Bravery on the Page and Bravery on the Screen: For Colored Girls
This weekend I got on, and then off the rollercoaster from hell, For Colored Girls, the movie. If you haven't seen it, go. You may love it. You may think it's too strong. And I am sure you will find that you just can't catch your breath. But i want you to see it as a writer, as a creative being, as a woman who has a story to tell. This is brave stuff. It was brave when Ntozake Shange wrote it decades ago. She wrote it at a time when Feminists didn't understand why black women weren't embracing their movement all out. It was our feminist manifesto. It was raw and strong and gritty. Fast forward to 2010. Tyler Perry tackles this revered piece of black literature turned play. He wove in his take and bridged the poetry with prose and script. He cast it with some of the finest actresses of any ethnicity that you ever want to see. And at the end of the movie, I sat there with my mouth open. This is the kind of movie you want to go to the coffee shop or the bar with your girls and talk about it. But don't go too fast. I wasn't able to articulate my feelings or my recommendations until today. It makes Precious look like a musical comedy. There are no beats that let you get your bearings before you go to the next drama. It's just Boom, Boom Pow for over two hours. And as i am writing furiously away on my NaNoWriMo, and finishing up some commissioned essays, I know that i have seen this at the right time. I struggle with the notion of a black story. I am heartbroken that there is a market for stories about Black women, just not if they are told by black women. As a writer, I want to be read. But I think after watching this movie and going back and reading the book, I need to bring my fierceness. You need to bring your fierceness. And as readers we need to support fierceness even when its hard to look at, and impossible to digest. I walked out of the theater and dreamed about this movie all night. I got up and I paced about it. And yes I prayed about it. I decided that I have no right to be anything other than brave, and fierce and unafraid to open the doors and invite people in. And on top of that, I want to write stories that give the finest actresses good material. For this colored girl (and this is what I sometimes call myself to remind me of all that came before me. And to remind me that when I was a little girl, that's what they called me) seeing bravery, and boldness and a dare to create with heart and pain and joy and hope, makes me know what I owe you as a writer. Be brave, She Writers. Be Brave!!!!

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  • Dianne Baines

    NO I haven't seen themovie yet or read the book both things I plan to do. I am as you can see quite white, caucasian, whatever but please understand that I respect the coloured girls of our world for what you are-- brave and you just keep on getting up. Anything else I say sounds patronising and that is something I don't want to do so I'll end here.

  • Charlotte Watson Sherman

    Andrea -- Thank you for this post. I can't stop thinking/talking about For Colored Girls. I didn't even realize how much I needed a shot of something like this. I, too, want to write something with enough meat for some of these incredible actresses to chew and spit into the world.

  • Joyce Evans-Campbell

    Thanks for the piece about Tyler's adaptation Andrea. You've articulated the feelings of some people I've talked with. It's a harsh look at what black women endured when Ntozoke Shange wrote ten years ago, and these issues still exist today.