The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

The Consequences of the Faded Color Line in

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. contends "race" is not itself a natural entity, rather a synthetic construct used to degrade certain peoples. He implores society to move forward free from the shackles of categorization, liberating itself from a false reality. While this commentary holds significant merit and noble intention, its excessively utopian core fails to take into account the great inability of society's members to overcome its long-held values and beliefs. Undeniably, humanity sees through a shaded lens, and, though the race schism may be of artificial rather than biological origins, it very much has and still shapes the world we live in. In no work is the color line so uniquely scaled as it is in James Weldon Johnson's The Autobiography of an Ex-colored Man. The subject of the story is the benefactor of a societal anomaly: he is able to oscillate and transcend the color barrier, somewhat shielding himself from the biased operation of the white faction and the intense oppression encasing the black one. Coupled with this trait is a wholly methodical and presumptuous personality pervasive throughout the text. In lieu of these facilities, the Ex-colored Man receives only a fleeting taste of both worlds; he is...

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