When I found my copy of for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf nestled among many untold treasures in my college town used bookstore (okay, it was one of two - both beloved, but I hope it was the 2-story one that's packed to the gills with such treasures.)...
I didn't know what I was in for. I knew that for colored girls... was considered a fundamental feminist read in some circles. I've admitted in this space before that I don't always go for those fundamental feminist reads.
Shange, however, had me within the first stanzas. The women all spoke in different voices in the play... spoke of different experiences, some common, some unique... spoke from places of pain and power... their words were raw, true. I'm not a woc, but Shange spoke to the otherness I've felt because of other, cultural constructs. Moreover, she spoke to the feeling of pain upon pain that comes from loving, and from othering, and strength that can grow from the same places.
My copy of the play was dog-eared and loved like nothing else I read in my college years, save perhaps 'Living, Loving, and Learning' by Leo Buscaglia. It picked me up when I needed it. It reminded me that I am strong, and that the women given voice in the play are strong, too. Spoke to the truisms I never had a taste for, like "Everyone's fighting a hard battle" and "You can't really know someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes"... but it was so much more than that. The depths that Shange reached in such sparsity of words was uniquely moving, touched me to my core.
I went on to read her other works, novels I felt fond of and could see the rainbow girls inside. I've yet to see the play performed, and honestly don't have a lot of interest in seeing the movie. To leave you with an excerpt: