Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Black Man
In Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Black Man the author James Weldon Johnson tells the story of a black man passing as a white man. That is the major theme in this novel; "passing in the early 1900's in order to escape the horrors of racism towards the black race to succeed in white America.
The crisis throughout the novel centers on the ex-colored man discovering his identity, and this uncertainty is the central idea of the novel. From the book, "I finally made up my mind I would neither disclaim the black race nor claim the white race; but that I would change my name raise a moustache, and let the world take me for what it would; ¦ (Chapter 10). By saying this, the ex-colored man can live his life free of fear from the white man and lead a better life than a black would.
There are many causes that lead to his reasons for passing as a white man. Many influences give the idea onto the character, that in order to be successful in life you must be white. Since the ex-colored man was well educated unlike most, of the black culture it was easy for him to adapt to the whit culture. In the book the ex-colored man experiences the good and the bad of both races and perceives them as basically equal. First the ex-colored man does not seem to favor one or the other, though the way he view the black race is expressed a little more negatively than the white, which supports his reasoning for passing as white. Witnessing the lynching of a colored man, the ex-colored man quickly responses to his idea of passing as a white man. The ex-colored man figures it's better to be on the white man side than be against him, which the ex-colored man makes a good point. I mean would anyone want to go through what the blacks went through during this time if you could pass of as a white man. But then again how would you be looked at by your own race, by your family.