I’ve re-written this particular piece from a more experienced perspective. I wanted to share it in the hopes that it will begin a deeper discussion among young Black Women and get us to really thinking about our purpose and worth. Please enjoy, discuss, and reblog.
Be encouraged. Get lifted. ;)
Let’s be clear the original choreopoem, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Was Enuf” was an interestingly weaved tapestry of our stories. Stories in which many of us could write a few pages in each or every chapter. The turmoil, anguish, and stress that We, Colored Girls endure. I get it. I enjoyed bits of it, even. It made me realize that there’s a depth that I have yet to reach in my own poetry. But did it move me? Well, I didn’t rave. I did not exclaim in awe of its genius when I initially read/saw it. The ‘Lady In Green’ poem stuck out to me a few years later as I came to understand what she was speaking to a bit better, having gone through my own version of her story. I could dig it.
Now, I was completely against seeing Tyler Perry’s “For Colored Girls” when it came out in 2010. If I heard one more person tell me that because I’m Black I MUST go support the film, I was going to scream. I resent that. I don’t have to do ANYTHING for the simple fact that I’m Black. My argument: “IF the trailer moves me and the storyline appears to be something I’m interested in then yes, I’ll see the film.” Whether it’s a Black, White, Yellow, or Red-produced film, if it is quality and engaging, I’ll support it with bells on.
I saw the trailer for “For Colored Girls.” It did not move me. My sister, my friends, acquaintances all told me to just see the film. That it would change my life. I didn’t give in to what they were saying but I wanted to see if my original idea of what it would be about turned out to be true. So I hushed my inner rebel, sat down, and watched it.
I came away from it with a very basic appreciation when I first watched it. I believe Tyler Perry did an incredible job of intertwining these women’s stories. It was reminiscent of “Crash” and “Brooklyn’s Finest” in that way. He did an incredible job of showing basic human emotions and situations in such a real and far-reaching way. He knows his way around a script and women’s issues, that’s for sure. And I applaud him for his efforts. The guy is brilliant.
What plagues me is the idea in Hollywood and THE WORLD that Black women are forever struggling. That if we do get a break, if we do manage to ascend to the realm of the upper-class then we’re all B-words who only maintain what we’ve got by keeping everyone else under our Louboutins. We’re always the sex-crazed whore who inside is still a very mentally bruised molested adolescent, or the below-poverty-level mother who stays in an abusive relationship, or the Mamie figure “fat, Black, and happy,” shuckin’ and jivin’.” We are raped. We are beaten. We are consistently hurt by men until we are “Mad Black Women.” In our silly youth, we are the “ride or die chicks.” We are our bodies at best, and illiterate hood rats at worst.
I watched the film once more February 2011 to help myself get into character for a play I was performing in. That time I connected with it much more than the first time. I let go of my deep resentment of how Black Women are consistently portrayed and I just allowed the film to wash over me. I saw pieces of me in the mannerisms and tears and stories of each of the women on screen. But I also saw lightyears beyond it all. This connection and transcendence allowed me to ROCK my performance in ‘The Evolution of the Black Woman’ by Camille D. Jackson in February 2011. And I wanted to revisit what it was that moved me about the film and how it relates to Black Women today.
Unlike pretty much everyone else who saw the film, the part that most moved me was when Phylicia Rashad’s character, Gilda, tells Kimberly Elise’s character, Crystal, “You’ve got to take responsibility for some of this. How much responsibility you take is up to you but you’ve got to take some of it…. There’s too much life wrapped in your voice. You’ve got to get up from here.”
I can see how that applies to us Colored Girls and what gets the green light in Hollywood. What we pay to see, what we don’t boycott, what we don’t protest - those are the images of Colored Girls that are spread to the masses. What we don’t choose to correct, that’s what we become to everyone else. We allow ourselves to be naked in music videos, credit cards swiped down our backsides. We don’t demand better of OURSELVES. We take the movie roles that degrade us because ‘Hey, at least it’s a check,’ or ‘You gotta do what you gotta do sometimes.’ We allow men to use us as punchline after punchline. We stay in the bad relationships because we are ignorant of or refuse to see our worth. We must take some responsibility. And this is what has become of us Colored Girls on screen. We’ve not truly fought hard enough for the life that is grown in our voices to be seen on as large a scale as it should be seen.
Not all of us struggle. Not every Colored Girl’s joy stems from horrific nightmares & unfortunate circumstance. Sometimes We too just simply… live well.
And I get it, it is awe-inspiring to see someone overcome. We Colored Girls are an overcomer’s overcomer. We are resilient. We are strong since the dawn of the ages. But a part of me is so tired of The Struggle being so glorified as if that is all we know how to do is to struggle. This translates into a never-ending cycle. If our daughters only see Struggle, quick & easy money, and sex – that is what they associate with Colored Girls. They associate their success with degrading themselves for some bling. They eventually begin to believe they are not worthy of fully functioning and loving relationships. They believe government assistance is the standard.
Where/How do we reinforce positivity to OURSELVES? Our daughters won’t learn self-confidence and worth if we older Colored Girls don’t know have our in spades. What is missing from the Black community that allows Us to just fall by the wayside in the public eye? Scandal after scandal swarms the internet with GIRLS allowing themselves to be filmed doing very private things. Why? They aspire to be video models. Why? Why not doctors, lawyers, archaeologists, teachers, detectives, pilots? There is very little being taught about longevity and I’m wondering if what Hollywood puts out is a strong link.
Yes, some of Us had it rough, but We can CHOOSE not to dwell on that. Not that We should deny where We’ve come from but for goodness’ sake, give us LIFE in our films. Give us the laughter that brightens our faces EVERY day. Don’t beat it out of us with another abusive drug dealer boyfriend. Give us back our innate joy that Hollywood blacklists (ironic, huh?) because it won’t even make a dent at the box office (go support positivity!). Roll out the red carpet for the premiere of our graduations and our promotions. Our marriages and our birthing of doctors and scientists. Green light the story of our sushines because they are a’plenty. We Colored Girls know how to struggle and overcome and I am thankful for that but by God we’ve learned how to live well too. Don’t deny us that, Hollywood. Or maybe I shouldn’t even ask Hollywood for anything. Colored Girls, We must take Ourselves back. No one’s fault but Our own. Let’s turn it around.