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November 2010
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Colored Girls for White America

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by Ajani Husbands

Tyler Perry has been a source of inspiration and frustration for Black America for quite some time.  While his movies have a definitive following, particularly among church-going mothers who simply want to see Black people in a positive light while having a good laugh, they also have definitive detractors, read: Aaron McGruder and everyone who loves Boondocks.  Though the Black community may be divided on Tyler Perry’s merit, white America is baffled by his love of Blackness.

A recent CNN review of ‘For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow is Enuf’ graded the movie a C-.  Insert shoulder shrug. The real eye opener is the long list of user comments that follow.  What tails beneath the article is a pages long discussion on race in America, and a general theme of white America still not grasping the importance of race in what has laughingly become a “post-racial America.”

Here are a few of the comments, to further illustrate my point:


It’s great to see more diversity in movies these days, but what do you suppose would happen if there were movies titled “For White Girls”, or “Black Chicks” (where white actors were in black-face), or “Black Men Can’t Swim”? We live in a world of hypocrisy.
Pretty sure it would have been all over the news if someone made a movie called “for white people”
Tyler, if you’re ready to switch tracks and make something different, I’m ready to start “For Middle-Aged White Men Who Can’t Get Companies to Hire Them Because They’re Over-Qualified.” It’s a laugh riot…
Tyler Perry’s existence reminds me of Jack Nicholson’s infamous testimony in ‘A Few Good Men’ - “my existence…while incomprehensible to you, saves lives.”  Despite Tyler Perry’s existence, he remains incomprehensible to white America because he deals with a necessary concept that has still not taken root within the country: race.   And what he does with his movies, while not savory to all of Black America(the word I omitted from the actual Nicholson quote was “grotesque,” but I don’t think his movies are THAT bad) saves Blackness, or rather, the relevance thereof.
Whether you are a Tyler Perry fan or not, the discussion on race is still necessary in America, and his movies provide that discussion. For that, I am glad America has to come face to face with colored girls.

5 Responses to “Colored Girls for White America”

  1. loryn Says:

    I’ve seen the movie and for it to be a Tyler Perry thing I felt it did okay. the performances were GREAT, especially Loretta Divine.

    Basically, I feel like until I see some reviews from other Black women who are familiar with the play, I’m taking the other reviews with a grain of salt. and LOL @ ppl saying “what if it was called ‘for white girls’?…racist people are stupid.

  2. Frechie Says:

    like the Color Purple, The racial aspect of the movie should be one of it’s strengths. The w omen’s stories may cross racial lines and age differences but the raw courage of the black actresses can provide something that other actresses could not. My concern is that Tyler Perry didnt do it justice and dumbed complex characters and topics into 1 dimensional caricatures…guess, I’ll have to see the movie and find out

  3. Michelle Says:

    I have not seen the play so I can’t comment on any parallels with the movie in that regard. I can say, however, that I’m glad there are venues for all people to express their opinions about the movie and Tyler Perry more generally- especially considering the fact that Tyler Perry seems to have become some sort of spokesperson for “black America” through his work. I think this is a slippery slope: what bothers me is the way in which some films become a platform for people to assess both positive and negative aspects of “Black America” or “Black People” at an extreme- holding artists like Tyler Perry almost RESPONSIBLE for a certain portrayal of black women or black people in general as opposed to a depiction of people, places, and events that are REAL.

    Moreover, we should keep in mind that what people post in blogs or newspapers is not indicative of a whole entire ethnicity’s take on a particular issue. There was a statement above to the effect of, “he remains incomprehensible to white America because he deals with a necessary concept that has still not taken root within the country: race”. I disagree. I would ask first, what does it mean to say that someone or some group does not “comprehend” Tyler Perry? Are we going based off some blogs or what? Second, I would say that no matter how good or bad or crazy some people thought the movie was, it stimulated MUCH needed conversation and encouraged people to start talking more about what they REALLY feel. I think that these are the only “safe” venues people have to talk about issues such as race, especially in today’s day and age where, people know racism still exists, but are not as bold as they used to be in expressing potentially racist sentiments. In this regard, I THANK Tyler Perry for producing a movie that encouraged a white man to suggest making a movie about middle aged men who are unemployed because they are overqualified- THAT educates me about how some people are actually still thinking.

    Finally, I don’t think that Tyler Perry made this movie to help “White America” comprehend anything, although it seems to be the assumption that every time this man produces a movie, he’s somehow trying to be the Black Messiah/Educator the same way we sometimes expect for hip hop artists to speak a certain narrative in the interest of us as “black America”. I think we need to stop limiting Black Artists in this way (in moderation on the hip-hop tip). Let them continue to produce and showcase and leave the analysis up to us:-)

  4. Kyra Brown Says:

    I believe that race shapes an individual’s experiences in a given society, those experiences shape one’s perceptions and thus, realit(ies). Perhaps some of the commentators are recipients of white privilege and do not yet realize it. Perhaps some of the experiences Perry portrays are to uncomfortable for some to comprehend.

    I agree with Michelle on commending the movie’s ability to promote dialogue about race. For those who oppose Perry’s depiction of “Colored Girls,” what would they suggest? Too many times (in Western society) we have opted to have difficult experiences sanitized so that they are easier to digest. But what if that is the point in this film? To convey discomfort and delineate that from many vantage points, the experience in black skin is not as easily digested as we’d like?

    Also, it is unrealistic to expect ONE film director, Tyler Perry to capture the plethora of black experiences in ONE movie. Or twenty movies for that matter! We should respect the craft and stop expecting Perry to be the token black film director and accurately portray the experience of EVERY black American!

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