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.