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The Little Reading Nook

The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man

The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man - James Weldon Johnson his is a really hard review for me to write there is just so much to say about the book and I have no idea where to start. And if I said all that I wanted to say, this review would end up a term paper instead of a simple review.

Simply stated The Autobiography of An Ex-Colored is about a mulatto man that can pass as white. But the story is much deeper and more complex then just skin colored. Set in the early 1900's Weldon touch on a lot of issues dealing with racial prejudice and cultural identity. It's very interesting to watch the the narrator try to reconcile his racial background (black) with his appearance and upbringing. At one point in the story a "friend" of the narrator makes a comment that narrator was raised as a white man and should live his life as such, that it would be much easier for him to do so. There is a since that the narrator never really fits in anywhere, partially because of the ambiguity of his appearance and also because he really has no family or close ties. He ends up drifting through life with nothing to hold him down to one place or tie him to one group (race, family, friends, etc).

Something that I find interesting about The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man is that the issues presented in the book are still relevant today probably even more so, given the fact that the U.S. has a black (mixed) president. It is amazing how after 113 years very little has really changed in the regards to race and culture in the US.

The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man is not a "light" read when it comes to subject matter. But Weldon was able to pull me in and make me want to flip to the next page. I was surprised by how expertly he dealt with each topic and situation in such a sort book. I think part of the reason is because that it is done in memoir form so the reader gets the feeling that they are listening to an old man reflecting on his journey through life and questioning some of the decisions that he made.