Didn’t we see this coming. Now that Tyler Perry’s big screen adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf has hit theaters, confused critics are asking exactly who is ‘For Colored Girls” for—as if the title doesn’t say enuf?

The most disappointing thing of all is that Tyler Perry himself, and cast members Janet Jackson, Thandie Newton, and Anika Noni Rose have stated that “For Colored Girls” is for everybody. Newton told ComingSoon.com, “It’s not just for colored girls, it’s not just for colored anybody, it’s for humanity.”

But why can’t “For Colored Girls” be just for colored girls? Isn’t that the point of it all?

I have no doubt—albeit not having been born yet—that when Shange penned her original “For Colored Girls”—belting out jazzy Black feminist verses, and later dancing about the Public Theater stage in 1975—that every syllable of her prose, every pointed foot in her movement was done for colored girls. Now that this Black women’s work has been reappropriated, remixed and re-staged for the 21st century audience—and lest we forget with the critical expectancy to yield millions—it seems that being just for the colored woman is no longer enuf.

It’s the very title in itself that makes people uncomfortable. “For Colored Girls” is too non-inclusive, too exclusive, and too pre—and presently— racial to be accepted as a venerable film in a so-called post-racial world.

We must have been kidding ourselves to think—in a mythical beyond color climate and at a time when the First Lady of the free world is as brown as Lady in White—that a big screen effort would be said to be just for us.

Is it entirely impossible to engage in filmic spectatorship without the optical experience of looking like screen subjects? Or to even remotely identify with their experiences? This is the typical theater-going experience for Black women in America, but it seems White America isn’t so pleased with having Oscar buzzing movies not all about them—no White lead cast member in sight, even the studio itself, 34th Street Films, is Black. Say what you want to say about Perry, but he’s giving Hollywood a colored experience unseen before—he’s a complete shout-caller who doesn’t answer to any folks—colored or non-colored.

It’s saddening that the once chitlin’ circuit crowd pleaser who had no interest in crossing over is using his “most mature work yet”—a work authentically designed for and by Black women—to reach audiences and empathies for which it is unintended. My advice to Perry and the “For Colored Girls” cast: don’t compromise the work of the film—already deemed stellar and powerful by reviews—just to reach the top box office spot.

If there is any confusion as to who “For Colored Girls” is for, let me be so bold to say to White America and Black men, you are welcome to the picture show, but this flick is not about you.

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  • King Jason

    I would have supported this article if not the movie but for that last snippy ‘not for Black men’ comment, it might be true but, I think the Black male image is very much our damn business. That said, Black folks need to stop turning themselves inside out for white folks. White folks can be crazy, they have 900 channels dedicated to them and complain about BET and want to know where their WET. They can be crazy and stupid. Is it for Black women? Of course, but movie speak about “universality” is to separate other folks from their money so they can make more movies for their base audience.

  • kimora

    I tend to like this author’s posts here on Clutch.. but I’m giving you a serious side-eye for this Geneva Thomas.

    “But why can’t “For Colored Girls” be just for colored girls? Isn’t that the point of it all?..”

    I thought the film’s purpose was to bring awareness to women’s issues.. not just colored women’s issues.

  • Mia

    I went, I saw and I felt this movie as I have never felt one before. .. I think it was a great movie and why must there be controversy because of what folks interpret. Many movies are geared to one or another sect of people, whats wrong with colored girls, I think we rock. The movie speaks for itself, It did come in 3rd at the box office.Why do we fear facing things that truly happen in our communities, I simply see it as a heads up. Thanks Mr. Perry for having the foresight to put it on screen..

  • Hakikah

    This film/book is for anyone who wants to learn about being a woman from different perspectives/voices. If it resonates for you, its for you.

  • Ahmad

    Are we being for real here? I may have my own reservations about the evolution of the Tyler Perry Machine and the constant exploitation of black trauma being mined for gold onscreen, but I have to give this brutha his due. He is bringing a landmark BLACK play to the big screen. It is time for folks to check out an all black cast that is NOT A COMEDY, and NOT a love story with a hip soundtrack. Welcome to PRE-racial America (as one of y’all said), post feminist (womanist?) America. I clap because it’s a first step to opening eyes.i wish there were more directors with the leverage of a Tyler Perry or people with the money to back black film.