Rainbows and Colored Girls: Staying Strong in the Face of Horror

Rainbows and Colored Girls: Staying Strong in the Face of Horror

After seeing the news about Ntozake Shange’s passing on October 27, 2018, I couldn’t help but think about how her work impacted me and so many others. Even though she’s gone from the world, her legacy lives on.

Thoughts on a book that stayed with me

It's poetry. It's a play. It's a choreopoem. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuf, by Ntozake Shange, is a short book with a long title.

I first heard about Shange's choreopoem when Tyler Perry decided to adapt the play into a movie. NPR played ads promoting the film during my daily commute. So I bought the book with the intention of reading it before watching the film.

And that's what happened, except the book sat on a shelf and even moved across the country in a box full of books before I made the time to read it. I'm glad I did.

I eventually watched the film as well. Perry and his team created a captivating adaptation. Watching the events unfold in a "real life" format emphasized the incredible inner strength of women who endure horrors with grace.

Why the rainbow is enough

For Colored Girls is about all the things that impact women every day.

  • Love

  • Friendship

  • Betrayal

  • Rape

  • Abortion

  • Disease

  • Post-traumatic stress

No wonder they're considering suicide. Still, though the ladies in the poems encounter hardships, there's an undercurrent of strength and determination throughout the book. The women look within and discover resilience.

Their grit is expressed in mantras whose themes weave throughout the poems like choreography across a stage.

One of my favorite passages from the poem is brimming with confidence and self-worth.

my love is too beautiful to have thrown back on my face

my love is too sanctified to have thrown back on my face

my love is too magic to have thrown back on my face.
— Ntozake Shange

Shange's stage directions help bring the stories of the poems to life. Her words conjure the image of women in colorful dresses dancing around a stage, chanting and singing these stories that are shared by the sisterhood of all women. For Colored Girls calls each of us to share in that bond.

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