How It Feels to Be Colored Me, by Zora Neale Hurston

1. Does this essay speak to you in any way?

I can’t believe how people discriminate against others according to the color of their skin. To me this sounds insane. I can’t hold back myself to repeat the words of Celaleddin I. Rumi who lived most of his life and passed away in Konya, Turkey as an example through his religion and wisdom.  “We are the light of God. We are God’s mirror “(IMF).  I think these sentences will be a good answer to people who like to judge individuals just by looking at the color of their skin. The kinds of people who like to ignore individuals by looking at their color are usually miserable.  Everything in the world is beautiful to me because you can see the sign of God everywhere.  Just looking at appearances of people you can’t see their complete beauty. What is the definition of beauty?  Beauty is not the visible piece for me.  The World is very colorful with different colors of people, languages and religions. No matter which one you are. The important thing is your heart, behavior, love, and mercy. Some of these bullies show love to animals but discriminate against people according to their skin color. What a contrast this is.   This means nothing to me. It is not love. Their heart is empty like a robot and tries to cheat themselves by loving animals.  If a person has mercy, this feeling will grow like unstoppable waves and it will be enough to love everything. Everything starts with the family. When a baby is born to world, he or she is like fresh dough. Parents start to give the shape. This means what kids learn in their family; it affects their judgment, ethics, and how to behave people. Buddhism tells us to “Treat someone the way you wanted to be treated”. People sometimes live selfishly and as individuals. When someone profiles another person, even though they see the treatment in front of their eyes most of the time they still don’t react. But when the same thing happens to them, they start to understand the issue. Nonetheless, racial discrimination will continue in the world. As a religious person I believe this treatment is an exam for the ones. Humans still have time to pass the exam.

2. What do you notice about her choice of word, her image, and her tone?

     I noticed Hurston chose colorful words, imagery and figurative language to take the reader with her on the journey. Her essay is both narrative and descriptive. She used conversational tone as well as a lively informal tone. Hurston said she didn’t consider herself “tragically colored” and began to use metaphors. She is too busy “sharpening her oyster knife “to stop and think about the pain discrimination may cause, and as a “dark rock surged upon” she emphasized she became all the stronger due to the many hardships that she has had to endure. Hurston does, however, admit moments when she feels her racial difference, and her experience with a friend at a jazz club marks the distance between their lives.

       In the last paragraph of the essay, Hurston makes up an extended metaphor in which she compares herself to a brown bag stuffed with random bits and pieces. She compares all people to different colored bags that, if emptied into a large pile and re-stuffed, would not be much changed, suggesting that people of varying races are essentially of the same human character.  Hurston concludes by affirming that “the Great Stuffer of Bags,” the Creator, may have fashioned people in this way from the very beginning. Hence, Hurston fosters a perspective that looks beyond pride in one’s race to pride in one’s self.

3. How about you?  Was there a time in your life you were suddenly aware of differences in people?  How did you feel about it?      

       When I graduated from high school, I went to Germany to visit our family friend. It was a very interesting experience and the first time I left my country to see another part of the world. I was very excited to use the English that I studied for seven years as a second language.  After flying to Stuttgart, I arrived in the town Schwetzingen. It was a quiet place. Only during the weekends did I have chance to see people around having fun. Otherwise they went to work during the week and the stores close early. I felt very good knowing a new culture.  I wanted to learn how they lived and what kinds of food they liked to eat.  Everything was going perfect until I had my first experience to use the English language at a post office. After a long time later, I could still remember that day like it was yesterday. With all my confidence I required to buy telephone card from the officer who was in charge. He answered me in German and didn’t even look at me. I didn’t understand anything. Something was weird. I felt so bad. I told him that I didn’t know German. I repeated my question and smiled at him. He was like a robot with no reaction on his face. That was the first time I felt terrible in my life like I didn’t know what to do. For a second I traveled to my inside and started to talk by myself like an insane person.  I thought my teachers didn’t teach me the language correctly. I started to feel I am not normal. Finally, I turned back to the world, tried to communicate with the person by signing. My cheeks turned to red. The officer pushed me hard. Actually, it was very easy to figure out what can I want to buy from post office.  I was very young to understand what was going on during this situation. All that moment I thought I was the problem. Later, when I shared the circumstance with our family friend, she laughed for a second and explains the reason why that officer pretended not to understand me. In that town people were very nationalist. Even though, they know English, they acted like they didn’t understand anything. The purpose of this was to make the person use their own language. I got shock when I heard this reality. So it wasn’t about my English. That was the moment in my life I felt so suddenly that I was different to people. It was a very interesting experience in my life.

Work cited

Hurston, Zora Neal, How it Feels to Be Colored Me, grammer.about.com, Web, 26 Mar 2011

International Mevlana Foundation (IMF), www.mevlanafoundation.com, Web, 27 Mar 2011

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