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The Color Purple

Black Women In Hollywood

By Leah EllaPublished 5 months ago Updated 5 months ago 4 min read
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I don’t like musicals, don’t remember the original movie, I just know that Oprah was in the original and she’s responsible for this iteration of The Color Purple. I don’t even know why it’s called that or the significance of purple… I think it means royalty but I’m not sure if it does in this case. These are my thoughts, as I sit in the movie theatre, and the first scene of two young, black girls sing while sitting in a tree. It’s the South alright!

I like Oprah mainly because I know how much she’s been through and what she overcame. Her cousin was her abuser as a child, and she has struggled with her weight all of her life (until now it seems) Over the years, she has become a formidable stature of a black woman in America.

Oprah Winfrey today

The black women in The Color Purple are of varying temperaments and it confuses me how a man can choose to be abusive to one woman and timid to another. I suppose that beauty dictated how the woman was treated. It makes me think of what people say, if a man feels unworthy of you, he will do whatever it takes to prove his worth, or that he is worthy of that woman’s love. If you were “ugly” you were beaten and treated like a slave.

The woman played by Fantasia is undoubtedly strong because she has suffered the most. She’s unbreakable, she’s not expecting to be treated the same as the women who are untouchable. Whether it be that they are too smart to be a cleaner or they have made their own way, like Taraji’s character who is a blues singer. It’s also ridiculous how the men speak of the women as whores, “loose” women and side women to those wives with husbands. The only reason why a wife would stay seems to be out of duty to the role of a wife in the marriage, which was to clean the house, cook the meals and care for the children.

In May 1962, Malcolm X said, “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.” I felt it necessary for him to teach his Muslim values and differentiate himself from the color of his skin, when it came to the treatment of the black woman. The lack of love known and shown to the black woman by the black man seem to foreshadow the current relationship status between the sexes today. Isn’t it ironic that he misses her (his wife) once she’s gone, no one else to mistreat to make you feel more like a man. He even tried to be nice and told himself and her, that she would be back. How delusional.

The black men in this movie are horrible. They treat women like amenities at best. Indentured servants, who have no feelings and who aren’t worth consideration, respect or love. “All you have to do is cook and clean and you can’t even do that.” The one woman who was a fighter and who ended up in jail for punching the mayor after he slapped her, stood as the reason why Fantasia’s character did not ever fight back. It was for her protection. You could not say no to a white woman, much less hit a white man as a black person of that time. Black American men and women don’t have a reputation of being violent. Sophia’s spirit was so broken after serving six years in prison only to be released into the hands of the same people she fought in the first place. They weren’t really free. Can you blame black women today who desire their freedom above all else?

What I absolutely loved were the musicians casted, they made the fact that it was a musical much better than bearable. H.E.R and Ciara, not big roles but still great to see them acting! The kiss was unexpected, maybe if I had refreshed my memory about what the book or original movie was about, I would’ve known about this bisexual moment. Fantasia’s acting was a pleasure to watch. The dancing was also so well arranged. The songs were beautiful! At times, scenes looked like images that you would find in a book. I love the moss trees, so Georgia! I saw some while I was visiting Savannah for Thanksgiving.

The themes of family, very dysfunctional ones, was a harsh reality. Even my people in the Caribbean don’t always grow up with a parent, much less two. Grandparents and nannies, sisters and aunts raise kids. Kids are misplaced and we just have to hope for the best. Thankfully, Celie’s story had a happy ending. She deserved that much. She did nothing to deserve her children being taken from her the same as she didn’t have a choice having them in the first place.

Fantasia and Taraji’s characters escaping the tyrant of a husband that they both shared at one time, was a refreshing turn of events. At first she was jealous of her but it was only because she wanted her freedom. Powerful, influential black women can inspire anyone into changing for the better or wanting more for themselves. For one black woman to pick up another, no matter the circumstance, is something I would love to see more of told in black stories in Hollywood.

Some women need permission because they are so used to being told what to do, who to be and who they are not supposed to be. Other women do not ask, they choose who they want to be at all times, unapologetically. Once she knew her worth, she was unstoppable and most of all, she was happy! That’s definitely something to sing and dance about! “I’m thankful for loving who I really am. I’m beautiful and I’m here.”

Miss Celie

Now, about Ms Taraji P Henson complaining about not being paid well enough as a, “leading lady,” hello! Read the room. Fantasia was the leading lady in this film. That’s all that I’ll say about that. Play nice ladies, the whole world is watching how we treat each other as black women, not only in Hollywood, but in America.

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About the Creator

Leah Ella

Caribbean-American(she/her)+Actor+Life Coach student.

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    Leah EllaWritten by Leah Ella

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