When The Rainbow IS Enuf (Why I won’t go see For Colored Girls)
– by Elizabeth Bella Tarpley
Last weekend marked the opening of Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls. My Facebook feed was inundated by friends posting that they were going to see or had just seen the film.
“I was still crying 45 minutes after [watching]!”
“I have a new respect for Tyler Perry…”
“Go See This Movie!”
I became immediately irritated and disappointed at both my friends who were posting these items, and the things they were saying. I pride myself on having an especially educated, conscious and honest community of people on Facebook. What Happened? Didn’t they have enough of Black women being portrayed as damaged, sexual victims in the media? Weren’t they sick of seeing Black men as violent monsters? How many times and in how many different ways did they have to watch the “worst of us” being promoted by media as “our story”?
Instead of heading to my local Cinema, I stayed in and watched “A Family Thanksgiving”- a movie on ABC Family about a White woman (of course), who was on the heels of becoming Partner at the law firm where she worked. She was completely self absorbed and career driven. She was more focused on her career than on having a family and “2.5 children in a house in the suburbs”. A “Fairy Godmother” of sorts is introduced, and takes the main character away from her life and plants her in the “World of What Could Be”- where she has a loving husband and children, etc…. We have all seen this Scroogesque story played out in different variations. In the end, she learns that being successful isn’t all that life is about; that love is more important. In the end, “she has it all”. Needless to say, I wasn’t crying 45 minutes after the movie ended. In fact, I didn’t cry at all. On the contrary, I felt… good. Hopeful. It was relatable to me and would be to my peers. Too bad they were at the theatre crying.
Now, let me clarify a few things. I know from having read Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf”, that I can relate to what the women in For Colored Girls go through. Without entering that dark place inside of myself that has seen too much, and hurt even more- I know that the scenarios Tyler presents in the film are indeed real. BUT- how many times do Black women have to be taken to that place? To rehash it? To unify from it? To promote and support it? Although I may have been to those places- I have been to even more places that were light, loving, success-filled… It is a travesty, that movies like “A Family Thanksgiving” don’t come in different colors. We don’t fit into romantic comedies, love stories- and haven’t for years in popular culture. “Just Wright” never hit #1 at the box office, but I bet “For Colored Girls” did. Gone are the days of “The Cosby Show”, “Love Jones”, “the Wiz”… Now we have “Meet The Browns” and “Precious”. God Help Us.
If we do not demand that the images of Black people change in television and film (and support it when it does)- it won’t happen (i.e.: goodbye, Undercovers). Maybe I’ll catch it on the flipside, but I took my stand this weekend by not supporting Tyler Perry’s film.
Because my rainbow IS enuf.