"The Color Purple”… again. How many times? Did we need another one? This was my first reaction to the well-touted re-make.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved the story and supported the original film, Broadway production, regional theatre version, and this most recent musical remake. But as much as I enjoyed the great entertainment, I had to question the value of returning to the 'same ole' narrative.
Must we continue to hammer the nail of the abusive, low self-esteemed Black man? Why must we keep re-visiting the narrative of a class of women who must be subservient, sassy, or uber-sexy to have their story told? The women I know are doctors, lawyers, mothers, teachers, principals, financial consultants, nurses, social workers. Let’s tell their delicious and delightful stories. So I ask why the Color Purple over and over again?
The why, is aptly, expertly, and entertainingly addressed in the less hyped movie-American Fiction. Like, sex, the narrative of the beastly Black man and beaten into submission Black woman, sells. It sells to producers and the public alike. It makes money and who doesn't want or need money? But is this color-charged storyline only about financial gain? I believe it’s monetary, but even more, mental. These old, repetitive narratives support the goals of the power to keep the others in place. Self-concept and confidence are developed and maintained via social constructs which are taught and consumed from an early age. Over the years, as a child psychiatrist, I have worked with many black male students who were ridiculed for “not sounding Black” as a result of their syntax. Others were outcasts because of their good grades. As if articulate speech and high achievement are antithetical to blackness.
The movie American Fiction exposes the gameplay.
So, what’s next? Those who are conscious, those who have ears to hear and eyes to see must take up the charge of broadening, and deepening the narrative of who we were, are, and can be. We take up the charge through voting with our dollars, our attendance, our voiced support, and our contribution to new narratives that allow us to be fully who we are.
There are new stories created every day. These may not be told, published, distributed, or viewed without effort. Our effort. Let us go see, talk about, and share movies of diverse perspectives. Let’s celebrate musicians who share thought-provoking, and not only booty-shaking songs. Let us buy books from authors with diverse perspectives that capture the fullness of our lives. Then let us read, discuss, and share them.
Let’s take our history into our own hands.
Let’s change the narrative.