Well, by now I have heard the rantings by black men, and have read the put-downs by critics of the film “For Colored Girls.” I expected as such.
I thought from the beginning that putting Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem would be difficult; melodrama in a poem is taken better than melodrama on the silver screen. And I knew many black men would object to the way those men in the film were depicted.
But I think the men, at least, are missing the point. I don’t think the film (or the choreopoem) was an indictment against “all black men” at all. I think it was a shaking out of the reality of how we women, colored or otherwise, will take anybody just to have somebody.
When I saw the film, I just rummaged through my mind, turning pages and pages of experiences I’ve had and/or that my friends have had, trying to be with “someone.” I remembered nights of tear-drenched conversations with me and some of my sister-friends as they poured out their pain because the man they were with was not treating them right.
And yet, they stayed. And, in lighter moments, some of them talked about how they didn’t know what was wrong with them, but they liked the “bad boys” over the nice ones. They laughed …but later, they cried.
I think about the women I have known, highly educated, powerful, and talented, like Janet Jackson’s character, in miserable marriages, but not willing to let go or get out because they liked their affluent lifestyle. In their quest for social status, they closed their eyes to their husbands’ cheating. They took being called out of their name, being disrespected…because they wanted the house and fancy car.
I think of Kimberly Elise’s character, and of friends of mine who have stayed in abusive relationships, risking their lives and the lives of their children. Whatever for? If a person shows you who he or she is, says Maya Angelou, you should believe him or her. Kimberly Elise’s husband in the film was sick, plain and simple. Her staying with him was not going to make him well; he was not going to get better. Yet, she stayed. Love, she told herself, was the reason. No, it’s not love. It’s something, but it isn’t love. Real love makes us know when it’s time to let go and go on.
Whoopi Goldberg’s character reminded me of how we women, too often use religion as the “perfect husband,” neglecting ourselves and our families in the process. So many of us claim to be “religious” when in fact, we are mentally ill, bitter, angry and afraid. Because of bad experiences in our lives, we decide that God will be our mate, and we will be perfect, above the fray, so to speak …and what we do is pour our blood-stained tears and ripped quilts that represent our tattered lives, on the heads and into the hearts of all around us.God is not our husband. God…is our God.
I could go on and on. I am still processing it all, but what I am clear about is that for me, this movie was not about bad men, or men being bad. It was about us women, settling for less, and therefore enduring much more misery than a person ought to, because we don’t take time to “find God in ourselves.”
We are so afraid of sister-friends (?) saying that we “can’t get a man” that we take any man, to our own detriment…and while I’m talking, let me say that this isn’t merely a heterosexual phenomenon. I have seen plenty of same-sex relationships where the dynamic to just have somebody leads to the same tragic results.
If women, no matter our color, would wake up and look for the God and the good in us, and learn that the measure of our worth is not based on whether or not we have “someone,” but rather on how we love ourselves first, there would be no need for a statement on how we too often live our lives. If we could kick up our heels and find the God and the good in us, a choreopoem such as this would be far different.
An afterthought: I was much more bothered by “Precious.” I found myself angry that so many white people filled the theater and would probably leave thinking that that was the way many to most black people live. I rejoiced at Precious’ triumphs, but just hated what I thought was a furthering of the stereotype of black people. Maybe that’s what black men are feeling.
I don’t know. It’s something to think about…
Just a candid observation.