Whoopi Goldberg’s sublime portrayal of Celie in the movie adaptation of Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple” was one of the first films to enter my personal lexicon of Black cult classics.
Celie’s arc, which spanned multiple decades detailing her journey through poverty, abuse, depression, and a low sense of self-worth, was not lost on me.
And when I took my mother to see the “The Color Purple” on Broadway last year, I wept openly as Cynthia Erivo belted out Celie’s triumphant solo, “I’m here,” towards the end of the show. In the end, the crowd was left breathless.
That’s why it was disheartening when actress Elizabeth Banks omitted the fact that Steven Spielberg directed the 1985 film during an off the cuff rant regarding Spielberg’s lack of female leads.
“I went to ‘Indiana Jones’ and ‘Jaws’ and every movie Steven Spielberg ever made, and by the way, he’s never made a movie with a female lead,” she said on Wednesday night as she accepted an award at the annual Women In Film ceremony. “Sorry, Steven. I don’t mean to call your ass out but it’s true.”
Banks leaves us to wonder, would Celie be easier to remember if she were White?
Her statement points to a larger problem that Black feminists like myself encounter as we continue our urgent call to action in the fight for women and their livelihoods.
When feminists make egregious errors such as Banks’ bold omission, it works in favor of those aimed at discrediting the movement as inclusive. White feminists need to understand that women of color ain’t new to this, we true to this.
Feminism is emboldened in our blood and the tiresome efforts (whether intentional or not) to Ctrl+Alt+Delete the contributions of Black women cannot continue.
In one of the most powerful scenes in the movie, Celie is violently confronted by her husband and constant abuser, Mr., who attempts to prevent her from permanently leaving the desolate home they’ve shared for over 30 years.
With her arm stretched out, hand formed in the shape of a three-pronged claw, she ordains over him, “Everything you done to me, already done to you.”
As she drives off into the wind with her lover-friend Shug Avery and Avery’s new husband, Celie reminds Mr., that her inner affirmation has finally bubbled up to the surface. “I’m poor, Black; I may even be ugly. But I’m here,” she yells into the wind.
In that moment, Celie starts her journey to self-actulization, in spite of Mr.’s attempts at erasure.
Because women of color will not only reach higher, we will soar. Even if we have to do it with your foot on our backs.
2016 Tony Awards: Celebrity Red Carpet Arrivals
1. Actress/Filmmaker Lupita Nyong’o looked gorgeous in floral.Source:Splash News 1 of 18
2. Model Joan Smalls wore an eclectic gown.Source:Splash News 2 of 18
3. Actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson looked dapper.Source:Splash News 3 of 18
4. Actor Neil Patrick Harris & David Burtka were a sight for sore eyes.Source:Splash News 4 of 18
5. Actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead was glowing.Source:Splash News 5 of 18
6. Actress Busy Philipps looked pretty in pink.Source:Splash News 6 of 18
7. Actress Lucy Liu went for the lemonade look.Source:Splash News 7 of 18
8. Singer Leona Lewis was classic in black.Source:Splash News 8 of 18
9. Actress Uzo Aduba wore electric blue.Source:Splash News 9 of 18
10. Actor Jake Gyllenhaal went for a classic tux.Source:Splash News 10 of 18
11. Actress Danai Gurira looked gorgeous in yellow.Source:Splash News 11 of 18
12. TV personality and Tony host James Corden & Julia Carey.Source:Splash News 12 of 18
13. “Hamilton” actor/creator Lin-Manuel Miranda won big.Source:Splash News 13 of 18
14. Actress Michelle Williams went for white.Source:Splash News 14 of 18
15. Rapper/Actor Common was dashing as always.Source:Splash News 15 of 18
16. Singer-songwriter Gloria Estefan & Emilio Estefan.Source:Splash News 16 of 18
17. Actor Zachary Levi in a gray suit.Source:Splash News 17 of 18
18. British singer-songwriter Cynthia Erivo.Source:Splash News 18 of 18
Elizabeth Banks Can’t Take Away What Celie Means To Me was originally published on hellobeautiful.com