Parenting and Family Life

Finding A Place For Colored Boys

Janet Jackson and Omari Hardwick in 'For Colored Girls.'

hide captionJanet Jackson, who plays the role of Jo, is seen alongside co-star Omari Hardwick, who plays her husband Carl, in the film For Colored Girls.

Quantrell Colbert

I've already seen For Colored Girls.

I was slightly coerced (pushed!) by my colleagues to accompany fabulous Tell Me More host Michel Martin to a screening the other day.

But I'm thinking, “here we go again.”

The last thing I wanted (or needed) to see was another film that painted the black man as society's stammering uber-demon, who comes to steal, kill and destroy; or another project that portrays black men as this nation's perpetual delinquents — jobless, thoughtless sexual misfits who can't stop screwing long enough to pick our heads up and realize how we're letting down our women, our children and families, our God and our America.

Hide your kids, hide your wife, and hide your husbands, too ... (you know the rest).

Quite frankly, it's a narrative I've had enough of, thank you very much.

In For Colored Girls, yes, there is a disproportionate number of troubled black men. There is one redemptive male character who isn’t a killer, a rapist, or a liar.

But although the movie (I never saw the stage version) is basically the story of black women who are — in awful ways — victimized by black men, it is also very much the story of black women, pressing through the grit and gravel of life and finding a hope and place of vulnerability that they can depend on. And that's a beautiful thing.

I left the screening with Michel disturbed, for many reasons. It was, partially, because the film was so emotionally intense. But I was also disturbed thinking about how the men in For Colored Girls — although perpetrators — had struggles, too.

Where was their healing, their resilience? Where is the window into that pain? And who's telling that story?

I feel blessed to have a motley circle of friends. And, specifically, among my black male "homeboys," there is no shortage of issues among us. One good friend is a self-described "flaming heterosexual," for whom dating (and mating) is like a sport. Another is navigating his way through his own sexuality — in the closet some days, out and proud on others. One was sexually abused as a youngster. Another grew up with an absent mother. And another suddenly lost his father at a critical time in his life.

We all have issues, and we're working through them daily — sometimes selfishly, and not so wisely. And I believe (scratch that, I know) that among us, we've at times "fit the profile" of destructive black men, and caused others (including the women we love) a portion of pain.

My point? Hopefully one day, more narratives will unearth the delicate taboo of the wounded black male and his journey to find "god in himself."

For Colored Boys? Right now, it remains unwritten, but that’s a story I’m waiting to see.

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