Its better late than never right? Some would prefer the “never” option when it comes to viewing the recently released Tyler Perry Movie For Colored Girls. I am aware of the stigmatizing views that Perry has placed on women in a plethora of his movies. Painting a view of black females that is a bit too hetero-normative for my taste, but also making it seem like a woman needs a good black strong church-going man to have any type of fulfillment in life (which I obviously disagree with). However, once I started watching his recent movie, it made me think much less about his past themes and placed my focus deliberately on the stories, lives, struggles, and most importantly experiences of black women. I want to spotlight a particular scene in the movie that highlights this narrative.
One main storyline in For Colored Girls was revolved around the role of Crystal or the lady in brown. You got an inside look into the nuanced experience of a woman who was abused and why it is not always as simple as “just leave him.” There was a point midway through the movie when Crystal’s abusive husband literally dropped both her son and daughter out of the five story window killing them both. It literally was jaw-dropping to watch. There of course was a woman playing the role of a noisy neighbor that called child welfare on the family.
Phylicia Rashad, known best in my mind for her playing the mother in the Cosby show. Her role as the “noisy neighbor” is important not just in the context of this movie, but in the context of the every day lives we live as people of color. There has been a culture built on silence and choosing not to speak about those things that black men do behind closed doors. This is a culture that doesn’t necessarily trust the laws of society to handle things like rape, domestic violence, and abuse. Essentially my point is that there are not enough noisy neighbors out there watching out for the community in which they live. Not enough people willing to call the police and not let violence or abuse fall on deaf ears.
As I prepare to leave for South Africa, I have recently been keeping up with current events that are taking place in the country. There was an experiment done in a neighborhood where they wanted to gauge which disturbance would cause people to come out of their home and complain. They first had someone play the drums and then they put on a pseudo-broadcast of a women being beat by a man.
Unfortuantely people only complained when they heard the drums, but stayed silent when they heard sounds of violence in the home. The video was produced by a South African advocacy group (POWA).
This blog is hopefully a small voice for all the families of color out there. Don’t be silent. Don’t ignore domestic violence when we are confronted with it. Be the noisy neighbor if it means it will possibly save a life. Remember, silence is one of the only things dangerous enough to make a bad situation worse.