Make Room For The Stuttering

About Colors

Posted on: November 16, 2010

I had the chance to see the Tyler Perry directed movie “For Colored Girls” on its opening weekend. It is the film version of a play written by Ntozake Shange called, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf. It ran on Broadway in the 70’s.

I had heard that it was a dramatic swing from the usual comedy of Tyler Perry, of “Madea” and” Diary of a Mad Black Woman” fame. I like message movies and the stellar cast promised brilliance, which did not disappoint.

It was a stunning movie – so much so that I wished I had seen the theater version. Perry adapted the play so that the film told the story of seven black women each going through their own private hell. Their lives dramatically intersect, and we see glimpses of joy and hope.

The stage version included what is called a “choreopoem”, the merging of about 20 poems which illustrates each woman’s story. Perry handled that masterfully in the film version, allowing the beauty of the poetry to help each woman speak her truth.

For that is what the movie was really about. I heard and read that some people thought it was just another “black movie” and that it was exclusively about the black female experience.  I didn’t see it like that at all.  What I saw and heard was the experience of person-hood from the perspective of women. So I did a little research.

The stage version had all of the characters represented as literal colors – there was the “Brown Lady”, the “Blue Lady”, the “Purple Lady”, etc. The authors original intent was to portray women in all the different colors of our lives, not necessarily just as “women of color”. The reference to “For Colored Girls” doesn’t mean just skin color – it is much more than that.

One reviewer of the film, (see full article here) writing about how Perry adapted the stage version and got it right, says, “It has to do with mood, heart, spirit, experience, emotion, and expression — our standing or the lack thereof. I think when we understand women correctly, society changes. When women understand ourselves correctly, we change society”.

I found this perspective, and the movie, to be so very insightful about women in general. Regular readers of this blog know that I am a woman who stutters. I started a podcast for women who stutter to tell their stories, and share their truths, and to recognize the value of just that, having a space to share.

All of us need to understand and be understood. This applies to both men and women, of course.  Women have always had less space, less voice,  and we need to seize the opportunities we can to tell our stories. The more we share our truths, whatever those truths are, the more we understand and help each other.

The more we talk about whatever it is that we previously felt only shame, guilt,  fear or failure, the easier it gets to make it just a part of our truth and who we are.

That’s what this movie did for me. It reminded me that we are unique and complex. Our lives are fabrics weaved from our emotions, experiences and expressions. No matter what issue we have that makes us feel flawed, we need to express ourselves and our truth. Only then can we have an understanding of all of the “colors” of our lives.

If stuttering had been one of the colors in the stage version, I think I would have liked it to be “The Color Green”, representing harmony and peace.

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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Same protection applies to the podcasts linked to this blog, "Women Who Stutter: Our Stories" and "He Stutters: She Asks Him." Please give credit to owner/author Pamela A Mertz 2017.