Tyler Perry has done it again, raking in more than $20 million dollars this weekend on his screen adaptation of the 1975 award winning play "Colored Girls". What I found most compelling and a bit disturbing about the adaptation, is that I was 7 years old when it was first written in 1974, and now as a 43 year old professional black woman I can find resonance with all of the poems and characters in my life and the lives of my black female friends.
I know that black men are none too happy about this film, and on one level I understand why. But, my hope is that people of all colors, and both genders will embrace the film for its deeper meaning and purpose. That purpose is to unveil black women's unique experiences, burdens and pain in a context that helps us to make better choices for a new time, and a new generation. My first book about the lives of 21st century black women promises to do just that. It comes out in May 2011 and is titled, "Black Woman Redefined: Dispelling the Myths and Discovering Fulfillment in the Age of Michelle Obama." (Benbella). http://www.blackwomanredefined.com
I for one have been taken aback by the the anger black men have directed at this film because they feel they are unfairly depicted. I beg to differ. I personally know (as does each sister who views the film) someone in my family, in my social circle, or at work who is one of the characters in the movie. I know black women who have been raped and brutalized. My own mother and her brothers were the victims of sexual abuse as children. I know black women who have married black men who lied about their sexuality. I lost a sister friend in 2009 to domestic violence at the hands of a husband who murdered her at church one Sunday morning. We all have a girlfriend that is sexually wild like Thandie Newton's character, and we all know sisters so lost in their pain that they hide behind religion, and their corporate jobs.
My point: these characters are not made-up folks. These women are as real in the 21st century as they were back in the 20th century. And therein lies the challenge. It is time that the voice of black women was actually heard. The time for us to remain invisible and silent, wrongly typecast and mis-characterized is over. The time for us to come out from under the pain and move to a place of purpose, love and fulfillment.
Thank you Tyler Perry for having the courage to keep shedding light on our stories. The stories that date back generations, centuries even. Sisters, it is time to redefine the rules for a happier, healthier you.