For Colored Girls Who’ve Endured Enough Degradation & Whose Sunshine Does Not Always HAVE TO Follow A Tsunami: A Colored Girl’s Plea To Other Colored Girls and Hollywood’s Traffic Lights

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.

The Blacktress and the “Pretty-Girl Pass”

Do we really give credit where it's due?

It can be very cut-and-dry, very black-and-white when it comes to who possesses real talent and who may only be getting acting gigs based on their looks.

I seriously started questioning Our judgment when I heard that Aretha Franklin, the queen of soul, wanted Halle Berry to play her in her forthcoming biopic.

Really, Aretha? Really?

I trust that Ms. Franklin has her own reasons for wanting Halle Berry portray her on the silver screen but I can’t imagine that any of those reasons involve the true belief that Halle can pull off her legendary life story. The tale of Aretha Franklin’s rise to becoming the QUEEN OF SOUL? Halle Berry?

Again I have to say, Really, Aretha?

To all die-hard Halle Berry fans I apologize if you’re offended but I just don’t see it. I really don’t. The only Halle Berry film that made me BELIEVE she was an actress worth her salt was Perfect Stranger and that didn’t even get box office play like it should have! Losing Isaiah, though it boasted a touching and controversial plot, had forgettable acting. To this day I believe that if an Angela Bassett or Alfre Woodard had been cast as the mother, that film would have seen out-of-this-world reviews and Oscar nods to boot.

Other Halle flicks, Catwoman… a typical James Bond film (body for DAYS, though)… Swordfish (just a pretty face with a gun)…. B.A.P.S….

….. B.A.P.S…..

Need I say more?

Aretha’s decision made me wonder, what criteria does the industry use when deciding which Black women should be cast in huge, Oscar-worthy films? What criteria do WE use when We think about who We want to represent Our legends?

In honor of her birthday, Essence Online posted a question the other day asking who should play the late R&B princess, Aaliyah, should there ever be a film about her life. I wasn’t surprised to see many young women say, ‘Ciara,’ ‘Lauren London,’ or ‘Meagan Good.’

Some argued that there shouldn’t even be a film about her life because she didn’t live long enough for all of that. Ouch. Others said they wouldn’t want to see anyone become Aaliyah on the silver screen because the industry would just muddle through a mediocre film and color it all in with lies as they do with most biopics.

I’m not sure I agree with either sentiment but I’m forced to believe that often we think of the prettiest Black women in film at the moment and that’s who should take on the next big film that needs a Black female face. And that is all kinds of wrong.

I think we have totally forgotten about actual TALENT. Honestly, when Aretha Franklin said she wanted Halle Berry to play her, I was disappointed. Does she want a GREAT FILM or just a pretty face/big name to take on her life’s story? I’m not attacking her because I’m sure she has her valid reasons for her choices but I think we give the same people a chance with delicate films and these films that have potential to be multi-award-winning end up being ho-hum, forgettable, and oftentimes…. disappointing.

Why on EARTH would any honest, sane person think that Ciara should be cast as Aaliyah besides the obvious reasons: 1)She’s lighter-skinned as was Aaliyah 2) She can DANCE. Ciara’s acting chops have not even been CUT yet!

Meagan Good, to some she’s a beautiful woman and amazing actress, to me she’s an average pretty girl who has YET to show and prove that she isn’t just making it off of her looks. Her films like Waist Deep & Deliver Us From Eva…. FORGETTABLE PERFORMANCES, PEOPLE! We’ve given her a “Pretty-Girl-Pass” in Hollywood, and you know it.

Lauren London whom I LOVE (I can’t even really explain why) is a just below-average actress. I can admit that. This is not to say that she can’t become better but right now? Eh, no.

I’ve also realized that you can tell a lot about an actress, more specifically a BLACK actress’s drive & work ethic by watching which projects they take on. There used to be a huge barrier. For Black women there were only roles as prostitutes, ghetto baby-mamas, hoodboogers, mamies etc. That was then. This is now.

