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

How It Feels to Be Colored Me book cover
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Why is race important in How it Feels to Be Colored Me?  

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Race is extremely important in Zora Neale Hurston’s essay, “How it Feels to Be Colored Me” because the essay deals with the social construct of race, racism, and maintaining one’s cultural identity.

She begins the essay with, “I am colored but I offer nothing in the way of extenuating circumstances except the fact that I am the only Negro in the United States whose grandfather on the mother's side was not an Indian chief.” Immediately, Hurston jokes about one of the ways she sees African Americans classify themselves, referring to the cultural joke that African Americans like to include being Indian as part of their cultural identity. Unlike most African Americans, Hurston suggests she is 100% black (colored), a fact she did not realize until she was thirteen.

She states, “I remember the very day that I became colored.” Hurston then begins a series of incidents that help to form her awareness as a black person. “Up to my thirteenth year I lived in the little Negro town...

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