For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf, By Ntozake Shange

971 words - 4 pages

For Colored Girls Who have considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange was performed at the Vortex Repertory Company in Austin, TX. This choreopoem composed of poems, music, and dance is a supportive force of literature and vitality to be reckoned with that not only challenged the status quo and ideologies of black women sublime during the Black Power movement, but also relates to contemporary black women in the United States. The depiction of struggles and faint destinies embodied by the interconnected lives of the actresses brings light to the accustomed realities of African Americans through theatrical conventions and transparent intimacy. This mechanism destroys the fourth wall and captures the emotions of oppressed African American women and the African American community by valiantly defining what it means to be “colored” and a “woman” while serving as the voice of agency. Furthermore, the state of agency and aesthetics addresses the perpetual stereotypes such as race, gender, and hypersexuality, thus striving to overcome obstacles and raise an awareness of empowerment.
As a poet and Black feminist, Ntozake Shange’s objective was to inform the African American community of the underlining problems that exist within it, and to give black women a sense of an agency and self-empowerment. Shange envisioned the seven different women to “be nameless & assume hegemony as dictated by the fullness of their lives” (Shange xii). Although the performance demonstrated hegemony, the question of who sets the standards for gender roles is left open-ended. This was probably done as a tactic to challenge commonly held thoughts of black women and their perceptions of their role in society. For instance, maybe some black women assume that they must take upon a subordinate state to survive in a male-dominated society or maybe they become complacent in their role because “there will always be a world-a white world-between” (Fanon 122) them. Fanon expressed his frustrations with trying to rationalize the world and being rejected. Shange portrayed black conditions in an attempt to capture the realism of black women, but ironically it served as a double-edge sword. Some of the explicit depictions possessed the potential to feed into the stereotypes and misogyny of blacks. For example, “we danced doin nasty ol tricks” and “let your backbone slip” (Shange 9) depict the black women in the play as jezebels. Other examples like “alla my niggah temper came outta control & I wdnt dance wit nobody & I talked English loud” (Shange 12) fueled non-gender specific stereotypes. The misrepresented hypersexuality of black women constitutes a negative connotation and relinquishes power from black women by allowing them to be categorized as subjects inferior to males and whites. The presence of a patriarchal institution construed the vulnerability and subordinate state of black women “in a hegemonic discourse where women are always victimized and marginalized by...

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