Friday, February 11, 2011

F - for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf - Ntozake Shange (64 pages)

Back in the early 90s I was in college and I took an African-American Studies class. My first shock, I was the only black person in the class. The second shock was that by being the only black person in the class I somehow became the expert on all things African-American. This was an annoying predicament, but one that I worked through. One of the best parts of this class was getting to see a performance of this play (choreopoem) as performed by a Native American theatre troupe. This week was a rough one for me and I needed a quick read that I could easily get into. I have had this book on my shelf for more than 20 years, but I have never read it straight through. Last night I picked it up and read it in one sitting. 

This is a collection of poems that have been put together to form a novel. The colored girls are not necessarily women of color - they are the characters who are never known by name, instead they are known by a color. They are labeled 'lady in red', 'lady in blue', etc. The stories that they share are sometimes harrowing, sometimes uplifting, all extremely thought provoking. Subjects include love, abandonment, rape, and domestic violence - subjects that are generally a downer. But to see these women work to overcome their circumstances you are uplifted.

The end of the book brings all of the women together and the 'lady in red' begins a mantra that evokes the power of womanhood. She says, "I found God in myself/and I loved her/and I loved her fiercely". We can all take a lesson from this mantra. This was a tough read, but well worth the time and effort. 

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