Finding God in Oneself & For Colored Girls: A Revolutionary Performance of Language, Naming, & Spacing

Abrina Hyatt, University of Pennsylvania

This paper was part of the 2014-2015 Penn Humanities Forum on Color. Find out more at


The United States in the mid20th century saw liberation movements across the country, with advocacy and demonstrations executed by and on behalf of Vietnam War veterans, college students, and countless other groups. The Black and Women’s Liberation movements of the late 1960s and 1970s grew out of direct reaction to systems of racial and gender oppression in the United States. The aims of both were to eradicate these systems, and both inspired artistic arms meant to simultaneously complicate audience perception of societal norms, express frustration at stigmatization and systematic oppression, and offer idealized concepts of a largescale progressive, collective existence in the US. Where these projects failed, however, was in their exclusion and disregard for black women. Both aspects of the black woman’s identity were being celebrated, but neither her racial nor her gender group celebrated the interlocking identities manifest in her experience . Thus, these movements created a tension characterized by simultaneous pride and intense conflict. Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf grew out of an attempt to rectify this conflict.


Date Posted: 17 November 2016