This is For [Kira] a Colored Girl who Once Considered Suicide…
On a Friday night I went to see ‘For Colored Girls…’ and as I expected, it was mind-blowing, gruesomely honest, unadulterated truth…about women….about me.
The film brings together a multi-generational line up of black actresses: Kerry Washington, Thandie Newton, Phylicia Rashad, Kimberly Elise, Macy Gray, Whoopi Goldberg, Janet Jackson, Loretta Divine, Anika Noni Rose, and newcomer Tessa Thompson. These women tell the stories from Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf.
The stories of these women are centered around tragedy and struggle that in some capacity has been brought about by men. He is definitely not the hero in this film but in most instances a maniacal brute. Thandie Newton remarks, “I think very often men and women are spoken about in opposition which this film seems to be provoking. However, I think the strength of the film is that it’s a testament to the extraordinary collaboration of when a woman and a man come together.”
The true stories of a black woman’s experience is seldom told in Hollywood. Her humanity is limited to being the sum of her parts instead of a whole person. We see this in music videos and films. However, Black women have always been the muse for Perry’s work and he genuinely wants to portray her life differently and truthfully. He also worked very hard to keep the voices authentic. To that, Shange says, “[Perry] got it about 75% correct.”
“…all women in the world are colored girls because the color that Ntozake Shange is referring to has not to do with one’s skin. It has to do with mood, heart, spirit, experience, emotion, expression, understanding, or lack thereof.” ~Phylicia Rashad
So, after I read all the reviews, critical and praises for this film..I chose to take a different approach in my interpretation of what this film spoke to me. Beyond the unrealistic criticism from men feeling that Tyler Perry is male bashing, or literary circles and other Hollywood critics professing their redundant disappointment in the presentation and screenwriting of this film, here is what I see:
There are moments in life when the Divine allows things to become visible to the human experience and not hidden[anymore] in our personal space or spirits. When this happens, it is an opportunity for communal healing and empowerment…not a spotlight for a personal soapbox of offended, guilty and one dimensional mindsets critically putting others down who have been Divinely inspired[called] to be an agent for healing.
There is an ongoing problem in the Black community and it needs to be addressed. Instead of men (and women) looking being so defensive it is more helpful if we look at it as a message that we need to stand united for a better future. There are things to criticize. For example, if a man can only learn how to be a man from other men, then why is each generation of black men getting worse instead of better? We have to stop living in denial all the time and own up to our own lacks and our shoulda, woulda, coulda’s. Once we look into ourselves and own up to the things that we have done to each other – like treating a man or woman poorly because at some time in life we were wronged by one person (whether that was your own mama or ex) – then there can be steps taken toward healing the gap of resentment towards each other.
It is a film, a picture like all others. that tells a story of the hardships face by some black women. The fact of the matter is that we do have men who treat black woman badly, just as we have men who treat black women like queens. Abuse is alive and well in all races and instead of getting insulted or being judgmental, realize this is a movie about a problem that happens to all women. Use this and focus on how we can stop the abuse(mental,physical, emotional). Tyler Perry is a great director, writer, playwright, and actor. He should be commended for his work and left alone on his subjects. He is not the first person to do a film like this and will not be the last. He is not saying that all black men are bad (but the response from black men speaks for itself)but he is putting focus on a on going problem in America. Look at it for what it is and not for what you feel inside. Out of offenses lie a root of truth, otherwise, there would be no need to be offended.
This film has been a hostile awakening for w0men to take ownership/accountability for our OWN decisions and choices in regards to who we choose to ‘let it’ our minds, bodies and spirits. In that regard, I saw myself in every woman portrayed in this film. I am a BROWN woman, who has worn every color in the rainbow, the RED, ORANGE, YELLOW, GREEN, BLUE, PURPLE and even WHITE! I have exposed myself to ‘at-risk behaviors, been in denial about who I choose to love and desperate for who I wanted to love me, blind to myself beyond my passion for empowerment for others, living day to day as ‘intimacy’ being my only desired ‘manna’(from God), feeling wise and simultaneously helpless in the same moment, and of course, disillusionally religious, lacking any authentic spiritual liberty, living in fear of the God in me, ignoring my womb, a stranger to myself.
I saw MYSELF. and this movie has begun an awakening in me, one that confirms the ‘new life’ that is growing inside of me as I sit here and type….
Progress happens with self-inventory. The answer to all of us who are fearful, critical and in denial….quick to assume, easily influenced and contagiously judgmental is this: Embrace your own healing first.