Thursday

Tyler Perry's Pain, Black Men's Gain, Black Women's Shame

Hello all, I'm back for a minute because of an e-mail I have just received. I have had thousands of things to blog about, but the murders are just too much, the corruption is just too much...It is all getting stuck in my head and the words aren't flowing out as easily anymore. I'm at a point where I think that I am past my pain, but because of vicarious trauma in my support of others, I can't really heal.

I began watching Tyler Perry's movies when they could only be ordered online at the cost of about $30. I've never been a "churchy" type person but I always enjoyed the advertisements for those Black churchy type dramatic plays that would air on t.v. Watching Tyler Perry's movies was like fulfilling my wish of being seated in one of the churchy play audiences. I loved the singing (not particularly the content), the level of energy, and the sheer entertainment of his plays/movies. Then he hit the big screen.

It wasn't until after several big screen productions that I realized that all of Tyler Perry's movies were really the same: they dealt with pain within families and the resolution was almost always identical. That resolution involved seeking a new relationship, or repairing the current one through Christ/God. On the surface, it doesn't seem like there is anything wrong with that. Why? Because too many people are just that simple--boy meets girl, they get married, they have baby, they live happily ever after, amidst the daily complications like infidelity, spousal abuse, and economical concerns. But it AIN'T that simple and I'm so sick and tired of men trying to represent women's issues by framing them around what men think our relationships and healing should look like.

Look, everyone has an agenda when they choose to exhibit their talents and choose their professions, I've spoken about this specifically regarding the field of psychology (never trust a psychologist, out of all professions). If it hasn't already been researched and concluded before, I'll say it now: I really believe when people choose their field, they are engaging themselves in a battle of self-healing and resolution that they were never able to previously accomplish, or never able to let go of.

Check this out from Tyler Perry's own mouth, in light of his new movie, Precious (emphasis mine):

It took me through some raw emotions and brought me to some things and places in my life that I needed to deal with but had long forgotten. It brought back memories so strong that I can smell and taste them. Like, when I was very young, my mother decided to leave my father...she had had enough of his insanity. She loaded me and my two sisters up in an old Cadillac that he had bought for her, and drove to California. When he realized she was gone, he called the police and reported the car stolen, as it was in his name. My mother was arrested and my two sisters and I were put in the cell with her. He and my uncle drove from Louisiana to California to get us. We spent several days in jail waiting for him. He bailed her out and couldn't wait to get her into the car. He got into the back seat with us and beat her black and blue from California to Louisiana, as me and my sisters watched. Even though I was only two or three, I know that this had to have some effect on me.

I'm tired of holding this in. I don't know what to do with it anymore, so, I've decided to give some of it away...

Memories at 40: Not long ago, I was asked to speak at an engagement. I walked in and I was told that they had assigned a person to take care of me while I was there. She walked up to me, all of 5'2” of her, and asked if I needed anything. I looked at her and started to sweat. It took me back thirty-something years to her apartment. I couldn't have been more than 10 years old when I went over to play with her son and Matchbox cars. She opened the door in skimpy lingerie. There was a man sitting on the couch, smoking. She told me that her son was in the bedroom. I was there playing with him about 20 minutes when I heard the man arguing with her. He said he was leaving and slammed the door. She came into the bedroom and told me that I had to go home. She told her son to take a bath and she locked him in the bathroom. I was at the front door trying to get out, when she came in and laid on the sofa and asked me if I wanted the key. I told her I had to go home as it was getting dark. She put the key inside of herself and told me to come get it, pulling me on top of her.

Memories at 40: “What the f*#K are you reading books for?! That's bull*#*T!"

"You F*#*ing jackass! You got book sense but you ain't got no mothaf*#*en common sense! You ain't sh*t and ain't never gonna be sh*t!” I heard this every day of my childhood. As my father would beat and belittle me, he played all kinds of mind games with me. He knew I loved cookies as a kid, most kids do. So he would buy them and put them on top of the fridge and when I would eat them he would beat me mercilessly.

