Featured Post

21 more things = 42

The last post was the 21 things I KNOW at 42. At the end I said I'd consider writing 21 more things to make it 42 in total & then ...

Monday

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When Tyler Perry Hasn't Been Enuf


When I was a little girl my mother used to play the album of Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf. As it spun on the record player I would sit for what seemed like an eternity staring at the album cover and wondering into the life of the scarved woman in the artwork. I listened to the voices of the various colorful Ladies talk about subjects that were far more mature than my own experiences. I knew nothing of rape, domestic abuse, abortion… These women fascinated me & made me think of colors (Red, Purple, Orange…) differently than sticks of wax in a Crayola box.

As I got old enough to start experiencing things that might qualify to make me a Lady in Grey, I walked away from Ms. Shange’s work, not wanting to be that close to women who could now serve as a house of mirrors in my future as a young lady. I’ve been molested. I’ve been abandoned. I’ve had a man’s hands around my throat. I know the face of sexual assault (rape is so difficult for me to say referring to self). I know the months of stomachaches when I was 14, totally unrelated to an illness, were the manifestation of fear & stress. As I type these words, breaking my own silence, I fear the ramifications of having my parents read them. I just can’t carry them anymore. It’s time to shed some shit; for real this time.

The point is that these issues are serious and an unfortunate common denominator in the lives of black women. If I were to poll my friends, & I have polled some, the likelihood of finding more than 1 out of 5 who has not lived some version of this is slim to none. My daughter is 13 now & it sickens me to know that in this hypersexualized world she’s a product of, it’s nearly impossible that she’ll escape any of these realities. She already knows the sting of abandonment, though she can’t articulate it yet. #whackbabydaddies

For Colored Girls is no longer something I wish to run from. I’ve been trying to see it on stage for the last few years & somehow manage to miss it. I want my girl-child to be forewarned about what’s out there & give her the oft-ignored tools for protection. I want her to know she has power out here in a world that tends to back burner the plights of girls & women. Hot grits get thrown by women who’ve not had their voices heard. Women slice penises because it’s the only thing they can see through the endless tears they’ve cried with no one to wipe them. Mansions get Lisa Lopez’d by women whose emotions have been suppressed in a container with no more room. This is not the future I want for my precious Munchkin Mommy. I wish I had a record player so that I could dust off the album & play it for her.

Soon all girls, & women alike, will have the occasion to see For Colored Girls on the big screen. While this generally pleases me, having Tyler Perry’s name attached to it gives me pause. I can’t front on Tyler’s ability to turn his embarrassing plays & turn them into his own private lane. It’s undeniable that he was able to flip those dollars into his own production house—something the big names before him have NOT done. At the same time, he is nobody’s filmmaker & certainly no one’s screenwriter. But this is my opinion as someone who reads & enjoys the likes of Toni Morrison & the aforementioned Ntozake Shange (sometimes). *gross generalizations coming in 3…2…* The average black person is a lazy consumer. We thoughtlessly support any damn thing. So, hood stories like Dutch prevail in bookstores in the “African American” section & movies like Why Did I Get Married? make box office noise. Tyler exists because the African American community allows him to. If we had higher standards I wouldn’t be having this conversation.

I’ll refrain from saying any more about T. Perry. He causes me Pain but that T-name’s already been taken. It is my job to censor this work & make sure the content is delivered in a meaningful way to my girl-child. It is my job to ensure that this, be it the album, the play, the original book of poetry, or Perry’s film, that this isn’t the only exposure she has to this set of unfortunate possibilities (prior to becoming personally familiar with any of them). Then I must make sure she knows what to do should she ever find herself a Lady of the Rainbow. My vote’s already cast against Tyler Perry, but I’ll see this film & I’ll see it with my daughter. I’ll reserve my opinion of the actual production for post viewing; & of course I’ll weigh in.

Make your own decision.

Watch me move.

Post Script: the message is not to damn my daughter to the realities of emotional & sexual abuse & the results of them, but to shine a spotlight on the seriousness of this as a reality for large numbers of us, despite the people we were raised by or the socio-economic backgrounds we have. Predators exist & WE MUST protect our girl children. One way is by sharing truths. All lessons don't have to be learned through experience. Lets help our daughters avoid these. & if you haven't already done so....check the trailer.

7 comments:

  1. Wow! this post hits so close to home for me on so many levels. I have to admit that I have not previously been exposed to the fullness of Ms. Shange's work, but have been intrigued by it and the contents thereof for years. Nevertheless...

    I continued my Sunday ritual of stopping by my mom's house after church and actually sat in a rocking chair in her room and watched her sleep for the better part of an hour. When she awoke, she seemed to be in, shall we say, a state. She was so disturbed, which concerned me because her general disposition ranges from sunny to sarcastic but rarely disturbed. She shared that she went to my aunt's church for family and friends day (said aunt is a pastor of a small church w/her husband and is 1 yr older than my mother).At some point in this service, my aunt stated that she had been molested from the age of 9-22. My mother was so upset by this. She wondered when this abuse could have happened since they were always together as children according to her recollection. She said that she wanted to ask my aunt about the situation, timelines, etc. I asked my mother not to do this because that is my aunt's reality and to question it in anyway mitigates the pain that any of it may have caused and that is not the role of a sister (spoken as an only child). I also spoke these words through my own reality as a survivor of what I now know as abuse at the hands of this aunt's son. He was old enough to know better and I was young enough not to, and he took liberties with me that no girl child should endure.

    So as I write this, I carry my own girl child for whom I would sacrifice my very life. This world is cruel to little brown girls and I know that I must prepare her for the realities of the possibilities of such cruelty while supplying her with enough love, care, and confidence to stride through it all.

    Thank you for providing a place to share.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Church! Still don't know if I can fade this in the theaters. Not sure if I'm more apprehensive about TP's terrible writing or our folks in the audience.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Aisha, thank you so much for sharing your experience. As you mention, it is, unfortunately, something that many of us women have experienced. I used to feel that it was something that I should and did feel ashamed of, as if I somehow caused the sexual assault and molestation that I experienced. However I no longer feel ashamed because I no longer caused that than I caused the sun to rise this morning. We women that have experienced this trauma in our lives are survivors, no matter what stage we are in as far as processing what we have experienced. When I adopt a girl child, I will also do everything I can to prepare her for both the wonders and dangers of being a woman. And I hope I'll be able to find a CD of For Colored Girls as part of the preparation. Thanks again, as always for sharing your thoughts, experiences and wisdom.

    - Zakiya Cooper

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wonderfully said...I too feel the same way about my daughter. It's almost as if I am trying to correct my life's pain through her...having her in my life has polarized a lot of the issues that were buried deep within. I am now looking at her as an opportunity to heal myself. So much of what you said resonates with me - while I don't hate Tyler Perry's movies as much, I do think that this is a huge endeavor for him. The preview looks really good, this might be his moment to do something truly great!...(or not - lol)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Please send me your email. I would like to email you Jonellpr@gmail.com I am having a Colored Girls Buzz party in the month of October and I would like to have a panel discussion.

    My email is Jonellpr@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. I am overwhelmingly in agreement...WE must take charge of protecting and informing our girl children. I all tooooo well know the perils of not knowing, not discussing and not knowing how to let certain "sh*t" go. I second the T. Perry reaction; great to have African Americans making moves but really...

    ReplyDelete