Tonight is New Year’s Eve and I just finished watching the movie, Fences starring Viola Davis and Denzel Washington with one of my girlfriends and it left me speechless. I went through so many emotions…hate, love, joy, and many more. It was a great and powerful movie and I really enjoyed it. The resilience that was expected of black women is still expected today. That’s what was heartbreaking about the movie and why my feelings were contorted in my mind. I will not bash Denzel’s character because its more than him and his affair and his failed “hoop” dreams. Throughout the movie it was always about Denzel’s character, Troy Maxson, as a father, and husband along with the emotional invisibility of Rose (his wife) for the past 18 years of their marriage.
Rose in the 1950s is the Rose in the 2000s because our “perfect” role has never changed based on what black men desire in a wife and girlfriend. She became him and in their marriage she became invisible as a black woman. She was his wife, his lover, his friend, and his warden (with his money). She made sure the financial needs of the household were secure, everyone was fed, and her wifely duties were fulfilled. Rose was the rope that held all of them together and if she attempted to show any kind of weakness or fault, then they would all fall down. But they fell anyway and she was still invisible. I don’t mean invisible from the scene because her character was there in all her glory and pain. She was invisible as a woman.
The Role of the Healer
Black women have put together a collection of different roles which ultimately leads right back to their biggest responsibility…Healer. We are supposedly the healers of children, men, communities, and nations. Our resilience and strength is commended at the same time it is condemned. In one breathe we are told that we are Queens and deserve respect because we hold our families together, but when our families betray us, we are supposed to continue on regardless of our own hurt. In the Fences movie, Troy loved to portray his sexual poweress when it comes to Rose, but it often felt like she was a dumping ground for his penis and not the art of making love that we experience with our lovers or them as a friend.
Rose was what black men wish we all were back in the 50s and even now in 2017. She followed the laws of a white patriarchal system by obeying, and in sickness and health. She stood by even till the end because she took in Troy’s failed dreams, his role as a father, as a husband, as a black man against racism, and as a man that needed another woman to make him feel alive outside of his home. She was far superior than Mother Theresa, she was a martyr for what black women should have been since we were brought and sold in this country.
“Be Sure People are Doing Right by You”
This quote was said by Troy to his younger son, Corey during a heated exchange. And it once again shows the importance of black men and black boys. To be treated what they are worth and stand up for themselves in order to be treated right. It’s not the same with black girls and woman. When we stand up and speak, we are silenced because they can’t hear us, so we speak a little louder. Then when we speak a little louder, they still don’t hear and if they do than it’s just a small annoyance. So we speak even louder…and when we do they look at us (annoyed) and labeled as angry black women. So when the stereotypes fly at us, we become politically invisible because our “Rose” is not showing.
She is thus a victim of double oppression. Under such circumstances her power to endure is remarkable. Her husband is not loyal to her. He has relation with others as well. She has planted her hopes and dreams in him, but he has proved to be rocky and infertile. Despite this, she doesn’t desert him. She expresses her anger and pain openly, but doesn’t nurture any bitterness. There is a spiritual side to her personality. She is a saint in human form. – bachelorandmaster
What do we do when people are not doing right by Rose? Is she so much of a martyr that she doesn’t get a chance to breakdown and say, “she’s tired?” When can the Rose’s of the world do for self? She and other women have said, there are times when they want to break away and be selfish, rude, horny or rebellious…but she doesn’t because of them. Her husband didn’t do right by her, but was quick to tell his son to make sure others do him right. Could Troy have been so naive that he forgot she was his rock and carried him during those times she wasn’t treated right? In this movie and in real life, Rose left me feeling exhausted from feeling like black women’s feelings didn’t matter and that’s why I’m hurt as I sit and write HERstory. I felt her 18 years of making this man her idol in order to feed his ego and I shouted, No! No more.
For Colored Girls…
About a month ago, i went to the African American Museum and got a chance to see the 1982 play by Ntozake Shange, “For Colored Girls” and it was better than the 2010 movie that was remade in order to renew this awesome book. So, as I’m watching this very old play there was a scene called, sorry that was spoken by one lady in the movie, but during the play it was spoken by several women. It spoke on all the sorries they received from men and the many excuses that come with it. In the movie, Fences, I didn’t see Troy apologize to Rose (if I did it was probably in between me cursing Denzel’s character out every 5 minutes) and that also disappointed me. She deserved more and she was once again left in his shadow…even in his death. His importance whether it was positive or negative still weighed in on the family and she was an afterthought.
So the “sorry” poem spoke to me and the many Roses that have been invisible since Antebellum times. It’s time that Rose speaks up for herself and let people know that she is more than a healer of other people’s wounds. She is tired, selfish, wounded, resilient, and human. Stop creating these invisible fences that keep black women in this perfect role of what you want and think she should be for black men. Rose needed saving too. She needed to hear sorry every morning and night for the rest of HIS life. Black women and girls need to hear sorry every time we are ridiculed about our hair, lips, complexion, thoughts, and decisions. How many more times are black women and girls supposed to atone for not being a Rose in a society that wasn’t made to consider us as great the way we are, and why is it OK for our men to co-sign our personal attacks and abuse? So, sorry seems so clear and righteous, but we know that even in the new year sorry won’t part the lips of some black men. But like Rose, we will continue to help, cover, protect, feed, and pray for our people. And just like Rose, we will have to turn the other cheek and be resilient without praise or continued acknowledgment.
So, that #Fence that Troy built wasn’t for Rose. It was Troy’s wasted life and dashed dreams and since he failed, he made damn sure that the people in his circle would stay within those fences…to be subjected to his cries of not living to his potential. His sons ran or walked away from it. Even his mentally ill brother refused to be kept in those fences, but Rose (the invisible martyr) stayed…because that’s what black women did and do…even with no apology.
The ladies start talking about all the apologies they’ve received from men. Some examples include: he is sorry because he does not know how she got your number, sorry because he was high, sorry because he is only human, and sorry because he thought she could handle it. The lady in blue then declares that she does not need any more apologies. She goes on to say that men should keep their apologies for themselves, because she does not need them to soothe her soul and she cannot use them. Rather than accepting apologies, she is going to do whatever she wants: yell, scream, and break things. And she will not apologize for any of it.
“One thing I don’t need is anymore apologies/I got sorry greeting me at the front door/you can keep yours/I don’t know what to do wit em/they don’t open doors or bring the sun back/they don’t make me happy or get a morning paper/I can’t use another sorry”…