Take Kerry Washington, for example. Who else remembers her as “Chenille” the high school-aged baby mama in Save The Last Dance? And then as “Nikki Tru,” the manipulative siren in I Think I Love My Wife? These performances, though intriguing only scraped the SURFACE of what she is capable of as an actress! And as far as “bigtime” films, she hadn’t done much that most people remember before Save The Last Dance. But then we saw her stellar portrayal of Della Bea Robinson, Ray Charles’s wife in the Oscar-award winning movie, Ray. She killed her portrayal of Kay Amin in The Last King of Scotland, and more recently, she tackled a gut-wrenching/tear-jerking role as “Kelly”/Lady Blue in For Colored Girls. She took on the role of a former Black Panther “Patricia Wilson” in the Sundance Film Festival award-winning film Night Catches Us.

I mean she is consistently taking on projects that showcase her exceptionally-honed acting skills. She takes HERSELF seriously. She looks for challenges. And the cherry on top of all that? She’s beautiful.

I often wonder if sometimes we overlook talent such as Ms. Washington’s for those to whom we simply give “The Pretty-Girl Pass.” What role has Meagan Good taken on in ALL her years of acting that makes us say, “Hey, this girl is breaking out and showing us what she’s made of!” I can’t think of a single one. And I’ve been ROOTING for some of these women to prove me wrong, to get that one breakout role and RUN with it like Kerry Washington has, or Zoe Saldana.

I remember her so-so acting in Drumline. But I saw her work her way to Avatar, taking on a completely different type of film medium, doing something TOTALLY outside of what we would expect to come from her. And I have nothing but respect for that kind of gumption.

Jurnee Smollett. Hadn’t seen much from her since what, Eve’s Bayou? And she inspired me like no one had in a long time with her role in The Great Debaters.STELLAR performance.

It perplexes me how none of the actresses who SHOULD be top-of-mind are even being mentioned for various movie roles but those who’ve been selected in the past mostly or solely on looks seem to be the go-to “Blacktresses.”

Taraji P. Henson went from the GHETTOEST of baby mamas in Baby Boy to Queenie in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Who does that? Who makes that kind of leap and does it SO successfully? A Black woman on a mission to show that she’s made of more than just the ghetto dramadies that the film industry uses to trivialize Black America, THAT’S who. Respect to Taraji.

There’s no way in the world that Alfre Woodard, Aunjanue Ellis, Angela Bassett, Viola Davis, Aisha Hinds, and SO many more shouldn’t be getting award-winning roles. But where are their advocates? Crowded out by those handing out Pretty-Girl Passes and video model gigs.

We say We don’t want to be objectified, over-sexualized, or called upon based on what We look like, yet we barely support Our actresses who are tearing UP the film industry. We’ve got work to do and more support to give if we want to continue seeing Black actresses make strides. Just sayin’.

For Colored Girls Who’ve Endured Enough Degradation & Whose Sunshine Does Not Always HAVE TO Follow A Tsunami: A Colored Girl’s Plea To Other Colored Girls and Hollywood’s Traffic Lights

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 chapter. The turmoil 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 must reach in my own poetry that I haven’t quite attained yet. But did it move me? No. I did not rave. I did not exclaim in awe of its genius. No one particular part stuck with me. I’ve not memorized any part of it. As someone once said, “It was cool for what it was but it wasn’t all that.” Now perhaps it is one o those pieces of art that the more you look at it the more you’ll see. And when I get the time I’ll sit and read it again.

Now, I was against seeing Tyler Perry’s “For Colored Girls.” 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 sat down and watched it.

I came away from it with a very basic appreciation for 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 and 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 the bruised molested adolescent, or the below-poverty-level mother of multiple children who stays in an abusive relationship, or the Mamie figure “fat, Black, and happy,” shuckin’ and jivin’.” We are raped. 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.

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 take the movie roles that degrade us. We allow men to use us as punch line after punch line. 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. Some of us had it rough, yes but we choose not to dwell on that. 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. 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.