By Jasmine Harris

Over the past week, I have heard many different reactions to Tyler Perry’s highly anticipated film of the Tony award winning play For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf. The film and play reflects many of the obstacles that African American women have to face throughout their lives. Cheating, abortion, abandonment, child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault and rape; these are all concepts that are illustrated in the story and a few that Tyler Perry experienced himself during his upbringing.

On a recent showing of the Oprah Winfrey show, Perry revealed that he was brutally abused and molested as a child. His father neglected him and several times during his childhood, he was sexually abused, once by a male neighbor, a male member of his church, a female friend of his mother’s and a male nurse.

I have heard a variety of reactions from listening to news talk radio, some of our peers and classmates, and many others that the film only displays a horrible and degrading depiction of the black man. People are also saying that all of Perry’s movies only emphasize the strength in black women, the evil in black men and the adversity of the black family in general, despite the fact that he is not the original writer of For Colored Girls, he just reproduced it. A lot of people are complaining that Perry’s films put us down even more than we are because both the black man and the black family are already depicted negatively in general. I can actually understand where people are coming from with this point of view; a lot of black men are getting the idea that Tyler Perry has this vendetta against black men and his only purpose in his films is to point out their negativity.

Despite of this, after seeing the film myself, I got the idea that perhaps Tyler Perry is using a little bit of satire or sending an indirect message in his movies. Maybe it’s not that he just wants to point out the strength of the black woman, but what many of our black men need to improve on. Besides, the black man is the backbone of the black family, and with the commonality of the adversities shown in his films, it is obvious what Perry is attempting to do is point those out so that African Americans will reverse these adversities and strengthen the depiction of the black family as a whole.

Many also say that Tyler Perry’s coming out about his abuse was just a way to generate more revenue for the movie, which released in theaters about a week after his appearance on Oprah. These people have no idea what Perry went through or how much courage, dignity and strength it takes to tell millions of people something that has haunted him for his entire life. I think it is rather inconsiderate for people to assume that he only revealed something that personal just for monetary gain.

I honestly think that it takes a strong, and most importantly a real person, to understand and obtain inspiration out of this film. A lot of people don’t believe that these things happen as often as they do, or that they could even happen to them. Truth is, any of these can easily happen to you or someone that you love. Studies and research by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that 1 in 3 women will be raped during their lifetime, 91% of people raped are females, 9% raped are male and 99% of those that commit rape are male; thus the reason why this is illustrated in the film. The U.S. Department of Justice confirmed that black females experienced intimate partner violence at a rate 35% higher than that of white females, and about 22 times the rate of women of other races. Black males experienced intimate partner violence at a rate about 62% higher than that of white males and about 22 times the rate of men of other races. African-American women experience significantly more domestic violence than White women in the age group of 20-24. Generally, black women experience similar levels of intimate partner victimization in all other age categories as compared to White women, but experience slightly more domestic violence. Therefore, these are also illustrated in the film. What Tyler Perry and the playwrights have shown through this story are very real; please understand that these things do happen to people everyday especially to our people and Tyler Perry has depicted that through his movies and his very own life. He is only a human being that has suffered during his upbringing and he has no reason to be ridiculed because of that.

I think people are too concerned about the wrong things in terms of this film. People are too worked up on little things; Perry’s past, his sexuality, how it makes every black man look bad, how he’s only trying to get money etc. Those ridiculing him are not getting the big picture! Tyler Perry has taken something negative that happened in his life, and turned it into something good by producing many films that send out messages to our people; that these are the things that bring our people down and they are all things that can be fixed in our community. I will not try to manipulate the opinions that people have formed about him or the film, but I will suggest that you take a deeper look into the message that he is trying to deliver to us.