Saturday, February 19, 2011

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide........

Not all blacks are fans of Tyler Perry's silly Medea series of films and certainly, Precious, though critically acclaimed, was not everyone's cup of tea. There are so many uplifting African American stories to tell so why do filmakers tend to concentrate on the sordid, dark side of things? Why is it that stories of excellence don't interest us? Could a film be made about the life of Dr. Benjamin Carson, the first black neurosurgeon to separate twins joined at the skull?

Or what about Dr. Charles Drew, inventor of blood transfusions and the theory of blood banks?

Once again it's Black History Month and the books on my library display touting the successes of scores of awe-inspiring leaders in American history are languishing on the shelves. So it was with curiosity but trepidation that I checked out Perry's movie For Colored Girls based upon the 1975 prose poem by Ntozake Shange. I wish that I'd had a chance to view it prior to the program sponsored by WGCU's Valarie Edwards and David Plazas from the News-Press. They hosted a discussion of the film and the sad truths that it revealed, not just for African American women but for all of us who have ever been in a relationship that was less than we deserved. Is there anyone who hasn't?

The film was beautifully done, the music powerful and moving, the opportunities for the actors to stretch were enormous. Janet Jackson as a black Anna Wintour type character ( Devil Wears Prada) was a revelation, and Phylicia Rashad's calming presence, strength, and wise counsel as the building superintendent where several of the women lived, was simply perfect. As a matter of fact each woman portrayed in the film was glorious and inspiring in her own way.

This is not an easy movie to watch, don't get me wrong. Spousal abuse, rape, abortion, and HIV are all there and despair runs close to the surface. But it's also a film about empowerment, education, forgiveness and friendship and manages to end on a positve note.
My friend Don is always asking what I get from books and films like this? Why do I prefer to tread on the dark side? To glean insight into the human condition? To become more human? More understanding? More compassionate? I hope that's the case.

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