“Story Comparison of “The Color of Success” and “How it Feels to Be Colored Me”

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“Story Comparison of “The Color of Success” and “How it Feels to Be Colored Me”

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Compare two stories: “Story Comparison of “The Color of Success” and “How it Feels to Be Colored Me”

“Story Comparison of the color of success” and “How it Feels to Be Colored Me”

The papers “Color of success” and “How it Feels to Be Colored Me” have some similarities and differences. The Color of Success was written by Eric A. Watts while How it Feels to Be Colored Me was written by Zora Neale Hurston. This paper explains the main themes permeating the two stories. It highlights the themes of attitude of black inferiority, racial prejudice and the success of Blacks.


Black Inferiority

Eric A. Watts, in his The Color of Success reports rampant racial discrimination during his time in a White high school (Watts, 2003). Just like Zora, he did not pay much attention to the stereotypes as much as he worked hard to prove that Blacks are intelligent also. Watts states that characters such as hard work, diligence, initiative, keeping time and articulateness were considered White in nature. The Blacks feel that they are inferior to Whites and that they are meant to fail in what they do. Blacks would call anybody who is diligent, hard-working and excellent in academics White. Such accusations not only discourage other Blacks but they also make it hard for them to move from their comfort zones.

In How It Feels to Be Colored Me, Zora explains how the Blacks felt inferior to the Whites. Growing up in a time of widespread racial oppression from the Whites, Zora did not immerse herself in the miasma of self-pity (Xroads, 2018). As a child, she could still do something for the Whites. She could sing and get rewarded, only to be reprimanded by the Blacks who thought that they were inferior. She worked hard to show that the intelligence of the Blacks is equal to that of the Whites. She considered every human being equal in the sight of God who packages human attributes to our minds. In a time of inequality between the Whites and the lacks, Zora showed courage and peculiarity. Watts states that the attitude of Blacks is the leading cause of their failures.


Racial Prejudice and Oppression

Racial prejudice has always existed in the American history. During the time of Zora, racial oppression was prevalent and slightly higher than it is today. In How It Feels to Be Colored Me, Zora explains that continuous oppression did not deter her from academic excellence. Racial prejudice from the Whites helped her realize that she was Black at the age of thirteen years. Apart from the oppression she felt in school, there is no evidence to suggest societal oppression from other races (Xroads, 2018). Contrary to the expectations, she faced oppression from other Blacks who felt that what she was doing was “more White”. The Blacks in her neighborhood felt that her interaction with the White passers-by was unnecessary since the Blacks felt inferior even before they were oppressed.

According to Watts, racial prejudice is not as prevalent as in the past. Although there are many socio-economic barriers that prevent Blacks from realizing their full potential, Blacks should not use the premise of racial discrimination to justify their failure (Watts, 2003). He urges Blacks to step out of their inferiority complex and stop justifying their failures on racial oppression. They should not fail in class, drop out of school and fail in life and blame it on the Whites. Watts assures the Blacks that success is for all people regardless of the discrimination. Since he and Zora succeeded amidst all odds, any Black can also succeed.


Attitude of Successful Blacks

Watts’ The Color of Success notes how the Blacks were the architects of their woes. Just like Zora, Watts went against all odds to act as Whites (Watts, 2003). During his time, speaking fluently, scoring high marks, sending much time in reading, going to the library and succeeding in life were all seen as attributes of the Whites. On the other hand, Zora Hurston’s voice affirms that she is one of the most successful Blacks in a time when the success of Blacks was unheard of. In fact, she states that she does not remember about her color until somebody reminds her. Furthermore, at the beginning of the story, Zora notes that she did not realize that she was Black until she reached thirteen years old and in an environment of White majority.

Instead of getting demoralized due to rampant discrimination in her lifetime, she dedicated her time to prove to the world that Blacks can excel in what they do. Watts affirms that a positive attitude, like that of Zora distinguishes her from the rest of the Blacks who feel inferior to the Whites (Xroads, 2018). Through her self-determination and positivity, Zora coped with bad experiences in a school dominated by Whites which made her self-confidence to grow. Unlike her Black counterparts, discrimination did not make her angry. Zora describes all human beings as equal by virtue of being human. The fact that some people have a different color does not make them less of human beings. Finally, Zora describes her happiness as a result of being herself in everything she does. Zora’s story depicts a visionary Black role model who defied the forces of racial discrimination to excel in life (Xroads, 2018).



Both “The Color of Success” and “How it Feels to Be Colored Me” have the themes of racial discrimination, the success of Blacks amidst odds and Black inferiority. Watts and Zora come out as visionary role models who excel amidst all odds. Instead of listening to discouraging remarks from their Black counterparts, they worked hard and proved that Blacks can also succeed in life. Their stories prove the fact that racial discrimination is not a greater impediment to success as the inferior attitude of Blacks towards their success.



Xroads Virginia. (2018). How It Feels to Be Colored MeXroads.virginia.edu. Retrieved 27 March 2018, from http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ma01/grand-jean/hurston/chapters/how.html

Watts Eric (2003). The Color of Success. The Norton Sampler, 6th Edition. Ed. Thomas Cooley. New, York, NY: W. W. Norton and Company, 2003. 140- 143

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