Colorism In Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God

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In Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, the long-lasting effects of slavery have taken a toll on Janie Crawford. Janie’s grandmother was raped by her master and had a child named Leafy. Leafy, although not born into slavery, endured a similar fate, which led her to run away, leaving her mother to raise her child, Janie. Janie’s appearance, showing strong European features, was both praised and shamed by society. This double standard was created by racism and was able to remain present due to segregation. The minds of black people have been brainwashed into thinking that people with more European features are more beautiful. Janie’s appearance models power, reflects society’s hypocrisy, and shows the distinction between the inner…show more content…
To advance in society, the characters must stick together and not attempt to tear each other apart. It is hypocritical for someone to condemn another person for something that they also practice; “colorism and traditional U.S. racism are inextricably intertwined, yet distinct” (Harris 54). However, this demonstrates how racism has influenced the thoughts of those oppressed by it. It is ironic that although Janie is the person with the lightest skin and has grown up in a white household, she does not have these views. The people with darker skin have these colorist views toward her. Mrs. Turner serves as a character foil to Janie. Similarly to Janie, Mrs. Turner also has European features, but they have opposing views towards black people with dark complexions. Mrs. Turner believes that black people with light skin should shun black people with dark skin and should only associate with white people, she believed that “anyone who looked more white folkish than herself was better than she was…[and] they should be cruel to her at times” (Hurston 144). She questions why Janie would marry a dark man like Tea Cake. Mrs. Turner falsely assumes, like the rest of the people form the town, that Janie only married Tea Cake for his money because she could not possibly love him. Janie informs Mrs. Turner that her assumption is incorrect because Tea Cake was not wealthy when they met, and he is the only person that has made her truly
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