What Is the Summary of “How It Feels to Be Colored Me”?

In “How It Feels to Be Colored Me,” author Zora Neale Hurston recounts how her family’s move from Eatonville, Florida to Jacksonville, Florida affected her sense of self and identity. This autobiographical short story has several themes, such as the effects of racial segregation, cultural identify and community, states About.com.

Hurston begins “How It Feels to Be Colored Me” by recounting how, as a child, she used to sit on her front porch and watch white people pass through town. The only way she differentiated them from her was the fact that they passed through town and she lived there. Hurston mentions how the community she called home was where she was known simply as “everybody’s Zora.”

Things changed when her family moved to Jacksonville and she began attending school. At that point, she took on the identity of a “colored girl.” Hurston explains how Eatonville was a “colored town,” so her identity remained constant. It was not until she was “thrown against a white background” in Jacksonville that she realized the differences between herself and others.

Hurston concludes the story by simultaneously reaffirming difference and rejecting it. She points out how the same difference is apparent when a white person is “thrown against a colored background.” The final paragraph states Hurston’s belief that everyone is more than their race. She rejects difference by pointing out that aside from her race, she is an American just like the white people she used to watch pass through her home town.