Why doesn't being the granddaughter of slaves cause feelings of depression in Zora?

As she describes in "How It Feels to Be Colored Me," being the granddaughter of slaves does not cause feelings of depression in Zora Neale Hurston because slavery ended sixty years before she wrote her essay. She prefers to focus on the present possibilities all around her to enjoy life and achieve "glory."

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Zora Neale Hurston states she is always being reminded she is the granddaughter of slaves. She says this does not leave her depressed because slavery ended sixty years ago. She notes that a war was fought to end it, and then Reconstruction gave Black people a chance to get ahead; now, there is nothing to do but move forward.

Hurston also compares being rid of slavery to surgery. An operation has occurred, and the "patient," she says, is "doing well."

Hurston is putting the past behind her and trying not to let it hold her back. She reasons that her ancestors' enslavement was the price of her gaining access to western culture, which she calls "civilization," and she says it was not anything she had any control over. She is simply glad now to be living where she is. Describing her life, she writes,

It is a bully adventure and worth all that I have paid through my ancestors for it.

In the middle of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, in which there was an unprecedented surge of creative output, Hurston is focusing on the present moment and the chance she sees to achieve "glory" in a nation that is finally looking at Black people's creative accomplishments.

Hurston is pushing back against the way other Harlem Renaissance artists and activists were bringing up the unfinished business of freedom. These other artists chose to focus on the brutal and unfair treatment experienced by Black people. Many in the Black community likely disagreed with this essay's stance, seeing it as a denial of the reality of racism and as a tool white people could use to argue that Black people had the same opportunities as white people and did not need further social justice.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 18, 2021
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