Monday, November 8, 2010

Why I'm not going to see "For Colored Girls...

my love is too saturday nite to have thrown back in my face- lady in orange

In the early seventies, my mother's first cousin Leon stayed with us. I adored him. I followed him and hung on his every word. He was 33 and I was 5. When he left, he endowed my mother with his book collection, and I was blessed to know books like Ann Moody's Coming of Age in Mississippi, Black Like Me, the Miseducation of the Negro, and the selected speeches of Malcolm X.

But there was one book that was unlike the others, it was shiny and new. It had what the other books didn't,a beautiful black woman on the cover. She was wearing a scarf looking defiant, scared, and yet hopeful. Her body poised to run from something bad, or to chase something good. I didn't know it then, but this book would be a compass in my life and beacon to my real passion...writing.

Of course I couldn't read it yet. I was 5, and as the years progressed, the book was put higher and higher on the bookshelf out of my reach. My mom didn't want me to know about the pain and disaster that some women endured at the hands of others. Until finally at 12, my mother had run out of patience and bookshelf, I was able to read For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide when the Rainbow wasn't Enuf. It was a marvel. It was poem of women, who looked and sounded like the women I knew, creating themselves into super women who were more than mere domestic definitions. They were like the characters in the Matrix, having taken the redpill and were now able to "see" what their true destinies should and would become.These "Colored women" became my heroes. I never spoke about them to others, but the book was never far from me.

I would wonder, "Would I be the woman in red someday? Holding out my hand while my life fell from a window ledge? Or woman in green who held onta her stuff? Or the lady in brown who got to say the last word... who would I be? For 36 years I have had this book in my heart if not in my purse/book bag/or diaper bag. For 36 years the faces of the "colored" women have been mine, in pain, in happiness, and in life. I go back to those women for strength and for guidance.

There's been a lot of resistance against the movie from Black Men. I can definitely understand it. But I hope Black men don't confuse the movie with the poem, and put poem into the chronological and historical perspective it deserves. This poem was written in 1975. The women's movement was in full swing, the civil rights and black power movements had ended, but their legacy was moving into academia where Black history courses were becoming forceful entities in colleges and universities in the country.

The question you have to ask yourself is, "Where is the Black Woman at this time?" Disenfranchised by the women's movement, and disillusioned by the outcome of the Civil Rights Movement, many black women turn to the arts to show that they have issues and ideas that neither movement is recognizing nor dealing with. This work (and work of many other iconic African American women authors) comes from that legacy.

Does the movie translate into a 21st century ideal? Maybe and maybe not. Maybe because black women are still dealing with some of the same issues, poor education choices, domestic abuse, sexual assault. Maybe not, because ironically black women are earning more and going to college more than they ever have. But if Tyler Perry's adaptation is wrong, when will someone write a screenplay that is right? When will our community support it?

I'm not sure when, but in the meantime I won't be one of the people who go to see "For Colored Girls...." I applaud all that do, and those that will get the chance to be touched by this movie and create their own rainbows. But my rainbows are in my head, and I like them that way.

But if you're really interested in a life changing the book.