Miss Celie's Blues: Life Lessons from 'The Color Purple' - Part One
Folks who know me, know that "I loves Harpo..." I meant, "The Color Purple." I loves "The Color Purple!" "Lawd knows I do..." And I quote the fuck out of that movie, still 30-some-odd years since its release. Regularly. At dinner: "Pass me them peas." In my poetry: "She like Sophia home, wearing the emperor's clothes, things bout to be brand new and different..." Joking/Not Joking: "You sho'll is ugly!!!!!"
I need people to get me and my need to speak in obscure and not-so obscure movie quotes. So it's important to me that my friends have watched every single movie that I have. Because. How else will we communicate?! With all that said... Every now and again I come across a soul who's never seen the cinematic majesty that is "The Color Purple." I know... Adapted to the screen from Alice Walker's amazing novel. Ran on Broadway a time or two, courtesy of the Oprah. Yet, there are people who've never read nor seen any iteration of the work... I know. Which leaves us with not much to talk about. But instead of not being friends who've never cried at hearing, "see Daddy, sinners have souls, too," I have made it my mission to introduce them to "M-I-S-T-E-R-period." I KNOW!!!
So it goes without saying how miffed I am that from a movie I quote so much and have watched a bazillion and one times twice, one particular quote didn't jump out at me until my most recent viewing/friendship saving mission. Especially because it's at the end, where ALL the good lines come - when Miss Celie finally gets the nerve to leave Albert/Mister's trifling ass. Now y'all know that she couldn't leave without putting the curses of all curses on the man who'd treated her like crap from the day before day one, "Until you do right by me..." But. She also offered him the ultimate gift. That of compassion. "Everything you done to me, already done to you."
Now I've heard that line every single time I've watched the movie. But only this last time, I felt it. That in acknowledging all the misery, all the abuse, all the disrespect that Mister inflicted upon her, she understood that he only gave her what he'd experienced. So where he gave misery, he'd received it. Where he was abusive, someone had abused him. And in his disrespect, was the same disrespect he knew quite well... Mister was an asshole, because he was raised by an asshole. And, I'm not one for making excuses for the behavior of a terrible human being (or character - whatever), but. Think about being a black man in the state of Georgia at the dawn of the 20th century... Misery. Abuse. Disrespect. Live and direct from everywhere you turn. Still. No excuse. But...
Yeah. Sit with that for a minute. Miss Celie knew this. So her words weren't spoken to absolve him of or excuse his bitch-ass for what he'd done to her. Just that she knew why. And because she knew why, she wasn't going to hold on to the madness she'd experienced. She wasn't staying with that mofo, either. In that moment, she chose to transmute the energies that had beaten her down for so long. And with that understanding, that powerful understanding - she changed the damn game. Not just for him. But for herself. And, umm... Me.
Since she knew that his bullshit was never, ever about her, she freed herself. From him. From his bullshit. From the cycle of abuse that had seemingly permeated her immediate community. And by freeing herself, she gave everyone else permission to be free. Sophia. Harpo. Even Mister. Because think of a bitter Miss Celie leaving... She wouldn't have left with a smile on her face and gratitude in her heart. Nah, she probably would have spent all her energy making ere'body around her miserable; rather than moving the fuck on, getting her babies back, and making them there Folkspants. And where would fashion be today? Exactly.
I know that this is a complete work of fiction. But. That hasn't stopped me from taking this quote and going beyond saying it, to actually living it. Remembering that everything that someone does, be it negative or positive, is the result of what they've been through. It has nothing to do with me, unless I choose to make it so. And I have the choice to keep the cycle of dysfunction churning. Or I can stop it in its tracks, and instead choose compassion, understanding, and freedom...
Get free y'all.