My mother was out one night, as she loved to play bingo, and my father came home...mad at the world. He was drunk, as he was most of the time. He got the vacuum cleaner extension cord and trapped me in a room and beat me until the skin was coming off my back. To this day, I don't know what would make a person do something like that to a child. But thank God that in my mind, I left. I didn't feel it anymore, just like in PRECIOUS. How this girl would leave in her mind. I learned to use my gift, as it was my imagination that let me escape. After he was done with his rant he passed out. Since my aunt lived two doors down, I ran to her. She saw me and was horrified. She loaded her 357 and went to kill him. Holding a gun to his head, her husband came and stopped her.

Memories at 40: I got a call not long ago from a friend. He told me that a man that I knew from church when I was a kid had died and he didn't have any insurance. His family was trying to reach out to me to see if I would pay for his funeral. I quickly said no, but I wish I would have said yes. There is something so powerful to me in burying the man that molested me. I wish I would have dug the grave myself.

Memories at 40: I was about 8 or 9 years old. I had a crush on a little girl across the street. She would come over to my house and we'd play. She was about 12 or 13. One day she stopped coming and when I asked her why, she told me that my father was touching her. I didn't believe her, so I talked her into staying one night. We were both asleep -- she was in one bed and I was in another. I opened my eyes to see my father trying to touch her and her pushing him away. I moved in my bed trying to make him think I was waking up. He looked over at me and left out of the room. Not long after that, he beat me mercilessly for something again. Another mind game set up, so I told my mother what he had done. The blood drained from her face. We left that day. We were at my Aunt's house and he came there about 1am. Not long after that we were back at home. Nothing would compare to the random, drunken, violent beatings I would receive from then until I was 19.

Memories at 40: We would spend the summers in the country, with my father's adoptive mother. As a kid I was always sick. I had asthma and he hated it. He hated that I wasn't strong and viral like him. He hated that I couldn't be in the sawdust, pollen and the raw lumber like him. He hated that I liked to read and write and draw. He hated that me and my middle sister were darker-skinned than him. He didn't think he could make a dark baby. He just hated everything about me I guess. Anyway, I had to go to the doctor every Tuesday to get shots to control my allergies. When his mother found out she said, “Ain't nothing wrong with that damn boy...he just got germs on him. Stop wasting all that money.” When my mother left to visit some friends I heard what sounded like water running in a tub but it was sporadic. She came and got me out of the living room leaving my Matchbox cars on the floor. She said she was going to kill these germs on me once and for all. She gave me a bath in ammonia.


Tyler Perry has experienced abuse in every form from witnessing family violence to being sexually abused. He should be at the forefront of October's Domestic Violence Awareness Month right now. No wonder why his movies have the plots that they do with the resolutions they do--they are FANTASY based on Tyler's Perry's own imagination--that same imagination he used to escape from abuse.

Unfortunately for his audiences, they may not see it as such...more like Tyler's movies are the millennium's parables--presently applicable and to be utilized in our daily lives. This sickens me because, as I stated, and as I can remember, each of Tyler Perry's movies that has been about women has involved that woman committing herself to a relationship in order to be complete. Where is the time allotted for the self? Can a woman not be successful on her own? Is everyone woman incomplete without a love match?

Does Tyler Perry NOT understand the structure of the patriarchy and how it allows for this type of family violence, and furthermore how he is complicit in it by not addressing the roots of all of this violence? Can Tyler Perry not address men directly about men's violence?

I don't mean to hold Tyler Perry as some sort of philanthropist or social movement icon. All he is doing is repeating the same-ol-same, but it is significant this time because he is a person of color and I feel that my people are so impressionable, especially the youth that are watching these movies. And again, Black women are getting left in the dust as someone else is trying to paint our stories, with the wrong brush. Stop selling us these pipe dreams and show us what real courage, strength, determination and success looks like. The beauty of life is variety.