains that her responsibilities to live positively as a "colored woman" are fully in the present, having little to do with the past.

Hurston uses interesting metaphors to convey her certainty about her own perception of her position in American society. She compares the general population of post-slavery African Americans to a post-operation patient who is healing and recovering nicely. She is joyous in describing her life as an "adventure," and she seems to enjoy the scrutiny she must endure as a black woman doing what she is doing in "the center of the national stage."

Hurston appears inspired by the dark history of slavery but not in an angry or vengeful way. Instead, she seems to have chosen to embrace her position—one that was earned for her by her slave ancestors. However, her position is not one that she must regret or be troubled by in any way at all.

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cneukam1379 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In paragraph 7, Hurston discusses her views on slavery. First, she says that slavery is in the past, and even though it's been 60 years since its end in the Civil War, people continue to remind her that she is "the grand daughter of slaves." Hurston sees slavery as a means to her end as an American, however, and while she appreciates the struggles that her ancestors suffered, she is living in her moment. In fact, Hurston says,

Slavery is the price I paid for civilization, and the choice was not with me. It is a bully adventure and worth all that I have paid through my ancestors for it. No one on earth ever had a greater chance for glory.

Hurston sees this moment in the 1920s and the Harlem Renaissance as her moment to shine, and she is excited to be at the center of all it, whether she succeeds or fails.

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